The International 5 competition structure analysis

As The International 5 is underway, let’s talk about its complex structure and the way it handles performances, elimination and other matters.image

Let’s be honest: last year International was a mess to follow: regional qualifiers, last chance tournament, round robin, double playoff, main bracket, all intricated with one another.

For the 5th iteration of its grand tournament, Valve made things simpler, but retained the multiple phases format. Here’s our break down on these choices:

Open Qualifiers (NA, EU, CN, SEA)


  • Up to 1024 teams
  • Single Elimination bracket
  • Match format: Best of One
  • The winner is qualified for Main Regional Qualifier

Toornament’s notes: the first step to The International is a brutal welcome. Hundreds of opponents and no misstep allowed!

The combination of “Single elimination bracket” and “Best of 1 Matches” is really steep, but what choice do you have, when thousands of competitors around the world want and can take part in it?

This format is very time efficient, but should never be picked for any advanced stage of your competition.

Regional Qualifiers (NA, EU, CN, SEA)


  • 10 teams
  • Group stage : 2 groups of 5
  • Double elimination bracket: Top team of each group enters through the
  • Winner bracket, 2nd team enters the Loser bracket
  • Match format: Best of 3, except for the Finals in Best of 5
  • Winner is qualified for the Wildcard tournament.

Toornament’s Notes: Classic structure. The limited number of participants allow for a double structure format, the classic “Group to Playoff”. This allows a good amount of matches and the right balance of forgiveness when a competitor stumbles.

The only twist here is that your group performance weighs more than usual on the rest of the competition, as the 2nd ranked in the group directly goes to the Loser bracket, instead of entering the Main bracket with a low seed. This method will be used throughout the whole competition.

The Wild Card

  • 4 teams
  • Double Elimination Bracket
  • Match format: Best of 3
  • Top 2 teams advance to the Main Event
  • Bottom 2 teams are eliminated

Toornament’s notes: A small, quick competition qualifying the two last teams for the Main Event. This phase wasn’t necessary, as the organizer could just have invited 12 teams instead of 14 and qualified the 4 winners of the Regional Qualifiers.

We think it’s a good way to start the Main Event with an appetizer, and a perfect rehearsal for the admin, streaming and casting teams.

Main Event – Group Stage

  • 16 teams
  • 2 groups of 8
  • Round Robin: Everybody plays each other within a group
  • Match format: 2 games. 2-0 earns 3 points, 1-1 earns 1 point, 0-2 earns 0 points
  • The top 4 teams of each group enter the main Bracket, the Bottom 4 teams of each group enter the Loser Bracket

Toornament’s notes: This is The International specialty: a huge amount of 112 matches being played in the course of 4 days. Still, the largest phase of the competition doesn’t eliminate anyone.

The rankings it produces are purely Seed intended, as everyone will go to the next phase no matter what. Again, Valve leans toward the “top to the winner bracket, bottom to the loser bracket” method.

We thus feel that this phase is very forgiving for everyone and that the organizers want to give as much chances as possible to every participant. We wouldn’t expect less from the most anticipated Esport tournament of the year.

Main Event – Playoff

  • 16 teams
  • Double Elimination bracket
  • Match format: Best of 3, except the Grand Finals using Best of 5 and the Loser Bracket Round 1 using Best of 1

Toornament’s notes: The last phase of The International 5 follows the ever popular Double Elimination Bracket, adding two modifications to the original model: at the very end, the Grand Final is a Best of 5 match, instead of a set of Best of 3 matches, where the competitor coming from the Loser Bracket has to “reset” the Finals by winning a first Best of 3, whereas the competitor from the Winner Bracket just needs one set to win it all.

At the very beginning of the tournament, Valve has left a steep Loser Bracket 1st round for the bottom competitors. This round is played in a Best of 1 match, meaning a swift elimination for 4 of the bottom teams.

We do understand this decision – Group Stage rankings must come with a price, or no teams will be motivated to really perform, or show their strategies and best moves.

