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Riots Valorant

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Isn’t even out yet, but it’s already looking like an eSports sensation


“The tactical shooter is breaking Twitch records, and it’s still in closed beta.

Riot’s new video game, Valorant, is both a breath of fresh air and completely unoriginal at the same time. The first-person shooter opened its closed beta on Tuesday to gargantuan Twitch viewership, thanks in part to Riot’s deal with the platform that let popular streamers gift access keys to its beta while they played the game live.

After watching many hours of the game and playing quite a few myself, it’s clear that Valorant is a hyper-competitive game catering to perhaps a small slice of the overall gaming community. (Right now, it’s only on PC, with no plans for a console release.) But that doesn’t matter, because it already seems quite likely to be the next big esports sensation, despite its hardcore nature and the fact that it borrows almost every single component of its design from previous competitive titles.

That’s partly because Valorant, even in its beta form, is arriving at a crucial moment for the competitive gaming scene. Much of the esports world revolves around multiplayer online battle arenas, or MOBAs, like Valve’s Dota 2 and Riot’s own megahit League of Legends. There are peripheral esports communities, like the fighting game community and those that surround individual games like Psyonix’s Rocket League, that exist as niche subcultures within the broader esports field, but MOBAs reign supreme.

Only games made by companies with immense resources like Activision Blizzard with the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League and Epic Games with Fortnite have dared to try to buy a seat at the table through unique league structures, high-production values, and massive prize pools.

‘Valorant’ combines ‘Overwatch’ superpowers with a ‘Countrer-Strike’ structure

There is, however, one big exception: Counter-Strike. Arguably the tactical team-based shooter from which Valorant borrows almost all of its structure, Counter-Strike has remained the one competitive FPS resilient to the ever-changing industry and still inexplicably popular all around the world. Counter-Strike has a global fan base that Call of Duty lacks, and it still ranks it as among the top-played games on Steam and the most-watched titles on Twitch, despite its release nearly eight years ago. Right now, more than 1 million people are playing the game on Steam, making it almost as popular on PC than the next four top games combined.

That’s precisely why Valorant seems primed for success. Simply put, the game combines character-specific superpowers heavily influenced by Overwatch with a tense, high-intensity tactical shooter model more or less carbon-copied from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Riot is attempting to build a modern Counter-Strike, one that appeals to a generation of MOBA fans that grew up on the idea of honing your skill as a specific hero with unique powers and an ultimate ability to use in crucial, match-defining moments.

Going from the early reception on Twitch, Valorant is getting that recipe right in a way that might pull big streamers and pro players away from other games. The game broke Twitch’s record for most-watched game in a single day, with 34 million hours watched. And the game’s peak concurrent viewership of 1.7 million people was second only to the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.

There’s another factor that could contribute to the game’s success: Valorant is not a battle royale game. Riot is bucking the trend that’s taken the gaming industry by storm for the last three years or so by releasing a tactical shooter. Since the release of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in early 2017, BR games have consumed the shooter market. Fortnite is one of the most dominant games on the planet across all platforms, while a number of competitors have popped up to try to capitalize on Epic’s moneymaking potential, like Respawn’s Apex Legends and Activision’s Call of Duty: Warzone. But we’re also experiencing a bit of BR fatigue, as the initial excitement of the genre fades and its esports potential has proved hit-or-miss.

Valorant is stepping in to offer an alternative, one with a more traditional, team-based and skill-based approach that hardcore shooter fans seem receptive to because it removes all of the luck and randomness of the BR genre. In the handful of games I played in the beta yesterday, I was shocked at how meticulous and slow-moving the game is. Each match demands one team plant a bomb and protect it, while the other tries to defuse it. You have just one life per round. When one team wipes the other completely, which happens often, the round ends early — unless the bomb was planted, and then it must be defused.

