Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware by now that we’re living in a pandemic. The Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, is causing serious disruptions in dozens of countries around the globe. Esports centers such as South Korea, Germany, the UK, the US, Sweden, China, and many others are now compromised when it comes to hosting events.
There’s practically no way for a tournament organizer to bring hundreds, let alone thousands of esports fans under the same roof. And even if that were a possibility, nobody would show up. Not even the teams themselves, fearing for their health and security.
At the heart of the problem lies the notions of contagion and social distancing. A virus is not a conscious force of evil. It’s just a mindless biological mechanism trying to fight for its own survival, at the expense of anything else, including its own survival (because if the host dies, so will the virus inside of the infected body).
With that in mind, everyone is encouraged to do what introverts have been doing all along: isolate and interact with others as little as possible. That’s how the spread of the disease gets slowed down. If everyone did that for a month, there would be no virus left. However, this is not entirely possible, because there are still essential things to do in the real world. You need doctors doing their job in hospitals, electricians fixing stuff, and so on.
The esports industry revolves in part around sponsorship deals and live events. But since we can no longer have live events (at least not in front of an audience), one of the key aspects of what made the industry grow so fast over the last decade is now unavailable. No doubt, growth will stall or even reverse for the next year or two, even though people will probably still flood the servers.
The Opportunity Offered by Covid-19
Playing video games on your computer is a great way of relaxing or killing time when you’re alone. And since lots of people will be forced to spend a lot of time in isolation in the coming months, we’re likely to see an increased interest in esports. Traditional sports such as football can only be played by people who actually meet in a physical place and are healthy enough to play. But esports is an activity that’s available at all times and can be enjoyed without having to leave the comfort of your house.
Socializing, which is a big part of any team-based sport, can be achieved in esports in a way that’s 100% safe. There’s no risk of contacting Coronavirus by talking with someone from another country using a microphone. And that gives esports a huge advantage in a time like this. Sure, live esports tournaments will start to be postponed or completely canceled for a while. But Pub games will go on. And as a result, it’s possible that the industry will not only stay afloat during these difficult times but even increase its number of fans.