This past weekend marked a milestone for esports with Valve’s record-breaking International 3 taking stage at the Seattle Benaroya Hall. TI3 not only shattered viewership records set by previous International tournaments, but also set a new bar for cash prizes in esports, offering up over $2.8 million USD to the best players in the world.

Broadcasters from all around the globe took to their streams, featuring live commentary in English, Chinese, Russian, Korean, German and Portugues.  The Swedish station TV6 Sverige also aired the finals live, making the broadcast available to virtually every Swede with a television.

The International 3 was executed with near perfection, leaving fans with little to be desired.  We broke it down into 5 key components that made #TI3 stand out from other events:

1. An AMAZING final series

Many fans smiled as their dream of a final series unfolded before their eyes, with Alliance, the only team to not drop a series, facing off against Na’Vi, the only team to reach the finals in all three International tournaments. The series erupted into a five match, best of five series that had the entire crowd on the edge of their seats. Fans have labeled the fifth match of the series as one of the best matches of all time, culminating with the under-farmed Alliance outmaneuvering Na’Vi to split-push barracks and secure a win from against the ropes.

2. Variety of broadcasters & hosts

Seasoned broadcasters of every flavor were there, including: LD, Luminous, Tobiwan, Wagamamma, Sheever, Bdiz, Ayesee, Draskyl, and more. Valve really mixed things up by bringing in one of Seattle’s professional news anchors, Kaci Aithison, to host the event and conduct interviews in between matches. Kaci received a lot of praise on reddit for a job well done hosting the event and her enthusiasm about esports.

3. Live stats during in-game broadcast

Valve really stepped up their game this time around, with live statistics that appeared periodically during the live matches.  They had a full time team of three powered by datDota behind the scenes, who were listening to the live commentary and reporting relevant stats to enhance our viewing experience.

The stats were quick and simple, but they did an effective job of telling the story of the tournament and exemplifying why these matches are the pinnacle of competitive Dota.

4. Post game analysis panel

Every match streamed live from the Seattle Benaroya Hall was followed by analysis from a panel consisting of James “2GD” Harding, Ben “Merlini” Wu, Jacob “Maelk” Toft-Andersen, and Bruno “Bruno” Carlucci, the stat man!  Their mix of competitive experience and unique perspective had a huge impact on the overall production of the show.  Spectators were able to get inside the heads of their favorite players and learn more about the competitive Dota 2 scene.

5. Unique interaction with fans

Valve was able to foot most of the bill that supported the largest esports prize pool in history, but they also did something very uncharacteristic of a large corporation. They opened up the floor for supporters of esports participate in the growth of the prize pool, by offering $10 Interactive Compendiums for purchase with $2.50 of every purchase going directly into the prizepool. Compendiums unlocked new prizes as donation goals were met; they “evolve with the tournament” and provide supporters with an enhanced viewing experience. Fans were able to be apart of Dota 2 history by contributing to the record-breaking $2,874,407 USD tournament prize pool.

In related news, TwitchTV announced on Sunday that they had a recording-breaking day of streaming, with over 4.5 million unique viewers watching more than 550 million minutes of live content.  This was due in large part to the massive viewer turn out for The International 3, but also in part by the World Cyber Games America which also took place this past weekend.