ESL has announced that the ESL One Cologne will transition to an online tournament due to the ongoing travel restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizer had hoped to at least have the teams play in an empty arena before. The return to online play in Cologne bodes ill for the planned Brazilian Major in November.
Brazil continues to struggle with the pandemic as the number of infections keeps rising. At this point Brazil has the second highest amount of infections worldwide. In just four months the Major is supposed to happen after the initial date in May was moved to November 19-22.
Although Counter-Strike is currently in the player break the teams are all preparing for the final “Regional Major Ranking” tournament that will determine the participants of the Rio Major.
But even the teams themselves are starting to doubt that the Major will happen as planned. Christian Lenz, manager of BIG, the current best team in the world said: “I told my players, there won’t be a Rio Major. That would be complete nonsense.” Instead a transition similar to ESL One Cologne with online tournaments for each region seems more likely.
ESL itself continues to observe the situation closely. ESL’s Head of PR, Christopher Flato told esports.com the following:
“We are constantly communicating with Valve and the authorities in Rio, but as of now we cannot say anything definite yet.”
Even if the local authorities allow the Major to take place, the ESL will install additional security measures to ensure the health and safety of all attendees.
Several scenarios in planning
As of now the ESL is planning with several different scenarios, all with the goal to avoid outright cancellation of the event. These range from offline play without audience to online transition with several in between. One scenario could also involve play in a studio, which would not necessarily have to be located in Brazil.
Should circumstances force the worst case of different regional divisions with online play the Rio Major would have little similarity to Majors as we know them.
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