One of the final hurdles to Sweden hosting the Counter-Strike Major fell this week as the government changed its requirements for competitors attempting to secure visas to enter the country for esports. According to a report in Expressen.se, competitors will now be able to enter Sweden and compete providing they can show a negative COVID test at the border, leaving the way almost entirely clear for the planned Major in Stockholm.
The report in Expressen does state that there is still one bridge to cross, with organizers PGL apparently demanding they are allowed a live audience before agreeing to run the event at the Avicii Arena as planned. This news comes far too late to save Valve’s Dota event The International, however, which was also slated to take place in Stockholm before travel concerns forced relocation to Bucharest, Romania.
A decision on the crowd issue is expected no later than Sept. 15, which leaves fans outside of Sweden little time to plan their trips. Likewise, players will struggle to book facilities, and those traveling from outside of Europe will struggle to acclimatize if forced to enter the nation just days prior to click-off.
PGL accused of pushing for cancellation
Providing PGL gets the assurances it is looking for, it is assumed the tournament will go ahead as planned, at the start of November. However, some sources have alleged that PGL is attempting to force a cancellation of the Swedish event. According to Expressen sources, this is due to a pre-existing relationship between PGL and the Romanian authorities, and that the organizer would prefer to move the tournament to Bucharest, rather than run it as originally planned.
One interesting tidbit of information is a line from Michael Damberg, Sweden’s Minister of the Interior, who is quoted in the Expressen article as saying he wasn’t aware that other nations had a "more expansive" interpretation of elite esports. This will come as a surprise to many, with Sweden viewed as a home of esports in some circles, and the birthplace of the two original CS:GO dynasties in Ninjas in Pyjamas and Fnatic.