Overwatch League owner Blizzard Entertainment has canceled league matches in China through March, citing concerns over the novel coronavirus in the region. The announcement comes after multiple other esports events, including the start of two League of Legends leagues, were halted.
Blizzard posted its statement to Twitter on Wednesday night. “We have decided to cancel our February and March matches in China in order to protect the health and safety of our players, fans, and staff,” it said. “We hope fans have a safe and happy Lunar New Year, and we remain incredibly excited to play Overwatch league matches in China later this season.”
On Tuesday, Chinese Overwatch team Guangzhou Charge moved its non-Chinese players to South Korea indefinitely. Team officials are working to expedite visas for its Chinese players and move them to South Korea, as well. On Wednesday, the Shanghai Dragons announced that its players will also temporarily relocate to South Korea “effective immediately.”
“Since the escalation of the outbreak, we and other teams in the Pacific East Division have been discussing solutions together and with the Overwatch League,” a Guangzhou Charge representative wrote on Twitter. “The reality is that the situation is unpredictable, complex and urgent — we hope our fans can understand what the Chinese teams and the league are faced with.”