Valve founder and CEO Gabe Newell has said its annual Dota 2 tournament The International will have to be moved out of the United States if visa rules became “too onerous.”
Speaking at a Valve press event (via Polygon), Newell and fellow Valve executive Erik Johnson discussed how president Donald Trump’s controversial travel restrictions may impact this year’s International. Outside of its 2011 debut at Gamescom in Germany, the event had been hosted annually in Seattle, Washington. Valve said it is “carefully monitoring” the situation to decide if it will move The International to another country.
According to Polygon, Johnson said that visa restrictions “are already a problem for the tournament” and that senior politicians in Washington state had “pulled strings” to legally get players through in the past.
Newell added that the lack of awareness about esports could also pose problems, as border officials did not necessarily understand players’ situations. Players are often young men with few ties to the U.S., causing issues.
Newell also added 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 back into the U.S.
Donald Trump’s immigration ban has already affected pro players in the Smash and Street Fighter V scenes. Earlier this month we spoke to Street Fighter V player Arman “Phenom” Hanjani and Super Smash Bros. Wii U player Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad, who have both had their ability to compete in the U.S. impacted by the ban.