For six years straight, Valve did everything in their power to keep The International close to home in Seattle, Washington, USA. Now, with their move to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, fans are speculating about why the move could have taken place.
But the record has finally been settled — by Valve itself.
In an extremely brief statement to an SB Nation staffer, Valve staff Doug Lombardi explained that the move was namely due to the construction:
Rogers Arena is a great venue, Vancouver is a great city, and Key Arena is going to be shut down for major construction very soon.
And there we have it.
The construction reasoning is extremely sound, as discussion about the renovation dates as far back as fall 2016. Construction isn’t meant to start until later this year, and shows are certainly taking place during TI’s usual period.
However, Valve was likely looking to play safe for a production as hefty as The International.
Last year, they essentially took over the entire pedestrian plaza outside Key Arena, putting up a giant screen, phone chargers, water stations and a beer garden spanning the full week to overlook it all. The year before, they also had a HTV Vive demo tent, plus an augmented reality video booth. In other words, in a best-case scenario for the renovation, given how far out TI is likely planned, Valve wouldn’t want their hard work to get scrapped.
The community has speculated that another reason for the move is due to visa questions, as entering America has always been an issue for TI players in the past.
Esports athletes haven’t had issues entering Canada in the past, but broadcasted or filmed performers, which TI casters and panelists would be considered, would likely require a work visa. With the success of the Northern Arena BEAT Invitational in 2016, this hopefully won’t be an issue. However, Valve is an American company, and TI is much more “on the map” as a cultural event, so the outcome is yet to be seen.