[UPDATED May. 14, 2022] Smash Summit 13 broadcast postponed - All esports events affected by COVID

▲ Image Source: Riot Games (with added text)


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. 





UPDATE 10/3/2021: The International 2021, which will take place in Bucharest, Romania starting on October 7, will not feature a live audience. Ticketholders will receive full refunds due to the situation surrounding COVID-19 in Romania in addition to Bucharest's own new policies.


UPDATE 3/26/2021:  The first DOTA 2 major of the year is looming on the horizon, but six of the 18 teams competing have already been affected by COVID-19. NAVI and Beastcoast have withdrawn from the ONE Esports Singapore Major entirely, while the other four teams will attend with subs.


UPDATE 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



UPDATE May. 6, 2022: The 19th Asian Games, which was supposed to include esports for the first time in the form of League of Legends competition, has been postponed due to COVID-19.


UPDATE Apr. 6, 2022: Due to COVID-19, the 2022 LPL Spring Playoffs have been delayed once again, this time to April 12. In addition, the remaining matches will be played remotely.


UPDATE Mar. 29, 2022Due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai, matches in round 4 and onward in the bracket for the 2022 LPL Spring Playoffs have been postponed for one week. Round 3 will still conclude on schedule.



UPDATE Mar. 16, 2022: The LCK has announced changed COVID-19 regulations for the Spring Playoffs. For the first time in over two years, the LCK will welcome back live, in-person audiences for the post-season, and players who test positive for COVID-19 will be able to play remotely.



UPDATE Mar. 14, 2022: The LPL has confirmed that due to COVID-19 concerns, the Spring Split will conclude with matches being played remotely.



UPDATE Mar. 10, 2022: Riot Games has confirmed that the entirety of the 2022 LCS Spring Playoffs will be welcoming fans back into attendance both at the LCS Studio in Santa Monica, CA and at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas for the final weekend of the post-season.


UPDATE Mar. 6, 2022: Since the 2nd week of the 2022 LCS Spring Split, the LCS has returned to in-person competition, but without fans in attendance. On Saturday, March 5, new LCS commissioner Jackie Felling has confirmed to Upcomer's Nick Ray that the finals of the 2022 LCS Spring Playoffs at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas will welcome back fans to attend live for the first time since week 7 of the 2020 Spring Split.





UPDATE Jan. 8, 2022: A few days after it was announced that the 2022 LEC season would be moved to a fully online format, the LCS followed suit by pivoting the 2022 LCS Lock In to fully remote play as well.



UPDATE Jan. 6, 2022: Because of the COVID-19 surge in Berlin, Germany, the 2022 LEC season will begin fully remote and online.


UPDATE Nov. 30, 2021: 
 Riot Games has confirmed that the 2021 All-Star Event, a recreational event at the end of each season of LoL esports, has been canceled. "While we are pleased with the success of MSI and Worlds, after careful deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to forgo this year’s All-Star Event given COVID-19 travel constraints," Riot Games said in their statement on the official LoL esports website.



UPDATE 10/1/2021: The Vietnam Championship Series will have a Winter Split at the end of this season in lieu of the region's cancellation of its Summer Split and its inability to send teams to compete in Reykjavik, Iceland for Worlds 2021.


Both cancellations are due to the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam. 


UPDATE 8/20/2021: After playing its first match of the 2021 League of Legends Euorpean Championship Summer Playoffs against Team Vitality remotely following the positive COVID-19 test of top laner Adam "Adam" Maanane, Fnatic announced ahead of its series against Misfits that Adam and the rest of the squad would be returning to the LEC stage. Adam confirmed that he had made a safe recovery in a tweet the day before the match.




UPDATE 8/13/2021: Fnatic announced it would play its first match of the 2021 LEC Summer Playoffs against Team Vitality online this Sunday after top laner Adam tested positive for COVID-19. 


UPDATE 8/7/2021: Due to rising COVID-19 cases in the US, Riot Games has decided to cancel the roadshow that would have brought the last two matches of the 2021 League Championship Series Championship to Newark, New Jersey. Instead, the entirety of the post-season will be played at the LCS studio in Santa Monica, CA. 


UPDATE 8/1/2021: Some LEC teams competed online for the final week of the Summer Split. As a result, any teams part of a potential tiebreaker situation on the final day of the split, as well as their respective opponents, were also set to play remotely for an even playing field.



Not every team provided context on their remote play, but Misfits tweeted it was being cautious about one of its players not feeling well despite fully negative COVID-19 tests teamwide. 



