MEXICO CITY – Holding electronic sports events without a live audience is possible but far from ideal, a content specialist with American video game developer and leading eSports tournament organizer Riot Games told EFE on Wednesday.
“eSports can (be played without people in attendance), but it’s not ideal. At the end of the day, sharing with the fans on a weekly basis, feeling their passion and affection, is part of our sport, just like any other. Our hope is to get back to normal,” said Javier España, the eSports content manager for Riot Games Latin America.
Riot Games announced on Tuesday the continuation of matches in the Latin America League (LLA) of the League of Legends, a wildly successful, multi-player online battle arena video game which that Los Angeles-based developer created for the Microsoft Windows and macOS platforms.
Week 5 contests in LLA’s Apertura 2020 tournament will resume starting Saturday, although there will be no live audience or staff due to the COVID-19 respiratory disease affecting Mexico City, where the league headquarters and all teams are located.
The LLA kicked off that tournament on Feb. 15 at Mexico City’s Arena eSports Stadium, the first venue in the region exclusively dedicated to electronic sports and a facility where for the first time all phases were to have been contested before a live audience.
“Issues had to be reviewed such as the Internet connection of each team’s gaming house, production members and casters, connections to our servers and hundreds of other details,” España added.
The eSports specialist said Week 5 will feature a few changes such as players not using webcams during the matches. But interviews will still be conducted after the contests and casters will continue to provide in-depth analysis.
“It was hard work that we carried out in collaboration with the other 11 (League of Legends) leagues globally. We all shared experiences and tests to come up with the best possible results,” España said.
Asked about the share of viewers it hopes to garner in the coming weeks, when some Latin American countries are under strict confinement orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, he said no targets have been set.
“If at some time the COVID-19 situation changes and we have to make a decision to cancel the LLA to safeguard the health of all participants, we’ll do so. That will always be Riot Games’ focus,” the eSports content manager said.
The spokesman for the eSports giant said the company is aware it will suffer economic losses but is not dwelling on those numbers at this time and will evaluate its situation on a weekly basis.
“We’ll be a new entertainment option for a lot of people, and our job is to be prepared for (that challenge) and welcome them to this sport,” España said.
Latin American teams are competing to book a spot in the 2020 League of Legends World Championship, the world’s most watched eSport event.
That tournament is scheduled to take place in Shanghai starting in October, although much uncertainty surrounds the event due to the global spread of the novel coronavirus.