Over the last few months, the whole world has been put to the test. The Coronavirus threat has put everyone on high alert and the financial markets are tumbling because of it. The question is: how will this crisis affect esports?
The Growth of Esports
Esports has been growing at a spectacular pace for more than a decade. Year after year, millions of new fans enter the scene and the revenues are increasing. But now that a big threat has emerged, not only tournament organizers but the entire ecosystem is starting to experience serious challenges.
By nature, esports, at least at the professional level, is a social activity. Tournaments take place in big arenas, in front of thousands of fans. These fans come together from all around the world, and that’s a big problem when a viral infection emerges. With so many countries affected by the Coronavirus, nobody wants to go to such gatherings. The risk simply dwarfs the rewards. Excitement is replaced by fear. And everyone is on high alert.
Concerns Regarding China and South Korea
The first Coronavirus cases appeared in China. One province of around 60 million people is hugely affected, with some 70,000 confirmed cases in total. Some suspect the number is a lot higher, but this is the official data. Other provinces have fewer infection cases (from hundreds to several thousands), but the fact remains: there’s an outbreak in China and the disease can be deadly. Around 2-3% die, most of them elderly. However, that includes the buffs received via hospitalization. Without this help, a lot more people would die.
In South Korea, the number of confirmed cases is at around 2,000. But that’s rapidly changing for the worst.
Other places in the world have started to show signs of illness. In particular, Italy is getting close to 1000 cases. Other countries have up to 100. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal under different conditions. But the fact that the illness is easily transmitted in a variety of ways makes the situation a lot worse. And furthermore, there’s no vaccine or any other clear treatment for this.
Given that China and South Korea are huge components of the global esports industry, their inability to host events and go about their business is triggering a major crisis. And it’s only a matter of time until important companies will start suffering casualties. If there’s no work, people will need to be laid off. And a vicious cycle begins.
The Covid-19 problem is quickly taking hold of Europe and the US as well. If those two places become unreliable as tournament grounds, the entire industry will sink. At least in terms of its professional scene and LAN events.
Two important esports tournaments have already been delayed and one of them might get canceled entirely. The first is the Hainan Master Spring Invitational (Dota 2) and the other is the prestigious Mid-Season Invitational (League of Legends). Depending on how the situation evolves MSI might be relocated or canceled. The organizers have yet to decide on this issue.
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