It was just another day for those who were ready take part in the League of Legends Championship in Korea late February. They must have certainly spent years in getting thus far. There are others stakeholders also who may not be directly attached to the various sporting activities but who also have an important role to play. There are many men and women who must have worked really hard to bring contents from Korean teams and players. They must have spared no efforts that these contents could be moving to an English speaking audience. Many of them have given up their paying and secure jobs as software engineers and have moved to the Seoul, the capital city. They certainly have done all this so that they could be on the ground where the action was happening. Let us try and have a look at some real life situations how the threat of Corona Virus is impacting sports industry in general and Esports in particular.
Riot Korea announced that the much awaited LCK would be suspended from March 6, 2020. This was done because the number of confirmed corona virus cases increased alarmingly in South Korea. This announcement was made on March 2, 2020. This has hit many people and the most affected were those from Esports and other channels who were assigned the task of covering the famous LCK. This was indeed a sad and shocking blow to those people who must have worked tirelessly behind the scenes for reporting the happening in this special and well known event.
It would be pertinent to mention here that Riot Korea who was the main organizer behind LCK was already on high alert for a few weeks once the incidences of corona viruses started becoming very serious not only in Seoul but also across other regions and cities of the country. This has been frustrating for the likes of Ashley Kang for a number of reasons. She suddenly has to come across unprecedented security precautions that were in place at LOL Park. Lol Park is the studio where the important league games take place. The checking was quite stringent. Each and everybody who entered into LoL Park had to have their temperature checked. Further, they were insisted to wear a face mask at all times. Further, a week before the announcement about the halting of operations were made public, the press room were closed for the likes of Kang and other journalists.
The corona virus according to Kang was stable for a period of time but suddenly the cases and intensity started to increase gradually, slowly but surely. The press room was about to close but it looked as though LCK would be able to get the live audience back in large numbers. However, this was not to be because of some obvious reasons. A few days before there was a report of massive outbreak of this viral infection and there were hundreds of cases being reported in a day.
We need to bear in mind that the South Korean government after lot of deliberations, changed the threat perception nationally from orange to red. This was the highest level. In such situations, it would simply be impossible for LCK to operate any longer. If operation was to continue, it would have to happen only by forcing players to take unwanted and serious health risks. It was sad that Kang was not able to make her available to the LCK content. It is also sad to not that she was able to gain just around a dozen followers a day. This was not the case only with her but many other journalists from Esports and other sporting channels also faced the same problem.
It happened with those who were covering other Korean esports as well. It became impossible to cover the LCK. This was because there were not able to broadcast interviews and there were also no one-to-one interviews. Further, there was complete and total absence of press room interviews. All these without any doubt ensured that no creative articles could be written about LCK. The Global Managing Editor of LCK, Joonkyu Seok lamented that it also had an adverse impact on the website traffic. It also had a negative rub-off effect as far as YouTube contents are concerned.
There is no doubt that LCK suspension is just one side of the storey. If you look around and learn more about corona virus, it is quite obvious that it brought about lot of sadness, apathy and that surely sent shockwaves across whole of South Korea. It negatively impacted various events like League of Legends, DOTA 2, PUBG and counter strike. There also were many who had to fight the game community. There were others who have had to postpone their events without even thinking for the second time around. Many of the matches have been either or postponed to some other places and cities across the country. It would also be pertinent to mention here that scores of casters, players, journalists, fans and coaches have also lost many opportunities and they also lost money.
February 28, 2020 was the day on which the much talked about Masters’ Championship of IEM Katowice started. It was held in the Esports capital of Poland. It had many people including Patrick Brady excited about the whole thing. This was because it was his first big counter strike tournament. He was both a freelance content creator and also a fan. He started for Poland from Scotland. He also checked on his phone to find out if the tournament was still on. This was because he came across news articles where there was random cancellation of tournaments. He started his two hour journey by flight from Scotland to Poland. He was happy that things were moving in the right direction as he sat in the plane and was awaiting it to land in Poland. He browsed through his phone to find some interesting results of 100 Thieves Game. However, he was in for some rude shock because the event that was so close to his heart had been kept out of bounds for fans.
The new variant of Corona virus certainly impacted chose that were planning to take part in the various events. It also has been the main reason for the number of postponements and cancellations for many weeks. This included some major tournaments based on which income levels of many players depended.