Overwatch

Overwatch League cancels South Korean events amid Coronavirus concerns

by Isaac McIntyre
Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

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The Overwatch League has officially canceled plans to host the competition in South Korea in Weeks 5, 6, and 7 due to ongoing Coronavirus concerns surrounding the region, league officials confirmed on February 23.

The premier Overwatch competition had already canceled all homestand events in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou on January 29, but had held off delaying or canceling the Seoul Dynasty homestand event, until now.

“In order to protect the health and safety of our players, fans, and staff, we are canceling plans to host Overwatch League 2020 matches in South Korea in Weeks 5, 6, and 7, including the Seoul Dynasty home event," the OWL announced.

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This means all matches scheduled to be played as part of the Week 5 event at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul, as well as all previously delayed Chinese homestand fixtures which had been moved to South Korea in Weeks 6 and 7, have been canceled.

Dynasty, who had been in line to play host to six matches over March 7-8, including their home games against the Los Angeles and defending champions San Francisco, also issued a statement regarding the cancellation.

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“In order to protect the health and safety of our players, fans, and staff, we will no longer be holding the March Seoul Dynasty Homestand event in Seoul on March 7th and 8th,” the org wrote on Twitter on February 23.

“We are working with the league on rescheduling these matches, and will share more information through the league when available. We are making every effort to ensure our players’ well-being and safety. Please stay safe during this difficult time.”

The Dynasty also thanked fans for their “understanding,” and confirmed anyone who had purchased tickets for the homestand would be issued a full refund. “We will have more details on the refund process this week,” the org added.

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The OWL isn’t the only esports league to have been affected by new concerns surrounding the Coronavirus, now named Covid-19, this week either.

The League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) production team had a scare during its February 23 matchday, when stage host Mina Kim reportedly began feeling ill. She was “taken away” and placed in quarantine soon after.

China’s top-flight League competition, the LPL, is also still on hiatus after the decision to put the tournament on hold. Teams have begun playing weekly televised scrims, but no official matches have been played since January 19.

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
As many as half a dozen teams have yet to play a match in the 2020 OWL season.

Atlanta, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Seoul, and Shanghai all have yet to play a match to begin their 2020 OWL season. Meanwhile, some orgs, including Houston, and undefeated pacesetters Philadelphia, have played as many as four.

Blizzard has yet to announce when the delayed Chinese and South Korean matches will take place, but it’s likely the two-dozen plus series will now be moved to an event or events in the United States, pending league confirmation.