In a shocking turn of events, the governor of Silesian, Jarosław Wieczorek, revoked ESL’s “Mass-Event” license required to hold the long-planned Intel Extreme Masters event in Katowice, Poland. The cancellation is due to “changes in the global health situation.” The tournament itself will go on, but the mandate disallows those who purchased tickets to attend the event. Due to its last-minute nature, the news resulted in widespread hysteria from the droves of fans who made plans to appear in-person.
ESL has remained professional throughout the ordeal, but a bit of frustration certainly comes through the writing in their somber announcement. “We had a legally binding decision allowing us to organize the event, which was reconfirmed multiple times over the last few days. The last time the decision was confirmed was several hours ago.” The only saving grace is that the tournament will continue as scheduled, still available via online broadcast.
It is one thing for a business to lose out on their investment and projected earnings, but another thing entirely to waste the hard work of the event organizers. The team that worked so hard to make the event possible won’t be able to see it come to life through the passion of the fans.
Successful online turnouts are great, of course, but there isn’t anything quite like an arena full of devoted esports fans. The players who are competing won’t get to see the energy of a crowd. Take, for example, the thoughts of Polish Starcraft 2 professional “Elazer,” who would’ve been competing in front of his home crowd in Katowice. In an esport that is dominated by South Koreans, it isn’t everyday that minority players such as Elazer will get similar opportunities in the future.
Although health concerns are always a priority, it seems a bit odd to withdraw a mass event license for an event that is already happening. Most fans not only purchased their tickets, but had already flown to Poland and paid for their accommodations in full. Needless to say, the would-be-attendees were confused and angry.
Even with the coronavirus spreading, delaying the event’s cancellation until the last-minute is a strangely drastic measure. Still, each day seems to illustrate more reason to fear an outbreak; it will be interesting to see how future events are dealt with in the coming days.
Sources: Twitter, IEM
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