The International 2016: get ready for the group stage

The International 2016 began yesterday: it’s the biggest event in the Dota 2 calendar and, with a prize pool creeping ever closer to $20m, the most lucrative esports event in history. Now that the wildcard bracket is behind us we’ve got three days of group stages to look forward to. This massive round-robin will set the brackets for next week’s main event.

The group stage has traditionally been a good place to get a sense of each team’s condition: if we’re in for an underdog success story this year, chances are that it’ll become apparent over the next couple of days. Furthermore, the group stage is when the International metagame tends to emerge. While most teams share a sense of how this version of the game is best played at this point, it’s not unprecedented for these assumptions to be turned on their head as new ideas are deployed during groups.

If you want to follow the full story of this year’s tournament, then, the group stages are worth your attention. Below, you’ll find the practical details you need to tune in. If you’re looking for more information on a particular squad, check out our International teams guide

 The format

The group stage divides the teams into two groups of eight—group A and group B. Teams will play every other team in their group in a best-of-two match. These games will take place over three days. At the end of that period, the top four teams in each group will advance to the main event upper bracket while the remaining teams will face elimination in the lower bracket. 

How to watch 

Matches are played on US west coast time starting at 09:00 PDT (18.00 CEST). Four games will be played concurrently, and as such there are four Twitch streams to follow: one, two, three and four. You can find the official schedule here, and missed matches can be found on the replay section of the official site.

Besides Twitch, you can also watch on DotaTV. There’s also a full set of spectator tools within the game client, which allows you to choose your own commentary team and control the camera yourself. This year, Valve have also launched the Dota VR Hub—a spectacular way to follow the action ‘on the ground’ using the HTC Vive. 

Keep reading PC Gamer Pro for news and highlights from the International as it happens.