Dota 2 Leagues & Major Events

An introduction to Dota 2 Leagues and Major Events

Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game of action and strategy, given to us by the Valve Corporation and is enjoyed over the world by millions of fans. Since its beta release in 2011 this incredible game of battling heroes has developed into a major esport, with professional teams and players playing in massive Dota 2 leagues and major tournaments for millions of dollars in prize money, the highest in all esports.

In total, Dota 2 has paid out an astronomical $99,111,120 in prize money. This really is the biggest Esport of history, and it’s only going to get bigger and better.

Dota 2’s biggest event, the largest in all esports is The International, held every August in Seattle, USA. Valve also sponsors other smaller events through the year, known as the Majors.

In addition to these Valve events, other sponsors have established premier tournaments for the best teams in the world, with correspondingly massive prize pots. And of course, there are a multitude of smaller tournaments, major and minor featuring up and coming teams.

Dota 2 leagues and major premier tournaments are streamed live across the globe through and other streaming services. Increasingly, the biggest tournaments in Dota 2 are covered by major television broadcasters including ESPN.

The International, Seattle, USA (August)

The International Dota 2 championships

The International 2011 was Valve Corporation’s statement of intent for their new game Dota2. With a massive prize pool of $1.6million for the 16 teams who took part, they certainly managed to make The International the greatest spectacle in esports and ensured that the beta release of Dota 2 hit the ground running as the world’s premier Esport. That first International saw Natus Vincere defeat EHOME 3-1 in the grand final to come away with a spectacular $1million in prize money.

Since then, the International has maintained its position as the premier esports tournament and the culmination of the Dota2 season, getting bigger and better over the years. Since 2013, the addition of crowdfunding through the Dota2 compendium has seen the prize pot get ever bigger, reaching a staggering $20+ million in 2016, with Wings Gaming ending the tournament beating Digital Chaos 3-1 to earn themselves a rather special payday of $9.1 million.

The International’s final 16 teams are made up of six invited by Valve, eight regional qualifiers made up of two teams each from the Americas, China, Europe and SE Asia regions. Finally there are four regional wild card places from qualifying tournaments. This year’s Invitational promises to once again be the biggest tournament in esports history, with the game going from strength to strength.

Tickets for this year’s International are available right now, midweek tickets for $100, final weekend tickets at $200.

The Majors

With the incredible success of both The International as a major esports event and Dota2 as a game, Valve Corporation introduced a series of smaller seasonal tournaments called The Majors in 2015.

These Dota 2 Major Championships have a fixed $3 million prize pool, take place in different cities around the world and act as the prelude to The Dota 2 International in late summer, now classed by Valve as the final Major.

For the 2015/2016 Dota2 season Valve held three Majors in Frankfurt, Shanghai and Manila. For 2016/2017 season there were just two Majors, Boston and the recently concluding Kiev Major.

The Frankfurt Fall Major (November)

Frankfurt Fall Major

The very first Valve-sponsored Dota Major Championship Event was hosted by ESL at Festhalle Messe. 6,500 fans packed the venue tracking the incredible gameplay of the 16 Dota2 teams battling it out for glory. Of those teams, eight received direct invitations to battle alongside the eight regional qualifiers, two each from each of Dota2s regions; Europe, the Americas, China, and Southeast Asia.

In the best-of-five Grand Finals, a brilliant display from Team OG saw them comprehensively beat Team Secret 3-1 and lift the championship trophy along with the top prize of $1.11 million.

This was OGs first tournament, first victory, and was totally unexpected. This was a team that struggled badly through group stages, at one point just one loss from elimination. But with all the incredible tenacity and skills we’ve all come to expect from Dota2s most successful team, they came through a thrilling tournament to stand victorious.

The Shangai Winter Major (March)

shangai major tournament

The second Dota2 Major offered all the incredible gameplay action of Frankfurt, but on a much bigger scale. Taking place in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, with a massive 18,000 capacity crowd following all the brilliance of their favourite teams, this truly was set up to be something special.

Again sponsored by Valve Corporation but produced and organised by the Chinese gamin g company Perfect World, there were two very distinctive sides to the Shanghai Major, good and bad.

