Concerns are growing that Valve may not be able to host the forthcoming Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) Major in Sweden after the company admitted they were still unsure about running events in that country. The initial point of concern was raised after Valve stated that the plans they had to host The International (TI), Dota 2's crown event, in Stockholm may have to be shelved or moved due to an ongoing situation with Swedish authorities.
The news seems to center around an initial commitment by the Swedish government that esports would be redefined to fall under sporting legislation, which gave Valve confidence they would be able to gain permission and exemptions to run TI and presumably other events in Stockholm in 2021. According to Valve’s own post, the authorities have somewhat reneged on that deal, and now look set to make it nigh-impossible to host esports events in Sweden in 2021.
The report came from HLTV’s Luis Mira, and stated that "plans to hold the Counter-Strike Major in Stockholm in the fall have not been affected by this development as of yet, sources said." The portentous section appears to be the words "as of yet", which implies Valve is currently going ahead, but things could quickly change, especially when you consider both events were slated to take place in the same venue, Stockholm’s Avicii Arena.
The statement below is taken from Valve’s post here and outlines some of the struggles Valve has had in trying to organize Major esports events during a pandemic. It seems that the firm is keen to put some of the responsibility on the Swedish government, which could make it difficult to run future events there if this issue is not resolved:
"Over the course of the past year, Stockholm Live and Visit Stockholm continued to reassure us in our regular and constant communications with them that The International - Dota 2 Championships qualified for the same exemptions other elite sporting events there received.
However, despite previous reassurances, we were informed two weeks ago that the Swedish Sports Federation had just voted not to accept esports into the sports federation.
In subsequent (and immediate) meetings with the Swedish Esports Federation (SESF) and Visit Stockholm we discovered our only remaining option was to ask Sweden's Minister of the Interior to reclassify The International - Dota 2 Championships as an elite sporting event. Our request was immediately denied."
In short, it may prove impossible for Valve to run the event in Sweden, as without the reclassification of esports under the sporting rules they would simply not be able to get visas for staff, players, or anyone else involved in the tournament. Why the change of heart came so late is hard to fathom, but Valve’s frustration is clear and reflected in sections of Swedish society too. We’ll keep you updated as the story unfolds, but for now, it might be worth holding out on booking flights to Stockholm if you’re a CS:GO fan.