What just happened? The long-running saga that is DOTA 2’s The International tournament has taken a sad turn. Valve canceled plans to have a live audience at the show and said it would refund all tickets just days before the 10-day event begins.
In June, Valve said that it had been working with Sweden since 2019 to ensure that the 10th international DOTA 2 tournament could be held in the country during 2020. The pandemic put a brake on those plans, but Stockholm Live and Visit Stockholm make the championships of this year they would qualify for the same exemptions as other elite sporting events.
Ultimately, however, the Swedish Sports Federation refused to classify The International as an “elite sporting event”, meaning that anyone trying to obtain a visa to travel to Sweden, including players, talent and staff will likely be denied due to Covid-19 restrictions. . Valve appealed and tried some last-minute attempts to reach a deal, but were unsuccessful, leading to a new country and venue: Romania’s 55,634-capacity Arena Nationala in the capital city of Bucharest.
Valve began selling tickets to the tournament on September 12, noting that all attendees must be fully vaccinated and masked. Sadly, Covid-19 has intervened once again. Increasing cases in Romania, which have led to new restrictions in Bucharest, have seen Valve cancel plans for a live audience. The event will continue as planned, only without a crowd.
“We wanted nothing more than to welcome fans live to the event, but we can no longer do it in a way that allows us to prioritize the health and well-being of both audience members and participants,” writes Valve. “Those who purchased tickets will automatically receive a full refund.”
Last week saw the high-profile DOTA 2 team Aster to reveal that several members had tested positive for Covid-19, including three of their five players.