In 2011, Dota esports and honestly, esports as a whole was still in its infant stage. Most players, even some of the top pro esports players, couldn’t really make a living from playing games and the prize pools were small, very small in comparison to what we have today. On 1 August 2011 (or roughly 02:00 on 2 August SA time if I remember correctly), Valve changed the Dota esports scene forever, announcing The International.
Dota 2 wasn’t even released back then and only a few select players were playing the game. You can read the original Dota 2 blog post in full right here. What made this announcement such a historic event is the $1 million prize pool which in 2011 was an insane amount of money for an esports tournament and well above anything we have seen before.
With The International, it was finally possible for professional players not only to make a decent living, but become really rich in the process. The first The International was an invite-only event and took place at Gamescom 2011 from 17 to 21 August. At the time, Gabe “GabeN” Newell said that:
It turned out to be a historic event that I remember watching and thining to myself, this is the game I will play for decades to come. Eight years later and the prize pool for The International 2019 again made esports history, blasting past the $30 million mark and now sitting at a mind-blowing $31.3 million.
Natus Vincere ended up winning the tournament and managed to make their way to the finals of The International 2012 and The International 2013, a feat that has never been repeated since.
Can you remember the first The International? Watch the first Free-to-Play documentary below to learn more about the tournament that changed the esports landscape forever.
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