Dota 2 developer Valve Software has finally revealed details for The International (TI) 2023, this year's iteration of the game's annual multimillion-dollar world championship tournament, which features a revamped format for the Group Stage and Main Event.
Valve unveiled the format in a post on the official Dota 2 blog on Saturday (5 August).
There will be a total of 20 teams fighting for a cut of the prize pool and the coveted Aegis of Champions, with the 12 best-performing teams from the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season receiving direct invites while the remaining eight spots will be filled through the regional qualifiers later this month.
Unlike previous TI's, this year's tournament will be split into two distinct phases, called 'The Road to The International' and 'The International' itself.
The Road to the International will feature the Group Stage and Playoffs, which will see the 20 participating teams whittled down to the final eight teams. Those final eight squads will then advance to The International proper and fight for the Aegis of Champions.
As with previous iterations of TI, the Group Stage will not be held in front of a live audience, though the Playoffs and The International itself will be hosted in separate venues. The Playoffs will be held in the Seattle Convention Center's Summit while The International proper will be hosted in the Climate Pledge Arena.
The biggest change in format coming in TI 2023 can be seen in the Group Stage, which now has two phases.
The first phase will take place from 12 to 13 October and will split the 20 participating teams into four groups of five teams each, who will then go through a single round-robin with best-of-two matches. The bottom team of each group will be eliminated after the first phase while the remaining 16 teams will advance to the second phase.
The second phase will be held from 14 to 15 October and will have the remaining teams play in eight head-to-head, best-of-three matches to determine placement in the Main Event.
In this phase, the Top 2 teams from each group in phase one will get matched with either the third or fourth-placed teams from the opposite group. To clarify, the Top 2 teams from Group A will be matched against the third and fourth-placed teams from Group C while Group B's will face Group D's.
The winners of the eight head-to-head matches will then earn upper bracket berths in the Playoffs while the losers will have to start from the lower bracket.
TI 2023's Playoffs will take place from 20 to 22 October in the Seattle Convention Center's Summit. It will feature the 16 teams that made it out of the Group Stage fighting to be among the eight teams making it to The International proper.
On 20 October, the eight upper bracket teams will face off in four best-of-three matches. The four winning teams will advance to the upper bracket of The International itself while losing teams will have to continue fighting in the lower bracket of the Playoffs.
The lower bracket of the Playoffs will then be played from 21 to 22 October, featuring 12 teams pitted in eight best-of-three matches. Eight teams will fall in this stage of the competition while four teams will advance to the lower bracket of The International proper.
This year's Dota 2 world champions will then be crowned from the eight remaining teams in TI 2023's The International stage, which will be hosted in the Climate Pledge Arena from 27 to 29 October.
This stage will be the most familiar to Dota 2 fans, featuring a double-elimination bracket with four teams starting in the upper bracket and four others in the lower bracket.
The first two days of The International proper will have four best-of-three matches each day, eventually cutting the competition down to the final three teams. Those three teams will play in the final day of the tournament, which will feature the lower bracket finals and the best-of-five Grand Finals.
Valve said in a blog post explaining the new format for TI 2023 that they "focused on improving the viewing experience for a broader range of fans".
"The International is watched by millions, from casual players to seasoned veterans and retired pros. Every year we look for new opportunities to make The International even more exciting, entertaining and accessible than ever before," said Valve.
"While no format can be perfect, we're always trying to strike a balance between things that have worked in the past and things that could work even better in the future."
Valve said that tickets for TI 2023 will be going on sale in the second half of August. The developer has also yet to share more details on the prize pool for this year's tournament, which will no longer be crowdfunded through the TI Battle Pass.
But while we wait for more details on TI 2023, the tournament's regional qualifiers are coming up soon.
The TI 2023 regional qualifiers will be held from 17 to 31 August, with the competition being split into three five-day phases where two regions will compete in each phase. Two teams from Western Europe and South America apiece will earn spots in TI 2023 while one team each Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, China, and North America can make it out of the regional qualifiers.
The qualifiers for North America and China will kick things off from 17 to 21 August, South America and Eastern Europe will follow from 22 to 26 August, while Western Europe and Southeast Asia will close things out from 27 to 31 August.