Blizzard has been forced to cancel even more Overwatch League games in Asia following growing concerns around the coronavirus outbreak. The company has canceled a series of matches that were set to take place in South Korea between February 29th and March 22nd “in order to protect the health and safety of our players, fans, and staff.”
This includes a number of makeup matches that were moved to Korea following the cancellation of games in China as well as home games to be hosted by the Seoul Dynasty at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza on March 7th and 8th. “We are working with the league on rescheduling these matches and will share more information through the league when it is available,” the Dynasty said in a statement. Dynasty parent company Gen.G Esports previously said that it would be donating 100 percent of the proceeds from the event, along with merchandise sales through March, to coronavirus-related charities.
Last month, Blizzard announced that it canceled all OWL games in China that were slated for February and March.
The Overwatch League is currently in the midst of its third season, and it’s a vital one for the league’s future. It’s the first season in which each of the league’s 20 teams is slated to host matches in their particular city; OWL features teams in six different countries and three continents. Asia is a particularly important market for the league, with four teams based in China and many star players hailing from South Korea.
“It wasn’t [a decision] we took lightly,” Jon Spector, VP of business operations and product strategy for Overwatch esports, told The Verge earlier this month. “We’ve been excited about playing those matches in China for years, the fans and the players are excited about it. But we never had a single discussion where player safety didn’t come first.” Three weeks in, all league games have been hosted by American teams, most recently the Washington Justice this past weekend.
Of course, OWL is far from the only venture impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, and that includes several other notable esports events. The Chinese League of Legends Pro League suspended play just a week into the 2020 season, and it currently plans to kick off an online practice competition starting February 26th. Meanwhile, League of Legends Champions Korea is still playing matches but without spectators, and the King Pro League — a Chinese league for the popular mobile game Honor of Kings / Arena of Valor — will be played online instead of in studios and arenas.