Gabe Newell said that Valve might move Dota 2’s The International series outside of the United States with visa rules become “too onerous”.
Starting from TI2 in 2012, The International series had always been held annually at Seattle.
However, recent visa restrictions, imposed by new U.S. president Donald Trump could see Valve move the tournament series out of the country altogether.
Speaking at a Valve press event (via Polygon), Newell and fellow Valve executive Erik Johnson discussed how Trump’s controversial travel restrictions may impact this year’s International tournament — and may need to move out of the U.S. as a result.
Johnson said that visa restrictions “are already a problem for the tournament” and that it had always been a persistent problem; in the past, senior politicians in Washington state had “pulled strings” to legally get players through.
Newell added that the lack of awareness about esports could also pose problems, as border officials do not necessarily understand players’ situation. With most of them often being young men with few ties to the U.S., numerous potential issues could arise.
He also revealed that some Valve employees who had been born outside of the U.S. are afraid or unable to visit their home countries for fear of not being allowed to return.
“So, like, there’s some event outside the country, and for the first time we say ‘Wait, they can’t go because they can’t get back.’ So that’s a problem, not just these hypothetical future employees but actual Valve employees. So yeah, that’s a concern for us,” Newell said.
Regardless, Donald Trump’s immigration ban has already taken its toll upon the eSports community. Street Fighter V player Arman “Phenom” Hanjani and Super Smash Bros. Wii U player Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad were both prevented from entering the U.S. following the new rules.