Blizzard has canceled Overwatch League homestand events in March and April in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus, known as COVID-19, forced the cancelation of the Chinese homestand events with those events being originally rescheduled for play in Seoul, South Korea, with the Shanghai Dragons and Guangzhou Charge relocating to South Korea. As the virus has spread, however, the Korean matches were eventually canceled too.
Olivier Veran, France’s Health Minister, banned public gatherings of over 1000 people until April 15, which led to the cancelation of the Paris Eternal Homestand too. The Paris Homestand was scheduled for the weekend of April 11-12.
The World Health Organisation has recently declared the outbreak as a global pandemic. Following this announcement, Overwatch League announced that all events in March and April have been canceled.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) March 11, 2020
This could not have come at a worse time for the Overwatch League, which has been having yet more teething issues with the new format.
Dante “Danteh” Cruz of the Houston Outlaws released this tweet, highlighting the issues being faced by players who travel for the weekends.
i love waking up at 8:45 am for a 5pm match bc we have to uber 40 minutes to the arena to test our settings, then uber 40 minutes back to the supplied practice area, warmup for 2 hours, eat, then uber another 40 minutes to possibly wait over an hour for our match with no pcs 😁😁
— danteh (@danteh) March 7, 2020
League officials have stated that the matches will be played regardless of the canceled weekend events, in a manner that is safe for all involved. This cryptic response has left much to be desired in terms of details, however, speculation can be made. The nature of Overwatch as a game means that split-second reactions can change the course of a match, and so LAN is the only viable medium for tournaments to be played on.
This could mean a return to the format of seasons 1 & 2, with all matches taking place in the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, CA. This would mean transferring all players back to Los Angeles which itself poses health risks.
Whatever the outcome, this does cast doubt on this season of the League.
Matt is a University student and avid Overwatch player. He aims to provide interesting and engaging Overwatch League content.