Esports Arena: Coronavirus Wreaks Havoc; Jeremy Lin's Competitive Gaming Org Suspends Operations

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Elsewhere in competitive gaming: the Paris Eternal set a new Overwatch League record and competitor Dominique "SonicFox" McLean claims another 'Mortal Kombat' championship.

Esports Arena is a curated weekly roundup of the biggest stories in the world of online competitive gaming.

Concerns over the spreading coronavirus outbreak continue to plague esports events around the world, with multiple gatherings and tournaments being rescheduled or outright canceled across multiple regions. 

The pandemic hit Riot Games hard, with the company forced to shift scheduled League of Legends events over the next few months. Most notable is the Mid-Season Invitational, which was moved from its traditional May time frame to July. The Summer Split start dates have also been affected, as all regions' dates were moved to earlier in the year to accommodate the Mid-Season Invitational rescheduling. The Summer Split has been moved up from June and will now begin May 15 with the Oceanic Professional League and Vietnam Championship Series. The North American League Championship Series’ Summer Split will begin May 16.

Japanese game company Arc System Works has also acted, removing the planned demo for its upcoming Guilty Gear Strive from the Final Round 2020 tournament in Atlanta. The company cited "ongoing concerns with COVID-19," as the reason for withdrawal. Final Round 2020 is still scheduled to continue as planned March 20-22. 

Finally, one of the largest fighting game tournaments in the U.S., NorCal Regionals, has officially canceled its 2020 event originally scheduled to take place April 10-12 in San Jose, California. The move comes after Santa Clara County ordered all mass gatherings be canceled due to the outbreak, which prompted NorCal organizer John Choi to announce the tournament’s cancelation via Twitter. Choi also asked attendees to "give us some time to begin cancelation arrangements including processing refunds to all."

Elsewhere, J.Storm, the esports organization founded by Jeremy Lin of NBA fame, has decided to suspend all operations in North America. In a statement delivered via Twitter, the company said, "Going forward into 2020 and beyond, J.Storm will be reevaluating commitments and with that comes the cessation of our North American operations which includes our DOTA 2 and Fortnite teams."

Here’s what else is happening in the world of esports.

Paris Team Sets Overwatch League Record

The Paris Eternal took on the undefeated Philadelphia Fusion during the Washington Justice’s Overwatch League home stand this week, breaking a league record in the process. The second map of the match, Junkertown, saw the Eternal complete an Escort attack round with 4:13 left on the clock, beating the previous record of 4:33. The Eternal would go on to hand the Fusion its first defeat with a 3-2 victory, dropping Philadelphia from first to fourth in the standings and boosting Paris to fifth. 

Spawn Unveiled as Playable Character for Mortal Kombat 11

Despite having to be played in an empty arena due to coronavirus concerns, the Final Kombat 2020 tournament marked the end of the competitive Mortal Kombat 11 season. As was the case with past tournaments on the circuit, Dominique "SonicFox" McLean stood tall against the 15 other competitors, defeating Jarrad "Ninjakilla_212" Gooden with The Joker in the Grand Finals to win the $40,000 top prize. Earlier in the day, NetherRealm Studios unveiled the gameplay trailer for the sixth and final character of the Kombat Pack DLC, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, who will be available March 17 in early access and March 24 in full release. 

Dallas Empire Top Call of Duty League Los Angeles Home Series

The Dallas Empire emerged victorious at the Call of Duty League Los Angeles Home Series over the weekend, defeating the Minnesota Rokkr in the final. The win moves Dallas to third in the overall standings, 10 points behind the Atlanta FaZe and the Chicago Huntsmen, who are tied for first overall. The next Home Series takes place in Dallas on March 28-29. Elsewhere in the tournament, Los Angeles Optic Gaming won its first match in front of the home crowd, defeating co-hosts the Los Angeles Guerrillas on Saturday. LA Optic Gaming would add another win against the Rokkr before losing to the Empire in the Semifinal.