The good came with the 16 teams playing out of their skins with eventual victors Team Secret defeating fellow Europeans Team Liquid in a 3-1 final for the $1.11 million prize. This was the win everyone expected for Team Secret, having been dominant all season, with the surprise Frankfurt 2015 winners OG coming in a disappointing 7th-8th.

Having lost to OG at Frankfurt Team Secret absolutely stormed back at Shanghai, dominating the world class field. It also established a dominance of European and American Dota2 teams over the Eastern teams, with Team Secret, Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses and even OG setting their stalls out to be dominant forces in Dota2 for years to come.

The bad at the Shanghai Major? Well that was everything else. To say Shanghai Major was a bit of a shambles really is an understatement. Production and organization was complete disaster. Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong. There were massive technical difficulties, ridiculous delays, and conditions for broadcasters and players way below sub-standard. By day 2, Valve’s president Gabe Newell very publically fired Perfect World and the host James “2G” Harding with a Reddit post. But the problems inevitably persisted, all through the tournament and beyond.
The Shanghai Major 2016 was a mess, but thankfully, the gameplay made up for things. Valve and Dota2 took a hit, but lessons were learnt.

The Manila Summer Major (June)

manila major tournament

The third Major in Manila, Singapore, was a far smoother experience for all involved after the chaos of Shanghai. Thankfully, new host and producer PGL delivered the Major all of Dota2 wanted to see. Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena saw 15,000 plus Dota2 fans experience all the action and excitement up close with sixteen teams competing for the $3 million prize pool.

Manila 2016 saw a change in qualifying for the Major, with twelve teams directly invited to the Major, and four teams from Europe Americas, China, and South-East Asia getting there through regional qualifiers.

And following an incredible series of games, Dota2 history was made, when OG became the first team to take two Dota2 championships.

The final again saw two European teams meet, with OG eventually beating Team Liquid 3-1 in a thrilling five hour final to lift the title, along with the second $1.11 million prize money in their short history as a team.

The Boston Winter Major (December)

boston major tournament

This first Major of the 2016/17 season saw the action move to the Americas for the first time outside The International. And Boston sure put on a show, with organisers PGL welcoming fans to the opulent luxury of the 3,600 seater Wang Theatre to watch more Dota2 history unfold.

Another Major meant another format change; this time removing the double-elimination bracket of previous Majors and instead having the 16 teams seeded into a single elimination bracket based on their group stage performances. The team selection breakdown went back to Frankfurt and Shanghai, with eight directly invited teams and eight from regional qualifiers, two from each Dota2 region.

And what a tournament it was, with massive games through the series, all leading to a magnificent third Major title for the incredible team OG. Winning $1million and lifting the Eaglesong trophy after a final playing Ad Finem. OG were simply magnificent all tournament, dropping just two matches on their way to a 3-1 victory over Ad Finem. OGs dominance of Dota2 continues, as does the European region, although with a second place at their first Majors, Greece’s Ad Finem marked themselves out as one team to watch this season.

The Kiev Spring Major (April)

kiev major tournament

Another Major, another victory for team OG, their fourth Major title. Unstoppable? Pretty much.

Again, the cream of the crop of professional Dota2 teams took part in this very latest Major, competing once more for their share of that $3million prize pot at the National Palace of Arts Ukraine.

Sixteen teams in the Major again, with eight directly invited and eight battling to the Major through regional qualifiers. As with Boston, teams got through the group stages to face off in the seeded and exciting single elimination bracket.

And as with Boston, it was team OG who claimed their next Major title, number 4, another $1million in their prize banks. Five Majors, four wins, over $4million in prize money. Incredible doesn’t really begin to sum it all up does it? Although this time, things weren’t as one sided as in Boston, with OG having to fight hard against Team Random, Team Faceless and EG before facing off against, definitely the crowd’s favorite. And what a final it was, with pulling ahead 2-1 only to have OG tie the game and take it to only the second game five decider in Major history.