‘Valorant’ plays almost identically to ‘Counter-Strike’ where good aim and reflexes are paramount

The team that wins 13 rounds first wins the entire match. And in my experience, that can take upward of 30 to 40 minutes if you’re going up against a squad well-matched with yours. The hero abilities, while they’ve earned Valorant a lot of comparisons to Overwatch, are not as critical as I thought. Having superhuman aim and reflexes, combined with the ability to predict the opponent’s actions and communicate and collaborate with your teammates will largely determine your level of success. Learning how to use the various weapons you can buy at the start of each round — also a feature borrowed from Counter-Strike — will determine how deadly you can be.

The powers are just there to shake things up and, in my estimation, give people moments of glory that they can brag about online and share on social media, similar to how a well-timed Overwatch ultimate activation can earn you the coveted play of the game highlight in Blizzard’s team shooter. Some are quite fun to use, like Jett’s updraft jump and tailwind dash abilities. And Sova, the Hanzo-like bowman Riot uses for the game’s tutorial, has some fantastic benefits, like allowing you to see enemies through walls and even strike them down with his hunter’s fury ultimate.

But at the end of the day, any other player can take you down with a headshot at basically any moment, rendering any powers pretty much moot. In my Valorant matches, I found myself getting punished routinely for stupid mistakes, like peeking around a corner when I was unsure if an enemy was already doing so or forgetting to walk quietly while using the shift key to dampen the sound of my footsteps. Charging into a situation alone will get you killed almost immediately nine times out of 10. Forgetting to play the objective and getting caught up in small firefights will also put your team at a disadvantage as the timer starts ticking down closer to zero.

Valorant is, above all else, a tactical game that requires you to communicate with your teammates to succeed and demands you practice your aim to have any hope of winning a one-on-one bout. That level of skill requirement and dedication may mean it doesn’t hit mainstream levels of popularity like Fortnite or Overwatch, but the game’s design does position Valorant as a more accessible esport than a BR title or something as chaotic as Overwatch or a MOBA. As Counter-Strike has proved over the years, some games, especially easy-to-understand tactical shooters, don’t need 100 million active players to become popular esports; you just need a community of very dedicated fans willing to tune in and keep up with it.

Tactical shooters move slow enough and have clear enough objectives that they are easy to watch and digest, even for viewers who don’t play the game regularly. I can already see the appeal of watching a big Valorant tournament or keeping some favorite streamers playing it casually on in the background while I do something else.

Valorant’ is much more accessible than more chaotic esports like ‘Dota 2’ and ‘Overwatch’

Each round has a coherent start, middle, and end, and there’s a great momentum that builds toward the halfway point when teams switch sides and then the end of a match that makes tuning in at any moment worthwhile. There are opportunities for highlight plays using a well-timed ultimate ability, and one player can, against all odds, take on an entire team alone if they’re skilled enough. There’s a lot of potential for lasting entertainment with Valorant, even if it’s not really the kind of game you enjoy playing yourself.

Valorant has a long road ahead to release. We don’t know exactly when it’s coming out besides a summer to potentially early fall release window, whether it will even come out on consoles, and what exactly Riot’s esports ambitions are. But the game’s early success and the surprisingly effective combination of elements Riot has polled off set up Valorant as the most exciting new game to hit the competitive scene in years. It has the potential to become the company’s next League of Legends, but that will depend on whether the sum of its parts can give it more staying power than all the games it’s borrowing from”



eSports And Gaming Industry Thriving As Video Games

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eSports and gaming industry thriving as video games provide escape from reality during coronavirus pandemic

While the sports world is at a standstill, pro athletes like Mavericks All-Star Luka Doncic and millions around the world have turned to video games.

DALLAS — WFAA’s Jonah Javad wrote this from his apartment balcony because he — like most of you — is staying home in an effort to limit the outbreak of coronavirus and to “flatten the curve.”

The COVID-19 pandemic flattened the sports world as we know it. The NBA is in timeout. The NHL put its season on ice. March Madness upset by “March Sadness.”

