Valve has canceled all plans to have a live audience at its large-scale DOTA 2 tournament, the International, as the number of covid cases in the host city of Bucharest, Romania continues to increase. The company also announced all tickets will be refunded immediately.
Valve did confirm that the already-delayed event will continue as planned, just without a crowd. The event starts on October 7 and runs until 17.
The International is Valve’s yearly, large tournament dedicated to its popular MOBA, DOTA 2. Last April, Valve indefinitely postponed the event due to the “highly volatile landscape for local gathering restrictions, virus trajectory, and global travel policies” that followed in the wake of the ongoing covid pandemic. At the time, Valve admitted it had no idea when the event would return. Then in June 2021, Valve’s plans to hold the tournament in Sweden evaporated after the country’s government wouldn’t classify The International as an “elite sporting event” which would have made it easier for players and staff to travel there during the pandemic.
In July, Valve found a city willing to host the event: Bucharest, Romania. And just 12 days ago, Valve began selling tickets to the event. Now all of those tickets are being refunded as Romania battles an increase in covid infections.
Last week, high-profile pro-DOTA 2 club, Team Aster, announced via a Weibo post that several members of the team tested positive for Covid-19, including three players.
Some might suggest that it’s not wise to host giant international, in-person events during an ongoing, deadly, and (in some parts of the world) worsening pandemic. Covid-19 has killed millions globally and new variants and a lack of vaccines in many countries continue to make an already terrible situation, worse. If only there was some sort of technology that would allow a video game to be played over some sort of vast network, letting folks safely play in competitions without needing to travel around the world.
Maybe one day someone will invent something like this...