In a concerning turn of events, visa application hurdles are once again casting a shadow over the world of Dota 2 esports. The highly-anticipated Dota 2 event of the year, The International (TI12), is set to return to its home in Seattle, USA, in 2023. However, even before the tournament kicks off, the visa application challenges are wreaking havoc on teams currently competing at DreamLeague Season 21.
The most recent victims of this visa turmoil are Aybek “TA2000” Tokayev from Quest Esports and Kim “Gabbi” Santos from Entity. Both players are now set to miss the initial stages of DreamLeague Season 21, resulting in their teams having to rely on stand-in replacements.
The predicament began when TA2000 traveled to Indonesia to secure his U.S. visa ahead of TI12. While choosing a country with a lower visa denial rate seemed like a prudent decision, unforeseen delays in the application process have left him stranded in Southeast Asia longer than anticipated. Consequently, he will be absent from DreamLeague Season 21, dealing a blow to Quest Esports' preparations.
Entity is also grappling with visa-related challenges, as Gabbi faces similar delays. To hold the fort in his absence, Entity has enlisted Ammar “ATF” Al-Assaf as a stand-in for the early stages of the tournament.
While both players are expected to return to their respective teams once their visa applications are completed, the broader issue at hand raises concerns about the impending TI12. Previous esports events, notably in Berlin, Germany, have witnessed teams grappling with visa issues, often resulting in playing with stand-in replacements. Should these visa problems persist, it could force teams to scramble to find suitable substitutes on short notice, potentially impacting the competitive integrity of TI12.
What's at stake extends beyond TI12; DreamLeague Season 21 boasts a substantial $1 million prize pool and offers teams a valuable opportunity to test their skills against the world's best. Visa denials could not only diminish the overall enjoyment of TI12 but also jeopardize the competitive landscape of the esports scene, affecting various tournaments and the fans who eagerly anticipate them.
Also read: Valve Puts a Full Stop on Dota Pro Circuit
In light of these challenges, there is a growing call for Valve, the company behind Dota 2, to step in and ensure that players from all regions can obtain their visas in a timely manner. The Dota 2 community anxiously watches to see whether proactive measures will be taken to safeguard the smooth execution of TI12 and the vitality of the esports ecosystem it represents.