Dota 2 – Other premier tournaments

With the rise and rise of Dota2 across the world and the massive successes of both The International and The Majors, other sponsors came on board to introduce new Dota2 tournaments. These are the best of those events:


esl one tournament

This tournament for Dota 2 began in 2013, sponsored by the Electronic Sports League (ESL) and since then, they’ve organised eleven tournaments across the globe, attracting millions of fans and the best teams in the Dota2 world. Initially called EMS One (ESL Major Series One) and for Europe’s best teams with an initial prize pot of $156,000, it’s changed to ESL One and each tournament gets progressively bigger and richer.

ESL One is more an esports festival, generally featuring eight teams competing in massive sports stadiums in front of massive and adoring crowds. Dota2 ESL One tournaments have taken place in Frankfurt, New York, Manila, and Genting, with the next taking place in October 2017 in the German city of Hamburg with a prize pot of $250,000.

Here are the results of the ESL One tournaments so far with winners, second place, finals score and prize pool:

ESL One Frankfurt 2014 (28th-29th June) 1st – Invictus Gaming, 2nd – Evil Geniuses (2-1) $210,900
ESL One New York 2014 (9th-10th Oct) 1st – Vici Gaming, 2nd – Evil Geniuses (2-1) $141,010
ESL One Frankfurt 2015 (20th-21st June) 1st – Team Secret, 2nd – Evil Geniuses (3-1) $286,622
ESL One New York 2015 (3rd-4th Oct) 1st – Vega Squadron, 2nd – Team Secret (2-1) $286,622
ESL One Manila 2016 (23rd-24th April) 1st – Wings Gaming, 2nd – Team Liquid (3-0) $250,000
ESL One Frankfurt 2016 (18th-19th June) 1st – OG, 2nd – Natus Vincere (3-0) $314,545
ESL One Genting 2017 (6th-8th Jan) 1st – Digital Chaos, 2nd – Newbee (3-2) $250,000
ESL One Hamburg 2017 (28th-29th Oct) $250,000

The Summit

dota summit
The Summit started life as a Dota 2 tournament created by the Beyond the Summit broadcasters that began in 2014. The idea initially was to have something of a behind the scenes tournament to allow fans to stream footage of all their favourite players outside a normal tournament routine. The Summit is held at the Los Angeles Beyond The Summit house annually.

The eight competing teams gain entry through BTS invitation (the previous winner), regional online qualifiers and a team voted in via Compendium players who add to the prize pot. Teams battle through a double elimination bracket playing best of three matches until the best of five grand finals. The Summit 7 takes place in June 2017.

Results of previous Summit competitions:

Summit 1 (5th-8th June 2014) 1st – Evil Geniuses, 2nd – Team DK (3-2) $132,350
Summit 2 (3rd-7th Dec 2014) 1st – Vici Gaming, 2nd – Cloud9 (3-1) $310,912
Summit 3 (13th-17th May 2015) 1st – Team Secret, 2nd – Evil Geniuses (3-1) $271,685
Summit 4 (9th-13th Dec 2015) 1st – Evil Geniuses, 2nd – (3-2) $114,866
Summit 5 (13th-17th July 2016) 1st – Wings Gaming, 2nd – OG (3-1) $101,044
Summit 6 (16th-20th Nov 2016) 1st –, 2nd – OG (3-0) $100,000
The Summit 7 (14th-18th June 2017)


epicenter tournament
EPICENTER is a relatively new tournament organised by Epic esports Events that held its debut event in 2016 at the Crocus City Hall, Moscow, Russia.

In 2016, eight of the best Dota 2 teams in the world compete for the massive $500,000 prize fund. This year’s EPICENTER takes place in June 2017 at the VTB Ice Palace, Moscow and will feature ten teams; six invited, with 4 regional qualifiers, one each from Americas, CIS-Europe, South East Asia, and China. Of the 6 direct invitees we only know that OG and Evil Geniuses will be there at the time of writing.

The 2016 final featured Team Liquid and Newbee, with Team Liquid ending the final as victors and earning themselves $250,000 in winnings.

