Dota 2’s annual marquee tournament, The International 10 (TI10), may switch venues and be held in New Zealand, according to Valve founder and CEO Gabe Newell.
"It's a realistic possibility and it gets more realistic all the time," Newell said in an interview with New Zealand network TVNZ.
"If I had to guess when it would be safe to do an in-person tournament anywhere else in the world, it would be very hard for me to say that — whereas I think, with a lot of confidence, we'd be able to plan for that in New Zealand.
TI10 was originally planned to be held in August last year in Stockholm, Sweden. However, both the event and last year’s Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite its cancellation last year, TI10 holds the record of the biggest prize pool for a single esports tournament with a whopping US$40 million pot. The tournament’s massive prize pool surpassed the previous record of US$34 million held by its predecessor, TI9, and was attained through crowdfunding.
While the DPC has already restarted earlier this month in the form of online regional leagues, there are plans still in place for the circuit to host three in-person tournaments: two Majors in March and June, as well as TI10 in August, with TI10 set to be held in Stockholm once again.
With all three tournaments gathering teams from all over the world, hosting them in-person is a necessity. However, questions surrounding the health and safety of players, talent, and production staff involved in such events understandably linger considering the coronavirus pandemic continues to run rampant throughout most of the world.
New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world that has been able to control the spread of the virus. The country was able to declare itself free from the coronavirus two separate times in June and October last year before new cases forced the re-implementation of restrictions.
As of the time of writing, New Zealand has reported 79 active cases within its borders.
New Zealand’s capable handling of the pandemic is one of the reasons why Newell has strongly considered holding TI10, as well as other Valve tournaments, in the country.
Newell said that he, alongside his family and a group of friends, went to New Zealand for a holiday early last year before the worsening pandemic made him decide that the "most sensible" option would be to stay in the country.
"Hopefully the procedures can be put in place so that [hosting TI10 in New Zealand] becomes feasible — like, you know, this is what the quarantine would look like,” said Newell.
"As long as [the coronavirus] keeps mutating, it certainly is increasing the likelihood that we'll be having events here."
Aside from planning to move TI10, as well as Valve employees, to New Zealand, Newell says he is also hoping to stay in the country “for the foreseeable future”.
Check out esports videos from Yahoo TV: