Sorry Melbourne: there won’t be any esports shoeys this year. ESL and Dreamhack have announced that while IEM Melbourne will go ahead, it won’t be with crowds.
ESL and Dreamhack have announced that the majority of their esports events will be run online or in a studio for 2021, with only four tournaments — ESL One Cologne, Dreamhack Atlanta, Dreamhack Winter and IEM China — to take place with a live audience. That includes IEM Melbourne, which has since been renamed to IEM Summer.
It’s a bit unfortunate given Australia’s success handling the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly compared to the United States. New Zealand wasn’t originally scheduled to have an event, which explains their exclusion for anyone wondering. (ESL also isn’t Valve, so the cost of holding a major a long way away from the majority of the teams is a significant, if not crippling, cost.)
Here’s ESL’s list of events this year, with four Dreamhack events undated for now.
“The 2021 calendar will be dependent on the latest health guidance in light of the ongoing global pandemic, with ESL Gaming’s top priority being the safety and well-being of all personnel, players and attendees involved,” ESL said in a release.
In a separate post on the IEM website, ESl announced that Ticketek will provide full refunds for anyone who had already purchased a ticket.
“Since the first IEM down under in 2017, the entire team at ESL Australia, and the ESL Crew around the world have looked forward to putting on IEM as one of the highlights of the year, like every CS:GO fan in the country,” ESL Australia said.
All events will follow a “Return to LAN” series of steps, whereby organisers will create a controlled bubble for players, staff and the crew. Those protocols include “ongoing” coronavirus tests throughout a tournament and “prepared measures in order to ensure that players can return home safely”.
CSPPA and ESL Gaming agree on “Return to LAN” protocol. Players are eager to play LAN events again. Needs to be done in a safe and responsible manner considering the COVID-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/9ZJkDkeQkW
— Counter-Strike Professional Players' Association (@CSPPAgg) January 21, 2021