Overwatch, Call of Duty Esports Leagues Among Those Moving to Online-Only Matches

Esports competition
Photo: Blizzard Entertainment

With the ongoing limitations on large gatherings due to the spread of the coronavirus, many sports leagues have postponed or canceled their slate of matches across the country. Several esports leagues, which can draw huge crowds to major tournaments, have also made adjustments, including canceling local events — with some reworking their formats for online competitions that fans can still watch live.

The Call of Duty League, for example, announced this week it’s moving all scheduled live events to online-only competition, adding it will announce exact dates and broadcast times in the near future. The league, which competes in the multiplayer mode of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, consists of 12 teams in North America and Europe, and “Home Series” events were planned for in teams’ home cities.

Similarly, Overwatch League followed up on its cancellation of Homestand events in March and April with an announcement that the events will be played in a live, online format. As with the Call of Duty League, exact details and timing on specific events are still to be determined, but parent company Blizzard Entertainment said upcoming matches will be broadcast live on the league’s YouTube channel.

Other leagues have taken similar steps. The Verge reported that China’s League of Legends Pro League suspended play before shifting to an online format instead of its usual studio- and arena-based gatherings.

With huge fanbases and millions in prize money at stake, it makes sense for esports leagues to adjust to current conditions and offer online-only spectating options to its fans. And with so many people staying home and opting to tune in online, it’ll be interesting to see how home data usage patterns change in the coming months.

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