Almost every sport and league you can think of is on hiatus. “This is a great opportunity for more eyeballs to be attracted to eSports,” admitted Envy Gaming, Inc. CEO Mike Rufail.

The Texas native is in charge of Envy Gaming, which owns multiple eSports teams like the Dallas Fuel (Overwatch League) and Dallas Empire (Call of Duty League).

According to Forbes, Envy Gaming is the 8th most valuable eSports organization in the world.

For those unfamiliar to eSports: 

“It’s competitive video gaming,” Rufail explained. “It’s as simple as that.”

In traditional pro sports, there are different leagues for different sports. 

In eSports, there are different leagues for different video games.

“The gaming industry is certainly seeing a lot of growth and interest during this time,” said Rufail.

Verizon reported a 75% increase in video game activity during the first week of quarantine earlier this month.

Live streaming platforms like YouTube Gaming and Twitch saw a 10% increase in viewership.

Meanwhile, NASCAR found a way to draw eyeballs with iRacing.

Since last week’s Cup Series race was postponed, NASCAR replaced the television time slot with a virtual version as drivers competed from home.

The iRacing event drew more than 900,000 viewers on television — making it the most watched eSports TV program to date.

Keep in mind: Most views for eSports events come from the live streaming services like Twitch.

NASCAR returned to iRacing with a race from virtual Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

“The video game industry as a whole is probably in a very healthy state compared to other industries that had to shut down their business or other forms of sports entertainment because they cant hold live events,” said Rufail.

Live eSports events are on hold, too. 

However, Overwatch League resumed play on Saturday and the Dallas Fuel expects to follow suit next weekend with players competing from their homes instead.

“During this moment, we’re going to mint more families who become fans of eSports and can sit at home and watch it together and cheer for a team,” Rufail said.

Envy Gaming is a Dallas-based company located above our WFAA studios at Victory Park.

The American Airlines Center is next door, which is normally home to the Dallas Stars and the Dallas Mavericks.

Mavs All-Star Luka Doncic knows how to use a screen, literally and literally.

Turns out, #77 is a gamer on and off the court.

Since the NBA shutdown on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Luka has played a lot of video games.

“I’ll sign him to a contract right now, as long as Mr. Cuban lets me,” jokes Rufail. “Luka plays Overwatch so we’re trying to get him on to play some games.”

Now more than ever, pro athletes like Luka, along with millions of people around the world, have turned to video games to escape reality.

“Some of the most well known athletes in Dallas, right now, are definitely at home playing games and competing online,” said Rufail. “Honestly, there are benefits to them keeping their reflexes going when they can’y run around a field or a court right now.”

The eSports industry was already on the rise. The #StayHome orders will make it skyrocket.

What led to the surge in eSports interest and viewership?

“People are just attracted to human competition,” said Rufail. “That, combined with so many people who engage with video game content these days, has really fueled the growth our industry.”

The age gap between those who understand eSports (much less watch) and those who don’t is predictable.

“It’s kind of a shift in interest from generation to generation and eSports is one of those things the older generation didn’t have when they came through,” explained Rufail.

eSports brings in more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

By 2021, viewership is expected to top every major sports league in the world except the NFL.

“It’s only going to get bigger and better from here,” smiled Rufail.

The sports world is frozen.

The eyeballs are not.


How Gaming Events And Esports Are Affected

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Coronavirus: How gaming events and e-sports are affected

Gaming events and e-sports competitions around the world have been affected by the coronavirus. Organizers and e-sports officials have canceled or delayed a number of large scale events and competitions. Similar to sports events, and music concerts, organizers of gaming events are trying to help limit the spread of the disease by avoiding large tournaments where lots of people would be together in a small space, making it easier for the virus to spread.

E3, the biggest gaming convention in the world has just announced they are canceling the event, because of coronavirus. It would have taken place on 9-11 June. From Pokemon to League of Legends, Rocket League to Overwatch, lots of competitions have been affected – and there is still no word on whether the Fortnite World Cup will go ahead. There have been 3several hundred reported cases of the virus in the UK, and countries like Italy have been on lockdown to help reduce the spread of the virus. 


