Next year’s edition of the world’s richest esports tournament will be held outside the United States for the first time, because The International 9 is coming to Shanghai in 2019.

The announcement came on Saturday, just before the final of TI8 -- which ended with China’s LGD being defeated by European team OG in the game Dota 2.

OG got US$11 million for their victory and LGD received US$4 million as losing finalists -- the richest prize pool in esports.

Chinese teams have won the tournament every time it’s been held in an even-numbered year (2012, 2014 and 2016) -- but many were disappointed LGD couldn’t take advantage of “even number magic” to triumph. Some even wondered if it means an era of strong Chinese teams in Dota 2 is over.

OG defeated LGD 2-1 in the 2018 Grand Final. (Picture: LGD)

But people are excited about the tournament coming to China, hoping that competing on home turf will help Chinese Dota teams win the next championship.

The TI9 will take place at Shanghai’s Mercedes Benz Arena, which is unfortunately known to Dota 2 fans as the host of the 2016 Shanghai Major -- a messy tournament that has been called a “cringe comedy”.

It will be the biggest esports event to happen in the country after the League of Legends tournament held in the Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium -- which also hosted the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

And it’s great news for Shanghai’s government, which is trying to make the city the world’s esports capital. The city’s vice mayor appeared in the TI9 announcement video during the final of TI8, enthusiastically saying “Welcome to Shanghai!”