ESL ONE Cologne goes on without audience, IEM Melbourne rescheduled

Recently, ESL announced that its two biggest upcoming events, ESL One Cologne and IEM Melbourne, won’t be kicking off as live events this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament organiser has decided to postpone both highly anticipated events until 2021, following Germany’s official ruling that no large gatherings can take place until the end of August.

“After careful evaluation, we have come to a decision in line with current regulations on large gatherings in both Germany and Australia. As a result of this, both ESL One Cologne and IEM Melbourne will not occur with audiences this year.”

According to the official statement, ESL One Cologne 2020 will, however, take place as “a transformed broadcasted tournament without a live audience”. The second Masters event of the ESL Pro Tour CS:GO circuit was originally scheduled to start on July 23 at the Lanxess-Arena, Germany’s largest indoor arena. Instead, players will compete behind closed doors on August 21-30, after the player break. 

ESL also revealed the date of next year’s One Cologne:

“We will be back in LANXESS arena on July 16-18 in 2021,” read the announcement.

Unfortunately, IEM Melbourne has been fully rescheduled to 2021 without any replacement tournament. This would have been the first major ESL CS:GO event held in the city. Previously, IEM run in Sydney for three years before changing location. Thus, Melbourne esport fans will have to wait one more year to finally attend one. The tournament is set to kick off at the Rod Laver Arena as a part of the Melbourne Esports Open, on August 21-22, 2021.

This is not the only case of pandemic changing ESL’s plans. In February, organisers of IEM Katowice had to close their door during ongoing championship, leaving thousands of fans in huge disappointment and players without audience for the first time.

In March, ESL had to reschedule the first of ESL Pro Tour Masters events – ESL One Rio 2020 – from May to November 19-22. As a result, ESL Pro League season 11 has been transformed into an online tournament split by regions. Additionally, ESL revamped the qualification system for ESL One Cologne, using its online events to gather points, rather than merely inviting the top CS:GO teams.