Despite an extended period of entirely online-based competitions, many major esports titles are beginning to bring their tournaments to LAN and in-person events. In addition, many major titles are still following official COVID-19 guidelines as they transition back to in-person arenas.
After nearly a year and a half of quarantining and competing exclusively online, official LAN events are beginning to be announced for the near future. Despite any difficulties that may arise from being entirely online, a majority of top esports titles like DOTA 2, Valorant, Call of Duty, and CS:GO were able to see a lot of competitive action this year. Over the last year, major online events like the record-breaking Valorant Champions Tour online tournament circuit broke records for concurrent viewers and allowed for professional-level esports, despite the lack of consistent LAN space for teams to meet. Other titles like CS:GO also saw a majority of online action, including the $1,000,000 grand prize Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice Online major event that featured 24 different teams.
DOTA: The International
While the esports community was able to adjust to an entirely online-environment, one that many gamer’s were most likely already accustomed to, there has already been a number of LAN tournaments announced for the upcoming future. In accordance with new WHO COVID-19 regulations, many esports titles have begun to announce LAN events for the upcoming future, including the rescheduled global DOTA: The International annual tournament taking place in Stockholm, Sweden later this year. There have been no announcements yet about in-person attendees or viewer ticket purchases, but Valve has confirmed that the tournament will still be held in August of this year. DOTA 2: The International battle passes are also currently being sold for the game as a contribution for the tournament’s prize pool, with the pool’s total already reaching above $40,000,000. Valve has also announced a DOTA 2 short film contest for up to $40,000 in prizes to promote the event giving the short film winner’s film a live showcase at the upcoming DOTA International competition.
The Call of Duty competitive esports scene is also beginning to see a LAN revival, with a number of in-person tournaments and circuits already being completed and set to begin for the upcoming weeks. Along with a number of online tournaments and the continuation of the online College CoD league series over the past year, The official Call of Duty League (CDL) confirmed earlier in May that the league would make a return to LAN-based competition. An official and fully comprehensive list of upcoming Call of Duty LAN events and competitions can be found on the CDL’s official website.
Upcoming Call of Duty LAN events include the League’s first LAN event since COVID at the Arlington Esports arena, home of the Dallas Empire. The event will be the first Call of Duty in-person major tournament since quarantine regulations, and will be taking place on the weekend of June 17th.
CS:GO Esports League
The CS:GO ESL announced earlier in the pandemic that they would be returning to COVID-safe LAN events by 2021, saying that they’ve made the decision to “host the majority of ESL and Dreamhack tournaments as in-person competitions from within a controlled studio environment.” The league also announced a set of guidelines that can be found on the official website, giving insight into the precautions being taken for international competitors arriving for events. ESL CS:GO events scheduled for later in the year have the most potential for in-person competition, with upcoming Dreamhack and ESL tournaments scheduled.
Despite many ESL tournaments still operating in controlled environments or entirely online, the esports world is on track to a full return to in-person events for major competitions and tournaments in the near future.