Coronavirus Shuts Down eSports Events as NBA Suspends Season and NCAA Questions March Madness

William D'Urso
William D'Urso worked at newspapers in Arizona, Milwaukee, and Las Vegas. His career then brought him to the Southland where he worked for the Orange County Register. He has covered everything from breaking news to aerospace to sports. He has written about raids on illegal marijuana grows, the ballooning F-35 budget, and boxers who have taken their final punch.
Coronavirus Shuts Down eSports Events as NBA Suspends Season and NCAA Questions March Madness

Plans for the Overwatch League to grow attendance in 2020 have stalled as organizers have shut it down amid growing coronavirus fears. The blockbuster title had big plans this year for its dedicated eSports league, rolling out a home game schedule aimed to foment regional enthusiasm.

Parent Activision Blizzard announced the cancellation for all March and April events, squelching plans for two teams in one of its largest markets. But the company says the matches will still happen, just not with live audiences.


The Los Angeles Valiant and the Los Angeles Gladiators — ranked 8th and 19th — had played just three matches between them.

The announcement comes after the league already cancelled events in China and South Korea.

"We are working hand-in-hand with our teams to see that all matches are played when it's safe and logistically feasible, staying as close to our originally planned schedule as possible," the league said in a statement posted to Twitter. "We are considering the various options available to esports in this effort, so that all teams — including those previously impacted by scheduling changes in China — can get back to doing what they do best."

The Valiant, who play all home games at the Novo located at 800 West Olympic Blvd in Los Angeles, announced refunds for all cancelled events.

Coronavirus threats have stalled or stopped events and gatherings nationwide. NCAA organizers have announced that March Madness games will be played without fans, and the NBA suspended its season "until further notice."

Attendance at eSports events has been steadily growing, with Riot Games packing 45,000 paid attendees into the Beijing National Stadium. The Overwatch League, in its third year, is still building its brand in an increasingly competitive environment.

According to numbers from ticket sales company StubHub, the number of eSports events increased 180% from 2015 to 2019. Average ticket prices, over the same time period, shot up 36%.

"Demand for eSports and the number of events have steadily risen over the last five years, with a huge spike in ticket sales," said Akshay Khanna, general manager of sports for StubHub. "If this trend continues, and with technology constantly evolving, it's likely that we'll continue to see growth in this space."

Event cancellations come at a particularly difficult time for the Call of Duty League, also run by Activision Blizzard. The league, like Overwatch, features a first person shooter and is in its inaugural season. And, with two teams based in Los Angeles, the league is still deciding how it will handle the threat.

Activision Blizzard said it is scrolling through options but insists that the games will go on.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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