The International 2021 will not have a live audience in attendance after all.
According to an announcement from Valve, the largest Dota 2 event of the year will be played out in front of thousands of empty seats. This comes due to health and safety concerns in Bucharest, with Valve citing the need to protect staff, players, and event crew. Fans who have paid for tickets will be receiving refunds.
“To ensure the safety of all players, talent, and production staff participating in the event, we have decided to refund all ticket sales for The International 2021. We wanted nothing more than to welcome fans live to the event, but we can no longer do so in a way that allows us to prioritize the health and well-being of both audience members and participants,” Valve said in a statement.
The news comes after a fresh wave of health and safety restrictions have come into effect in Romania.
The removal of the crowd from TI10 seems a necessary step, but it’s the latest in a series of troubles for the event.
In June, Valve gave sudden notice that the event was being pushed back by two months due to the company’s inability to get immigration matters in order for necessary players and staff. The event eventually landed in Bucharest and was set to take place in front of a live audience, a first for a Dota 2 tournament since the StarLadder Minor Season 3 in March 2020.
Though teams were able to travel to Romania without issue, there have been multiple health problems found in the attending professional players since, with the entirety of Team Aster and a star player from Invictus Gaming all being similarly diagnosed. It’s still unclear whether these players will be forced out of the tournament or if their teams’ schedule will be adjusted to better accommodate them.
Regardless, it’s now confirmed that there will be no live audience in attendance.
The International 2021 is still slated to begin on October 7.
Valve explicitly stated that the event will continue on as scheduled, which is important news given how poorly most everything surrounding the event has gone to this point. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising if things don’t end up playing out as they normally do due to having multiple teams being flagged as experiencing health problems.