Overwatch League Cancels Games over Coronavirus Outbreak

Sergs Navarrete

The Overwatch League’s plan towards a global esports league has recently taken a huge hit. On January 29th, Blizzard announced that the China based games taking place in February and March for the 2020 season will be canceled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. On a statement posted on Twitter, the league explained that their decision was in hopes of prioritizing the health and safety of players, fans, and staff. “We hope fans have a safe and happy Lunar New Year, and we remain incredibly excited to play Overwatch League matches in China later this season,” the statement says. “We’ll share more information about when and where the matches will take place at a later date.”

The 2020 season of the Overwatch League was set to be the first in league history where each of the 20 teams hosted matches out of their home cities. The league features teams based in Asia, Europe, and North America, and there are currently four Chinese clubs, each of which was expected to host at least two events. Prior to today’s news, most of the teams released their own statements outlining their plans for dealing with the outbreak.  Both the Guangzhou Charge and Shanghai Dragons, for example, moved their preseason operations to South Korea for safety reasons. The Overwatch League regular season is expected to kick off February 8th with games in Dallas and New York.

The Overwatch League isn’t the only e-sports league dealing with the damages from the coronavirus. The League of Legends Pro League, arguably the biggest esports industry in the world, recently announced that they would postpone the competition until they can also ensure the safety and health of their players and fans.