Valve may hold its annual Dota 2 tournament, The International, outside the USA for only the second time in its history, if obstacles to immigration into the country get any worse.
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US President Trump’s attempted ban on immigration from seven Middle Eastern and African countries has been overturned by a federal judge – a decision which was upheld by the appeals court – but isn’t necessarily gone for good. The administration continues to fight for it, with Trump tweeting after the appeals court ruling earlier today that he would “see you in court” – in capital letters, no less.
Valve’s Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson discussed the immigration ban at a press event at the company’s offices yesterday. They say it could affect them in two key areas: hiring and eSports. With respect to the latter, Johnson says “any pressure on visas getting into the United States is worrisome for us”, with Newell adding that because eSports is such a young industry, it’s already difficult to get visas approved. Many competitors are minors, with no ties to the USA, and little on their CVs in terms of experience. This is in contrast to better-understood careers.
“If you’re an opera singer, it’s pretty easy to get a visa. Like the State Department kind of understands who these people are. If you’re a Nobel Prize winner, they kind of know who you are,” said Newell.
Johnson says Valve will consider holding The International outside of the US if organising it gets much more difficult. “We’re gonna run the event no matter what,” he says. “Ideally we’d run it here [in Seattle] because it has a bunch of advantages being close to our office. But the event’s going to happen. So yes, if it became too difficult, we’d find a way.”
Newell also says that some Valve employees have already been affected by the travel ban. “We have people who work at Valve who can’t go home,” he says. It’s unclear whether immigrants from the affected countries would be allowed to re-enter the USA if they went home for a visit. “So that’s a problem,” says Newell, “not just these hypothetical future employees but actual Valve employees.”
The International is one of the largest eSports tournaments in the world. For the last few years, it has set and then broken the record for the largest prize pool in eSports history, with over $20 million in the pot last year.
Many thanks to PC Gamer.