In August 2020, Dota 2’s world championship, The International, was supposed to take place in Stockholm. But now it looks like the major event will be postponed until 2021. Last year’s tournament occurred in Shanghai’s 18,000 Mercedes Benz Arena with a prize pool totaling $35 million. According to event organizers, they will share more information “when we have it,” but they don’t plan on setting a firm date for a while yet.
The option to move online
The Coronavirus epidemic has been seen as a major boon to the esports industry. Not only do folks have more time to spend gaming at home, but they also have time to watch even more esporting events. However, a lot of revenue for these gaming events comes from huge live events like The International. Consider the money generated from ticket sales alone.
Some league events like Call of Duty League and Overwatch League tournaments have moved to an online-only format. While they’re still engaging in daily matches between competing teams, these leagues are still missing out on revenue generated by people coming to watch the games in-person.
The argument also arises that people play differently online versus in-person. This may contribute further to why The International isn’t considering moving to an online-only format. Given how The International is viewed as one of the most major of esports tournaments, going online may not feel like it offers the same level of credibility.
Still, the pandemic has had a significant impact on bringing esports further into the mainstream. According to Veloce Sports co-founder Rupert Svendsen-Cook, “it’s probably fast-tracked things by about two years for us.” That is a major scaling after only a month and a half.
Words from Valve
In a statement by Valve, TI is “likely” to happen next year rather than this summer due to the “volatile landscape” created by the Coronavirus crisis happening across the world. How this impacts next year’s TI is likewise uncertain, as it would be unusual to hold two TI’s in a year.
Said Valve, “After extensive consideration of the global health emergency stemming from COVID-19, we have made the difficult choice to delay The International. We have been exploring various date possibilities, but it is likely that the event will need to happen in 2021.”
“Given the highly volatile landscape for local gathering restrictions, virus trajectory, and global travel policies, we don’t expect to have enough confidence to communicate firm dates in the near future.”
The International first began in 2011. However, this year was meant to celebrate Dota 2’s 10th anniversary in Stockholm, a major milestone. It looks like the celebration will have to wait another year.