China’s Overwatch Pro League have announced that week 2 of the LPL has been postponed due to fears over the spread of the lethal coronavirus that has spread around the world since emerging in Wuhan, China.
Following suit the Overwatch League issued a statement on Twitter stating that homestand events hosted in China, will be postponed due to risks associated with having large crowds of people in one enclosed area. All matches in February and March that are hosted in China have been cancelled with no news yet on how the League will accommodate these changes.
Overwatch cancels homestands due to coronavirus
In February, the Shanghai Dragons were set to host Week 2 of the Overwatch League, the Guangzhou Charge were scheduled to host Week 3 and the Hangzhou Spark were set to host Week 4. The Guangzhou Charge was to host Week 6 and 7 of the Overwatch League leaving a full month worth of homestand events cancelled. Fortunately, the Hangzhou Spark have another homestand weekend during Week 21, the Guangzhou Charge will host Week 22 and 23, and the Shanghai Dragons will host Week 24.
There was no mention of the Seoul Dynasty Homestand event facing any cancellation, but as the coronavirus spreads daily, it is a possibility.
This strain of coronavirus emerged on Dec. 31st in Wuhan, China and within weeks, China reported over 2,000 cases and around 80 deaths. Wuhan implemented a strict quarantine on residents along with closing down transportation methods but the virus has already spread to Germany, the United States, and a handful of other countries.
This is a good move on Activision Blizzard’s part to protect both fans and players that could be exposed during the travel of the 2020 season. Players, staff, and fans’ health and safety should always come first, regardless of the event but the League will face some serious hardships with this decision.
Last year the Overwatch League expanded the number of teams it included in the League along with announcing a new home-away format in 2020 – a first in a franchised esports league. The China-based teams; Shanghai Dragons, Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge and Hangzhou Spark will lose out on revenue and fan engagement for their cancelled homestand events and will hope that the imminent threat is reduced by the time they are next expected to host events.