Overwatch League’s planned migration of teams to their respective cities for a full season of home and away games has hit yet another big obstacle. After isolated cancellations of events in China and South Korea, the league has now pulled the plug on all live events around the world in March and April.
As with the China and South Korea “homestand” matches, Blizzard made its reasoning clear: COVID-19, aka “coronavirus,” remains an unknown quantity, and the company isn’t in the business of taking chances.
“We are continuing to closely monitor COVID-19 (coronavirus), city-level recommendations and mandates, and all guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” OWL said on Twitter. “After careful review working in close collaboration with our teams, we are canceling all Overwatch League events scheduled for March and April.”
The matches were set to take place in places like Florida, Toronto, San Francisco, Atlanta, London, Dallas, Washington, Boston, and Paris.
The league hopes to, in some way, shape, or form, “see that all matches are played when it’s safe and logistically feasible, staying as close to our originally planned schedule as possible.” It’s considering “various” options at this point but did not list them out. It’s worth noting, however, that some esports events are moving forward without live audiences. Blizzard could take that route, as well.
As of now, “no adjustments” are planned for Overwatch League events set to take place later this year, but even as China reports over 50,000 recoveries—more than are currently infected—the virus has countries like Italy in a state of lockdown. New cases, meanwhile, continue to pop up across the US amidst a woefully disorganized response, suggesting that it’s spreading rapidly here as well. Today, E3's organizers announced that the video game conference, scheduled for June, is canceled. That in mind, things might still become more complicated for the Overwatch League before they get easier.