What started as an outbreak in Wuhan and the delay of the League of Legends Pro League in China led to a plethora of canceled and reformatted events around the globe. The Coronavirus outbreak has not only affected major stock markets, but has greatly impacted the esports scene as well. We will update this story as more changes are made.
UPDATED 4/30 - Iconic esports tournament The International, which serves as the world championship for DOTA 2 esports, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 marks the 10th year of TI, and the first time it has ever been postponed.
League of Legends
As of now, both the LEC and LCK have resumed play within their respective studios with on-air talent and teams present, but without audiences.
UPDATE 7/23 - The 2020 Harrisburg University Esports Invitational, the annual collegiate League of Legends and Overwatch tournament hosted by the Harrisburg University Storm, will be fully online and virtual this year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is scheduled to take place from September 19 - September 20.
UPDATED 3/25 - League of Legends developer Riot Games has donated $1.5 million to Pandemic Relief in Los Angeles.
UPDATED 3/12: LCS (NA) - The LA based League originally canceled all post game fan interaction, as well as the players' own handshakes to each other, and is keeping an eye on the situation regarding Spring Split Finals in Frisco, TX. On March 12th, Riot Games took the hard decision to ban all fans and press from the venue, but games will continue being played live in the studio.
UPDATED 3/13: LCS (NA) - The Spring Splits of both the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series and the League of Legends Academy Championship Series have been indefinitely suspended.
The 2020 LCS Spring Finals, which was supposed to take place in Frisco, TX next month, will now be held at the LCS studios in Los Angeles, CA. A full statement was given by LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley on the official LCS twitter account.
UPDATED 3/13: CLoL - All Collegiate League of Legends operations have been suspended immediately. The Riot Scholastic Association of America announced the unfortunate news in a tweet, and also confirmed that if all competitions were unable to continue that it would follow through with awarding the allocated scholarship funds.
UPDATED 3/13: LEC (EU) - The European league semi-canceled their Spring Split Finals, relocating them from Budapest to the Berlin studio. Furthermore, just like the LCS, the LEC has now taken action and banned all fans and press from their studio as well. Due to suspicion that an LEC staff member was exposed to the coronavirus, the LEC has suspended all play for the time being. They have not released plans for an online format, though more information is expected soon.
UPDATED 3/17: LCS (NA) and LEC (EU) - The LEC, LCS, and Academy will resume games this upcoming weekend, in an online format. The full LCS and Academy schedule have been announced, but the LEC has yet to confirm their playoff schedule yet.
UPDATED 3/19: LCS Academy League (NA) - The 2020 LCS Academy League will resume online this week with no observer cam for week 8, and the first day's broadcast has been delayed by 30 minutes due to technical difficulties.
LCK (KR) - They initially began their Spring Split operations without fans, allowing only players and press in the venue, but after a coronavirus scare with their host a few weeks later, barred press as well. The league has since halted operations, and is monitoring their situation, and may move to an online format upon resuming.
UDATED 3/24: The LCK returns for their second round robin in an online format, starting games tonight and playing regular season games through April 16th.
LPL (CN) - The Chinese league started much earlier than the rest, getting a few weeks of play in before the outbreak worsened. However, during their normal season pause for their Lunar New Year celebrations, Shanghai postponed all sports activities, including professional esports and the LPL. They later announced they'd recommence on March 9th, using an online format to finish their season, playing three Bo3's per day, seven days a week. They also still plan to host Worlds 2020, and will reportedly receive help from the Chinese government to make that happen.
Other League of Legends Esports - The PCS (which replaced the LMS and SEA regions) postponed their Spring Split, while the Japanese pro league, the LJL, has also gone spectatorless as well. MSI had its announcement delayed (also available in cartoon form), and Riot canceled their Valorant reveal event and made their TFT Galaxies Showdown online format only. Multiple pro players in Korea have donated some of their salary to coronavirus victims, and FPX made a large donation as well.
UPDATED 3/10: Riot Games' Mid Season Invitational has been delayed till July. Rift Rivals has been canceled and all regions have changed their schedule to start earlier to allow for a large gap in the middle of Summer.
The Overwatch League has had several canceled Homestands in China and Korea, and then further cancelations of those rescheduled games as well. The Asian-based Overwatch League teams are also now relocating to LA. Paris Eternal's Homestand has also been canceled/delayed. Blizzard also changed its Hearthstone Masters Tour LA to an online only format.
UPDATED 4/30: After two matches in the Asian division — both losses to Guangzhou Charge and Chengdu Hunters — Vancouver Titans Esports Director Tim Holloway confirmed the team will be returning to the Pacific Division of the Overwatch League. Vancouver Titans' next scheduled match is against Washington Justice on Saturay, May 9.
