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Coronavirus Outbreak Disrupts Overwatch, CS:GO, League Of Legends Events in Asia

Nationwide panic has led to the cancellation of many esports events to keep residents and visitors safe.

Several industries including esports had to suspend operations in China following the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

With over 17,000 cases of a new strain of coronavirus dubbed as 2019-nCoV,  the government extended the lunar holiday and issued a recommendation to stay indoors. While esports will benefit through higher viewership, the industry suffered a major blow as several esports organizers had to cancel matches and events scheduled to take place in China. 

Epidemic Prevention Measures

Chinese officials banned mass gatherings to avoid cluster infection, and it would be an unnecessary risk for players, staff, and fans to proceed with the event. Even before the World Health Organization declared the 2019-nCov as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, tournament organizers already announced the cancellation of several events. 

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Asia-Pacific qualifiers for the World Electronic Sports Games, which would have kicked off in Macau on Feb. 16, was also postponed. The official announcement regarding the cancellation came on Jan. 22. The WESG main event will take place in Chongqing, China in March, but it may be rescheduled. 

On Jan. 26, Tencent announced the cancellation of Week 2 of the League of Legends Pro League – which started on Jan. 13. English sportscasters also had to fly back to their home countries following the announcement. 

The cancellation of the inaugural season of the Pacific Championship Series followed on Jan. 29. PCS, the merger between the League of Legends Master Series and the League of Legends Southeast Asia Tour, was supposed to take place in multiple cities starting on Feb. 8. 

League of Legends Champions Korea will proceed as scheduled on Feb. 5 but there will be no on-site audience. Fans will receive refunds for canceled ticket bookings. 

On Jan. 30, Blizzard Entertainment announced the cancellation of all Overwatch League matches scheduled to take place in China in February and March to protect the health and safety of the staff, the players, and the fans. The new schedule for canceled matches which would have taken place in Shanghai, Foshan, and Hangzhou will be announced at a later date. 

Elsewhere, Overwatch League events proceed as scheduled. OWL will kick off on Feb. 8 with matches in New York and Dallas.

Esports Teams Respond to Virus Outbreak

Esports teams were equally concerned about the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese Overwatch teams Guangzhou Charge and Shanghai Dragons announced the temporary relocation of their training base to South Korea. 

The duo Mihail “Dosia” Stolyarov and Rustem “mou” Telepov, who left the European esports organization Gambit Gaming and signed with the Chinese CS:GO team OneThree in December of last year, also left their new team without an official match due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. 

More Events Canceled Outside China

Event cancellations expanded to other venues close to China. Organizers had to cancel several Pokémon Video Game Championships Midseason Showdown events in Hong Kong this February. Aside from matches, the annual networking event 2020 Taipei Game Show in Taiwan was also postponed. The event which will feature over 300 exhibitors and attracts around 320,000 visitors was originally scheduled from Feb 6 to 9 at Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, Hall 1. The event will take place in the summer but there is no exact date as of writing.

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