In a statement from Wednesday, the Shanghai government vowed to “do its best” to support the holding of important esports tournaments amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in mainland China. This includes the 2020 League of Legends World Championship, which will be held in China with its grand finals taking place at Shanghai Stadium this fall.
The Shanghai government’s post has three major talking points. First, it advises that all offline tournaments affected by the epidemic to switch to an online format. Esports companies most heavily affected by the epidemic will also be given priority cultural and creative funding.
Second, the government will take steps to speed up the publishing process for esports and gaming products and simplify the offline application procedure, including paperwork filing and other bureaucratic processes that publishers have to go through in person to get their game approved.
Third is Shanghai’s commitment to hosting the Worlds 2020 finals to the best of their abilities. The World Championship is still far away, likely to happen in October-November later this year, but the coronavirus situation has already caused numerous problems and forced reschedulings. On Wednesday, Riot Games’ head of esports John Needham said that announcement of the timing and location of MSI 2020 will be delayed due to the outbreak. If the virus is not contained by fall time — especially in China where the outbreak is most serious — this could raise serious problems for Worlds 2020.
Even though the coronavirus outbreak is extremely serious in China with more than 77,000 confirmed cases, the spread of the virus in Shanghai has not been as serious. Despite having a population of over 34M in its metropolitan area, there have only been 335 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The leader in the dark statistic is the Hubei province, from where the virus originally spread, where the confirmed cases are approaching 65,000 and the death cases have surpassed 2500 as of Feb. 25.
League of Legends is not the only esport affected by the coronavirus. Earlier this year, the Overwatch League cancelled all its homestand games in mainland China and moved them to South Korea. Recent developments forced further cancellations, however, and now the South Korean events have been indefinitely postponed as well.