The biggest event on the Dota 2 [official site] calendar is almost upon us, The International. Valve's huge tournament starts on August 3rd, hosted in Seattle as ever, but folks at home can now join in the fun too. The International Compendium update is now live, with packs of virtua Dota Top Trumps cards to collect, swap, and put into fantasy challenge sorts of... look, it's all complicated. I'll explain. But most exciting is the launch of the Dota 2 VR Hub, a way to watch matches in cyberspace which I assume lets you nestle between Tidehunter's legs like he's a big salty armchair.
So! The Compendium remains Valve's Dota 2 sticker album sort of thing, a virtual book celebrating the tournament with all sorts of challenges for funsies - not to mention to win extra hats for your wizards. It comes with the Battle Pass, which costs $9.99 and includes loads of cosmetic odds and ends to get you started.
The Compendium update brings trading cards of players back once again, giving Compendiumeers 15 packs containing random cards. As well as being collectable and whatnot, these can be used in the daily Fantasy Challenges. Each day, owners can select five of their player cards to receive points based on how well they do in that game's matches. It's a bit like a fantasy team but daily and you're not locked into a roster. This will, naturally, reward Battle Points that boost your Battle Pass level - which gets you more wizard hats.
Maybe this is what all the people who used to make silly Steam Sale guff shifted to working on.
Predictions are back too, for folk to guess how well each team will do. You'll need to wait until August 6th to start guessing.
Also here is the long-teased VR spectator mode, letting folks slip on their cybergoggles to get a closer look at the action. Folks can sit back and watch it as if on a screen or go stomping around over the battlefield themselves. It's also got a little dressing-up booth to inspect your wizards in their finery up close and personal. Pip's trying jacking into cyberspace to have a look at all this, and may be reporting back later.
Battle Pass sales also boost the International's prize pool, which is up to a record $18,796,317 as I write this.
I'm really keen to see how this year's International will be as a show, given how good the Manilla Major was in June.