For most of Dota 2's history, The International—the apex of Dota's tournaments and current record-holder for largest esports prize pool ever—has been held in Seattle near Valve's headquarters. In recent years, Valve has taken to moving the tournament around again, and with the 2020 International still months away, Valve is starting an Olympics-style open call for submissions from any city that would like to host 2021's tourney.
In Valve's announcement for the open call, the company claims that since the first International was held in Cologne, Germany in 2011, the event's global audience and in-person attendance has grown to rival the "NFL Super Bowl, U.S. Open Golf Championship, and the Eurovision Song Contest." For reference, Variety reports the Super Bowl drew in 102 million viewers earlier this month, while Eurovision claims its 2019 competition was watched by 182 million.
Last year's International, held in Shanghai, amassed a record-setting esports prize pool of $34.3 million, funded through sales of The International 2019 battle pass (also, keep in mind that only 25% of sales feed into the pool).
Valve's proposal request is clear about the minimum requirements it's looking for in a new city for The International. Aspiring hosts will need to have "a modern indoor arena or stadium with a capacity between 15,000 and 80,000," nearby spaces for satellite events and "ample hotel space" for 30,000 or more visitors, fiber internet, be close to an international airport, and "a strong local transportation system"—alas, if only a New York City petition for The International could lead to the city fixing our crumbling subway.
The open call also cites a 2018 report from The Vancouver Sun, noting that Vancouver, CA's tourism organization estimated that year's International would bring in $7.8 million to the city's economy.
Submissions for applications close on March 31. Valve will then select a 2021 host by mid-June and announce the winner at 2020's International in Stockholm, Sweden. With Dota 2 having recently received an update that (according to our own Eric Van Allen) basically reinvents the entire game, the next International is already primed to be one for the ages. Time will tell if Valve also makes history by bringing Dota to a city that's yet to be graced by the economic windfall associated with thousands of dedicated MOBA fans.