The Pokémon Company has announced that the Pokémon European International Championships have been canceled. Organizers said their ‘top priority’ was the competitors’ safety and wellbeing, and that public health officials had recommended they cancel the event.  As well as this, the big Pokémon Go Safari Zone event in St. Louis, in the US, has been delayed over concerns about coronavirus. Upcoming Safari Zone events in Liverpool, England on 17-19 April, and Philadelphia, in the US, will still go ahead as planned for now, but the company said it will “reassess” them both in early April.

League of Legends

Riot Games has announced that one of its biggest tournaments the ‘League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational’ will be delayed from May to July. This was confirmed in an announcement by the global head of e-sports John Needham.

Riot Games said: “we need to remain flexible given how much the COVID-19 situation has impacted international travel and live events for nearly every sports and entertainment property.” “Shifting the tournament to the summer offers the best chance to see travel restrictions lifted, allowing teams from leagues around the world to travel and compete safely,” said John Needham.

Top LOL player Lee “Faker” Sang-hook has donated $25,000 to a charity fighting coronavirus. China’s League of Legends Pro League has now resumed, but online-only.


Two big FIFA events have been canceled. The FUT Champions Cup Stage V which was supposed to take place on 3-5 April in Bucharest, in Romania has now been called off. The PlayStation Licensed Qualifying Event, which was supposed to take place on 2 – 3 May is also off.

A few online-only events like the EA SPORTS FIFA 20 Global Series eChampions League Online Qualifiers will still be taking place in the weeks ahead. EA Games have said: “We will continue to monitor the situation around the coronavirus, including guidance from the CDC and WHO, and will evaluate and provide more updates as it relates to all of EA’s Competitive Gaming Events.”


Overwatch League matches that were scheduled to take place in China and South Korea have been canceled and postponed. The Overwatch League has announced that the homestand event taking place in Washington D.C. will still go ahead as planned.

Organizers have said they will be taking lots of extra healthcare precautions such as extra cleaning, more handwashing supplies in all toilets, extra hand sanitizer, and signs around the venue instructing people to wash their hands. The post match meet and greets will also be changed to a Q&A session instead.

Rocket League 

Psyonix, the developer of Rocket League, has announced that the Rocket League Season 9 World Championship in Texas, in the US, is canceled due to the coronavirus. The team said: “We understand that this is frustrating, but health and safety will always be our top priority.” They also said that with regards to future championship matches, they’ll keep everyone updated.


Video streaming service Twitch has announced that they will be canceling the European leg of TwitchCon. The convention was due to be been held in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, on 2-3 May.

Representatives have said: “We have been monitoring Coronavirus concerns and having weighed the potential health risks to our community we’ve made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel TwitchCon Amsterdam.” 

“To say we’re disappointed you won’t be able to enjoy the show we’ve been building for you is a massive understatement. But the health and safety of our community, employees, and everyone else who has a part in making TwitchCon happen is, as always, our top priority. “


Esports Gaming Events Coronavirus

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Esports and Gaming Events Affected by Coronavirus

As fears continue to grow in relationship to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many esports tournament organizers have made the decision to cancel, postpone, clear audiences, or make an adjustment to their events. With that in mind, The Esports Observer has created a comprehensive list of leagues, tournaments, and events that have been affected by COVID-19 concerns. While this list is updated regularly, readers should still check the individual organizer web sites as circumstances may change.

