The world has literally frozen up. The European countries are shutting down their borders, sports events, concerts, exhibitions, and events, which gather lots of people, are canceled. Many people are in quarantine and can’t leave their places or hospitals. It sounds like a synopsis of a horror movie but it is a reality. The reason for it is the raging coronavirus pandemic, Covid-2019.
Almost everyone takes losses: airlines, transporters, the sport-entertaining segment, and, of course, esports. Seemingly, how are video games related to the disease and why can’t you just stay at home and play? Let’s try to answer this question and predict the nearest future of the industry.
How did it start and what should be expected in the nearest future?
The first worrying call was ESL’s decision to host the regular season of ESL Pro League Season 11 online due to a possible deterioration of the situation with coronavirus in Los Angeles. Such a decision caused some negative from fans but was reacted with understanding. But there was another question: what will be with the Rio Major? There is no official information now but it probably will be canceled just like Dota Majors.
A few days later, ESL together with VALVE made a decision to cancel Dota 2 ESL ONE LOS ANGELES 2020. This has become the beginning of unavoidable.
Valve’s next decision, which obviously disappointed all CIS fans, was the cancelation of the 4th stage of the DPC season, namely, the Dota Pit Minor and EPICENTER. Such a caution reflects Valve’s determination because they could hope that everything would become normal before the start of the tournament in Croatia (April 23) and everyone would forget about the virus before EPICENTER (May 2). After all, these measures are justified because there are human lives on the line.
After the cancelation of two DPC stages, we can only hope that the last Major of the season, which will take place in Singapore, will be hosted without changes. Otherwise, we risk to stay without the main tournament of the year – The International 2020 and TI9 might become the last one in a couple of years.
There are rumors and concerns that the anniversary TI will be postponed or even canceled. However, it is too early to panic. The beginning of the main stage of the tournament is set on August 18. According to the WHO’s predictions, the pandemic should recede, so it is possible that The International 2020 will be carried out after all.
What should be done next?
Despite all these news are pretty sad and depressing, you should not get sad. The pandemic is not the end of the world but even instead. Such a «shocking therapy» might make a positive impact on the industry. Because now all tournament operators, organizations, and investors need to think about how to attract viewers and keep esports interesting. For example, the situation around coronavirus might provoke the beginning of structural changes. Valve can introduce the system of regional leagues now, which is planned to be introduced only since autumn 2020. Also, there is some space for tournament operators, which can host online tournaments. The recent announcement by WePlay! is a nice example.
The Kyiv company has announced the charity non-commercial tournament WeSave, which is intended to pay the public’s attention to the spread of this disease. The prize pool of 120 000$ will go to funds, medical institutions, which work on the cure against Covid-19. Many teams, including OG, EHOME, TNC, VP, have already confirmed their participation. Also, there will be an opportunity to donate money for the common good. This is a bright example of how you can help not only yourself but the whole world during the stagnation.
Tough challenges are always paid off. We are sure that the esports community will only become closer and tournament operators and organizations will make us happy with lots of content during the pandemic. But now, follow standards of hygiene, wash your hands, try to not contact people, and stay healthy. Be careful.