It seems brave to stamp a date on anything happening this year, but Valve have announced that their Dota 2 tournament of tournaments, The International, will be held on August 10th in Stockholm this year. The teams will be going through the group stages between August 5-8th before battling it out for a chunk of the $40,018,195 prize pool. That prize fund was left over from last year's cancelled tournament.
The challenge of setting up a competition during the Covid-19 pandemic means that we don’t know much else about the physical event. In the announcement on the official site, Valve said:
"As we continue to plan the event around the shifting landscape presented by the ongoing global pandemic, our focus remains on finding ways to hold a high quality tournament in the safest way possible. This means we're waiting to release additional details on attendance options as we gather more information on developments heading into summer. We expect to be able to share more with the community during the month of June."
The International has always had a digital spectator component, and that will change this year. The Battle Pass, a combination of paid event access and loot drops, has always gone hand-in-hand with The International, and it was a single event that the community really loved to take part in. It also funded the prize-pool. They seem to be side-stepping that to run more regular events:
"This year's slate will continue to look a bit different than in the past. To start, we'll be shipping two separate events over the coming months instead of one overarching summer event. The first will arrive in mid-to-late June, and another will follow sometime after The International ends. Neither of these events will fund The International prize pool, as the TI10 Battle Pass prize pool still remains to be claimed. For fans that want to support players and organizations, the new Supporters Club provides a more flexible and direct way to contribute to your favorite teams."
The Supporters Club is a team targeted way of buying in-game merch from your favourite Dota 2 teams, such as badges and equippables. They’re tiered, with Bronze giving you a badge, Silver adding sprays and emoticons, and the Gold tier changing your HP bar, loading screens and voice lines.
That's quite a lot of changes for a settled event. It does seem that by altering the Battle Pass Valve are losing something. It was an occasion that really brought the community together, which I'd argue is more important than ever this year. A large, singular moment to celebrate the game would be very theraputic. Splitting the community and events up into smaller parties just feels like the wrong thing to do this time around. A business decision rather than an emotional one.