By Scott Zielsdorf
Despite many organized competitive sports facing cancellations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic; the world of Esports is thriving.
Being an organized sport that relies on computers and online streams, many prominent Esports leagues have been able to make the transition and continue their seasons.
At first, Esports seemed it would follow the same path as many of its physical sports counterparts. The days of cancellations near the peak of COVID-19 hysteria brought about many quick changes; matches were held in empty arenas, stadiums or studios.
This lasted for a very short time however, as even a day after announcing the empty arena games; new announcements were made stating that seasons were being postponed until further notice. An all too familiar statement for many sports fans…
Would that be the end of the season for many Esports leagues? Doomed to join other sports in never being able to end their season and crown a champion?
It seems that is not the case as now Esports leagues like the LCS (North American League of Legends) and OWL (Overwatch League) continue to broadcast. The LCS and LEC (European League of Legends) have both carried on to the playoffs portion of their seasons, and OWL is just under half way through their season.
What is most interesting however, is how little the events seem to have changed. Tuning into a stream of the LCS or OWL feels the exact same as it did before the onset of the pandemic. Naturally, being an online competitive game, the actual matches play out the exact same if they were in person or not.
The biggest difference is the on screen commentary, the “analysts desk” is a collection of webcams, and the casters desk is usually just two headshots of the commentators with name plates underneath. The show itself is being produced from the comforts of home on an impressive multi-monitor streaming rig. It is not entirely certain where the teams are playing from, but in the case of larger Esports organizations, they tend to share a large gaming house.
It will be interesting to see how the remainder of major Esports seasons turns out. With the League of Legends season going into finals, several teams stand out as strong contenders for the 2020 Champion titles in their respective leagues.
Here at home in the LCS, Esports giant Cloud9 Gaming looks to crush all competition and take the championship, with an impressive record this season of 17-1 leading up to playoffs. Cloud9 went into the playoffs vastly ahead of the runner up teams.
Across the pond in the LEC, the newer organization MAD Lions is aiming for a major upset by dethroning two-time European champions and fan favourites G2 Esports. If they accomplish this it could be one of the biggest upsets in LEC history. If you want to catch all League of Legends pro play in one place, go to lolesports.com.
Over in the OWL, the season is only in week 10. Already some clear contenders for the champion title are evident, such as the Canadian team, the Vancouver Titans, who are currently in second place for the Pacific division.
The online continuation of both these competitive leagues serves as a testament of Esports’ ability to persist through both good times and bad