After four years, The International returns home.
The International 2023 is going to be held in the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. It’s a venue that the event is deeply familiar with. The prestigious Dota 2 tournament spent four years traveling and exploring the world before finally returning. There was a lot of buzz about The International coming back to Seattle, that it was “coming home.” So why is it that this port city is so close to Dota 2 fan’s hearts?
The International’s Roots
Seattle is where the biggest Dota 2 tournament in the world has been held for six years in a row before it started globe-trotting.
Of course, The International as we know it now didn’t start in Seattle. It started in GamesCom Cologne in 2011, where developers Valve introduced Dota 2 to the world in the most bombastic fashion. Not only did they reveal Dota 2 to the public for the very first time, but they also held its very first global tournament, The International, on that very same five-day tradeshow.
They invited 16 of the best Defense of the Ancients (DotA for short) teams in the world to their tournament. Each team was given an advanced copy of the game beforehand so they could prepare. Teams from Europe, America, China, and even the Philippines (when Minseski’s Esports team was still active) traveled to Cologne to give the supposed successor to their beloved game a shot.
To show how serious they were with Dota 2 esports, Valve committed 1.6 million USD to the tournament’s prize pool. At the time, this was the biggest prize pool in the history of esports, establishing a standard for The International. It wouldn’t be until The International 2013 that Valve would implement a crowdfunding element to their prize pools. A portion of their Battle Pass sales would go to the total prize pool and it’s been that way ever since. But early on Valve has made it clear that The International would always be the most prestigious Dota 2 tournament in the world.
Keeping It Close to Home
Of course, just because Valve wants The International to always reach new heights, doesn’t mean that they can’t make holding the tournament easy for themselves. Seattle is just next door to Valve’s headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, after all. It’s not hard to imagine that being the main reason why it was held in Seattle in the first place.
For six consecutive years, the city saw the growth of not just The International but the Dota 2 esports scene. Seattle has seen the rise of legendary players Gustav “s4” Magnusson, Zhang “xiao8” Ning, Clinton “Fear” Loomis, and Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen.
Teams worthy of raising the Aegis of Champions, and loyal fans ready to cheer their favorite teams on, flocked to Seattle. From the Benaroya Hall with a 2,500 seating capacity, it grew until they were filling out KeyArena’s 15,000 seats.
Perhaps the reason Valve decided to move The International around was because of the arena’s closure in 2018. It was to undergo renovations into the Climate Pledge Arena, where it would remain closed for at least two years. Valve didn’t immediately return to Seattle when the arena opened its doors again in 2021, most likely due to the global pandemic still being in full effect.
Regardless, after four years of wandering, The International is finally returning home to the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. And not too soon too as this year is the 10th anniversary of Dota 2’s official release. Valve expects The International 2023 to be the biggest it’s ever been and the Arena’s improved 18,300 seating capacity is going to be more than enough to welcome the fans excited to watch the grandest Dota 2 tournament in the world in its home soil.
Banner image by Timothy Eberly/Valve.