The competitive Dota 2 esports scene is very top-heavy, meaning the big tournaments often have millions of dollars on the line while the lower tier competitions will rarely break the $10,000 mark.
This means that for the most part, the only competitions you will want to watch are those in the Dota Pro Circuit, the year-long series of events that give teams that perform well points that lead to qualification for The International, the end of year world championship.
All tournaments in the Dota Pro Circuit feature qualifiers in every major region, and all end in a LAN event to make sure teams all play on an even playing field.
The Minor events offer a prize pool of at least $250,000 and the winners will get a spot in the next Major. The Major tournaments offer at least $1 million in prize money and more DPC points.
At the end of the regular season, the teams with the most DPC points are directly invited to The International, with those teams that miss out still having a chance to qualify in the regional qualifiers.
Open qualifiers also mean that any team of five players can try and win a spot at The International, the largest esports event in the world.
Almost every Dota 2 tournament will feature some kind of group stage to kick things off, and most will then transition to a double elimination knockout bracket, with the top teams from the group stage starting in the upper bracket and those who didn’t do so well in the losers bracket.
Teams that lose in the winners’ bracket will be knocked down to the losers bracket, and a loss in the losers bracket will mean elimination from the competition.
Some group stages will operate best of one, or best of two, series, but for the most part, Dota 2 matches are played as best of threes, with most tournament grand finals being a best of five.