In postponing TI10, Valve Corporation have done a tightrope between responsibility and paranoia
Last week, Pan 'Ruru' Jie, the owner of LGD Gaming, claimed that Valve Corporation had the option to hold The International 10 (TI10) in 2020 but chose not to do so. Were they right in postponing the event or is it a case of paranoia?
Last week, Pan 'Ruru' Jie, the owner of LGD Gaming, claimed that Valve Corporation had the option to hold The International 10 (TI10) in 2020 but chose not to do so.
The prestigious tournament also serves as the flagship event for Dota 2 as far as eSports is concerned. It holds the distinct record of having the largest prize pool of any eSports tournament during each of its iterations. The prize pool offered for the ninth edition, known as TI9, was a whopping $34.33 million. The tournament was held in August 2019 in Shanghai at the Mercedes Benz Arena.
Year 2020 has been difficult for most industries. This, on paper, does not seem the case for eSports as the player count for online games is at an all-time high. Most eSports have shifted their tournaments into an online format and have limited the impact. However, there are a few big events that have been postponed or cancelled. The biggest of these is undoubtedly TI10. The tournament, through crowdfunding, has raised over $40 million as a prize pool, and has been postponed indefinitely.
— Dota 2 (@dota2updates) October 9, 2020
Ruru, a well-known personality in Chinese Dota 2 had claimed that the Shanghai Municipality was ready to host TI10 in 2020. If the claims are to be believed, Dr Xiao, the CEO of Perfect World (the company that hosts the Dota 2 servers within China) had applied in April and May to host the tournament in Shanghai. This application was made with the full support of the local government.
The question that comes to mind is, whether Valve Corporation, in postponing the event, are being responsible during a time of emergency, or are they just paranoid?
To attempt to answer this, the situation needs to be looked at from the very beginning. Originally, TI10 was supposed to be held in Stockholm, Sweden in August 2020. In April this year, Valve Corporation posted on their Dota 2 blog that the tournament would be postponed until further notice, and can only be expected to return in 2021. It was at this point that the Shanghai Municipality made the offer to host TI10, promising the event could take place in 2020 itself.
Later, Valve Corporation did mention that they had considered alternate venue options for the tournament. However, no mention was made of the offer publicly. Following this, Valve even stated that they had considered the possibility of holding the tournament without spectators, however, this was found to be impractical. One week ago, just a few days after the crowdfunding was concluded for the tournament's prize pool, Ruru revealed the details of the offer made to Valve for hosting the tournament in Shanghai.
This approach by Valve is not unusual as many game developers have taken a similar stance. The tournament closest in terms of prize money to last year's TI9 was the Fortnite World Cup. Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, decided to cancel the 2020 edition due to the pandemic. The other eSports tournaments that were not cancelled have either been postponed until further notice or converted into an online format, albeit with a lower prize pool in most cases.
The world of traditional sports has been affected as well, most sports leagues have decided to operate within a bio-bubble and have held their matches without spectators. Despite this, there have been problems related to players occasionally testing positive with the novel coronavirus and further putting their teammates at risk.
In this writer's opinion, if Valve Corporation had gone ahead and accepted the proposal made by the CEO of Perfect World in combination with the Chinese authorities, it would have been reckless. Given the issues faced in the world of sports despite the various precautions that are being taken, an in-person event would have possibly threatened the well-being of not just the players but the community that is closely involved with the game. The decision also further serves to re-affirm among the members of the community that the pandemic is serious business and should not be taken lightly.
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