League of Legends

  • League of Legends Champions Korea League (LCK): Riot announced the indefinite suspension of league play starting on March 9 with no time table announced as to when play will be resumed.
  • League of Legends Professional League (LPL): The LPL has canceled offline play since Jan. 19 and transitioned to playing league matches online.
  • League of Legends European Championship (LEC): The LEC’s spring split final which was scheduled for April 25-26 in Budapest, Hungary, has been moved to Berlin.
  • League of Legends Championship Series (LCS): The LCS spring split finals have not been affected as of yet as Riot continues to monitor the situation. Frisco, Texas, is still set to host the event on April 18-19.
  • The Mid-Season Invitational has been moved from May to July. Each region’s Summer Split start date has also been adjusted.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

  • Intel Extreme Masters Katowice: IEM’s Katowice event saw a permit granted to ESL that allowed audiences into Spodek Arena revoked after government officials decided the risk of infection was too great. This occurred 12 hours before the main event was to take place.
  • FLASHPOINT: The new FLASHPOINT League made the decision on March 6 to consolidate all of its events and play all league and championship matches in its Los Angeles studios.


The Overwatch League made a series of decisions in an attempt to play matches originally scheduled in China in other locations and countries. However, at this time, all matches in weeks 5-7 that were scheduled to take place in Seoul have been postponed.

Dota 2

As it stands, no significant changes, cancellations, or postponements have been announced. ESL One Los Angeles, which takes place on March 20-22, has not been affected at this time. However, recent updates suggest that teams participating in the event traveling from mainland China may have visa issues associated with entering the United States due to travel restrictions implemented by the government.

Call of Duty

No significant changes, cancellations, or postponements have been announced. However, the league did announce some guidelines and what measures it would be taking to help alleviate concerns for the Los Angeles Guerillas-OpTic Gaming home series which took place March 7-8.

  • Comprehensive cleaning of the venue and player areas and equipment each day, before and after use.
  • Onsite medical professionals, including a physician and nurse.
  • Well-stocked hand-washing supplies in all restrooms.
  • Increased access to hand sanitizer.
  • Cancellation of meet-and-greets, team walkouts, and autograph signings with players.

Rocket League

  • The Rocket League World Championship for Season 9 has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Dallas was set to host the event from April 24-26.
  • Teams have been told the remaining league matches will be played online, instead of in the Psyonix studio. Psyonix has added $250K USD to the Regional Championships prize pool as these will now be the highest level of competition.


The Hearthstone Masters Tour Indonesia has been moved to Los Angeles and will be played entirely online. Players that had already booked their travel to play in the event will be reimbursed.

Apex Legends

Electronic Arts has postponed Major 1 of the Apex Legends Global Series that was set to play from March 13-15, 2020.


The FIFA Global Series, FUT Champions Cup Stage V Bucharest that was set to take place from May 2-3, 2020 has been postponed.

Fighting Games

  • The Capcom Pro Tour has removed Brussels Challenge 2020, Norcal Regionals 2020, and April Annihilation 2020 for this year’s pro tour.
  • Tokyo TEKKEN Masters has been canceled by BANDAI NAMCO.
  • The TEKKEN Pro Championship has been moved to a stream only event.
  • Qualifiers for the TEKKEN World Tour 2020 and SOULCALIBUR World Tour 2020 will be rescheduled for a later date.
  • NetherRealm Studios announced that Final Kombat (a Mortal Kombat Tournament) will not have a live audience.

Free Fire

The Free Fire Champions Cup 2020, originally set for April 19 in Jakarta, Indonesia, has been postponed.


The 2020 Pokémon Europe International Championships 2020 that was to take place in Berlin, Germany, from April 17-19 have been canceled.

Gaming Conventions

  • TwitchCon Amsterdam has been canceled. The event was originally set to take place on May 2-3, 2020.
  • The Game Developers Conference (GDC) which takes place every year in San Francisco has been postponed. The event was set to take place from March 16-20.
  • The NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference slated for March 22-26 in San Jose, California, has shifted to an online-only conference.
  • Minecraft Festival 2020 has been postponed from its original dates of Sept. 25-27, 2020. No announcement of news dates has occurred. 
  • SXSW 2020 has been canceled.


The Coronavirus’ Human Impact On Esports

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Ashley Kang was getting ready for another day covering the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) in late February. She had devoted her career to bringing content from Korean players and teams to an English-speaking audience, quitting her job as a software engineer and moving to Seoul so she could be on the ground where the action happens.

