Enlarge / The aegis of champions. (credit: Valve)

The biggest competition in all of e-sports is about to kick off in earnest: the Dota 2 International 2017 starts on Monday. Sixteen teams will compete in Seattle's KeyArena for a prize pool of more than $23 million, with the winning team alone picking up more than $10 million.

For reasons that aren't remotely clear to me, there are still a few people out there who don't play this free-to-play gaming masterpiece. Sure, you'll have to sink a breezy few hundred hours into the five-on-five action real-time strategy game to really have a good grasp of it, but it's the most richly rewarding (and occasionally frustrating) gaming experience in the world.

Dota 2 has a large professional competitive scene, driven by several million-dollar tournaments over the year, and Valve's The International is the biggest of them all—the highlight of the Dota 2 calendar. The group stage is already underway, with the main event starting in front of a live Seattle crowd on Monday, August 7th at 10am PT. (You can track the progress at the Flying Courier.)

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