Final Wrap Up


The International is really one of a kind. Its much hyped, crowdfunded money prize is the talk of the town, but its competition structure is worth a look. Valve went with a very unique way to treat its competitors, going from brutal phases to more forgiving ones

The fact that all the teams play a lot of matches over an extended period says one thing for us: The International is a massive competition, but also a massive  celebration of DOTA 2 as a game, a community and an Esport discipline.

The generous amount of matches reminds us the NBA league, where the fans get plenty of show and exciting moments. The extended length of the competition – 2 weeks from the start of the Wild Card to the Finals of the Main Event – leans toward the World Cup (4 weeks), which gives time for everyone to celebrate.

As a tournament organizer, you should take notes from The International. There are great ideas (we haven’t even talked about All-star matches, 1v1, media days, days off etc.) to keep in mind, but also lessons you should take as a warning. The main one being that The International is a huge event with huge resources. Valve did a good a job to size the need for their phases, but few people and companies can afford the millions of dollars needed.

All in all, always think about your competitors and the audience experience! The right balance between the amount of matches, the timeframe and people’s endurance will be key to your success. Share with us your ideal Tournament structure and in the meantime, let’s enjoy The International 5!

Pubstomps, here is The International 5 Toornament TV for you!

The International, the most anticipated Dota 2 event of the year, is about to begin. As all the Dota champions and lucky fans will be gathered in Seattle, “pubstomps” around the world will broadcast the $17M tournament, so that Esport fans can watch the matches and have a nice beer.

If you happen to host a pubstomp, we have good news for you!


As our team covers all the tournament from July 26 to August 8, our Toornament TV solution will be up and ready. Quick reminder: Toornament TV is our smart, automated solution to display all the latest results, scores and schedules, photos and twitter feed.

We’ve even designed a special skin for The International 5, so that your pubtomp’s screen perfectly fits in the atmosphere. Of course, our “The International 5” Toornament TV, is completely free to use and share. So feel free to get it and enhance your pubstomp experience!

The International 5: all scores, stats and streams on Toornament

This year Dota 2 largest tournament is poised to be the largest tournament in Esport history. With a jaw-dropping $17M prize money, heavy logistics and all the best teams in the world, the 5th installment of Valve’s own Esport event looks better than ever.


It will also be a long run effort for all participants, as the tournament will follow 3 different steps over a record span of 14 days!

  • Wild Card tournament on Sunday, July 26
  • Group stage on July 27-30
  • Main event on August 3-8

We will cover 100% of the matches and provide you with all results, scores, stats, stream and VODs links. Enjoy !


  • Format: Double Elimination, no Grand Finals
  • Top two teams advance to group stage
  • Bottom two teams are eliminated
  • All matches are best of three

Toornament Widget for the Wild Card tournament. Feel free to share and embed it everywhere!

Get the embed code and the customisation options here:


  • Format: Group
  • Two groups of eight teams
  • Teams play every other team in their group in a best of 2
  • Top four teams in each group advance to upper bracket of the Main Event
  • Bottom four teams in each group advance to lower bracket of the Main Event


  • Format: Double Elimination, Grand Finals
  • Sixteen teams play in a double elimination format over six days
  • Eight teams begin in the upper bracket, eight in the lower bracket
  • First lower bracket game is best of one, Grand Finals are best of five, all others are best of three

Toornament Widget for the Group stage and Main Event tournaments. Feel free to share and embed it everywhere!

Get the embed code and the customisation options here:

The Esport events covered on Toornament this week end

This week end will mark the end of the Western LCS splits, the finals for CEVO and Smite Pro and last but not least, the launch of Valve’s long awaited Dota 2 tournament, The International 5.

We’ll keep you posted with these great events, covering them with scores, results, stats and streams/VODs links.

Enjoy and feel free to share/embed them !

LCS North America Summer Split


LCS Europe Summer Split


Smite Pro League Season 2 Finals


CEVO Season 7: Professional Finals


ESL One: Cologne 2015 – EU Offline Qualifier Group 1

ESL One: Cologne 2015 – EU Offline Qualifier Group 2

The International 5

For more details about our coverage on The International 5, go check this post!