Covid-19 has a firm grasp on the world. Precautionary measures have put a stop to nearly all sporting events and many bookmakers and sports enthusiasts turn to esports as they appear unscathed by cancellations and lock down regulations.
For the Esports Directory, we collect fixture schedules for roughly 2500 matches every month. This allows us a detailed perspective of how the esports ecosystem is handling this very special situation.
Looking at the big three titles in esports - League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive - we notice a very stable baseline in February of about 78 fixtures a day. February 15th shows a peak of 155 matches. Even though the Corona virus was already casting it’s shadow onto some of the Asian events - like LPL and LCK - most European and American players had plenty to occupy themselves with, like LCS, LEC and their Academy Divisions as well as the qualifications for ESL One Los Angeles and Flashpoint Season 1.
The last week of February however, made it clear for everyone that something was changing; IEM Katowice - the World Championship in Counter Strike - was held in front of empty seats! The authorities had not allowed the audience to enter the venue.
In the days following, more and more offline tournaments were delayed, postponed and eventually cancelled as organizers had to adjust to the new situation.
While the first two weeks of March actually showed 30% more fixtures than the previous two weeks, many of them were getting canceled.
By March 16th, the Corona pandemic had fully arrived in esports. In the two weeks between March 16th and March 29th, the fixture numbers dropped to roughly 50 fixtures a day. That is about half of what would have been expected under normal circumstances. Only the purely held online competitions - usually considered lower tier because of smaller prize pools and less prominent teams participating - were still going on.
During this time, tournament organizers were scrambling to adjust their events to online competitions. In addition, new tournaments and series were created to cover for the canceled events. This resulted in the numbers rebounding in April to nearly 70 fixtures a day, but with a different composition.
While in February 424 fixtures were held in premier tier tournaments, by April there were only 299 fixtures at this level. In the minor tier, however, the number of fixtures rose by over 50% from 684 in February to 1038 in April.
Even though the monthly number of fixtures for the big three titles dropped slightly by about 10% from February to April , there is a clear rebound effect visible, led by the change in composition.
Tournament organizers are clearly making good use of that unique characteristic of esports - being able to hold fully fledged competitions without athletes and audience sharing the same space - to the best of their advantage.
Stay safe and game on!