The esports world is a big place. Any given weekend, there can be more than a dozen competitions taking place worldwide, from massive events such as Dota 2's The International to League of Legends domestic play and regionals in Smash. Each week, we're going to take a look at the big picture and decide who had the biggest weekend, be it in impact on the esports scene, dominance of their game or making the most of a moment.
Last time out, Team SoloMid's perfect weekend in the League Championship Series got our nod, with the Dallas Empire's victory at the Call of Duty League's Los Angeles homestand a close second. Here's who we think won the weekend this time.
Winner: Athletes turn to Twitch during leagues' downtime
Whether it's Luka Doncic asking for help on how to put together a streaming setup (don't worry, we have a guide to streaming for you) or Meyers Leonard claiming he's the best gamer in the NBA or Dale Earnhardt Jr. competing in an exhibition eNASCAR race alongside other racing pros, athletes have fully embraced gaming and streaming in a way no other celebrities have at this moment. Teams such as the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have gotten in on the act by playing out their originally scheduled NBA matchup in NBA2K on Twitch.
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Many athletes are already regular gamers: Former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson, Minnesota Twins pitcher Trevor May, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Irvin (who is a big NHL 20 player) and NHL player Zach Werenski come to mind. There are plenty others. But in this moment, with sports leagues on hiatus and sports fans craving more content, athletes are coming to the rescue by streaming video games.
I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a lot more of this, including organized tournaments from home, pro-ams and charity streams. The sky is the limit for fun content involving athletes who are at home looking to have fun playing video games. This definitely won the weekend in gaming and esports, and it has the potential to continue winning for the foreseeable future.
-- Arda Ocal
Flashpoint makes debut amid down period for esports
Headed into the weekend, the sports and esports worlds were a whirlwind of cancellations and postponements as a result of the spread of the coronavirus. As the pandemic continued to grow globally, more esports leagues took notice: The League of Legends Championship Series postponed competition and announced that it will move its spring finals scheduled for April in Frisco, Texas, to the Los Angeles-based LCS Arena. The League European Championship canceled its weekend competitions just half an hour before its stream was set to go live, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's ESL Pro League, which kicked off Monday, had three teams withdraw due to travel concerns and moved its games to an online-only format.
In a world in which esports competition was eerily quiet, new team-owned CS:GO league Flashpoint debuted in Los Angeles, with in-person competition and shoulder programming. Sure, Flashpoint had its issues -- notably several problems with its audio in the three days of competition -- and the gameplay received criticism online, as most of the teams competing aren't in the top echelon of Counter-Strike teams. But at the end of the day, Flashpoint was live on Twitch when not many other esports competitions were.
How that will change moving forward is uncertain. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called Sunday for the closure of many public or crowded spaces, including entertainment venues, and though Flashpoint does not have a crowd, it will be interesting to see how the league responds.
-- Jacob Wolf