ESL Pro League cancels offline CSGO events due to coronavirus worries


The ESL Pro League team announced on March 11 that they will be moving their Counter-Strike league matches from an arena in Denver, Colorado to a closed studio in Europe, citing concerns over COVID-19.

Prior to ESL’s announcement, the Counter-Strike tournament and league organizers were dealt a massive blow in the midst of their IEM Katowice event, when the local government pulled their clearance to host a massive public gathering.

The playoffs of that event continued without the usual rabid CS:GO crowd, and now they will officially do the same thing for their upcoming ESL Pro League season, as well as change venues.

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In their announcement, ESL said that Season 11 will be played entirely online, after initially announcing this upcoming season as being entirely offline.

In addition, the finals that were scheduled to take place in 1STBANK Center in Denver will now take place “a studio location without a live audience in Europe.”

Specifically, they cited recent travel restrictions that the country Malta had put in place, which effectively banned incoming travel from different locations, even if a traveler was just connecting from one of those places. OG’s manager Vladyslava Zakhliebina pointed out the likelihood of this outcome for ESL just a couple hours before the official announcement.

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Malta was slated to be the studio location for the offline regular-season games, but ESL said they “fully support all measures aimed at containing the COVID-19 dynamics as much as possible.” However, it did make travel for many teams and staff members “impossible,” so the league will revert to an online format for the regular season.

ESL’s CS:GO league counterparts in FLASHPOINT have also had to make adjustments due to concerns over Coronavirus, resulting in them scrapping any plans to host regular-season matches or playoff matches in an arena for the time being.

Many players and teams are of course disappointed, but unfortunate circumstances can sometimes bring out the best in people. One of ESL’s new faces in GODSENT is even offering to host teams displaced by the changes.

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The latest cancellations are the latest in a growing list of events that have canceled, which include E3 2020, the Rocket League Championships, several Overwatch homestand events, and much more.

While losing a crowd is another disappointment for ESL, the matches will still be played as they host their first season with permanently partnered teams.