ZOTAC Cup Masters

zotac cup masters
The ZOTAC Cup Masters is a new 2017 tournament taking place at the 4F Nangang Convention Center Taipei in Taiwan between May 30th and June 3rd 2017. The ZOTAC Cup Masters are hosted by ZOTAC, a leading gaming hardware manufacturer and a long time player in the smaller ZOTAC Cup tournaments.

Eight teams will compete for a $100,000 prize pool, with two invited directly and qualifiers from China (1), Europe (2), SEA (2), Americas (1). At the time of writing we only know of three qualifiers; Cloud9 – Europe Qualifier #1, Fnatic – SEA Qualifier #1, and Invictus Gaming – the sole China Qualifier.

Manila Masters

The Manila Masters is another new series of premier tournaments from hosts ESL and the Mineski-Events Team. After the success of the Valve Manila Major 2016, ESL and Mineski are looking to tap into the passionate Dota2 following of the Philippines and the entire SE Asia region with this series offering a $250,000 USD prize pool.

This tournament will take place between 26th and 28th May 2017 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Eight teams will battle it out for the prize. The five announced invitees are Evil Geniuses, OG, Newbee, Team Secret, Team NP. Invictus Gaming appear as China qualifiers, Team Faceless as the SEA qualifiers and there’s one place open for a Philippines qualifier still to be announced.

StarLadder i-League Invitational

star ladder invitational
Another debutant tournament in 2016, the StarLadder i-League Invitational first took place in the Kiev Cybersport Arena, organised by StarLadder and ImbaTV. The tournament offers an impressive prize pool of $100,000. The first finals saw Vici Gaming Reborn defeat Natus Vincere to take home the 1st prize of $45,000.
The second annual event takes place in Shanghai, China, from 18 to 21st of May.

Dota 2 Asia Championships

dota 2 asia championship
The Dota 2 Asia Championships began in 2015 with the second event in 2017. The DAC is often referred to as The International of the East. The tournament boasts two invited Chinese teams, two from the rest of the world. Regional qualifiers fill the other four slots for the tournament, four from China, and one each from the Dota 2 regions of America, South East Asia, Europe and CIS to make up the final twelve teams to battle it out for the $600,000+ prize pool.

The Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017 took place on March 27th to April 4th in Shanghai and saw Invictus Gaming defeat OG to take the $244,798 first prize.

Dota Pit League Season 5

dota pit season 5
Dota Pit League began back in 2014 as a small online tournament, but since Season 4, with the introduction of an offline LAN finals and injection of more prize money, it’s joined the ranks of premier Dota2 events.

Open qualifying leads to the finals, with two direct invitees in 2017 plus regional qualifiers. The grand finals for 2017 took place on January 20th-22nd at the Spaladium in Split, Croatia with Evil Geniuses beating OG to take the title and their share of the $139,000 prize pot, increased from $125,000 through in game tickets and add-ons.

World Electronic Sports Games 2016

world electronic sports games
The World Electronic Sports Games 2016 is a massive, worldwide esports tournament that features Dota2 amongst other well known esports. Qualifying began in August 2016 with the grand finals rather confusingly taking place in January 2017 in Changzhou, China.

With a massive prize pool of $1.5million this premier Dota2 event attracts teams from all across the globe, including smaller teams from the often overlooked region of Middle East and Africa (MEA). Other regions are Asia-Pacific (APAC), Europe & CIS, Americas. The tournament boasted twenty-four teams in total.

This year, the victors were TNC Pro Team, beating Cloud9 2:1 in the final to walk away with $800,000 prize money.

Bookmakers that offer Dota 2 Tournament betting

With the incredible rise in popularity of esports over the last few years it’s now becoming something that more and more bookmakers are offering. So where and how should you place those important esports bets?

We’d recommend Betway as a first choice. They’ve consistently offered a combination of great coverage of all the premier tournaments and events, excellent esports specific bonuses and fine odds.

Bet 365 impress with their range of in-play esports and Dota2 betting as well as a great range of alternative betting options in addition to simple match betting.
After these two, there are a number of excellent and most importantly for your esports betting, reputable online bookmakers offering a range of betting options on esports and Dota2 that includes Sky BET, PaddyPower, William Hill , 888 sport and Betfair.