- ESL has completed a successful IEM Cologne LAN, but the next event on the circuit will have to go online
- ESL Pro League Season 14 is lengthier and therefore carries a greater risk of infection to everyone involved
- While some countries are more willing to host events, ESL is determined to protect its staff, fans, and players
Amid resurging COVID-19 cases in Europe, ESL has decided to move the Pro League Season 14 to an online format.
Online Returns for ESL Pro League 14
ESL Pro League Season 14 will take place, albeit with a small drawback. The competition will have to shift to an online format, only days after IEM Cologne has pronounced a success. However, the increase in new COVID-19 cases across Europe has made hosts wearier of the dangers of having people travel long distances to attend.
While not ideal, ESL has consulted with EPL Player Council and CSPPA, the CS:GO players' trade group, to ensure that the decision was agreed with all parties involved. As a result, ESL Pro League 14 will follow a similar format to the previous season.
Teams will be relieved from traveling to a LAN location in Malta, which, while bad for fans, could prove good for players who will not run the risk of getting infected, pass through rigorous border controls and face unpleasant testing procedures.
IEM Cologne 2021 did give hopes that ESL will start hosting events in person once again, but present developments have dashed these hopes, at least temporarily. ESL is hardly the only organization struggling with hosting events, though PGL and Valve are both facing challenges in Sweden.
Shifts in the Esports Events World Continue
Following negotiations with the Swedish government, Dota 2 The International had to be moved to Bucharest, Romania. Meanwhile, PGL has been faced with a similar dilemma. The upcoming PGL CS:GO Major may have to be relocated, and the company is actually in talks with major European countries to have a backup venue if worse comes to worst
ESL released an official statement apologizing for the abrupt change in the hosting parameters and argued that it has players and attendees' well-being in mind: “Especially with the drastic rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19 across Europe, undergoing similar if not tighter safety restrictions without local governing support is not sustainable for players, teams, talent, and our crew as ESL Pro League is twice as long as IEM Cologne.”
As explained in the statement, the length of Season 14 would have put players in a potentially unsafe environment, and live audiences would not have been possible in light of a resurgent virus. ESL has made no decision about its IEM Fall and IEM Winter, which are still scheduled as LAN events but may have to revert to an online format as well.