A wave of COVID-19 cases has hit a third of the teams slated to play in Dota 2's first LAN of the year, raising questions about who will be able to participate in the tournament when it begins Saturday, Mar. 27. Six out of 18 teams to play in The Singapore Major, the first DPC event of the season, have reported COVID cases in their ranks and will either have to fly to Singapore with substitutions or skip the event altogether.
NAVI, Beastcoast withdraw from The Singapore Major
Two teams have already confirmed their withdrawal from the tournament, taking down the line-up from 18 teams to 16.
Natus Vincere reported Mar. 20 that mid laner Bogdan "Iceberg" Vasilenko and captain Andrii “ALWAYSWANNAFLY” Bodarenko tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to stay home, "even if they manage to recover". To replace them, NAVI then called CIS veteran Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev to fill for Iceberg and coach Andrey "Mag" Chipenko to stand in for ALWAYSWANNAFLY, but further development would ultimately bar NAVI from attending altogether. On Mar. 25, NAVI confirmed that Mag has tested positive for COVID and some of the other players were feeling feverish too.
"The tournament operator assured us that the policy in Singapore regarding COVID is as follows," NAVI wrote. "If at least one player has COVID-19 on arrival, everyone will have to self-quarantine. In this case, NAVI will not be able to participate in the Major, even if the complete roster is in Singapore. At the same time, it is not clear how long the possible quarantine will last. It's possible that players would not return in time for the start of the DPC season."
South America's #1 seed, Beastcoast, also withdrew from The Singapore Major after captain Steven "Stinger" Vargas was exposed to COVID. While testing negative, Beastcoast decided to play it safe and stay home.
"All players have tested negative and we are monitoring them closely. However, because of the incubation period of COVID-19, we cannot be certain if our players are positive or not before flying to Singapore. [...] In accordance to WHO guidelines, we will be enforcing a quarantine for all players as a precautionary measure. In turn, we are making the difficult decision to pull out of the Singapore Major and prepare for the next DPC season."
Nigma, T1, Quincy Crew, Neon Esports to attend with stand-ins
Four more teams from The Singapore Major line-up will have to make changes to their line-up and play with stand-ins due to COVID.
Nigma confirmed Mar. 24 that offlaner Ivan "MinD_ContRoL" Borislavov has tested positive, and coach Roman "rmN-" Paley will replace him.
T1 will play without their captain Carlos "Kuku" Palad and Lee "Forev" Sang-don will replace him in the offlane. T1's first matches are tomorrow in the Wild Card stage of the tournament, as they play Gambit, Vici Gaming, and Team Liquid in quick succession.
North America's #1 seed, Quincy Crew, is in a predicament as they're not able to find a replacement for their position 4 support Arif "MSS" Anwar. Team manager Jack "KBBQ" Chen confirmed Mar. 21 that the player has tested positive for COVID, and while his symptoms have been mild, he'd be unable to make it to Singapore. The team initially announced Milan "MiLAN" Kozomara as stand-in but just last night, KBBQ announced that he won't be able to make it either.
"[MiLAN] was on the same flight as [LeBron of NAVI] and encountered the same issue. He travelled for hours across national borders to even make this Belgrade flight, for that we will always be appreciative and thankful," KBBQ wrote. The team's position 4 is still not confirmed with just a few days till Quincy Crew play their first Major match.
SEA team Neon Esports will also have to play with a stand-in as carry John Anthony "Natsumi" Vargas is unable to attend. Neon Esports will shift position 4 player and captain Rolen "Skem" Ong to play in Natsumi's place, while Rafael "Rappy" Sicat Palo fills the 4 position.
The Singapore Major begins Saturday, Mar. 27, with the Wild Card matches. But with more and more COVID cases being reported, fans are rightfully worried about the health risks, especially with the very minimal 48-hour quarantine period mandated by the organizers.
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