The most-anticipated Dota 2 event of the year, The International, is making its return to its Seattle, USA home in 2023. But it’s already casting a shadow over various teams currently competing at DreamLeague Season 21.
Due to handling their visa applications, Quest Esports’ Aybek “TA2000” Tokayev and Entity’s Kim “Gabbi” Santos will miss the first part of the tournament. As a result, both squads will kick off the tournament with stand-ins. Ammar “ATF” Al-Assaf will be holding the fort at Entity, Quest will start the tournament with Indji “Shad” Lub.
On Sept. 14, TA2000 informed Dot Esports he had traveled to Indonesia to secure his U.S. visa before The International 2023. Despite choosing a country with a lower denial rate, the prolonged processes caused TA2000to remain in Southeast Asia longer than expected, and miss DreamLeague Season 21.
Both players are expected to return to their teams’ bootcamps after completing their visa applications. This situation, however, raises concerns about whether all attendees of TI12 will be able to obtain their visas in time for the event in October. During the year, multiple teams struggled in major tournaments after visa issues wreaked havoc, forcing them to play with stand-ins, especially in Berlin, Germany.
Given the challenges non-European players might experience when applying for a U.S. visa, Valve would need to step in to ensure no one is left behind. Visa denials would not only have a detrimental impact on the overall enjoyment of The International but are already affecting other events like DreamLeague Season 21, which boasts a $1 million prize pool. In addition to the prize pool, this event will also be an excellent opportunity for teams to test each other with high stakes on the line.
If this issue was to become widespread, teams would need to act swiftly to find suitable substitutes, as there is a limited pool of available Dota 2 players who can be ready on such short notice.