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Valve is making significant changes to classic The International format with TI12

Dota 2 has never been afraid of trying something new, and that same attitude is coming to Seattle in October for The International.

TI12 will feature some big changes to its format, with adjustments made to its typical schedule, group stage, and the classic lower bracket best-of-ones, Valve announced over the weekend.

TI11’s schedule is here to stay

Credit: Valve

Last year’s TI in Singapore saw massive changes to the usual schedule — The International was split up into three distinct phases, each happening over the weekend with breaks in between. This was a marked departure from the past events, which happened consecutively in a space of about two weeks.

It looks like the format is here to stay. TI12 will take place over these dates:

Group Stage: October 12-15

Playoffs: October 20-22

The Finals: October 27-29

“As a landmark esports event, The International attracts viewers who have never played Dota, or even watched a live gaming event,” Valve wrote in the announcement. “We hear a consistent message from first-time watchers: that TI is exciting, but can sometimes feel overwhelming. There are so many matches happening, new viewers can find it difficult to understand which to focus on.”

The group stage and playoffs will be renamed The Road to The International, while The International proper will feature the last eight teams of the playoffs stage, in a bid to make a clearer way to “experience the biggest moments of the event.”

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New group stage features 4 groups to make “every game impactful”

Credit: Valve

Valve acknowledged that the old group stage of twenty teams separate into two groups playing multiple matches a day was “frantic” but “didn’t feel meaningful.”

“It also meant that a lot of matches in the final days of Group Stage were literally meaningless, because they wouldn’t actually affect the final standings,” Valve wrote. “The challenge, then, was to come up with a Group Stage format that heightened the stakes of each and every game.”

TI12 will see four groups of five playing for just two days, with the bottom team in each group eliminated. Then, the remaining 16 teams move on to head-to-head matches with each other, ensuring every team will play each other before the playoffs begin.

It’s a small throwback to the old days of Dota 2 — the very first TI in Cologne, Germany, featured four groups, now more than a decade past.

Lower bracket best-of-ones are gone in TI12

Credit: Valve

After jostling for position in the group stage, eight teams move on to the upper bracket, and eight to the lower bracket. While past lower bracket teams will be jittery at the prospect of high-stakes best-of-ones in the first round, TI12 will see all matches played as a best-of-three.

The Finals, and The International proper, will see eight teams battling from October 27 to 29. At the end of it all, no matter where they started from, the Aegis of Champions will be lifted — and a new champion crowned.