When could we realistically see LAN Events return?

LAN events are a staple of the esports community. With the pandemic seemingly putting the world on pause in 2020/21, LAN events were affected as every other event.

Why are LAN Events so important to the community? When can we realistically see them fully return? Let’s talk about that.

Dreamhack LAN Party

© DreamHack

What is a LAN event?

A LAN event is an in-person esports tournament. LAN stands for Local Area Network, referring to the fact that everyone participating is playing on the same local network. These kinds of events are usually held in huge arenas, with thousands of fans attending. The teams play on stage in soundproof booths to keep the audience from interfering with the gameplay in any way. They broadcast the game on two or more giant screens for everyone in the audience to see.

LAN events also have hype man, casters and event crews. Groups of people whose job is to get the audience excited and provide a wholesome expirience. Some tournaments might even have a special desk, where a group of analysts comments on how the teams did post-match or predict how they will do before the match starts. LAN events require months of preparation and thousands of dollars put into ensuring the production work is top notch.

Why are LAN events important to esports?

LAN events are important for the scene because they bring everyone together. Being in an arena with thousands of your peers who play and love the same game as you are a fantastic feeling that has to be experienced firsthand. The cheering, the lights, and the hype all work in unison to make you feel like you’re a part of something big and important.

Putting fans close to their favorite team(s) or player (s) helps build their fandom for the game and ensures that they keep playing, thus keeping the game’s player base steady. The funds that tournament organizers raise from the ticket sales go back into creating more tournaments and more experiences for the fans to see their favorite teams in action in their favorite game. It’s like a self-sustaining ecosystem with everyone working together to keep their scene alive.

Once a new competitive game gets its own sponsored LAN events, it cements itself as an esport and helps the scene grow by attracting new players and talent. It shows the audience that the developers care about the game enough to invest in its esports scene. Without LAN events, the sense of community for an esports game just isn’t there.

What are the hurdles to overcome with local events in 2021?

As with many, if not all in-person events, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to LAN events. All tournament organizers have created online versions of their tournaments to ensure that the esports scene continues to grow even with the pandemic shutting down LAN events.

While 2021 is a marginal improvement over 2020 in terms of the COVID-19 vaccine being developed, it is still too early to determine whether hosting a LAN can be done this year. Infections across the worlds are still surging, and new virus strains make planning future events extremely difficult.

This doesn’t seem to have affected some tournament organizers though. Since September of 2020, ESL and Dreamhack announced their plan to host 8 ESL Pro Tour LAN events in 2021. Riot Games also pledged to host an in-person MSI and Worlds, and Valve committed to holding The International 10 and both majors in LAN.

Looking at the current worldwide situation, though, it’s likely that ESL and Dreamhack jumped the gun in terms of announcing set dates for their LAN events. It remains to be seen whether all the organizers postpone these dates or somehow go through with them.

Is it realistic to expect LAN events and return to normalcy this year?

It seems very unlikely that LAN events will make a comeback this year. Vaccines are still not administered globally, and lockdown plans seemingly change overnight.

Despite this, LAN events are not dead, and they will never be. UK tournament organizers epic.LAN, ESL UK, and Gfinity are confident that when LAN events do make their return, they will be bigger than ever. The quarantine has put esports in the spotlight more than ever, likely introducing new groups to the scene over the past few months.

It’s true that when LAN events come back, their audiences and popularity will be much larger than they were pre-pandemic, so there is still a reason for celebration. We can remain hopeful that by late 2021 and early 2022 we will have all LAN events return to normal operation across the board.

Only a few months left.