Organizers announced changes to two of the biggest esports events on the 2020 calendar this week, as Valve postponed The International and Epic Games canceled the 2020 Fortnite World Cup.
Both events take place in live settings with large crowds, and would be difficult – if not impossible – to hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Valve Pushes The International to 2021
The International is the largest tournament on the Dota 2 scene. It offers the largest prize pool of any event in esports, with crowdfunding efforts in the game helping to boost the purse for the top professional teams from around the world. Last year, teams competed for $34 million in prize money.
The 2020 event would have been the 10th anniversary for The International. While the event hasn’t been canceled, Valve anticipates that it will move to next year.
“We have been exploring various date possibilities, but it is likely that the event will need to happen in 2021,” Valve and the Defense of the Ancients (Dota) team wrote in a blog post announcing the postponement. “Given the highly volatile landscape for local gathering restrictions, virus trajectory, and global travel policies, we don’t expect to have enough confidence to communicate firm dates in the near future.
The Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden planned to host the event from Aug. 18-23 – the first time The International would have taken place in Europe since 2011.
Fortnite Cancels All Live Events for 2020
Meanwhile, Epic Games announced on Thursday that the Fortnite World Cup will not happen in 2020. The inaugural 2019 Fortnite World Cup offered up $30 million in prize money for both individuals and duos.
The announcement came as part of a decree that there would be no more in-person events for Fortnite this year.
Physical Events – For the rest of 2020, all Fortnite competitions will be held online. Due to the limitations of cross region online competition, there will not be a Fortnite World Cup in 2020.
— Fortnite Competitive (@FNCompetitive) April 30, 2020
“For the rest of 2020, all Fortnite competitions will be held online,” Epic Games announced on Twitter. “Due to the limitations of cross-region online competition, there will not be a Fortnite World Cup in 2020.”
While Fortnite, Dota 2, and many other esports competitions can hold events online – something that has provided sportsbooks with some much-needed markets – there are limitations to the level of play that can be supported in the virtual world.
The biggest issue is latency, or “lag.” Even in 2020, it is difficult for players in different parts of the world to all connect to a single server without anyone experiencing at least some connection issues. That means major online games utilize regional servers, with players typically connecting to a local option to get the best connection possible.
For regional and lower-level competitions, the possibility of lag or connection issues is simply an unfortunate part of the game that players and teams deal with. For world championship events, however, competitions take place in arenas on local area networks (LAN), providing equal conditions for all competitors and eliminating as many latency and connectivity issues as possible.