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COVID-19 vs Esports: To survive and thrive in pandemic


At this point, we can’t deny that the global pandemic of COVID-19 affects our daily lives. From the city and country lockdown, to the closing of the stores, to the government announcements that people should practice social distancing. This also affected many sports events and forced them to postpone or cancel the competition, such as the Premier League or other traditional sports.

 

But while most of the sports events have been postponed, Esports took these changes and adapted their own platform. Due to their online nature, it means they can have the match, even if there is no live audience in the stadium. Also, some of the traditional sports try to adapt to the online nature of Esports to create the competitions that people can enjoy at home.

 

Image courtesy of MotoGP

 

For example, Grand Prix motorcycle racing (also known as MotoGP) has created the “MotoGP™ Virtual Race” with their hashtag #StayAtHomeGP which brought 10 racers in their tournament to compete in MotoGP20. This event received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both MotoGP fans and game fans alike.

 

On the side of Esports competitions, many tournaments had announced that they will change the format of their tournament to a fully online tournament. Hearthstone, League of Legends, Dota2, Rainbow Six Siege, and other games competitions have changed their format and run with it. From the caster to the analyzer to the player and the interviewer, they have used the online platform to make the tournament happen, with live audiences watching online from their home around the world.

 

For the example, the League of Legends LPL (China’s LoL Pro League), LCS (North America’s League of Legends Championship Series), LEC (League of Legends European Championship) and LCK (League of Legends Champions Korea) had shifted to online only tournament, and had crowned their champion of each region or are competing to find the champion of that region. For Hearthstone, the Hearthstone Grandmaster had also shifted to online, and due to the single-player nature of the game, it is quite easier to handle the server than the multiplayer genre.

 

Image courtesy of LoL Esports Youtube

 

On the smaller scale, in Thailand, the Tekken 7 tournament hosted daily by TESF (Thailand Esport Federation), became one of the most anticipated events in Thailand’s esport. Because TESF has been recognised by the Sports Authority of Thailand, this tournament is more important than before. Because the top 2 players of this tournament will be trained to become Thailand’s representative alongside Book, who has been recognized as the best player in the country for many years and had just won the gold medal in SEAgame and become the latest EVO Japan champion (with a little drama from the community, consider he didn’t use his main character, but used Leroy which is the most broken character in the history of Tekken). 

 

This event is also a good opportunity for the new players who didn’t have a chance to compete in the LAN tournament. Many of these new players were considered a “sleeping tiger” and is actually a high level player who never appeared in the offline tournament. The fact that they came out to compete in this tournament means that many eyes are now watching them and might want them into their Esport organizations.

 

Image courtesy of Thailand Esport Federation

But all of that didn’t come with an obstacle though. Many games suffer from the change of format. For example, The Tekken 7 tournament mentioned above has problems with connection. Because the game uses peer-to-peer connection (connection between 2 or more machines, without a server to handle the connection) This causes problems with either connection loss or the quality of the video. The Hearthstone Grandmaster that was changed to online after changing the location twice has announced that Blizzard will take the responsibility of refunding the flight and booking cost to some extent.

 

Also, due to the travel ban from many countries, many of the major tournaments have been cancelled. Such as League of Legends MSI (Mid Season Invitation) that just has been cancelled or many of the Dota2 Pro Circuit (Valve-sponsored tournament that awards points and the top teams with the most points will be invited to The International) has been either cancelled or moved to the future. 

 

Image courtesy of Twitter @DOTA2

 

Which game that you might be interested in, there are many choices nowadays to watch. No matter if you are interested in MOBA, FPS, Card game, strategy, racing, or even fighting games, there is always something for you to watch during the quarantine. 

(Ref. of Dota Pro Circuit 2019-20 Rankings/Featured image by Philipp Keller)

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