Dota 2 fans were overjoyed to hear The International (TI), the game’s biggest annual event, was returning in 2021. However, Sweden, the country hosting the event, has just decided esports is not a professional sport. So, many Dota 2 players, talent, and staff hoping to attend TI10 would be denied visas to Sweden on this basis.
According to the announcement on the Dota 2 website, Stockholm Live and Visit Stockholm assured Valve that TI10 qualified for the same exemptions as more traditional elite sporting events in Sweden. However, two weeks ago, the Swedish Sports Federation voted against accepting esports in the federation.
Valve immediately held a meeting with the Swedish Esports Federation and Visit Stockholm to find out what could be done to remedy the situation. It was told to contact Sweden’s Minister of the Interior to get The International reclassified as an elite sporting event. It did. This request was immediately denied.
The ongoing battle for recognition
After some amateur sleuthing, I found out what sports the Swedish Sports Federation considers “elite.” The incredibly well-supported and highly paid sports of boule, curling, table tennis, and walking (yes, the one-leg-after-the-other kind) are all considered elite sports in Sweden. There’s also something called varpa, which involves throwing heavy metal discs at a stick.
TI10 boasts a prize pool of over $40 million USD. It wouldn’t surprise me if that is more money than all the players in all the sports I mentioned above make per year.
Valve is now waiting for the Swedish government to help find a resolution to the issue. So far, none has been forthcoming. Valve has therefore started looking for an alternative venue in Europe. The Dota 2 developer has also expressed its confidence that it will be able to host TI10 this year. The TI qualifiers will still be taking place as planned, starting June 23.
To end on a lighter note, the announcement wrapped up by revealing that a new event, called Nemestice, is coming to Dota 2 this summer. Valve hasn’t released any more information about the event. However, trusted Doat 2 insider (who may be Icefrog?) Wykrhm Reddy shared the below image on Twitter.
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