Overwatch League's Global Ambitions Take Another Hit Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Overwatch League's Global Ambitions Take Another Hit Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Now the league's Chinese and Korean games need rescheduling.

2020 was supposed to be the year when the Overwatch League really cemented its international presence with regular home and away games. But the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has forced Blizzard to repeatedly scuttle plans for some of its games: first, a set of matches scheduled for mainland China, and now all of the league's upcoming events for South Korea.

Included in the set of delayed matches is Seoul Dynasty's first-ever homestand event, which was scheduled to take place on March 7 and 8. Blizzard promises full refunds will be offered to people who purchased tickets for the event.

Blizzard first suspended the league's February and March matches in mainland China—homestands for Hangzhou Spark, Guangzhou Charge, and the Shanghai Dragons—over outbreak concerns at the end of last month. On February 14, Blizzard announced those matches would be played in Seoul. Now, matches are indefinitely postponed for all of the league's teams in Asia, including the Chengdu Hunters.

Having five of the Overwatch League's twenty teams out of rotation for the time being could prove to have ripple effects for the rest of the season's timing. Currently, the 2020 season is scheduled to end on August 9.

The Overwatch League also has one international team that, out of practical concerns, is based in New Jersey at the moment. Earlier this month, Kotaku confirmed that while Paris Eternal will play its home games in France, it'll remain headquartered in the United States for the sake of practicing other North America-based teams without compromising on connection speeds.

Over 77,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus have logged globally, but most of the infections and deaths remain concentrated in mainland China. The outbreak has also lead to the cancelation of other esports events in East Asia, delays in production and manufacturing, and caused companies like Sony, Kojima Productions, and Square Enix to scale back their presence at upcoming industry events.

The 2020 season for the Overwatch League is still in its early days. This year, Blizzard signed a deal with YouTube as its official streaming partner for league matches.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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