The Counter-Strike Professional Players’ Association (CSPPA) is in talks with esports tournament organizers over a safe return to in-person events amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Live tournaments have been stalled since March, when global quarantine measures went into effect. The CSPPA says it is working with tournament organizers to “establish clear and safe protocols” for an eventual return to LAN.
Esports was not spared by the coronavirus pandemic, with countless tournaments being postponed, cancelled, or moved online throughout the year. CS:GO has not seen a top-tier tournament go live on LAN since IEM Katowice and Flashpoint season 1, which took place in February and March, respectively. IEM Katowice’s play-off stage went on without a live crowd due to large gathering restrictions, and Flashpoint was moved online partway through the season.
Returns to LAN play have been attempted, with ESL reportedly aiming for its premier Cologne tournament to take place in-person after being postponed to August. Despite the organizer’s efforts, ESL One Cologne 2020 took place online. ESL is now trying to bring CS:GO back to Cologne once more, this time with a LAN event scheduled to go on in December. IEM Global Challenge is set to begin on December 15th.
The Players’ Association announced it was discussing potential returns to LAN with event organizers earlier today. “As in any other professional sport, returning to physical events during the COVID-19 pandemic exposes players to considerable health risks,” the organization writes.
“CSPPA is at the forefront of protecting the health and safety of its members,” the post states. “To ensure a return to LAN which is as safe for players as possible, CSPPA is negotiating with tournament organizers to establish clear and safe protocols.” The statement lists regulations for travel, testing, as well as staff, media, and fan interactions as being part of the safety protocols, along with “other general safety measures.”
Outside of ESL’s December event, it is unclear when a return to LAN is planned. Online events have split CS:GO competition by region, which has caused some North American teams to reportedly consider moving to Europe to participate in 2020’s remaining tournaments.
Some esports have seen safe returns to live competition, such as the League of Legends World Championship, which is taking place in Shanghai, China, without a live crowd.
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