UPDATE 7/29/2021: The LCS Summer Split is set to conclude online with all week 9 matches scheduled for remote competition in continuation of the precautionary measures taken one week ago. 


UPDATE 7/23/2021: Following Immortals' announcement last night, another LCS team has been confirmed as connected to a positive COVID-19 case. As a precaution, the rest of week 8 of the Summer Split will be played online so the teams can compete remotely. 



UPDATE 7/23/2021:  Immortals will compete remotely in week 8 of the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split after two individuals connected to the organization's LCS team tested positive for COVID-19. All IMT games will be broadcasted on a brief delay to preserve competitive integrity, and IMT's opponents have also been given the option to compete remotely in week 8.



UPDATE 7/17/2021: The League of Legends European Championship has welcomed players back in full swing as of week 5 of the 2021 LEC Summer Split, which has continued through week six and should continue for the foreseeable future. The 2021 LEC Spring Playoffs featured the six teams competing in the post-season offline, but the first four weeks of summer saw teams return to play remotely while proper safety precautions were put into place for offline competition once again. 



UPDATE 7/9/2021: The semifinals and finals of the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Championship will feature a live audience. It will be the first post-season LCS match to do so since the 2019 LCS Summer Finals in Detroit, Michigan.


UPDATE 4/26/2021: Riot Games has made the decision to not have a live audience for the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split. As pointed out by Travis Gafford on Twitter, the LCS will gradually re-introduce other offline elements to the broadcast as time goes on, and assumedly, as the COVID-19 pandemic lessens in severity with the rollout of multiple vaccines throughout the United States despite California officially planning to fully re-open on June 15. 




UPDATE 4/19/2021: Vietnam Championship Series champion GAM Esports will be unable to attend the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.


The VCS will miss its second international event in a row following similar problems that barred it from Shanghai for the 2020 World Championship, and the MSI 2021 format has been adjusted to accommodate for the absence of GAM Esports. 


UPDATE 3/23/2021: The 2021 LCS Mid-Season Showdown kicked off on Saturday, March 20 with host James "Dash" Patterson running the show from a newly-revamped LCS studio. In addition, the last two matches of the tournament will be offline, with players competing at LA's Greek Theatre.



UPDATE 3/16/2021: On March 12, it was announced that teams competing in the League of Legends European Championship would at long last be welcome back in the studio for the 2021 LEC Spring Playoffs. The on-air team has had access to the LEC studio and the broadcast has continued to be produced in person with mandatory COVID-19 regulations in place, but teams have been playing remotely. 






UPDATE 2/18/2021: Since 2019, the Harrisburg University Storm has hosted the Pennsylvania Cup, a collegiate tournament towards the beginning of the year with events in both League of Legends and Overwatch. Due to COVID-19, the third installment of the PA Cup will be fully virtual. 


UPDATE 1/15/2021: Riot Games confirmed on opening day of the 2021 LCS Lock-In that the LCS broadcast and competition would remain online for the start of 2021 and the foreseeable future. The LCS takes place in Los Angeles County, where 1 in 6 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 


UPDATE 11/5: The 2020 All-Star Event will be taking place from December 18th-December 20th, but will be completely online due to the pandemic. 


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.


UPDATE 3/25 - League of Legends developer Riot Games has donated $1.5 million to Pandemic Relief in Los Angeles. 



UPDATE 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.


UPDATE 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.


UPDATE 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. 


UPDATE 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. 


UPDATE 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. 


UPDATE 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


UPDATE 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. 



Overwatch League

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


UPDATE 8/25/2021: The Overwatch League originally had events planned for Dallas, Texas and Los Angeles, California for the 2021 OWL Playoffs, but have instead decided to pivot the post-season to the state of Hawaii.




UPDATE 6/4/2021: The Overwatch League is hosting its first homestand in over a year in Hangzhou. 


UPDATE 12/11:  Philadelphia Fusion will be temporarily relocating operations to Seoul, South Korea for the 2021 Overwatch League season. This is in an effort to keep the all-South Korean roster safe from the global pandemic. Fusion will be playing against teams in the Pacific Division due to its temporary relocation.



UPDATE 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. 




UPDATE 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. 





UPDATE 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. 


UPDATE 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.



UPDATE 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.


UPDATE 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.




Other Esports


UPDATE May. 14, 2022: Smash Summit 13 has been postponed after one of the attendees tested positive for COVID-19. 



UPDATE Mar. 28, 2022: FPX Esports' VALORANT roster will be unable to compete in Stage 2 Masters: Reykjavik due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but COVID-19 restrictions also played a part in the decision.


