The indefinite postponement of The International 2020 has had a disastrous effect on the Dota 2 pro scene. But did it need to happen?
With the 2020 League of Legends World Championship currently underway and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive set to return to Cologne, Germany for live events in the near future , many are wondering if The International really needed to be postponed indefinitely or if it could have been run in 2020. According to LGD Gaming owner Pan “Ruru” Jie, Dota 2 could have seen The International take place in Shanghai, China this year, but Valve opted not to let the event go forward.
“Yes, the Shanghai government is willing to support at the same level as the LOL World Championship Series, but Valve said no to the proposal,” Jie said per AFK Gaming.
In a joint statement, ImbaTV’s Zhou Lingxiang corroborated Jie’s claims.
“In fact, in April and May, [the CEO of Perfect World] applied to Valve to host this year’s TI in Shanghai and the Shanghai government also stated that it would fully support it, but Valve refused,” Zhou said.
This is both strange and unsurprising, given Valve’s awkwardness in terms of moving the Dota 2 esports scene in any direction. More importantly, it’s likely very frustrating to those who work within the game and have had their livelihood left in limbo for the indefinite future.
Over the last few years, Valve has pulled off a power creep that has given the developer complete control over the professional Dota 2 scene. Tournament organizers, esports organizations, and most other stakeholders have been nudged out of the space as Valve has shut down various potential revenue streams.
The primary way the company has done this is by making almost everything in the game’s scene flow through The International. That one event boasts more than half the prize pool payouts of Dota 2 each season and as a result, all choices made by pro players are ultimately made through the lens of how it impacts their chances of qualifying for the event.
Valve was fairly quick to announce the indefinite postponement of The International 2020 this yaer, making the call in April. Though fans and pros are nearly six months removed from the initial announcement, Valve has left everyone almost completely in the dark regarding the future of the Dota 2 pro scene.
The developer is co-sponsoring some smaller Dota 2 events around the globe. But the Dota Pro Circuit and The International still have no firm timetable for a return. Valve stated that the Dota Pro Circuit would pivot towards something like Counter-Strike’s regional major system and would begin in early 2021, and that The International 10 return in late 2021. But that’s nothing for pro players or fans to plan around any time soon.
That was enough to spark outcry among fans and pros, and knowing that it didn’t have to happen this way won’t help matters.
There’s no question at this point that The International could have happened this year, especially if it was sponsored by a governmental organization.
League of Legends’ Worlds 2020 event is underway with teams from around the world living and competing in a bubble system, while BLAST is set to bring together teams from North America, South America, Europe, and Russia to compete in CSGO. In Dota 2, WePlay! was able to fly in a large broadcast team from around the world to take part in Omega League’s broadcasts and content creation.
A large Dota 2 tournament taking place in a live setting is possible both in and out of China. But it requires effort and commitment, things Valve just doesn’t seem to be able to muster up for Dota 2 right now.