Dota 2's The International starts today

Phil Savage at

Dota 2's The International is here. While the finals won't kick-off until Friday, 18th July, the playoffs for the main competition's few remaining places will start in just a few hours. Here's why you should be excited. One: it's the biggest event in e-sports, with a prize pool of over $10 million. Two: this year, Valve are providing multiple ways to watch, with a separate stream dedicated to those unfamiliar with the game.

Today's matches mark the first part of the phase one playoff—with three best-of-three matches scheduled. Virtus.Pro, MVP, CIS Game and Liquid will be fighting it out for a spot in phase two. The action, as with all future playoff games, will begin at 9am PDT / 5pm BST. You can watch from the (free) Dota 2 client, where Valve have a catch-up system should you miss the live event. Alternatively, watch it your browser.

Just like last year, our Three Lane Highway correspondent Chris Thursten will be covering the main competition live from Seattle. At this point he's more Dota than man, and will be bringing interviews and analysis from the tournament floor.

If you're unfamiliar with Dota 2, Chris previously produced a guide to watching the game as a newcomer.