Even though the esports news informed about the development of the industry during the first lockdowns in spring 2020, the sector still had plenty of obstacles to overcome during the pandemic. The Commissioner of popular esports organizer BLAST Premier, Andrew Haworth, agreed to talk with the LoginCasino team about the industry’s problems in 2020, the future of LAN events, and the sector’s perspectives after returning to normal life.
How seriously did COVID-19 influence the BLAST organization’s plans in terms of the number and schedule of the tournaments in 2020? Could there have been any more events if everything hadn’t gone so bad due to pandemics and lockdown?
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 had a huge impact on our output and the landscape of our events calendar for 2020. We went from initially looking to host seven physical events to moving the majority of these online – we were only able to host one LAN event in London at the start of the year. Nothing replicates the feeling of entertaining a live audience, but like the rest of the world, we’ve had to adapt over the last 12 months. We put a huge emphasis on bringing that intimate arena feeling to our broadcasts despite the online-only remote format. We’ve taken the enjoyment out of the challenge faced in pivoting purely online, and strongly believe our future LAN events will only benefit from the flexibility and technological advancements we’ve made during the pandemic.
Being one of the most progressive organizers, one can assume that BLAST spends a lot on bringing teams to the LAN. At the same time, tickets and related promotion campaigns allow earning when fans and teams gather in one place. In this regard, what are the approximate losses for tournament organizers if the event is going online only?
The sport and entertainment industry has taken a huge hit with the loss of live event revenue due to COVID-19 – from merchandise and ticket sales to local sponsorships – these are just a few examples of areas of core esports businesses that have been unable to continue to generate revenue due to the pandemic. Luckily for esports, we’ve enjoyed growth in other areas such as viewership, what is crucial for the industry over the next 24 months, as we look to eventually come out of the pandemic, is to translate this added interest and engagement into tangible revenue and investment. But there is no doubt it is an exciting time to be in the esports industry.
When do you expect the situation with the coronavirus pandemic to allow esports organizers to return to LAN format? Are there any plans to create a bubble (like LoL did in Shanghai) to return equal conditions for participants at least?