May 3, 2020
ESPORTS

Esports and the coronavirus: Blessing or curse?

COVID-19 continues to impact the world and competitive gaming is no exception. While some esport as a whole receives more attention than ever before, event organizers and teams suffer from the current situation.

The current increased attention from outsiders to the industry is in stark contrast to the economic problems facing the scene. There have been Teams who were forced to drop their players due to financial issues and tournament organizers facing significant revenue losses from cancelled or postponed events.

Esports’ Time to Shine?

In the wake of the pandemic nearly all outdoor activities and entertainment events were shut down due to safety concerns. While sectors like traditional sports suffer tremendously from the restrictions, esports had an easier way to adapt to the situation: Going online.

Compared to other sports, esports has the luxury to not require players and audiences to attend physically. The two disciplines can also join forces to create events together. Esports can profit tremendously from such collaborations. One prominent example stems from the world of racing. Since racing events had to be canceled, professionals such as Formula 1 driver Lando Norris promote and participate in sim racing events. The racing game scene is currently booming, being in the limelight of major motorsports outlets, organizations and racers.

Tough Times for Esports Nonetheless

But despite esports profiting in some aspects, the scene also took painful hits. Organizations had to drop their players, such as Cloud9 and Chaos Esports with their Dota division.

Event organizers also face financial losses over canceled tournaments or turning them into online events. MTG, the parent company of ESL and DreamHack, expects a loss in revenue of up to 35-40% for the first half of 2020.

Overall, 50 large-scale events had to be called off according to Liquipedia. 43 more tournaments have been postponed. Let’s take a look at the impact the coronavirus had on some esports events.

League of Legends:

CS:GO:

  • ESL One Rio: postponed to the dates of the November Major (09. – 22.11.2020)
    āž” Effectively only one Valve-Major for 2020
  • Direct invites for Rio canceled, now Regional Major Ranking (RMR) implemented
  • Flashpoint: offline event canceled, moved online
  • ESL Pro League Season 11: offline event canceled, moved online
  • BLAST Premier Fall 2020 Showdown: postponed, date TBD
  • DreamHack Masters Jƶnkƶping: renamed to DreamHack Masters Spring, moved online
  • ESL Cologne: no information given, most likely postponed
  • ESEA MDL Global Challenge: postponed, date TBD

Dota 2:

  • The International 10 postponed indefinitely, most likely happening 2021
  • ESL One Los Angeles Major: canceled as Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) event & turned into regional online event
  • ESL One Birmingham: offline event canceled, moved online
  • 4th Minor and Major: canceled
  • DPC under review for fall
  • New regional online leagues created on short notice (BeyondTheSummit Pro Series, WePlay! Pushka League etc.)

Overwatch:

  • Homestands in China and South Korea: canceled
  • Homestands in USA and EU: played without audience
  • Overwatch league: offline event canceled, moved online

āž” Overwatch League continues online

Regional Online Leagues can Help to Save the Scene

Regional leagues became especially popular in the MOBA Dota 2. ESL One was split into regional events, WePlay! organized a new league series for Europe and CIS and Beyond the Summit offers an equivalent for the US and Southeast Asia. Wherever possible tournament organizers have made the swap to a regional online league.

There is non-stop action in the professional scene under these new circumstances. But not only fans reap the benefits of the changed environment. For players the online leagues are important to provide competitive matches in the absence of events.

The (ping-related) regional focus of the online leagues are especially a blessing for teams and players in the backrow behind the stars. Usually tier 2-competition is an afterthought to many fans but not now. Clashing against their region’s best all the time players and teams that usually fail to make it to the big LANs are enjoying a newfound limelight.

Esports is undergoing yet another transformation “back to the roots” of online gaming. Do you enjoy the new environment of competition? Tell us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or join us onĀ DiscordĀ for more discussion!

Photo credit: Valve
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