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How to watch Valve's 'The International' Dota2 tournament

3:00 PM on 08.07.2013 // Patrick Hancock

A quick guide to help you watch the biggest eSports event of the year

Though it may sound silly, it's not easy to understand all there is to Valve's "The International." It's even hard to understand just what the hell is happening on screen while watching a Dota 2 match. That's why I've put together this guide: to hopefully ease new players and spectators into the world of competitive Dota 2. Even if you have no interest whatsoever in the game, it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement.

You thought EVO was full of hype? Get ready for The International.

What is it?

The International is like the Super Bowl of Dota 2. With over $2 million in prize money, it's one of, if not the biggest tournament in all of eSports, run by the ever-so-popular Valve. Sixteen of the best teams are competing for all the glory. You can check them all out right here on Valve's site.

This year, the main event is taking place from August 7-11 in Seattle, Washington. The prelims are already over and pulled in huge viewer numbers. The eSports scene in general is growing, and considering the record-shattering numbers that Dota 2 is pulling in on Steam, this will be a landmark year for the eSport.

What do they win?

I'm glad you asked! Money. A lot of money. The amount is growing every day (more on that later), and the official numbers can be read here. The first place team will take home close to, if not $1.5 million dollars. 


How can I watch?

I'm glad you asked! There are two main ways to watch, outside of actually being at the event:

  • Within the Dota 2 game client.

This is my favorite way to watch Dota 2 matches. After downloading the free Dota 2 client from Steam, launch the game. Click on "Watch" at the top of the screen, then make sure that the "Tournaments" tab is selected. Click on the arrow next to "The International," and any live games will be displayed in the big box. Clicking on any of the links under "Recent Games" will take you to a page that will allow you to watch replays of previous games.

While spectating a match, whether it be live or a replay, be sure to explore the camera options. Having the camera set to the broadcaster's control is the most common way to spectate, which allows the broadcasters to control the camera so their commentary reflects what you see on-screen. You can also control the camera yourself if you want to look around at anything specific.

One of the best ways to learn what goes through the mind of a professional player is to set the camera to "Player Perspective." This will show exactly what that individual person sees while playing. Even their mouse movements are shown, so you can see just how crazy their dexterity really is.

  • On

First of all, make sure to link your Steam account to your Twitch account here. I'll explain why in a bit. Watching on Twitch is certainly more widely available, since you can do it on a multitude of devices and don't need the Dota 2 client at all. Head to the official Dota 2 site and if there is a live match, there will be a glowing link on the top right of the page that will direct you to the official International Twitch channel (English).

Earning items from watching

Did you link you Twitch and Steam accounts? Good! Whenever something awesome happens like multi-kills or First Bloods (the first Hero kill of a match), items will drop to a lucky few viewers. These are normal cosmetic items, but are branded with a specific moment and timestamp from the tournament, making them one-of-a-kind.

These items can sell for a decently high price, but it's up to the player if you really want to sell. The chance of getting one decreases with the amount of viewers, so don't expect one from The International. It's just a nice bonus possibility for watching one of the biggest events of the year.

What in the world are they saying?

Okay, there's a lot of jargon and abbreviations thrown around by the commentators during a match. I'll do my best to explain the most commonly used ones here.

A-clicking - Pressing the A key and then selecting a hero. This is necessary to perform denies on allied creeps.

Aegis - Aegis of the Immortal. See: Rosh.

BKB - Short for the item Black King Bar, which provides magic immunity for a certain amount of time. The amount of time dwindles with each use.

Bottle Crow - Using the courier to transfer the Bottle item from the hero back to base in order to refill its regenerative charges, then having the courier return to the hero. This way, the hero does not have to leave their lane and miss experience.

Carry - A "carry" Hero is one who is expected to gain lots of Gold and experience during a match. A player playing a carry Hero must be very proficient at Last Hits (see below).

Crow - An old-fashioned term for the Courier.

CS - The amount of last hits a player has.

Dive - Diving past a tower means to run past the tower in order to chase another hero down with the intention of finishing them off. This will result in taking some hits from the tower, but it is usually a calculated risk.

Farm - Another word for experience and Gold. A Hero with a lot of "farm" has killed many Heroes/Creeps and has lots of EXP and Gold. "Farming" is the act of acquiring farm, AKA getting last hits on Creeps (see below).

Feed - To intentionally die to an opponent, making them stronger. Often, players are accused of feeding after dying multiple times, even if it wasn't intentional.

Gank - To surprise another hero in an attempt to kill them.

GG Branches - A slang term for the Iron Branch, an item that gives +1 to all attributes.

Jungler - A jungling hero is a hero that can gain experience very efficiently just from staying in the jungle areas of the map, killing the neutral camps. Usually these heroes have pets/summons or good regenerative properties.

Last Hit - Scoring the killing blow on a creep. This awards gold to the Hero who scored the last hit, and is necessary for some Heroes to live up to their potential.

Mek - Shorthand for "Mekansm," an item that heals nearby teammates and is very common on most support heroes.

Micro - Short for "micromanagement," or the ability of a player to successfully control more than one unit. For example, a Chen player needs good "micro" because Chen can control multiple neutral enemies at once.

Pony - Another old-fashioned name for the Courier.

Push - Pushing means to bring your creep wave closer to the enemy towers in order to put the pressure on the opposing team.

Right Clicks - A Hero's regular attacks. Someone with "powerful right clicks" does a lot of damage without the use of spells. Named as such because in order to attack something, the player uses the right mouse button. (See also: A-clicking)

Rosh - Shorthand for "Roshan," the big neutral monster near the center of the map. Killing him awards the item Aegis of the Immortal, which, when held, allows a Hero to resurrect where they were killed. Roshan respawns after 10 minutes, and the Aegis will disappear from a Hero's inventory if not activated after 6 minutes.

TP - Teleport. If someone says to "buy a TP," they mean to buy a teleport scroll from the shop.

The Map

The only thing that's guaranteed to remain the same in every single match is the map. As you can see, there's a lot of stuff to know about the map. I've broken it down and put together some images that will give a brief tutorial to this behemoth of a map which you can peruse here:

Compendiums and Pennants

There are two items from the in-game shop you can purchase that can not only make the viewing experience better, but also help support the growing community.

  • The Compendium ($10)

Buying the Compendium will do many things. It allows players to make predictions of which Heroes will be most picked/banned, score the most kills, or die the most, among many other things. It also allows each owner to make their own fantasy team of eight players -- five active and three on the bench. It's a lot of fun to take part in if you know anything about the teams.

It also rewards each owner specific items and an experience boost. But perhaps best of all, each $10 purchase of a Compendium adds $2.50 to the prize pool. So far, over $1 million has been contributed by Dota 2 players. This is a way to directly support a growing community and have fun doing it.

  • Pennants ($0.99)

It is also possible to buy a Team Pennant for $0.99. This will not only support that specific team and show off your fanaticism, but it increases the odds of receiving an item drop when spectating a match with that team in it. If you're not sure which team you like quite yet, no worries! You'll likely have a favorite after watching this year's International, and you can start to follow them after that. Pennants can be bought all year round.

Okay! I'm ready to watch!

Be sure to check out the official schedules on the Dota 2 website.

They'll point to the relevant streams and information. Here's some other helpful links:

And there you have it! Just about everything you need to sit down and enjoy the best Dota 2 play that you will ever see. Get. Hype.

Patrick Hancock, Contributor
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Watching and playing competitive games like Dota and StarCraft take up most of his time. His three favorite non-video game things in the world are space, dinosaurs, and puppets. So if there we... more   |   staff directory

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destructoid's previous coverage:
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