She had regularly stayed up until 6 AM editing videos for her Youtube channel while keeping up with the North American and European League of Legends leagues, putting in countless hours to earn more than 100 new subscribers a day. The momentum she had built wasn’t showing any signs of stopping — until she couldn’t go to work anymore.

On March 2nd, Riot Korea announced that the LCK would be suspended after March 6th when more cases of coronavirus were confirmed in South Korea. “It has been so frustrating since my brand has been built from covering the LCK,” Kang told me over a Discord call from South Korea. “I had a job, a life here. All that momentum is gone.”

Riot Korea, the organizer behind the LCK, had already been on high alert for weeks after the new coronavirus had become more serious throughout the region. There were extra security precautions at LoL Park, the studio where league games take place. Everyone who entered the arena had to get their temperature taken and wear a face mask at all times. A week before the league announced it would halt operations, the press room closed down for Kang and other journalists.

“The coronavirus was very stable for a while, it was increasing slowly,” Kang says. “It looked like South Korea had it under control. Before the press room was closed, it looked like the LCK was getting a live audience back. But a few days before there was a massive outbreak, with hundreds of new cases per day.”

Once the South Korean government changed the national threat level from orange to red, the highest level, Riot Korea couldn’t let the LCK operate any longer without forcing players to take serious health risks. Since Kang has been unable to make new LCK content, she’s gained fewer than 10 followers a day. It’s affected other journalists covering Korean esports as well. “It’s almost impossible [to cover the LCK]. With no broadcast interviews, no one-on-one interviews, and no press room interviews, reporters can hardly write creative articles about the LCK,” Inven Global managing editor Joonkyu “Lasso” Seok says. “It adversely affected our website traffic and it has the same negative effect on our YouTube content.”

The LCK suspension is one of many examples of how the coronavirus outbreak has sent shockwaves throughout the entire esports industry. Tournaments and events across OverwatchLeague of LegendsPUBGDota 2Counter-Strike, the fighting game community, and many more have been postponed or canceled outright. Players, casters, coaches, journalists, fans, and others have lost opportunities and money, and they don’t know when they’ll be able to get back to work.

It was February 28th, the day the Masters Championship of IEM Katowice began in the esports capital of Poland, and Patrick Brady was excited to attend his first major Counter-Strike tournament as both a fan and a freelance content creator. He boarded his plane in Scotland, checking his phone to see if the tournament was still on, as other events around the world were getting canceled left and right. It was only a two-hour flight and the event was set to begin before he set foot on the ground in Poland. Everything seemed to be right on track.

“I was on the plane and everything was fine,” Brady, who has worked to support the local Counter-Strike scene in Scotland, tells me. “When I landed I jumped on my phone expecting to see the results of the 100 Thieves game, but instead saw that the event had been canceled for fans.”

The Polish governor of Silesia had ordered ESL, the organizers of IEM Katowice, to close the tournament to the public, including fans like Brady. It’s a decision that most fans understand as the outbreak has only gotten worse. But they wish the Polish government didn’t wait until the event was about to start to make the announcement.

“I don’t have a grudge against the ESL, because at the end of the day, they can’t do anything about it. I am upset at the governing body of Poland,” Brady says. “The event may not be open for us, but we’re all still in Poland. All of these esports fans are still going to be mingling, no one is going to be sitting in their hotel rooms. It’s not just the fans,” he adds, saying that the local government was getting the best of both worlds, fans were still spending money in the city even though the event was canceled. “It’s the staff, players, everyone is blindsided.”

IEM Katowice’s partial cancellation is a prime example of how poorly some esports organizations and local governments have handled the outbreak. While Riot Korea took precautions long before they were required to, other organizations have waited until the last minute. “There’s been little communication,” Brady says. “A few days would have been better, even a couple of hours earlier for me personally. That would have meant not getting on the plane.”

