Including Overwatch League, Counter-Strike and Pokmon.
Earlier today, news broke that the coronavirus has now reached every region in mainland China – and worries about the outbreak have now led to the cancellation of multiple esports events.
Overwatch League posted a statement on Twitter last night announcing its February and March matches in China are cancelled “to protect the health and safety of our players, fans, and staff”. Other February esports events have been similarly affected, including the League of Legends championship opening (now indefinitely postponed), a Pokmon Video Game Championship in Hong Kong, and the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive WESG Asia-Pacific Finals, which were set to take place in Macau (thanks, GamesIndustry.biz).
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) January 30, 2020
The virus, which causes severe respiratory illness, has so far claimed 170 lives – and there are currently 7700 confirmed cases in China. The central province of Hubei and its capital city Wuhan (where the outbreak began) have been put in lockdown to contain the spread. Although not yet an official global health emergency, the virus has been found in 15 other countries, and the World Health Organisation has said the spread of the virus over the last few days “worries [them]” (via BBC).
In light of this, the postponing of esports events is unsurprising – and the cancellation of events even in coastal regions like Hong Kong and Macau shows the high level of concern surrounding the virus. It has also, oddly, boosted sales of viral outbreak simulator Plague Inc. – even if the developer has warned it shouldn’t be considered a scientific model.