Besides the global health concern, the new coronavirus (COVID-19) presents, the disease outbreak in China also introduced massive negative ramifications to the Asian esports scene, with over 480 LAN matches already affected by the deadly virus in one way or another.
The COVID-19 put the majority of major Asian esports leagues in shambles, yet there is another huge concern on the horizon as we are slowly approaching the League of Legends World Championship 2020, which is slated to be hosted in Shanghai.
During a press conference, featuring the Shanghai municipal government, a spokesperson talked about the burning questions involving COVID-19 and the Asian esports scene, namely the effect of the new virus on the Chinese esports ecosystem. The spokesperson also talked about how over 480 LAN matches were already affected and urged organisers to switch to online tournaments in a bid to avoid further complications.
With more than 80% of the Chinese esports industry (organisations, teams) based in Shanghai and over 40% of Chinese esports event held in the city, the spokesperson urged tournament organisers to change from LAN matches to an online format in a bid to avoid further spread of the disease and to avoid putting the health and wellbeing of the players at risk. To help with the format change, the government also promised to provide support to ensure proper standards for online tournaments and offered assistance to those most heavily affected.
The second step the government is set to take is to speed up the administration process that helps with the online development of new content in esports, and gaming in general in order to reduce the need for any offline events. Furthermore, it was unveiled that the offline application procedures including the paperwork filing and other bureaucratic processes, which the publishers need to go through before the game is approved will be simplified.
The biggest question, however, involves LoL World Championship, which is set to take place in Shanghai later this year. Although we are still months away from the League's S10 culminating event, the coronavirus already left a huge impact on the Asian LoL scene, with numerous rescheduling in LCK, LPL and other Asian esports leagues. That also ushered the reschedule of Mid-Season-Invitational, which will be delayed as revealed by Riot Games' Head of Esports John Needham earlier this week.
While the World Championship is set to be played sometime in October-November, there could be a serious issue, if the outbreak is not contained by then. On a more positive note, Shanghai's current status on the coronavirus outbreak is not as serious as in other parts of China, which has almost 80,000 confirmed cases. At the time of writing, Shanghai has just over 300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths, which is a positive sign in this otherwise dark situation.
In spite of the ongoing outbreak and rising concerns, however, the Shanghai government unveiled the preparation of the LoL' biggest events are moving forward and that they will continue with setting up the needed infrastructure and environment for the event. More information about the situation should become available in the upcoming months when the true scale of the virus and its effect on the esports scene and the world population will become clearer.
League of Legends, however, is not the only esport which has been affected by the COVID-19. Earlier this year, the Overwatch League announced it will be cancelling the Chinese homestand events that were set to be played in February and March in order to avoid putting the health and wellbeing of its players and others involved in OWL at risk, while the Chinese Overwatch teams opted to leave their facilities in China.
The Chinese events were initially scheduled to be played in Week 6 and 7 in Seoul, South Korea and during Seoul Dynasty homestand in Week 5, however, since then the virus has spread to South Korea, which ushered OWL to postpone the South Korean events indefinitely, leaving the OWL's schedule in shambles.