The new coronavirus didn’t just start affecting those looking to compete, cover, or attend international tournaments now. It’s been causing cancellations and postponements for weeks, including some major live events that players were relying on for income.

Nicholas “Nick101” Elliot was pumped: his team of four battle-tested Australians wracked up 101 points in the Oceanic PUBG online qualifier, finishing in second place. They qualified for the Americas Championship, scheduled for late March in Los Angeles, with the hope of eventually making it to the first major PUBG LAN of 2020 in Berlin in April. Their plan didn’t last long, though. In early February, PUBG Corp announced that PGS Berlin would be postponed due to the coronavirus. It does not have a scheduled replacement date.

“The tournament getting delayed is really irritating,” Elliot, who plays for Athletico Esports, told me over a Twitter message. “As a player from the Oceania region, prize pool winnings are our only income. There are barely enough other tournaments to play in; there [has] only been one so far this year.”

To make matters worse, Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency over the outbreak on March 4th, after confirming six new cases in 48 hours, meaning that the Americas Championship could be canceled as well. If it does happen as scheduled, the postponement of PGS Berlin makes things more chaotic for teams like Athletico Esports.

“I definitely think it has to [affect how they perform] even if just a little,” says PUBG commentator and analyst Clinton “Paperthin” Bader. “It’s added chaos and uncertainty to schedules for teams. That makes it harder to coordinate scrims/practices and lives in general. I don’t think it’s a huge impact, but it’s something for sure.”

Elliot doesn’t know what will happen to events like the Americas Championship in the coming weeks, but he’s still training as if it were happening. Most players I spoke to said they were frustrated due to the cancellations, but didn’t have anyone to point that frustration toward. “It’s a massive health issue on a national scale in China and on an international scale,” PUBG analyst and caster Martin “Avnqr” Gøth says. “There are a lot of big teams, and investors, coming out of China and you want to have them represented. It’s unfair if they aren’t.”

It’s difficult to be angry with any tournament organizer or publisher for postponing or canceling their events when the outbreak is completely out of their control. Every player, fan, and journalist I spoke to agreed that this isn’t something that organizers encounter often and have to make difficult judgment calls on quickly. ”It’s out of PUBG Corp’s control,” Gøth says.

The impact on thousands of players, fans, coaches, casters, and journalists has been significant and most believe it will only get worse. It seems likely that the Americas Championship in Los Angeles will be postponed as experts grapple with the size of the outbreak in the United States. “I think it will [still happen], but it’s possible if things get bad enough the local organizers or even the local government might block the event from happening,” Bader says. “However, you would see a bunch of other esports based out of LA follow suit or get ahead of PUBG if things get bad enough.”

We don’t know when the next LAN will be held with the threat of the coronavirus growing each day. For many people I spoke to, online tournaments don’t work for the competitions due to connection issues. Tournaments need to happen offline and that doesn’t seem possible right now.

The main concern for Kang, Bradley, Elliot, and thousands of others is about how much worse the situation will get as the outbreak spreads. “The last time the threat level went this high [in South Korea] was during Swine flu in 2009. I looked at how much time it took to drop back to orange, it took five weeks,” Kang says. Other instances have taken longer. In 2003, the first case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS, was reported in the Guangdong province in southern China in mid-November. The World Health Organization didn’t declare the outbreak contained until July 2004. “It took three or four months until it started slowing down then,” Gøth said. “PUBG has announced that they still plan to have four major tournaments in 2020, but that depends on when the problem gets under control.”

Kang has started considering her next moves, including whether she can still produce quality content in South Korea. “I’ve been thinking about traveling back home to New Zealand where I am a national,” she said, hoping to go to Europe or elsewhere from there. “I’m a content creator, my type of work is based heavily on live events. That doesn’t work if there are no live events in South Korea. There are some international events coming up and I’d love to cover them, also to keep my work going. But at the same time, I don’t know whether they will take place or if there will be travel restrictions.”