As with previous years of the tournament, a corresponding digital compendium for Dota 2 was released before the event, allowing the prize pool to be crowdfunded. Known as the “Battle Pass”, 25% of revenue made by it was sent directly towards the tournament’s prize pool.
The tournament initially began with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), China, Europe, North America, South America, and Southeast Asia regional qualifiers in June 2017. Prior to the main event on August 2–5, two separate best-of-two round robin groups consisting of nine teams each were played, with the bottom placed team of each group being eliminated. The remaining 16 teams moved on to the double elimination main event at the KeyArena in Seattle from August 7–12, with the top four finishing teams from both groups advancing to the upper bracket, and the bottom four advancing to the lower bracket. The first round of the lower bracket was treated as single-elimination, with the loser of each match being immediately eliminated from the tournament. Every other round of both brackets was played in a best-of-three series, with the exception being the Grand Finals, which was played between the winners of the upper and lower brackets in a best-of-five series.
The first details pertaining to The International 2016 were revealed on March 31, 2016, with the announcement of ticket sales for the tournament. Open qualifiers for The International 2016 began on June 21, with regional qualifiers following on June 25. Following the qualifiers, the tournament main event took place from August 3–11, with the finals being held on August 13.
The initial prize pool was seeded with $1,600,000 from the developers, with more to be added from players through in-game purchases of the Battle Pass. The final prize pool reached $20,770,460, making the tournament have the largest prize pool in eSports history.
On June 19, 2016, Valve released the names of the invited teams, as well as details for qualification through each regional qualifier. The number of invited teams was reduced to six (down from ten from 2015), resulting in both the winner and runner-up of each region (China, Europe, Americas, and Southeast Asia) obtaining qualification. The final two spots were made up of Wild Card teams, which were found through their own qualifier.
The qualifiers for each region consisted of eight invited teams (five for the Americas) and two from open qualifiers (organized by FaceIt and Perfect World in China). These qualifiers placed all 10 teams (seven for Americas) into a single table where each team played the others in a round robin competition with the top team in each region advancing to The International as the regional qualifier. Of the remaining teams, the next highest four teams were placed into a double elimination tournament with each round played as a best of three, while the remaining five teams (two for the Americas) were eliminated. The Grand Finals winner of each regional playoff also automatically qualified for The International as their region’s playoff qualifier. The playoff runners-up received a spot in the Wild Card qualifier; a single bracket, double elimination tournament held in Seattle a day before the main event, with the semi-final victors receiving the final two spots.
The International (TI) is an annual Dota 2 eSports tournament hosted by Valve Corporation, the game’s developer. The first tournament took place in Cologne, Germany at Gamescom in 2011 and was held shortly after the public reveal of Dota 2, with a total prize pot of $1.6 million. The second International took place in 2012 at the Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and retained the same $1.6 million prize structure. For the third International in 2013, again at Benaroya Hall, Valve introduced an interactive, digital “compendium” which fans could purchase to follow the event and contribute to the prize pool; which reached a $2.8 million prize pool with $1.2 million added from compendium purchases.
The fourth International, this time held at the larger Seattle venue KeyArena in 2014, continued the practice of compendium sales and ultimately broke records for having one of the largest prize pool in eSports history, with a total of $10.9 million. The fifth International took place in 2015, with the prize pool totaling over $18 million, making it the largest eSports prize pool for a single tournament until being surpassed by the sixth International the following year, with a prize pool of over $20 million.