UPDATE Jan. 15, 2022: COVID-19 concerns have resulted in further pivots and adjustments for the 2022 Six Invitational. Quebec, Canada will no longer host the event due to new restrictions, and so the tournament has been moved to Stockholm, Sweden. There will still be no audience present. 



In addition, the Six Invitiational 2022 LATAM Closed Qualifier has been postponed entirely due to reports of previously agreed upon sanitary measures not being followed. No reschedule date has been provided at this time, but an announcement was made the day after the announcement that the Six Invitational would be hosted in Stockholm.



UPDATE Jan. 14, 2022: Genesis 8 has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns until at least April 15.


UPDATE Jan.12, 2022: E3 2022 will not have an in-person event due to COVID-19 precautions.


UPDATE Jan. 7, 2022: For the second year in a row, the Capcom Cup has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Capcom is planning to pivot to a fully online format as they did with the previous season.



UPDATE Jan. 6, 2022: For the third year in a row, E3 will be online only due to COVID-19, specifically due to the Omicron variant outbreak in Los Angeles, CA. The news was reported by GamesBeat, who was told of the Electronic Entertainment Expo pivot for 2022.


UPDATE Dec. 3 2021: The Apex Legends Global Series Split 1 Playoffs have been pivoted to a fully online event due to COVID-19, specifically the discovery and outbreak of the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus.



UPDATE 10/26/2021: Blizzconline, Blizzard Entertainment's online pivot for Blizzcon due to COVID-19 concerns, has been canceled. Blizzconline was originally supposed to take place in February 2022 until its cancellation was announced by Blizzard today.



UPDATE 10/19/2021: The VCT North American Last Chance Qualifier has been rescheduled to begin on October 27, 2021. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the event will take place entirely online. 



UPDATE 10/14/2021: The VALORANT Champions Tour North American Last Chance Qualifier has had its entire in-person event canceled due to multiple players at the event testing positive for COVID-19. This announcement comes a day after day 2 of the event was postponed and two days after the event announced it would not be played on LAN despite all the players being there in person. 


The VCT NA LCQ has been postponed indefinitely, but when the event is eventually re-scheduled, it looks as thought it will be played online for safety precautions.



UPDATE 10/4/2021: The North American and Oceanic teams were supposed to compete together in one of the many Last Chance Qualifiers that would round out VALORANT Champions Tour Champions 2021.


However, due to COVID-19 regulations, both OCE teams will be unable to attend the LCQ. As a result of both ORDER and Chief Esports Club being unable to compete, the LCQ format has changed to accommodate two fewer teams for a total of eight.




UPDATE 9/29/2021: The EVO 2021 Showcase, an event that was supposed to feature offline competition featuring some of the best players in the world, has been cancelled due to the outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19. 


UPDATE 6/25/21:  FGC caster, host, and content creator Samad "Damascus" Abdessadki has confirmed that Dragon Ball FighterZ events will return to an offline format at some point in 2021. While no details have been confirmed, Damascus assured that this was with official confirmation from Bandai Namco Esports. Damascus revealed this on his stream. 



UPDATE 6/22/21: PAX West 2021 has been confirmed as an in-person event, which will take place from Friday, September 3rd to Monday, September 6th at Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA with safety precautions. 


UPDATE 6/8/21: The Call of Duty League officially announced on Monday that they will return to LAN format for Major IV which is set to take place on June 17-20. The event will be hosted by Dallas Empire at the Esports Stadium Arlington.



UPDATE 5/26/21: BlizzCon 2021 has been canceled. Activision-Blizzard was toying around with the idea to have the event since the state of California would technically be open in time for the event to go on in person.


Ultimately, the variables as well as the amount of preparation time required to properly execute BlizzCon was met with the decision to cancel this year's event and focus on BlizzCon 2022. 



UPDATE 2/8/21:   The physical event for the upcoming E3 2021 has yet to be canceled, but due to the worsening of the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in E3 host city Los Angeles, CA, it is expected that E3's moving forward with online formats means the even will take place digitally.


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


UPDATE 12/11: Blizzard Entertainment partner and collegiate esports powerhouse Tespa is closing its doors. Tespa will be retiring its brand in an effort to better serve the collegiate esports talents of tomorrow due to being unable to host any tournaments during the COVID-19 pandemic.



UPDATE 9/9: Counter-Strike Global Offensive Major ESL One Rio 2020 has been canceled due to COVID-19. 


UPDATE 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. 



UPDATE 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. 



UPDATE 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.


UPDATE 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.


UPDATE 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.



UPDATE 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 anecdotallyPlague 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.

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