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.