Update - March 4, 2:20 PM PST - Valve founder Gabe Newell confirmed in his AMA today that The International 2014 will most likely be held at Seattle's Key Arena.
Original Story: The International 2014 will take place in mid-July for the first time, officials from top teams and leagues who wish to remain anonymous told onGamers.
Sources say that although the exact dates and location have not yet been finalized, the event will move away from its former home at Benaroya Hall for a larger venue. Seattle's Key Arena is one of the venues currently being considered, and has a capacity of just over 17,000 for basketball games, and 15,000 for high-end concerts, according to the arena's official website.
Those officials say that Valve chose the date in July as they could not secure an event location in August, the month that the first three International events have been set in.
Due to Valve's moved up date for The International 4, sources say the Electronic Sports League opted into its current June 28th-29th date for their event at the Commerzbank-Arena World Cup Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany to not collide with TI4.
With Valve's signature event to be hosted in July on the west coast of the United States, in addition to the ESL One event and DreamHack's Summer finals of DreamLeague, Major League Gaming's upcoming Anaheim Dota 2 event is in jeopardy, MLG officials confirmed to onGamers.
"The growth and excitement around both eSports and Dota 2 activity over the last year has been exponential, said MLG Executive Vice President Adam Apicella. "While we are happy to see the continued popularity and support, we are concerned that the sheer number and proximity of events can have a negative impact on the players and make travel difficult for teams to afford and manage. We always strive to provide our competitors with the greatest conditions and experience possible to ensure they can compete at their best."
"However, holding tournaments so close together puts tremendous stress on players and affects their overall performance. Although we announced our plans months ago, we are currently discussing the schedule with teams and reassessing our plans to determine what will be the least stressful and most beneficial for all involved.”
Meetings took place early last week with Valve's IceFrog and league officials from MLG, DreamHack, ESL, and StarLadder, as well as team officials from Na'Vi, Alliance, Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, and Team Liquid among others to discuss the current situation, but no solutions have yet been presented. DreamHack is currently the only league organizer to build a third-party compendium, and the only event of the three to be promoted on Valve's website.
"With the rapid growth of Dota there is a wealth of excitement from fans globally around offline events", ESL Product Manager James Lampkin told onGamers. "The Dota 2 space is certainly entering a period of over-saturation of offline events, which requires a higher level of management to allow all organizations to be successful, and teams and fans to be able to attend them. Event organizers, Valve and Teams must work closer together and form a streamlined communication process so that all parties may succeed and fans are not forced to make tough event-attendance choices."
"With ESL One Frankfurt, we are looking to create an experience similar to The International for Western Europe - an audience which is regularly missed by the biggest eSports events in the world. We’re also looking to test the paradigm that in order to have a massive event, an organizer must be dedicated to more than one title at the event. We do not expect event congestion to affect our event significantly overall for our fans or attendees. However, we are working closely with the major teams to manage their flight schedules and to ensure this event is a success for everyone."
"We are looking forward to working more closely with Valve, teams and other event organizers to try to alleviate the event congestion which we will experience this summer."
Sources say that although information to build a third-party compendium was released to the public by Valve, the league's believe there is a shortage of communication coming from Valve on implementation and use in their events.
"Regarding the compendium, like the event dates it was a fairly simple problem - a lack of communication' said Lampkin. "We need to all work harder to impress on Valve how important equal and open communication to the major event organizers is, and to take the flow of information off of casual and informal channels. Valve has made revolutionary leaps in opening up new revenue streams to the esports market. However, it is imperative that for a fair market, with equal opportunity, each organizer should have equal access to information at the same time rather than through information leaks. ESL will continue to work with Valve and other organizers to streamline the process in the future."
DreamHack's Project Manager Fredrik Nyström says that they are just happy to be doing one themselves, and hopes that all the leagues will jump on board.
"We at DreamHack are thrilled to be the first to offer a third party compendium and have a fantasy league connected to ASUS ROG DreamLeague", said Nyström. "We hope to be able to continue working with a compendium in the future and we assume that that other leagues and tournaments will follow."
"We have been working with ESL and other leagues for many years discussing all kind of matters from the organizers side of things, for an example at the Valencia eSports Congress back in 2012 and we are very positive to continue that in the future, probably at the Stockholm eSports & Game Congress this fall. DreamHack is very transparent in all we do and we have been working with WCG, ESWC, MLG, ESL, Assembly and The Gathering to name a few."
With the DreamHack, MLG, and ESL events on back-to-back-to-back weekends and The International 2014 coming shortly after them, teams will be forced to make tough decisions on which events they can attend. While several top teams say they would like to attend every event, for most it will not feasible.
"The only thing we know that we're for sure attending right now is DreamLeague's LAN finals if we qualify", added Team Liquid Player Manager Robyn Nymann. "Everything else is still in the works".
"When multiple online leagues choose this short period of time, which also happens to be right before The International 4, for their LAN events this puts a very tough decision in front of the participating teams and organizations behind them," said Na'Vi Dota 2 team manager Ievgen Dubravin. "Keeping the well being of players in mind and the tremendous amount of potential travel time in question, some sacrifices might have to be made."
Two weeks ago onGamers uncovered a file in a new Dota 2 update regarding four different high level divisions which directly references to seeding into The International.
At The International 2013, GameSpot/onGamers interviewed Dota 2 project lead Erik Johnson on how Valve approaches the esports landscape in regards to supporting the leagues.
"We want leagues to have business around them and we want them to be healthy," said Johnson. "The International is a tool to drive more customers towards those other events that happen throughout the year. We want to have a good long-term approach to how we deal with the economic professional scene."
Valve did not return request for comment to onGamers at this time.
Image Credit: Key Arena Facebook