A 2021 Guide To Dota 2 Tournaments ▧

Most Dota 2 tournaments take place within a circuit, called the Dota Pro Circuit.

Each year, they start during the months of Autumn, usually 4 weeks after the end of The International.

In the current format, there are five Minors and five Majors per season, plus qualifiers for all of them.

In this article, I will make a brief introduction to this system and discuss the various types of Dota 2 tournaments that you’ll come across.

Top Dota 2 Tournaments

The Dota Pro Circuit

The Dota Pro Circuit generally starts at the end of September, with qualifiers for the first event, which usually takes place at the start of November.

This event is always a Minor, or a tournament that offers $300,000 in prizes and 660 qualification points for The International.

Immediately after this first event, comes a second event. This one is a Major, or a tournament that offers $1 million in prizes and 15,000 qualification points for The International.

The circuit has five such iterations in total, consisting of qualifiers, a Minor and a Major.

Here are the basics regarding each of these iterations.

Roman Kosolapo/123RF

Dota 2 Qualifiers

Qualifiers are tournaments that precede each pair of events.

These tournaments usually have around eight teams. Most of these teams receive direct invitations based on their previous performances and their status within the DPC.

Since they offer qualification points, it’s quite easy to pick the directly invited teams even at this level. Because not only the big competitors have such points, but everyone who has ever taken part in a DPC event: Major, Minor, or Qualifier.

For each qualifier, two teams come from the Open Qualifiers, which are Dota 2 tournaments that involve an entire region. If you think you’re good enough, you can simply enlist and participate.

The Dota Pro Circuit has six official regions: North America, South America, Europe, CIS, China, and Southeast Asia. Each of these regions has its own qualification tournament, with Open Qualifiers included. The goal here is to find the best teams in every region and then give them a chance to qualify for the next Major or Minor.

Some regions receive two spots at the Major while others receive three. The same goes for Minors.

In total, a Major has 16 participants and 15 of the 16 tickets are offered via the Qualifiers, to the best 2-3 teams in every region. The remaining ticket goes to the winner of the Minor that precedes the Major.


Dota 2 Minors

Every Minor brings together eight teams. All of these teams come from qualifiers. Two of the six regions receive two spots while the other four receive just one.

This is based on how the distribution for the Major was made and the strength of each region.

Right now, Europe and China are considered to be the strongest regions.

Dota 2 Minors usually last for 4-5 days and they take place in two stages.

The Group Stage consists of two groups. Each of them is played in the GSL format (double-elimination). Every match is Bo3. In the end, the top two teams from each group advance to the Playoffs and compete in another GSL tournament.

The Grand Final is Bo5.


Dota 2 Majors

Majors feature 16 participants and usually last for 9 days.

Their competitive format includes two stages: Groups and Playoffs.

For the first stage, the teams get divided into four groups.

Each group is played using a double-elimination format. Every match is Bo3.

The top two teams from each group advance to the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs. The bottom two teams advance to the Lower Bracket.

The Playoffs stage is identical to that of The International. Every match is Bo3, except for the first round of Lower Bracket matches (Bo1) and the Grand Final (Bo5).

The format used here is double-elimination (GSL).

The most important thing about the Majors, apart from the prize pool, is the number of qualification points it offers. These points are distributed among the 16 participants and the reason why they are used is very simple: to separate the best of the best.

At the end of the DPC, the top 12 teams receive direct invitations to The International and are guaranteed a substantial amount of money as a result.

In 2019, apart from the 17th – 18th place competitors, which received $85,000 each, even the 13th – 16th place teams got more than $500,000.

That’s a huge amount of money for merely participating in a tournament and not finishing last.


Other Dota 2 Tournaments

Apart from the Dota Pro Circuit events, every year we see a number of other Dota 2 tournaments that couldn’t be included in the circuit. Examples of such tournaments include ESL One events, One Esports Dota 2 World Pro Invitational events, DreamLeague events, and so on.

The International

The International is in a class of its own and is regarded as the most important Dota 2 tournament of each season. The event usually takes place between August 15th – 25th, brings together the best 18 teams in the world and offers the best matches of the season.

Throughout the years, The International has grown significantly in popularity and its prize pool has increased by more than 2100%. At the first edition it was $1.6 million. At the 9th edition it was over $34 million.

This goes to show you just how big Dota 2 is these days, and how much it means for the fans.

Dota 2 Prize Pool
Radu Muresan

Radu Muresan

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