Gaming Events Face Mass Cancellation Amid COVID-19 Concerns


Anissa Peoples

Necessary gaming hardware surrounded by some of the sanitizing supplies one might use during this time.

Anissa Peoples, Staff Reporter

Just like many other industries, the world of video gaming has seen the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many in-person gaming events, both competitive and convention, have either been moved online, canceled or will be played without spectators to prevent the spread of the virus.

As of Mar. 13, some notable events include:

  • E3 (canceled)
  • EA SPORTS™ FIFA 20 Global Series (suspended)
  • Madden NFL 20 Championship Series (suspended)
  • March and April homestand games for Overwatch League (canceled, moved online)
  • All Call of Duty in-person events (canceled, moved online)
  • Final Round FGC tournament (canceled)
  • League of Legends Mid-Season invitational (moved to July)
  • College League of Legends (CLoL) (suspended)
  • Collegiate Star League (CSL) Grand Finals (canceled, moved online)
  • Play! Pokemon events in Toronto, Charlotte, Santa Catarina and Salt Lake City (canceled)
  • NBA 2K League (postponed)

For some teams, developers and fans, these cancellations are catastrophic. They may be losing their only chance to show off their game or skill, or missing the chance of a lifetime to see their team play. Many are losing out on substantial amounts of funds, due to paying for nonrefundable accommodations, flights, and other plans. Some events aren’t able to sustain their organizers after massive losses due to refunding tickets, such as CEO Dreamland, which took place the weekend of Mar. 14. The host of CEO Dreamland, Alex Jebailey, tweeted a picture showcasing the amount his organization, CEO, will be charged due to low turnout and a large number of refund requests. To help keep CEO afloat, they have begun accepting donations from the public to cover staff, catering, contractual charges, and more.

Other events, such as GCX, a charity-focused gaming convention set for late June, are already evaluating their situations to prep for a scenario where the pandemic continues into the summer.  In GCX’s case, a plan has already been set forth to prevent a situation as dire as CEO’s. RareDrop, the organizers for GCX, announced on Thursday, Mar. 12, that any refunds would be 85% of the original cost, to cover processing fees and other charges that they have already paid. To ease the minds of their attendees further, RareDrop said that if GCX was to be canceled or attendees felt unsafe going to the event, the hotel that they have a special pricing deal with, Rosen, would refund them at any time up to a week before the event. In the announcement, RareDrop said that they would make a final decision on the plan for the event on May 1. However, at this time, GCX is still scheduled to occur.

As for the collegiate scene, programs like College League of Legends (CLoL) have suspended their competitions until further notice. Riot Scholastic Association of America (RSAA) tweeted on Friday that they were suspending all play until further notice. “We believe that with the amount of uncertainty and unique situations campus-to-campus it is in the best interests of student health and safety to suspend all play for the time being,” RSAA said in the tweet. For some, a concern was that prizing and scholarships wouldn’t be awarded as promised since the competition didn’t reach its full end. RSAA reassured those fears by adding that if play is unable to resume, they’ll still be awarding prizing and scholarships.

Similarly, Collegiate Star League (CSL) announced that their Grand Finals event, originally slated to be an in-person event, was moved to an online-only format that will be streamed on Twitch. In their statement, they said, “We understand this is a disappointment for players, their teams, and the colleges they represent. The CSL Grand Finals have been a place for collegiate esports athletes to come together and meet, compete, and jointly celebrate their shared passion for gaming. However, health and safety (always) come first.” Just like CLoL, CSL has announced that they intend to award prizing despite the change.

Gaming event cancellations are happening here at Shawnee State University, too. Shawnee GG, a gaming-focused club on campus had announced a tournament event called Saint Patty’s Day Rumble that was going to take place on Saturday, Mar. 14, consisting of a Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament and a League of Legends tournament. Due to the pandemic, Shawnee GG announced on Wednesday that they were moving the event online and planned to award prizes at an in-person event at a later date.

Like Shawnee GG, the Magic the Gathering club, primarily focused around the in-person card game, has had to move their activities online while student organizations are unable to meet from the pandemic. They announced the change on Thursday, Mar. 12, followed by encouragement to play the game online from home in the meantime. Luckily, their club league of the game was taking place on the online version of the game already, allowing them to continue it with ease.

The coronavirus pandemic has reached many corners of the world and caused turmoil in many industries, including the gaming industry. For many, hard work and monetary investment have gone to waste due to the pandemic and there may be more to come until infections subside or advancements are made to curb the effects and allow life to ease back to normalcy. Until then, many gamers will wait patiently for the return of their beloved conventions and in-person tournaments and enjoy the social aspects of gaming online a little more as they stay home away from the pandemic.