Did you miss anything from the last week in esports? Swamped with work or school? Stranded at home due to coronavirus and wondering what happened in the scene? VPEsports’ Stories from the Week brings you all the biggest headlines you might have missed.
Last week began with some bad news for the Dota 2 scene, as the ESL One LA Major was outright cancelled, due to the USA cancelling all travel from Europe, leaving a large part of the teams stranded outside the host country.
The event is not postponed and will outright not happened, which raised questions about how this would affect the DPC season. Questions that became even more pressing after…
Just last night, Valve officially confirmed that EPICENTER Major and Dota PIT Minor have also been cancelled, joining the LA Major in the club of tournaments that will not take place. This means that so far, only two Majors and three Minors have been played this DPC season, with only one of each remaining before the end of the season.
All this means a very skewed DPC rankings, directly hurting the teams that took a break at the start of the season. If TI10 even happens amid the growing coronavirus concerns, Valve will have to re-think how the DPC points qualify teams for The International.
While the coronavirus spread has been hamstringing esports, it has had the exact opposite effect on casual gaming. On Saturday, Steam Charts reported a new concurrent players record for Steam — a whopping 19.7M concurrent players played games on March 14, beating the previous record from February this year with almost a million.
Dota 2 also had its best day since October 2019, peaking just over 700K concurrent players, keeping its position as the second most played game on Steam.
League of Legends world champions FunPlus Phoenix officially entered CS:GO on Sunday, confirming the previously reported signing of Heroic’s roster. This is the fourth esports title in which FPX fields a roster, following League of Legends, Fortnite, and PUBG.
FPX also entered FLASHPOINT league as one of its founding members but so far are not doing that well, their first match being a 1-2 loss to Cloud9.
Speaking of CS:GO, the 7-year-old FPS reached an all-time peak of 1.023M concurrent players on Monday, March 9, following a long rising trend which started in July last year. CS:GO remains the most popular game on Steam which is an achievement of itself, considering the franchise is over 20 years old.
The new record is over 100K larger than the previous monthly one of 916M in February, and with most of the world in forced isolation and half a month to go in March, it’s likely that CS:GO enjoys a yet new record in the coming days.
While many esports events are getting postponed or straight up cancelled, the ESL Pro League in CS:GO is opting for the online solution. ESL confirmed Wednesday that the entire group stage will be played online, and the offline finals will be moved from Denver to a studio location “to minimize the overall travel and mitigate the risk for potential travel restrictions.”
The decision, why salvaging the league, will certainly diminish its importance, as online CS:GO is notorious for being unreliable due to ping issues. Although EPL holds all of the top teams, its online format might just give its competitor FLASHPOINT enough leeway to catch up.
Europe’s LEC and North America’s LCS circuits joined Korea’s LCK in the club of indefinitely suspended League of Legends tournaments. Initially, both leagues opted to continue playing stage games just without live audience, but growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak forced Riot to reconsider.
Of the four major regions, only the LPL is ongoing with online matches. If the break stretches for longer than expected, however, Riot might be forced to reschedule the start of the Summer Split once again, currently planned for mid-late May.
The 2020 Mid-Season Invitational is another tournament that suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Riot announced that MSI 2020 is pushed to July, while all Rift Rivals event are cancelled.
This puts MSI 2020 in the middle of the Summer Split for all regions, which in turn is likely to kill some of the hype. Traditionally, MSI serves not just as mini-Worlds, but a tool to build storylines coming into the Summer Split. The timing has always been key for this tournament and it couldn’t be worse this year.
Riot got at least a small win this week, as their Legends of Runeterra card game officially launched on mobile devices in Singapore on both iOS and Android systems. The game’s interface looks great, with minimal changes to the desktop client, and could be what Runeterra needs to challenge Hearthstone and MTG: Arena on the card game — a battle it’s currently losing.
Overwatch is yet another esport harmed by the coronavirus, as Blizzard confirmed Thursday that they’ve cancelled all OWL homestand games until end of March. The company promised that matches will still be played, however, as management is looking for optimal ways to play them. With many of the teams scattered in heavily infected regions like China and South Korea, however, the online schedule might prove harder to set up than it seems.