TI 2018: Canada move gives Dota 2 plenty to think aboot

The International is the biggest event in esports, hands down.

Whether it’s about outreach, players, or prize money, this is the annual party that everyone wants to attend and in 2018 the Dota2 action will be coming to you from a new venue.

Seattle’s Key Arena has been dumped for now, and replaced as the venue with Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, leading many to wonder just what this whole move is all aboot. Sorry.

Well, the first and most obvious reason the venue was changed is a logistical one.

Seattle’s Key Arena is set to undergo a $600m facelift, with hopes down the line of attracting an NHL or NBA team to the city.

For those that remember the Sonics, who spent 41 years in Seattle before upping sticks and moving to Oklahoma, and the glory days of the Sonic Boom, led by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, this is an exciting prospect.

Problematic here may be that Seattle is in Washington, and the move to Oklahoma didn’t happen because the team was making too much money there, quite the opposite.

As John Wall and co try to bring glory to the state, getting closer every year, it would take nostalgia as well as good marketing to introduce the NBA back into Seattle, but the city clearly believes the risk is worth the potential rewards.

With that in mind, it seems like the long term will see Valve return to Seattle, unless other circumstances force them to reconsider.

It is unlikely those circumstances will centre around the city or state, but last year saw the new American administration brought up as a possible barrier to competitors from certain nations and there is no guarantee that problem will be solved long-term.

Add to this that betting on esports is currently a pain in the back garden in the states, and there are clearly some good reasons to think twice.

It’s not just those from the countries that Trump considers shitholes, either. Swedish pros have faced long professional breaks due to the intricacies of US immigration, as have players from other European nations, and if that continues Canada is a fine alternative.

It offers all the same benefits of a first world country, but with the added bonus of having a more likeable leader, and not profiling potential players based on a Dulux colour chart. Sure, there may be tax complications, but that is a small price to pay for having all the players there.

Finally, it may also be that having the event in the same place every year is just not creating the growth Valve feel Dota2 needs or deserves. With the majority of elite players not hailing from North America, and the success Counter-Strike has seen taking their show around the world, Valve may be testing the waters as to what the potential loss is of not being in Seattle.

If Canada works out, we could see a return to Europe, or even an event in South Korea, where the gods of the game reside. It would certainly make a lot of sense.

So, The International in 2018 could be a really important and illuminating event for the future of Dota2, or it might not.

With all of the above said, it might just be that Valve had to move, and wanted to take the shortest possible journey to a venue they approved.

If that was the case, it would be understandable at least with the company HQ in Washington state, but a real shame for fans around the world, who would love to see the biggest show in esports come to their backyard.