The Coronavirus (CoVID-19) outbreak and its continued global spread has meant the cancellation of many global tech events, including the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020, E3 2020, Google’s I/O conference, Facebook’s F8, and Blizzard Overwatch matches. The latest event to be cancelled and replaced by an online-only version is the PUBG Mobile Pro League South Asia, one of the largest mobile gaming tournaments.
“The health and safety of our players and staff are our first priority. Hence, we have decided to convert the PUBG MOBILE Pro League South Asia 2020 to an online event due to unforeseen circumstances related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,” the company said in a statement. The event will start on the same date, which is March 19.
While the companies will bring the players together at a common place to play the game, they will not allow any public spectators to come in and see the matches for themselves like PMCO Fall Split 2019 finals. Fans who were eagerly waiting to watch their favourite PUBG teams in action, will have to rely on a livestream. PUBG Mobile’s official YouTube channel and Facebook page will stream the matches online.
This is the first time that PUBG Mobile is taking the route of an online stream only for its flagship esports competition. But this will serve as a test for whether or not the competition is able to retain its audience. Which it very well might, because the on-ground event only houses a small cap of spectators and most of the fans still tune in to the livestream to have a look at the action as it takes place.
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But the lack of an audience at an esports event will certainly be a new experience for the players. When we were at the PMCO Fall Split 2019 Finals, we had a chance to talk to the players, who were all very clear that the presence of fans drives them towards a good performance. This time though, while the fans might be cheering for their teams via the livestream comments, these will not be displayed to the players.
A few players also told us that the pressure of winning is higher when there are a lot of fans cheering them on. It helps them in propelling themselves to win matches.
For fans too, the online-only event will come as a disappointment. At PMCO 2019 Fall Split finals fans from across the world had flown into Malaysia to watch the matches. When we talked to a few of them, they said they were here to represent the community and support their teams. For the Fall Split finals, most of the spectators had made their bookings way in advance and were waiting for over a month to be a part of the event. The low cost of the spectator tickets also makes it much more accessible. But thanks to the coronavirus outbreak this time, fans will have to settle for livestream, rather than watch the action in person.
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