Esports | Valve moves The International to Romania

The International is heading to Romania. After issues with the Swedish government and Covid-19 exemptions forced them to leave Stockholm, they have found a new home.

valve international

The new hosts

After some deliberation, it looks like Valve have landed on Bucharest, Romania as the new home for the biggest DOTA 2 tournament of the year. The event will be held in the country’s largest stadium — Arena Nationala. The Group Stage will run from October 7th to the 10th and the Main Stage play will kick off on October 12th.

The finals of the event will be held on October 17th with the two best teams in the world duking it out for their share of the over $40 million prize pool. In their announcement, Valve spoke about the new location:

“We are grateful for the partnership we have formed with Romania and the city of Bucharest, and very much look forward to gathering with the global Dota 2 community, both in-person and virtually, to celebrate the elite players and amazing fandom at The International. Prepare yourselves. At long last, the battle begins.”

The former location

The event was going to be held in Stockholm, Sweden. Like many other countries, Sweden has exemptions for elite sporting events that would allow the participants to enter the country during the pandemic. However, a decision was made not to include esports in those exemptions.

The International and the esports teams taking part would not be classified as a sport and would therefore not be able to take advantage of the elite sporting event exemptions. This forced Valve to look elsewhere for a host city.

fnatic esports

The biggest changes

The biggest change is obviously the venue. Players will now have to travel to Romania rather than Sweden. While Bucharest is still in Europe, the audience for the event may not be as large as it would have been elsewhere.

Another major change to The International is the fact that they have delayed the start date for the finals of The International by quite a large margin. It was originally planned to go ahead at the beginning of August but the change in the venue has pushed their schedule significantly. Now, the event will be held on October 12th.

The new dates of the finals are going to coincide with the League of Legends world championship. This could be a big issue as many viewers may be split between the two similar MOBA titles. That may not be an issue for those in attendance. The Arena Nationala is the largest stadium in Romania and has last seen use as a venue for the Euros 2020. They allowed fans to attend the match and if their position on fan attendance remains the same, we could see a decent live audience.

If anyone is planning to attend, you should know that Romania has low vaccination rates overall but decent vaccination rates in the big cities including Bucharest. The low population density of the country means that the rate of infection has remained low. It looks just about as safe as any other European country.

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