The Overwatch League has officially made a decision regarding the upcoming Chinese homestands early on into the third season.
On January 29, one day after the White House suggested it would suspend all US-China flights, the league announced that the upcoming home games in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou would be cancelled.
“We have decided to cancel our February and March matches in China in order to protect the health and safety, fans, and staff,” the statement said.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) January 30, 2020
Five Chinese homestands will be cancelled as a result of Blizzard’s decision. Shanghai’s week two homestand, starting on February 15, Guangzhou’s week three, six, and seven homestands, and Hangzhou’s week four homestand will all be cancelled.
Prior to the announcement, the Guangzhou Charge revealed they had moved their non-Chinese players to South Korea while they expedited visas for Chinese players to join them.
“The reality that the situation is unpredictable, complex, and urgent,” the team said in a statement. “We hope our fans can understand what the Chinese teams and the league are faced with.”
We are saddened by the impact that the coronavirus has had in China and elsewhere. We also understand our fans’ concerns about our plans and the safety of our team in China and would like to provide an update.
— Guangzhou Charge (@GZCharge) January 28, 2020
The Shanghai Dragons also addressed the situation and stated that they too would be temporarily relocating all players and staff to Korea.
“Our priority is to ensure the safety of all our players and staff, along with providing the best possible environment for them to practice in,” they said. “We will be temporarily relocating all our players and coaching staff to Korea effective immediately.”
Update regarding the safety of our team and our plan moving forward. pic.twitter.com/VQRv7FlAuW
— Shanghai Dragons (@ShanghaiDragons) January 29, 2020
Meanwhile, Overwatch’s only fully-Chinese team, the Chengdu Hunters would be remaining in China, but ensured that they would be taking precautions including checking staff members’ body temperature.
Statement regarding the recent coronavirus outbreak in China. We will keep our fans updated as our plans develop. pic.twitter.com/WyJRSbXfmJ
— Chengdu Hunters (@ChengduHunters) January 29, 2020
With five less homestands on the board for the opening weeks of the Overwatch League, it could have a major effect on the standings for the mid-season tournament.
Blizzard are yet to announce how they’ll cover the missing games for the dozen teams participating in these homestands for their record towards the week 13 event.
Other leagues, such as China’s League of Legends’ LPL have called off their upcoming week two matches due to safety risks regarding the Coronavirus outbreak.
Additional reporting by Dexerto’s Andrew Amos