IEM Katowice is to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive what Worlds is to League of Legends or what Evo is to fighting games. It’s easily one of the most, if not the most, exciting and large scale gatherings for CSGO esports. It’s the event every fan has to see. Unfortunately, we’ll all be watching the show from home this year. Due to a decision from the local government, IEM Katowice will no allow on-site audience attendance, citing health concerns stemming from the coronavirus.
Intel and the ESL, organizers of IEM Katowice, announced the unfortunate news via the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) website on February 27, 2020. According to the announcement, the decision was a last-minute decision via Governor of Silesian (the province of Poland in which Katowice is the capital), Jarosław Wieczorek.
“The Governor of Silesian, Jarosław Wieczorek issued a decision to remove their approval regarding ESL hosting a mass event in Katowice, Poland,” IEM staff wrote. “Due to this development, Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2020 will not have any audience on-site. This means both Spodek-Arena audience as well as IEM Expo.”
It is truly an unfortunate decision to take place so late as IEM Katowice is quite literally slated to take place a day later from February 28 to March 1, 2020. There is little to no chance that fans that made plans to attend will be able to re-organize around this decision. For the uninitiated, IEM Katowice is one of the most attended events of the year. IEM Katowice 2019 saw 174,000 in attendance as Astralis took the grand finals and held the trophy high at the end. Even in IEM Katowice 2018, 169,000 fans made their way to the event. It is unfortunate to say the least for such a decision to occur this close to showtime.
That said, the coronavirus has caused more than its fair share of disappointment as company after company have pulled out of events like PAX East and GDC 2020 over the coronavirus epidemic. It’s understandable why the government of Katowice would be concerned, but the timing is terrible.