Due to fears over the ongoing global spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Psyonix announced today that it will cancel the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) Season 9 World Championship in Dallas. It was planned to take place at the Curtis Culwell Center outside Dallas, Texas.
“We understand that this is frustrating, but health and safety will always be our top priority,” reads a post on the Rocket League website. “The remainder of Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) Season 9 League Play will be played as scheduled to the Regional Championships and Promotion Tournament. We’re evaluating all options to replace World Championship play. Once we have more information to share, we’ll update everyone.”
Psyonix will also make significant changes to the rest of the season’s broadcasts, handling everything remotely online rather than bringing in talent to a centralized studio. RLCS and Rival Series matches will continue on as planned with this approach, and Psyonix writes that it is “actively working with our partners in Oceania and South America in order to ensure the health and safety of players and personnel there as well and we’ll share updates accordingly.”
An Important Update Regarding Rocket League Esports
— Rocket League Esports (@RLEsports) March 5, 2020
Today’s announcement is one that was feared by the competitive community, but hardly seems shocking in the wake of COVID-19 developments and the impact on other events of late. Last weekend’s massive IEM Katowice Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament was played in an empty arena after the Polish government closed it off to the public.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg: League of Legends has moved its Chinese league play online and suspended Korean league play, PUBG and League events have been postponed, and Overwatch League matches in China and Korea have been canceled. Additionally, major gaming and tech events such as GDC 2020, Facebook’s F8 conference, and Google I/O have been canceled, with many companies also recently pulling out of this month’s SXSW in Austin, Texas.
“As mentioned before, the safety and health of our professional players, personnel, and fans will continue to be our first consideration as we navigate our future plans,” reads Psyonix’s post. “Thank you for your patience and understanding as we explore the best options moving forward. We are still looking forward to producing the highest level of competitive Rocket League for fans around the world, and hope you join us as we move Season 9 online.”
Rocketeers has reached out to Psyonix for additional information about today’s announcements and the logistical challenges ahead for the RLCS, but was told that no further details are available as of now. Stay tuned.