Following the cancellation of numerous public gatherings due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Overwatch League has finally made the decision to cancel all of its February and March games in China.
Five homestands will be cancelled as a result of the decision. This will scrap Shanghai’s week two homestand, Guangzhou’s weeks three, six, and seven homestands, and Hangzhou’s week four homestand.
Fans were uncertain what action Blizzard would take, but it is clear from the announcement on Twitter that the matches will be played, but uncertainty remains as to when and where. This information will be released at a later date.
Several teams have already taken steps to ensure that the virus doesn’t affect their players. The Guangzhou Charge, Shanghai Dragons, and Chengdu Hunters have already told fans the steps they are taking to safeguard their players’ health. The Hangzhou Spark have not yet issued any statement on the matter.
This shakeup will be an additional hurdle for Chinese teams to overcome. With the new format this year, teams will be exposed to a new travel schedule, and this adds another layer of difficulty to the mix. The uncertainty and sudden shift in schedule could cause teams to falter both in confidence and in performance.
The coronavirus has been a serious epidemic in China, with the death toll rising over 170 since Tuesday. The number of infections has reached over 7,700 reported cases around the world. China now has more cases of the coronavirus than it did SARS.
With a rapidly increasing death toll and Chinese authorities taking the coronavirus very seriously, Blizzard has little choice but to cancel the first Chinese homestands. Because matches were meant to be played in week two, fans can expect news of when and where those matches will be played in the near future.