E-Sports at Home? It’s a new, unproven frontier.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the entire sports world into a combined state of paralysis and flux. With a few obscure exceptions (soccer leagues in Belarus and Tajikistan, horse racing in various locales), sporting events have completely stopped. However, there is one sport that might continue operations, though in a much different and less secure way: E-sports.

E-sports, or competitive video gaming, have long been contested in a single location. Especially with the advent of the internet and online gaming, this may seem unnecessary to those who don’t actively follow the sport, but it’s essential to have as little delay as possible. That’s why e-sports tournaments are held on local servers with direct connections to ensure things like lag and dropped connections never happen. There is also the security aspect, as we’ve seen over the past decade that hackers can bring down internet connections or hack in and wreak havoc, which doesn’t mesh well with an official tournament.

Given the nature of this pandemic, however, everyone has to stay home. Additionally, crowds are completely out of the question right now, so the atmosphere of e-sports would be gone. However, companies like ESL, who hold e-sports tournaments, have floated a risky idea. Considering that every single e-sports tournament for the remainder of 2020 has been cancelled, organizers are taking the risky idea of holding tournaments online into serious consideration.

Is this a good idea? It’s definitely not the best idea, but there’s no alternative, so in lieu of other, more secure options, this might be the one the e-sports world has to take. E-sports wouldn’t die without events, but seeing as everyone’s sitting at home, utilizing the internet and services like Twitch and Mixer, holding these events as streams might actually be a way to help grow the sport, which seemed inconceivable given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis.

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