One of the biggest esports tournaments in the world is coming back for 2021. Today, Valve announced that The International, the annual Dota 2 championship, will return after a one-year hiatus caused by the pandemic. This year’s iteration will take place in Stockholm, with the group stage starting on August 5th. The International is well-known not only for its intense, global competition, but also for being incredibly lucrative: this year’s tournament will feature a prize pool of $40 million.
While we know that the tournament will be taking place, it’s not clear yet whether fans will be in attendance. “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,” Valve wrote in a blog post. “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.”
As part of the announcement, Valve also introduced a new Dota 2 feature called supporters clubs. Players are able to buy in-game items like badges and loading screens, with 50 percent of sales going directly to their favorite esports team. The feature will support 17 teams starting today, with more expected to be added over time. “As more content from other teams is submitted and approved, they will be added to this list regularly,” Valve said.
In 2020, the pandemic forced most esports competitions across the world to shift to online competition. However, this year, some in-person events have slowly started to return. Riot is currently holding League of Legends and Valorant tournaments in Iceland, while the Overwatch League is planning to hold multiple live matches in China.