The Dota 2 world championships will have to move elsewhere this year, as their long-planned Stockholm venue has vanished amid a classification decision by officials in the Swedish government. Valve had worked with local and national bodies since 2019 to plan for The International’s 10th outing. The International is esports’ highest-paying event, with this year’s prize pool coming in at over $40 million.
“Despite previous reassurances, we were informed two weeks ago that the Swedish Sports Federation had just voted not to accept esports into the sports federation,” Valve said in an announcement. Subsequently, Valve appealed to the Swedish Minister of the Interior, who declined to recognize The International 10 as an “elite sporting event.” Without that classification, contestants aren’t guaranteed entry into the country due to Covid-19 restrictions. You can imagine that it’s difficult to have a tournament when there’s a chance some team members won’t be allowed to show up.
Valve then appealed directly to the Swedish government, but was denied assistance, and a subsequent appeal failed to provide a solution. “As a result, and in light of the current political situation in Sweden, we have started looking for possible alternatives elsewhere in Europe to host the event this year,” said Valve.
There’s a chance that the event still goes forward in Stockholm, but this announcement makes it seem pretty unlikely that will be the case. Valve said it is “confident” that an updated plan will be announced in the very near future.
The International 10 qualifying matches will still begin this week, on June 23, and Dota 2’s summer event—Nemestice—will still release later this week. (No date on that. Classic Valve!)