Valve boss Gabe Newell has spent nearly a year in New Zealand managing his company from afar after the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted a family holiday, and he’s revealed that hosting official tournaments in the country might not be far behind.
In an interview with TVNZ’s 1 News, the enigmatic developer discussed the ever-increasing likelihood of tournaments for Valve games such as Dota 2’s The International and a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major coming to New Zealand in the near future, citing the safety of the country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
After last year’s iteration of The International, due to be held in Stockholm, was cancelled, the Dota 2 scene is hankering for a major tournament and New Zealand might just be the place.
Newell is unsure how far away that could be, but said “it’s a realistic possibility, and it gets more realistic all the time.”
"Valve’s Gabe Newell Hints at Moving Company, Esports Events to NZ……along with hosting Dota 2 and Counter-Strike Global: Offensive Majors and The International there"#graphicdesignismypassion#NewZealandWhen pic.twitter.com/oAh8VJIh8E— ESL Australia (@ESLAustralia) January 20, 2021
While a CS:GO major has made its way to Sydney and Riot Games has hosted international events for League of Legends elsewhere in Australia, New Zealand is yet to host a major esports event, and hosting one of the biggest tournaments in the world could really put the country on the map and pave the way for future tournaments to arrive on its shores.
Any event would be dependent on players being allowed through New Zealand’s strict quarantine, but with the prize pool of the most recent iteration of The International reaching nearly 35 million USD, an exception could be made for the sheer amount of funding that could be brought into the country. This is especially true since Sport New Zealand confirmed esports as an official sport last year, paving the way for exemptions similar to the recent cricket test match between Pakistan and New Zealand.
Valve staff are also reportedly interested in moving to New Zealand, and with Newell already on the path to New Zealand citizenship, even if we don’t see The International played in the country any time soon, there may be a new gaming powerhouse in the land under The Land Down Under.