Activision Blizzard announced Wednesday its Overwatch League will not hold any scheduled events through April because of the outbreak of the coronavirus, instead having the matches played in different venues.
“The health and safety of employees, fans, players, teams, and partners is paramount to Activision Blizzard Esports,” the company said in a statement posted to its website.
“We are continuing to closely monitor COVID-19 (coronavirus), city-level recommendations and mandates, and all guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Later, Activision Blizzard Esports CEO and OWL CEO Pete Vlastelica clarified that while events — typically held in large arenas in front of a live crowd — have been canceled, the matches themselves will played, and will be broadcast.
“To be clear, we WILL be playing matches in March and April. We cancelled the events, not the matches (though we will have to move a few things around in the schedule to make this work),” Vlastelica tweeted.
Earlier, all league homestands in Asia were canceled, and on Tuesday, Paris Eternal’s scheduled homestand next month was called off. Activision Blizzard’s statement said the company hopes to reschedule.
“Concurrently, we are working hand-in-hand with our teams to see that all matches are played when it’s safe and logistically feasible, staying as close to our originally planned schedule as possible. We are considering the various options available to esports in this effort, so that all teams — including those previously impacted by scheduling changes in China — can get back to doing what they do best.”
The league has 20 teams in North America, Europe and Asia.
The coronavirus, which started in China late last year, has killed more than 4,500 people and sickened nearly 125,000 worldwide as of Wednesday afternoon. The World Health Organization designated the virus as a global pandemic on Wednesday.
—Field Level Media