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cand15_001 The International 7, the seventh iteration of Dota 2’s premiere event, begins today in Seattle. The International Dota 2 Championships 2017, but “TI7” for short – is the Super Bowl of Dota 2. Hosted each year in Seattle by the game’s publisher, Valve, it is an esports extravaganza that draws in fans from all over the world. This year’s prize pool is approaching $23,000,000, over $10,000,000 of which will go to the winning team.

Valve pays for the event via crowd funding. Each year, the company releases a Battle Pass (previously known as the Compendium), an interactive booklet filled with goodies that players can buy and spend money to level up. A portion of the proceeds from Battle Pass sales goes to funding the prize pool, and it’s something of a tradition among Dota 2 fans to try to outdo the previous year’s outlandish sum.

There are 18 teams competing in Seattle from six regions: Europe, North America, South America, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, A.K.A. former Soviet republics), China, and Southeast Asia. Teams could qualify in one of two ways. Six teams received direct invites to The International based on their performance since the last International, while the other 12 teams were forced to qualify through a series of regional competitions.

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