As you probably know by now, the Coronavirus, also known as Corvid 19, is causing huge economic, social and health problems throughout the world. At the time of this writing, China, South Korea and Europe (in particular Italy) are heavily affected by the disease. And so we ask ourselves: what will the impact of this looming pandemic be on esports?
Coronavirus Could Possibly Dilute The Growth Of Esports
The esports industry has seen a massive increase in fans and revenues over the last 10 years. The numbers look absolutely impressive and clearly suggest that esports is headed towards a bright future. In 10-20 years, it will likely be as popular as traditional sports, simply because the younger generations are well accustomed to video games and spend very little time watching TV.
Electronic sports are being played and watched by close to 500 million people. Around a dozen different titles have thriving professional scenes with well-established circuits, tournaments and leagues. But that’s going to be challenged in the months and possibly years to come by the Coronavirus, for reasons that are quite obvious.
Esports Events Cancelled Due To The Corona Virus
Esports events are social gatherings. They bring together people from all around the world and fill huge arenas. The tickets are sold in the thousands or even tens of thousands. But when you have a virus lying undetected and having the potential to kill someone, the thought of being in a room with a thousand other people from all around the world is not appealing anymore. It’s absolutely scary.
If the potential pandemic becomes a reality and the Coronavirus turns into the Spanish flu of our time, then you can be pretty certain that tournament organizers will either have to suspend their activity or even go out of business really fast. Simply because there won’t be any public left to come to their LAN events.
Cancelled Or Postponed Esports Events [To be updated regularly]
Unfortunately, we are already seeing a couple of esports events being cancelled out of fear of spreading the Coronavirus. These events as of the time of writing are mostly in mainland China and South Korea. The list is as follows:
- Overwatch League 2020 Pacific Conference East Division – (Seoul South Korea), (Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou China) originally scheduled to take place on Feb 2020 – March 2020. New dates not yet confirmed.
- Dota 2 Hainan Master Spring Invitational – Haikou China, originally scheduled to take place on March 3rd-8th. New dates not yet confirmed.
- IEM Katowice 2020 – Katowice Poland, originally scheduled to take place on February 28th – March 1st. The event is still being held & broadcasted however without any visitors on-site.
- Rocket League Season 9 World Championship – Dallas, USA. Offline event cancelled, rest of the championship to be played online.
- Free Fire Champions Cup 2020 – Jakarta, Indonesia – Originally scheduled to take place on April 19th. New dates not yet confirmed.
- Tekken World Tour – New dates not yet confirmed.
- SoulCalibur World Tour – New dates not yet confirmed.
- LCS – North America League of Legends Championship Series. New dates not yet confirmed.
China and South Korea
China and South Korea are two of the biggest countries in terms of esports. The industry would suffer an enormous blow if these two regions could no longer host events or send players to them because of the health threats posed by the Coronavirus. China has more than 1.35 billion people. South Korea also has around 51 million.
Both regions are famous for their League of Legends teams. In particular, South Korea is famous for LoL, StarCraft 2 and Overwatch, among other games. Their esports reputation and dominance were developed over two decades. To lose all of that culture due to a pandemic would be a serious loss not just for them, but for the world as a whole.
The people most affected by the Coronavirus will be the tournament organizers. Not having the possibility to hold live events is a huge problem. At the highest level, esports is highly dependent on LAN events. Watching an online tournament where all you see is player names and team names is not exactly the type of thing that people enjoy. They like to travel, have fun with friends and belong to something bigger than themselves. Being forced to stay at home while watching a CS:GO or LoL match is a severe limitation for the entire esports ecosystem.
All other industries connected to esports could suffer potential losses as well, such tourism faculties that bring in numerous tourists to events as well as the ever-growing esports betting industry to mention a few.
For the first time in more than 10 years, esports is likely to suffer losses. All things considered, if the pandemic gets real, and many experts say that it’s only a matter of time until this happens, I think we’ll have the first rough year for this industry.