What happened to Esports during the pandemic?

With the traditional sports ground to a halt and crippled by the global pandemic, many sports enthusiasts were relaying to esports, the safest platform during these trying times. However, professional esports competitions, mostly held in Esport arenas, have also been affected by the worldwide health crisis due to COVID19 that already affected more than 400,000 people and killed nearly 21,000 during its peak.

Many esports tournaments around the world have been called off because of the virus, including some of the biggest events in League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch and more. Some tournaments like the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) opted to continue running the event remotely, with a couple of difficulties on the way.

A group of Formula 1 drivers and professional games are engaged in a series that “has been created to enable fans to continue watching Formula 1 races virtually”. It attracted “350,000 viewers across all streams on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook not including all of Sky Sports” according to reports. German racer Nico Hülkenberg, who retired last year, was one of the pros who joined the gamers. 

In football, a virtual La Liga derby featuring Sevilla defender Sergio Reguilon and Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias was hosted by Ibai Llanos, one of the country’s leading esports personalities. This initiative was made due to the void left by halting all domestic and cup football leagues across Europe. The UEFA EURO 2020 has also been called off recently.  

Many NBA players are also seen streaming on Twitch, the world’s leading live streaming platform for gamers. In a viral video, Phoenix Suns point guard and NBA Top 10 scorer Devin Booker was informed about the league’s suspension during his live stream while playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Booker has streamed more than 20 hours since the suspension.

Other NBA players have seen streaming frequently include Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard, who is also an investor in esports organization FaZe Clan along with New Orleans Pelican’s Josh Hart, who is also partnered of the same organization; Sacramento Kings’ De’Aaron Fox and Boston Celtic’s Gordon Hayward, who are both a HyperX ambassador.

In terms of revenue, an investment company, Modern Times Group (MTG) said that the pandemic could sink esports revenues by 45%. In their report, they said that ESL and DreamHack, events that require a large live audience with merchandise and ticket sales, are the most affected. They said that in the first quarter alone, the company said revenues will be down about 25%.

Meanwhile, Plague Inc., a mobile game launched in 2012 that allows you to play as a disease is gaining worldwide popularity with its timely theme. “Eight years ago, I never imagined the real world would come to resemble a game of Plague Inc. or that so many players would be using Plague Inc. to help them get through an actual pandemic,” said James Vaughan,  creator and Ndemic Creations’ founder.

Despite being released eight year ago, Plague Inc. is currently sitting top of the UK’s App Store’s paid games chart, passing perennial chart-topper Minecraft. Aside from $250,000 to fight COVID-19, the developers also added a new mode in the popular game that lets a player stop an outbreak. The update will be free for all players for the duration of the pandemic. 

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