Esports Arena: Leagues Shift to Online Events Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Overwatch League Grand Finals - Day 2 at Barclays Center on July 28, 2018 - Getty -H 2019
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Blizzard Entertainment

Elsewhere in competitive gaming, a 'Smash Bros.' champion donates a portion of his winnings to event organizers to offset losses amidst outbreak.

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

Three prominent esports leagues have announced they will move forward with their competitive seasons via online play and revised schedules after being suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Overwatch League, which has suspended play since the Washington Justice Homestand on March 7-8, will host Online matches starting March 21. Matches will be played every Friday through Sunday until May 1 in order to make up all cancellations. Teams will be split between three servers in order to reduce lag as much as possible. 

League of Legends’ League Championship Series in North America will also play online matches beginning March 21, picking up with the previously scheduled Week 8 matchups after being suspended March 13. Matches that were previously scheduled for Monday Night League will move to Saturday and Sunday, and the Spring Split Playoffs will now play out April 4-19. 

Finally, the Call of Duty League will be shifting all previously scheduled matches from the Home Series to an online format, though no official dates have been announced for when play will resume. The next scheduled Home Series was due to take place in Dallas March 28-29 before cancellations due to coronavirus.

Elsewhere, The Pokemon Company has canceled all officially sanctioned Play Pokemon events through May 14. This includes competitions in Pokemon Sword and Shield and the Pokemon Trading Card Game at every level, from regional championships to prerelease tournaments. The official statement on the Play Pokemon website says that the company will "continue to closely monitor health mandates, guidelines, and recommendations from appropriate government agencies" as the May 14 deadline approaches.  

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

Japan's Topanga Championships Crowns Victor

Japan hosted the annual Topanga Championships over the weekend, and the final match saw two of the top Street Fighter players in history square off for the championship. In the end, Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi was able to defeat longtime rival Daigo Umehara, taking the title and avenging his loss earlier in the year at the Kemonomichi 2 tournament. With the win, Taniguchi also claimed a 2 million yen top prize, equal to about US$18,000. 

Smash Bros. Champ Donates Winnings Back to League to Offset Coronavirus Losses

The CEO Dreamland Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament in Orlando this weekend ended with Ezra "Samsora" Morris cruising to victory over Kolawole "Kola" Aideyan. After the event, Morris announced he would be donating a portion of winnings back to the CEO Tournament Series and its owner, Alex Jebailey, to help them get through the coronavirus cancellations. The amount donated was not disclosed. Morris joins Edgard "n0ne" Sheleby, the third-place winner of the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament, in donating winnings back to the organization running the tournament. 

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Hits 1 Million Concurrent Players

CS: GO reached a new milestone over the weekend, topping 1 million concurrent players for the first time in the game’s history. The shooter neared the milestone last month, with a peak of just over 915,000 players according to tracking website SteamCharts. SteamCharts also shows CS: GO as having a steady growth in player numbers, averaging a 7.27 percent growth rate in players since November.