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Valve is doing an Olympics-style search for The International host cities

The annual Dota 2 world championship tournament known as The International is one of the biggest esports events around. It was first held in 2011 in Cologne, Germany, and as the competition has grown over the years—from a $1.6 million prize pool in 2011 to $34.3 million last year. It's also moved around, to Seattle, Vancouver, Shanghai, and this year to Stockholm.

Future Internationals will be held in different cities, but instead of throwing a dart at a map (or however the selection process worked), Valve announced an "open call" for host cities today, inviting interested locales to submit detailed proposals for potential hosting consideration. 

The request for proposals provides a quick history of Valve, Dota 2, and the International itself, including the scale of the event—"comparable to the NFL Superbowl, US Open Golf Championship, or the Eurovision Song Contest"—and a "typical schedule" of events involved.

It also cites the economic benefits of hosting the event, noting that the influx of visitors and requirements for local suppliers and laborers "typically results in a significant boost to the host city's economy." In 2018, for instance, Tourism Vancouver reported that The International added roughly $7.8 million to the local economy.

Cities that want to get in on that action must meet certain requirements, however, including:

  • A modern indoor arena or stadium with a capacity between 15,000 and 80,000, which must be available for at least a 10 day period in August 2021 (As an example, The 2020 International is being held at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm; The 2019 International was held at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai)
  • Additional space for ancillary events (e.g., vendor villages, fan zones, after parties)
  • Ample hotel space for upwards of 30,000 individuals
  • Fiber network connectivity from a local service provider
  • Proximity to an international airport
  • A strong local transportation system

Other factors, at both the municipal and national level, include:

  • Ensure the safety of The International’s contestants, workers, and fans
  • Maintain clear and continuous communication with Valve leading up to and during the event
  • Assist Valve with permitting and negotiating local regulations
  • Help Valve navigate immigration and visa issues for The International’s contestants, workers, and fans
  • Support potential road closures
  • Commit to unfettered movement of event trucks on surface roads

The novel approach to finding new homes for The International really emphasizes the scale of the event—the 2020 prize pool is already up to more than $34.3 million—and the growing significance of esports as mainstream entertainment. It also brings to mind the process of Olympic host city bidding, in which cities from around the world spend millions of dollars for the right to spend billions of dollars to host the extravagant two-week event. Hopefully Valve will be able to avoid the local corruption that can plague such efforts as it searches for a new home for The International.

Interested cities have until March 31 to submit their proposals. The final selection will be made by June 15, with the winning city to be announced at The International 2020, which takes place August 20-25.

Andy Chalk
Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.