After an International full of revelations, revisions and reaction to the same, Valve dropped one more major surprise on the final day of TI8. As Paul ‘Redeye’ Chaloner sat in his hot seat and introduced a video to warm up the crowd, the millions of Chinese fans can have had little idea what was coming, but the news they were given must have created a lot of joy in that part of the world, and could be fantastic news for the future of esports.
In short, next year’s International, TI9, will be held in Shanghai, for the first time in the history of the event. So far it has visited Europe and the North American continent, where it found a home in Seattle, but Valve has made the decision to take their show on the road once again. With China the heartland of Dota 2 fandom, it makes a huge amount of sense for the company to hold TI in Shanghai, especially with recent blows to the Chinese scene.
The announcement was made with a single shot, at the end of the video, and the reaction from Chinese fans is something Valve will hope to see mirrored from the Chinese esports scene. Recently, the company has made a number of rulings that could potentially hurt the commercial value of Dota 2 in China, although it’s unlikely this move is directly connected to those decisions.
The first, and possibly most impactful ruling Valve made is the new rule clamping down on multiple team ownership. To sports fans, the idea of Man Utd and Man Utd reserves meeting in the cup is absurd, due to the obvious potential for collusion, but Valve have allowed their crown jewel to be tarnished by this for years now, and Chinese owners were most guilty of taking advantage of their lax attitude.
The other rule change came at the start of the competition, and was reported by a subsidiary of VPGame, ironically, that teams may no longer display or activate sponsorship deals with gambling companies at Valve events. There are no details on how far down the Dota 2 ladder that ruling currently extends, but with the rise of esports gambling and China’s love of a bet it’s a potential blow to funding for the scene in Asia.
More details will be dripped in coming months, with suggestions the venue with be the Mercedes-Benz Arena, but the move has already created the sort of buzz Valve will have been planning for, and there is no doubt Chinese teams will be looking forward to playing at home too. So far three Internationals have been won by teams from that nation, and it seems only fair the fans would get to see a home TI, given how much they contribute to the success of Dota 2.