Coronavirus crisis further interferes with major esports tournaments
The current coronavirus-crisis is an ongoing topic in the media – not only is CoVid-19 spreading around the world fairly quickly, it’s severely impacting a fair number of worldwide events (esports included) – particularly in China. Being the originating country, it’s been hit the hardest so far.
The vast majority of infections and fatalities has been around the Wuhan region where the virus was first discovered – despite this, events all around China are being cancelled. Esports events too – Blizzard announced that no Overwatch League games would be hosted in the country until it was safe again.
The League World Championships
Now, OWL games aren’t the only event taking place there though. Another, equally big deal, are the 2020 League of Legends World Championships, which are set to take place in Shanghai Stadium this autumn. The Shanghai government is preparing for the event by trying to make sure they will, in fact, still be able to host the tournament.
Offline events are being switched to an online format, and monetary incentives are supposed to keep esports teams affected by the epidemic running. With a lot of Chinese teams being effectively grounded or at least unable to work at capacity, this is certainly a welcome path of action – the teams being affected can’t help their location, after all.
As the LoL 2020 WC is still some time off, it may well be that the coronavirus crisis will have died off by then, but there is no guarantee, and Riot games has already reacted to the current situation by rescheduling some of their other events. The MSI 2020 will be delayed due to the outbreak, for example, and a continued crisis could affect the WC as well, despite the Shanghai governments best efforts.
An Update on MSI 2020 from John Needham, Global Head of Esports pic.twitter.com/VdekcrEibU
— lolesports (@lolesports) February 26, 2020
Esports vs Coronavirus – Future Steps
In the press conference announcing their efforts to keep esports in Shanghai, it was also mentioned that some 480+ LAN competitions were being cancelled (or at least switched to online formats as well). They are actively encouraging esports tournaments hosts to comply with this and change their formats too – all in the middle of a struggling Chinese esports scene.
Other League formats have been affected too – the LPL continues to be delayed, the LCK cancelled its media day and launched without live audiences altogether. So far, the LPL has only seen one week of matches played – no surprise given that the Chinese government also asked for all sporting events taking place before the 1st of May to be postponed.
This affects more than just the LoL competitions – Blizzard has also cancelled additional matches for weeks 5 through 7 in their Overwatch League schedule. This also includes homestead games – including those supposed to take place in Seoul.
Though the actual viral crisis is, of course, not being affected by these measures, it’s nice to see that authorities and event organisers are taking the health of the participants of these events seriously, and are acting cautiously.