They come from “all corners of the Earth,” and this week, instead of settling in Seattle, competitors and rabid fans have assembled three hours north, in Vancouver, B.C., for The International, the huge “Dota 2” esports tournament.
Bellevue, Wash.-based gaming giant Valve moved the tournament to Canada for the first time after holding it at Seattle’s KeyArena for four years. When the decision was made in March, Valve pointed to upcoming renovation of the venue at Seattle Center.
Now Rogers Arena is playing host to the main event — which opened Monday and runs through Saturday — and its thousands of attendees and big tourism dollars.
A video from the opening ceremony, above, was a mix of live music, acrobatics, team introductions and footage of gamers’ agony and ecstasy from previous competitions. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell then took the stage to welcome everyone.
“I do want to personally thank our Canadian neighbors,” Newell said. “Putting on an event like this when you have people coming from 64 nations is really challenging.”
Newell had previously said that The International could be moved out of the U.S. because of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, but blame was ultimately placed on the $700 million renovation of KeyArena.
The prize pool for The International is almost $25 million, with more than $10 million of that going to the first place team.
If you’re not in Vancouver with thousands of other “Dota 2” fans, the action is being live streamed. You can also check out the scene so far in some images from the official @dota2i Instagram account: