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Coronavirus-quarantined CS:GO final sets a viewership record

More than a million peak viewers see Natus Vincere’s 3-0 sweep

Intel Extreme Masters 2020
Empty seats during Friday’s quarterfinal between Astralis and ENCE eSports at the IEM Katowice 2020 championship for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Photo: Norbert Barczyk/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The final of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2020 tournament set a viewership record for a non-major Counter-Strike event, possibly owing to a last-minute quarantine in light of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

The analysts at Esports Charts pegged the final’s peak viewership at 1,002,132, which it says is a new record for the ESL’s Intel Extreme Masters series. It’s also more peak viewers than last year’s Berlin Major and 2017’s Krakow Major.

Katowice 2020 was won by Natus Vincere in a 3-0 sweep against G2 Esports. This weekend’s three-day finale was played at Katowice’s 11,500-seat Spodek Arena without any fans, after Polish health authorities pulled the tournament’s mass event license. Organizers said it was a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus.

The ESL’s IEM Katowice 2020 championship for StarCraft 2 was also held at the arena this weekend, with Rogue from Jin Air Green Wings prevailing over Zest 4-1 in a best-of-seven final. Organizers, however, had to cancel the accompanying IEM Expo event. They said they would begin offering refunds to ticket buyers in the coming week, and would even ship premium pass holders the goodie bags they were promised.

The coronavirus outbreak, which the World Health Organization has declared an emergency of international concern, has caused a wave of travel restrictions, quarantines, and other measures all over the world. This week, Blizzard Entertainment canceled three weeks’ worth of Overwatch League matches between now and March 22. Earlier, these matches had been moved from China to South Korea, but that country has since been hit hard by the virus’ spread.

The spread of coronavirus has also been responsible for voluntary travel cancellations that affected major companies’ attendance at PAX East 2020 in Boston this weekend, and then, on Friday, the postponing of GDC 2020 in San Francisco until sometime this summer. Coronavirus is also being blamed for an indefinite delay of the Nintendo Switch port of The Outer Worlds. That port is being developed by Shanghai-based Virtous Games, which has been closed due to quarantines and other restrictions in China.

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