Dota 2 developer Valve Software announced on Tuesday (22 June) that The International 10 (TI10), this year's iteration of Dota 2's annual world championship tournament, will be moved away from its planned venue in Stockholm, Sweden, to a different country in Europe after the Swedish government refused to give the tournament official recognition.
TI10 was originally scheduled to be held in the Avicii Arena, formerly known as the Ericsson Globe, in the Swedish capital of Stockholm from 5 to 15 August. The tournament will feature 18 of the best teams in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) battling for the right to claim the Aegis of Champions and a massive US$40 million prize pool.
In a post on the official Dota 2 blog, Valve said that the Swedish government's refusal to recognise TI10 as an 'elite sporting event' means that players, talent, and staff attempting to procure a visa for travel into the country for TI10 will be denied.
In addition, individual border agents would also be free to make decisions regarding entry for those travelling to TI10 from countries outside of Europe who do not typically need a visa to enter Sweden.
Valve explained in length that Stockholm Live, the operators of the Avicii Arena, and Visit Stockholm, the tourism body for Stockholm, have been reassuring the developer over the past year that TI10 "qualified for the same exemptions other elite sporting events there received".
However, Valve revealed that, despite previous reassurances from Stockholm Live and Visit Stockholm, that the Swedish Sports Federation voted not to accept esports into Sweden's sports federation. The developer then attempted to reach out to Sweden's Minister of Interior as well as the Swedish government itself but to no avail.
"In subsequent (and immediate) meetings with the Swedish Esports Federation (SESF) and Visit Stockholm we discovered our only remaining option was to ask Sweden's Minister of the Interior to reclassify The International - Dota 2 Championships as an elite sporting event. Our request was immediately denied. We filed an appeal directly with the Swedish government on June 9, but they were unable to provide assistance. On June 14 we followed up asking them to reconsider, and they have so far been unable to offer a resolution," said Valve.
In light of the Swedish government's apparent refusal to accommodate TI10, Valve stated that they have "started looking for possible alternatives elsewhere in Europe to host the event this year" in the event that the tournament will not be held in Sweden.
"We feel confident that in either instance we will have a solution that allows us to hold TI10 in Europe this year, and that we will be able to announce an updated plan in the very near future. We remain committed to hosting The International this year in a way that is both safe for all involved, and properly celebrates the players and fans of Dota 2. We will be communicating what we find out as soon as we are able," said Valve.
TI10 was originally announced to be held in Stockholm in August 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2019-2020 DPC and the postponement of TI10. Valve then announced back in May that TI10 will be making its return to Sweden this August.
The first-ever iteration of TI back in 2011 was notably held in the GamesCom trade fair in Cologne, Germany. Aside from Germany, other countries that have previously hosted high-profile Dota 2 tournaments in or near Europe include the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Croatia, Romania, Ukraine, and Russia.
For most of its history, TI has been hosted in North America. From 2012 to 2017, the tournament was held in the United States near Valve's home office in Seattle before being moved to Vancouver, Canada in 2018.
The most recent iteration of Dota 2's annual world championship tournament in 2019 was notably held in Shanghai, China, the first time that TI was held outside of the Western Hemisphere.
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