Not even the internet is safe as COVID-19’s reach extends from a real-world global pandemic to a digital threat. The entirety of esports is suffering from symptoms of the virus. Massive events have been cancelled and little information is shared about expected events to come. The contagious nature of COVID-19 has made its way from large events to small organizations, teams, and individual players, compromising the health of digital careers and the future of esports. Not even the International is safe this year, as we have yet to hear from Valve on the fate of the event.
The Big: COVID’s effect on Esports and Large Events
Defending ancients, playing cards or popping heads, every game is suffering due to the effects of COVID-19. Dota 2 recently suffered two major losses, the ESL LA Dota 2 Major and the Epicentre Major were both cancelled due to health and safety concerns caused by the Coronavirus.
The extent of Dota 2’s suffering professional scene is affecting more than the legendary heroes who compete at The International. Smaller organizations, the tier 2 scene, and individual players all have had their wellbeing compromised by the digital effects of our global pandemic. The lack of information from Valve regarding Dota 2’s future has cultivated the growth of unease and woe amongst the smaller parties that make up the formerly-healthy Dota esports scene.
The Bad: Covid’s Effects on Small Organizations, Teams, and Players
Unable to sustain a professional team during these trying times, Chaos Esports Club made the difficult decision to cut ties with popular Dota personalities and players. On March 25th, Chaos released their Dota 2 roster to sustain their “business in the aftermath of the pandemic that is currently affecting the world.” Greg Laird, CEO, is one of the many struggling esports enthusiasts who are unsure of the future of professional gaming during our epidemic:
“This is not a decision we made lightly, but during these uncertain times and with the DPC circuit suspended it is impossible for us to justify the cost of a Dota 2 team at this time. The world is an unprecedented situation and it is necessary for us to focus our efforts into a few key current & upcoming projects for the long term success of the organization.”
Jack “KBBQ” Chen, former manager of Chaos’ Dota 2 team, was understanding of Chaos’ decision and reassured fans across multiple tweets that the team will stay together despite their loss of sponsorship:
“Thanks [Chaos Esports Club] for giving us a great home these past few months… the team is staying together and we will continue to practice and compete.”
The cancellation of events has caused organizations to suffer which in turn affects the well-being of teams and individuals. The world is coming to a standstill and careers in esports are dwindling because of it, however, there is still hope.
The Beautiful: Organizations Adapting to our Changing World
China was the first region to face the detrimental effects of COVID-19 and leads the assault to reclaim the ground esports have lost because of it. Recently. Professional Dota 2 organizations unionized, gaining strength in solidarity instead of slowly waiting until COVID-19 extinguished them one by one. Third-party developer, Perfect World, released an innovative Dota battle pass that reignited players’ passion in China and fostered a thriving scene.
COVID-19 has affected the lives of everyone, irrefutably changing the world and how we live our lives. Successes of the past continuously progress towards a terminal fate due to the severity of the virus, however, adaptation has breathed new life into the world and esports.
The infection of large organizations has spread down to individual players, but the effort of large organizations to combat COVID-19 has already proven to be an effective remedy. As the virus develops, so will we. Adapting to a quarantined and changing world benefited China and if the rest of the world follows, we can be certain of a healthy future for us and for esports.
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