A Look Ahead to The International 2018 and Its Betting Opportunities
Published on August 16, 2018
Can you imagine being awarded over $10 million for winning a video game competition?
Despite the professional esports scene now being firmly established and tournaments regularly featuring multimillion-dollar prize pools, I still find myself amazed at just how much money can be made from playing video games.
I’ve been following the esports scene for a while now, primarily because of the betting opportunities on offer. So, I’m fully aware that the big tournaments attract huge worldwide audiences and plenty of sponsorship.
I also understand the argument that professional video gamers should be considered skilled athletes in the same way that professional football players or basketball players are. For some reason, though, I just can’t quite equate someone playing video games to an elite quarterback or top point guard.
Nonetheless, it is with great excitement that I look forward to the next major esports tournament. This month sees the return of The International, the premier annual championship for Dota 2. The 2018 edition looks set to feature a record-breaking prize pool of around $25 million, of which more than 40% will go to the winning team.
The International was actually the very first esports event I wagered on, back in 2015. I’ve been betting on esports ever since, and I’m currently formulating my strategy for the upcoming tournament.
I’ll be writing a post with some predictions and recommended bets for The International 2018, but I’m still doing my research and analysis for that. So, in the meantime, I thought I’d take an initial look ahead to the tournament and the betting opportunities on offer.
The International has been held annually since 2011. It’s hosted by Valve Corporation, the developer of the Dota 2 game, and it’s widely viewed as one of the most prestigious esports tournaments on the circuit.
This year’s edition is being held at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada. The main event starts on August 20th and will feature 16 leading esports teams from around the world.
The prize pool for the tournament has once again been funded through the sale of “Battle Passes.” These passes are in-game purchases available in Dota 2, rewarding players with various benefits and enhancements to gameplay.
20% of the proceeds from all Battle Pass purchases is allocated to the prize pool for The International. They’re extremely popular, which is why the prize money on offer in this tournament is such an astonishing amount.
Just in case I hadn’t already made my incredulity clear, I thought I’d mention the prize pool for The International 2018 once again…
To put this sum of money into some kind of sporting context, it’s over DOUBLE the amount of prize money awarded at this year’s U.S. Open. Yes, that’s the renowned annual golf tournament that’s been established for over 100 years.
Poor old Brooks Koepka took home a mere $2.1 million for winning the 2018 U.S. Open and beating a field of over 150 of the world’s best golfers. How he must wish he’d learned to play Dota 2 instead of perfecting his swing for hours every day for years and years.
Okay, enough already.
Just to be clear, I don’t begrudge professional esports players the amount of money they make or anything like that. I simply find it astounding that competitive video gaming has exploded to such a degree over a relatively short period of time.
Moving on, the main event will feature two brackets in a double-elimination format. Teams in the upper bracket will play best-of-three matches with the winners advancing to the next round and the losing teams being placed in the lower bracket.
Teams in the lower bracket will initially play best-of-one matches. The winners of each match will progress to the next round, and the losers will be eliminated. All subsequent rounds will be best-of-three matches.
The winner of the upper bracket and the winner of the lower bracket will advance to the grand finals for a best-of-five match to determine the overall champions.
Prior to the main event taking place, there is a group stage featuring two groups of nine teams. This stage started yesterday and will continue until Saturday.
Eight of the 18 teams in the group stage were invited directly into the tournament for their performances on the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC). These are as follows.
The DPC is a new ranking system for Dota 2 that was introduced by Valve Corporation in 2017. Any official Dota 2 tournament with a prize pool of $500,000 or greater is classified as a “Major,” while tournaments with a prize of $150,000 – $500,000 are classified as a “Minor.”
Teams are awarded ranking points based on their finishing positions in both Majors and Minors. The eight teams with the most points earn their direct invitation to The International.
The remaining ten teams in the group stage are listed below. These earned their spots through the qualification process.
The qualification process started in June with 12 regional tournaments. The top teams then progressed to the main qualifiers to fight for a place in the group stage.
Of the 18 teams currently competing in the group stage, only two will miss out on the main event.
There are some betting opportunities to be had during this group stage, but I plan on waiting until the final 16 teams are decided before putting any money down.
Let’s now take a look at the main betting markets for The International 2018.
The betting market I’ll be focusing on initially is the outright winner of the tournament. Here are the odds available at the moment.
These are courtesy of Betway, a UK sports betting site. This is a great option if you live in the UK, Europe, or some other regions, but I can’t actually bet there from the United States, as they don’t accept American customers.
I typically use BetOnline and a couple of other US-friendly sites for my esports betting, but none of them have markets open for the winner of the tournament yet. I suspect that they’re waiting for the final 16 teams to be known before releasing their odds.
Before I get into some initial analysis of the above odds, this is a timely moment to stress the importance of thinking carefully about which site to use for betting on The International 2018.
The rise in popularity of esports betting has led to most betting sites covering esports to some extent these days. This means you have plenty of options for where to bet. Don’t just bet with any old site, though.
If you check out our list of Dota 2 betting sites, you’ll find the highest-ranked sites available in your region. There’s also some advice on how to choose the right site for your own personal needs. Please take the time to read through that, as there’s some useful stuff to bear in mind.
Okay, back to those odds. As you can see, there are three clear favorites to win the tournament and not much between them. There are also a few mid-priced teams and some longshots.
I like betting markets like this. When there’s just one clear favorite, it usually means there’s no value to be had, but that’s not the case here. Each of the three favorites is at a price where the potential payout is reasonably attractive. It’s not going to be easy to decide which one to back, of course, but at least there’s a worthwhile return to be had for getting it right.
There are also some interesting opportunities for backing two or even three teams. At this point, I’m thinking I’ll probably look to pick one of the favorites and one of the mid-priced teams for sure, and maybe take a shot on one of the outsiders, too.
I’ll get into all that in more detail in my next post. If you’re looking to make a bet beforehand, though, I’d definitely recommend spreading your money around a bit in a market like this.
The other betting markets I’ll be focusing on during The International 2018 are those for the individual matches. I doubt I’ll be able to preview each match for you, I’m afraid, but I will offer some general advice on match betting in my next post.
For now, the best thing to do is start looking into the teams and their recent form. Do some analysis into their strengths and weaknesses, and try to formulate an opinion about how well they’re likely to do in this competition.
The International 2018 is shaping up to be an awesome event. If you’re already an esports fan, you’re surely just as excited about it as I am.
If you haven’t jumped on board the esports hype train yet, this is a good tournament to start with. Competitive video gaming might not be the greatest spectator sport in the world, but it can definitely be entertaining in its own way. And things can get pretty intense when there’s $25 million at stake.
There are also plenty of betting opportunities to try to take advantage of. Make sure you’re prepared for them by getting yourself an account at a suitable esports betting site and doing some initial research on the teams taking part.
Like I said, I’ll be back in a couple of days with some thoughts on where to put your money. We won’t be making as much as the winning team, but we can definitely try to turn some kind of profit.
See you soon!