It seems that it is not just the Overwatch League and League of Legends esports tournaments that have been impacted by the continuing global coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday 12th March, ESL issued a statement on Twitter postponing the forthcoming ESL One Los Angeles 2020 event.
The statement read:
“In light of recent travel restrictions and the evolving COVID-19 situation, ESL is postponing the ESL One Los Angeles 2020 Dota 2 Major. While we were very excited to bring the first ever Dota 2 Major to Los Angeles, the safety and well-being of our players, attendees, coaches, partners and ESL staff must come first.”
“We are working closely with Valve to determine a new time and location for the Major. We are deeply disappointed but believe this outcome is in the best interest of all of the people who make these incredible events possible.”
More Cancellations to Follow?
With the Overwatch League already seeing a number of game weeks canceled and the Mid Season Invitational and Summer Split dates being switched for League of Legends players, this latest move highlights the growing concern that Coronavirus could decimate large parts of the forthcoming esports season schedule.
Indeed, with cases rapidly rising in many countries across the world, including those that are getting set to host big esports events in the coming weeks, it seems very likely that more cancellations or postponements of big tournaments will follow.
It is not just the esports industry that are fighting the effects of the virus, with many sports events, music concerts and similar large-scale events either canceled or being held behind closed doors all over the globe.
Is There a Solution for Esports?
While the cancellation of so many top events in the esports industry will be keenly felt by the organizers and sponsors, there does exist a rather simple solution for the esports industry that is not readily available for other sports or events.
That is to play these tournaments online, rather than offline in a LAN setting.
Of course, there won’t be the same atmosphere at the event, which is why online tournaments are generally only used in smaller-scale events of qualifiers to whittle down the field to those that are capable enough to play in front of a paying crowd on a LAN.
However, there is no doubt that teams and individual esports players could, in theory at least, isolate themselves to ward off as much of the coronavirus threat as possible, and then play their games remotely, with the matches being streamed over the usual services such as Twitch TV or YouTube.
Many will argue that the logistics for some of these events make it impossible and of course, sponsors will point out that the potential revenue and exposure they would receive from an online tournament is small compared to LAN events and all the razzmatazz that goes with them.
That said, with the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of slowing down in many countries and cases expected to rise, it could be a way for esports to weather the storm until normal service can be resumed.