Esports being shown in an arena with a huge packed out crowd

How the COVID-19 Coronavirus is affecting Esports

On March 11th, E3 2020 was formally announced as cancelled due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The event – once exclusively for press/industry – began selling general admission passes as of 2017, and hosted over 66,000 visitors last year. Though certainly not the greatest disruption the ongoing crisis has caused, it’s still left the industry without its biggest yearly showcase at a pivotal time. There are two new consoles on the horizon and many highly anticipated appearances from developers across the industry that will now have to be revealed with considerably less grandeur. 

Although E3’s cancellation has certainly dominated the headlines, it’s also hit much closer to home with the postponement of Manchester’s PLAY Expo and a dramatic knock-on effect has all but eliminated public gaming tournaments across the world. Overwatch League has cleared its schedule from here to April, the League of Legends championships will continue with no physical viewership, and the Pokemon European International Championships, taking place in Berlin, has now been postponed from its April 17-19th dates. These are just a few big examples, though – pretty much every big tournament you can imagine has been altered, postponed, or outright cancelled.

Coronavirus has caused many cancellations, leaving arenas like the below empty

Esports tournaments and other events are being cancelled due to the Coronavirus

Esports was set for an extraordinary year, financially. An industry that was once seen as a niche is suddenly big business, and these events draw massive crowds of people now. Unfortunately, something that we once all took for granted now seems like a tremendous luxury, and to ensure the safety of the wide and varied communities Esports attracts, these drastic measures to combat the Coronavirus had to come in sooner rather than later. It’s hard to gauge just how much damage this will do in the long run – luckily the majority of these events with stakes and prizes can still go ahead via remote play even if it isn’t entirely ideal. 

We will undoubtedly see a domino effect as multiple supporting industries – venues especially – are suddenly out of pocket, their audiences now dispersed and every sensible person on the planet now doing their best to stay isolated. It has been incredible to watch the scene develop and grow alongside gaming’s core popularity, and hopefully, this will be a relatively small hitch that doesn’t slow that momentum.

As a result of the widespread cancellations caused by the Coronavirus, many sport betting sites have also stopped providing new odds on the events entirely. It seems obvious given the circumstances, and the uncertain times we find ourselves plunged into. For now, many of these events are simply postponed, but who can say what will change over the next few months? It’s probably for the best to just bow out now and assume that when everyone can eventually come out of their homes again they’ll be up for some sport.

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