Jess Colwill, February 14, 2017

Valve Considers Moving The International in Light of Travel Ban

Earlier in the month, we started to see the effect President Donald Trump’s travel ban is having on players from seven North African and Middle Eastern countries trying to travel to the U.S. for tournaments. Now Valve is considering the next logical step – if players can’t travel to the U.S. for tournaments, take the tournaments to them.

At a roundtable discussion in Seattle, CEO Gabe Newell and Dota 2 developer Erik Johnson discussed the possibility of moving The Internationalone of the biggest esports events in the world to dateoutside the United States.

“Any pressure on visas for getting into the United States is worrisome for us,” Johnson told Venture Beat. “We do a huge amount of work every year when we host The International.”

Even under the old rules, he pointed out, Valve has had to work with Senator Maria Cantwell on three separate occasions to help players attain visas. By that estimate, there’s no telling how many high-profilea relative term hereplayers will be turned away at the border under stricter immigration controls.

Despite the strides esports has taken as a whole in the last few years, it simply hasn’t made its way far enough into the mainstream yet to be applicable for exemptions more readily available to athletes or other performers at short notice.

“This is a case where your average esports competitor does not look likey’know, if you’re an opera singer, it’s pretty easy to get a visa,” GabeN said. “The State Department kinda understands who these people are. If you’re a Nobel prize winner, they kinda know who you are.

“When you’re an unemployed [teenager from Syria] without strong ties to this country, it’s more challenging.”

Despite these hurdles, Johnson maintained that the event was going forward “no matter what”. But it could mean a large number of U.S. Dota 2 fans unable to travel to the event.

Jess Colwill

Jess is a writer and dog-lover from the eastern coast of Australia, who loves playing games (particularly anything by BioWare), listening to metal, baking, and fostering rescue dogs while they wait for new homes. You can find her on Twitter at @notsocryptic.