How The International Changed eSports Forever


If you look at the timeline of eSports, there’s been a sharp rise in the popularity of this burgeoning entertainment sector over the last 15 years.

While many people don’t realize that professional gaming dates back to the 1970s, the emergence of the internet has fueled this particularly explosive rise. On many levels, the internet has changed the landscape of this industry forever.

Not only can gamers play against each other online, but they can also seek out tournaments to enter and watch professional tournaments unfold online. All of this would have been a distant pipe dream even two decades ago.

Still, it has quickly become a multi-billion dollar industry since many professional eSports tournaments regularly bring in millions of attendees, sell-out stadiums and exclusive streams online, and well-established tournaments like The International act as pioneers to help spearhead this broadening global interest.


What Is The International?

The International is a Dota 2 tournament that first launched in 2011. It might sound like it hasn’t been around for too long, but in terms of eSports, it was one of the first big tournaments that highlighted the game’s rising popularity.

Some tournaments around simultaneously also showed promise, but they didn’t roll with the times as The International did.

Valve is the brains behind Dota 2, and they’re also the developers of The International. At the time, it was unheard of that a game developer would design their own tournament.

However, once we look at the immense success of the tournament just over a decade later, Valve has shown that it was a gamble that paid off.

They didn’t just change the trajectory of video gaming when they released the iconic Dota 2. Still, they galvanized eSports tournaments with their creative and groundbreaking approach to how professional video gaming tournaments should operate.


How The International Paved The Way

When the first competition occurred in Cologne in 2011, Valve was quietly optimistic that they had unearthed a golden idea.

However, it became quickly apparent that even their initial modest expectations had been blown out of the water, with the tournament going from small halls of a couple of thousand people to stadiums and arenas across Singapore and China.

The International was one of the first competitions to have a range of extensive betting odds, which opened the floodgates for other tournaments.

So, while in 2024, it might seem typical for eSports to have a whole host of gambling markets, The International was one of the first to offer such a broad range of outright and individual betting odds.

Finding great odds for Dota 2 betting is something many gaming fans will now do before they sit down to watch the eSports tournament unfold.

Like traditional professional sports, a strong gambling market underpins them and is a crucial driving force in maximizing entertainment value and generating discussion.


The Biggest Prize Pools

With the might of a game developer behind them, The International started from a favorable position within the industry.

As the developers of Dota 2, they understood what the players wanted more than a lot of other companies that simply provided a platform for people to face off against each other.

The International was able to go worldwide, appealing to hubs of hardcore fans, and has regularly broken records for the highest-ever prize pool offered in eSports.

Although the prize for this year’s tournament doesn’t match the heights of previous years, it is yet another area of eSports that The International pioneered.

Offering such enormous sums of money showed those looking to get into the industry that it’s a viable, lucrative career if they’re able to operate at the zenith of the industry. In addition to this, it highlighted to the rest of the world why professional video gaming was one of the fastest-growing markets of the century, thus far.



With Saudi Arabia looking to become the global hub for eSports and bringing in the world’s biggest teams from games ranging from Dota 2, League Of Legends, and Valorant, they’ll likely smash through the previous records set by The International.

But there’s no disputing that they set the blueprint in so many ways, ranging from tournament design to large prize pools.

They were among the first operators to set up a groundbreaking partnership with Twitch and had live commentary during their tournaments.

By unlocking the potential to go from small venues to large arenas and stadiums, The International helped pave the way for many other tournaments that have since created a legacy in various other titles, from Fortnite to Counter-Strike.

While the emergence of Saudi Arabia could jeopardize the long-term future of The International, the legacy of the tournament is cemented into the folklore of eSports and was one of the pillars of the immense success that professional video gaming witnessed throughout the 2010s.

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