UPDATED 4/14: Overwatch League franchise London Spitfire has not played any matches recently due to the government-mandated quarantine in Korea, but announced on Monday, April 13 that the team expects to start playing OWL matches again in early May.
UPDATED 3/27: Sixteen games of the 2020 Overwatch League were scheduled to take place online this weekend. However, both the New York Excelsior and the Vancouver Titans have stepped back from competing temporarily. The games have yet to be re-scheduled.
UPDATED 3/11: All Overwatch League events have been canceled through April. However, OWL Commissioner, Pete Vlastelica, tweeted out that all games will still be played. Only the events themselves have been canceled. Please continue checking back for more information as the story updates.
UPDATED 3/17: Overwatch League announced their new schedule, with games beginning March 21st. They also announced they'd be playing games entirely online, and across multiple different regions, eliminating the need for travel.
UPDATED 3/24: In an effort to make up for scheduled games canceled by the COVID-19 outbreak , Overwatch League will run sixteen games this weekend. Eight games will take place on Saturday, March 28, and then eight more will take place throughout Sunday, March 29.
UPDATED 6/19: Twitch announced it would cancel their TwitchCon San Diego event, set to take place this Fall due to continued concerns around COVID-19. TwitchCon Amsterdam was already canceled this March, meaning there will be no TwitchCons in 2020. Twitch is looking for other potential options to celebrate in an event that would still fit in health safety regulations. Stay tuned for more details.
UPDATED 6/10: PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS initially unveiled the PUBG Continental Series as an online pivot from the standard circuit due to the pandemic with the PCS Charity Showdown. Recently, PUBG esports unveiled PCS 1 & 2 to take place across all four global regions this summer.
UPDATED 5/26: Blizzard Entertainment has announced that BlizzCon 2020 has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. BlizzCon Executive Producer Saralyn Smith said that the community would be updated on any potential updates regarding online pivots.
UPDATED 5/5: ESL Australia announced via Twitter that IEM Melbourne 2020 and the Melbourne Esports Open would be postponed due to COVID-19. The tweet reads as follows: Today we have a tough update to share. Due to the current global health situation @IEM Melbourne 2020, and the @MelbEsportsOpen have been rescheduled to August 21-22, 2021. Please read the full update on our website here: http://iem.gg/melbourne2020.
UPDATED 5/1: Just one day after The Invitational was delayed, EVO has canceled their in-person event at Mandalay Bay and will move to an online format. They are refunding all purchased tickets and hotel reservations automatically. They've not yet finalized their plans for the online format, but they will begin tournament sign ups next week. Stay tuned for updates on EVO here.
UPDATED 3/12: All Call of Duty live events have been canceled and the league is moving to an online only format. The league started off with their own Homestands this year, but similar to Overwatch League, they've had to abandon them for the time being.
Counter-Strike and IEM originally aded a heavy spectator screening to their Katowice finals, but ultimately ran the event spectatorless. New CS:GO league, Flashpoint, moved their entire league to LA and canceled their finals in Stockholm.
Similarly, Psyonix canceled their Rocket League Season 9 World Championship live event, and The Pokémon Company canceled the 2020 Pokémon Europe International Championships. Luckily, the Oceania International Championships Junior Division wasn't canceled so we could be graced with this story below.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Game Community (FGC) got hit hard. The FGC is largely made up of multiple small, grassroots style tournaments leading up to grand events like EVO. Therefore, the FGC lacks the more stable infrastructure provided by large tournament organizers and developers (like Riot Games). Not only does COVID-19 pressure smaller tournaments, though, some of the higher profile tourneys were affected as well. Multiple events in the Capcom Pro Tour were removed and Tokyo Tekken Masters was postponed.
And while the real live NBA was canceled, the NBA 2K League was as well. NBA 2K will be delaying their start and participating in preseason matches in an online format. Brawlhalla canceled their tournament at this upcoming weekend's CEO Dreamland event, and will make up for it with an online tournament at a later date. Unfortuantely, with so many people pulling out of CEO Dreamland, the organizer was forced to create a PayPal to accept donations to keep them afloat. Attendees are requesting refunds, and they're being provided, but CEO Dreamland has no way of covering the costs of the venues, etc. and is facing severe financial burdens.
As far as other gaming related events go, Twitchcon Amsterdam was canceled last week and the GDC was canceled this February as well, which has been going steady for over 30 years. E3 was also canceled, which is a hugely popular expo in LA. Finally - and somewhat anecdotally - Plague Inc., a game where the player becomes a disease with intention of spreading across the globe, was banned in China.
There will be further cancellations and changes to other events in the future. Please follow this article for further updates, and follow our Twitter below. And check here for more esports and gaming news and content.