ESL Gaming in-person competition planned in hopes of a “normal” 2021

If you’re going to dream in 2021, you might as well dream big, including a return for something resembling normalcy. On that front a major esports organization is wagering that the world this summer will look a lot different than it does this January. Get ready for a return to ESL Gaming in-person competition for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Evidently banking on the COVID-19 pandemic being in the rearview mirror, ESL has announced that its marquee ESL One Cologne event will have live spectators in July. The showcase, put on in collaboration with Swedish production company DreamHack, is one of the biggest on the CS:GO calender.

Cologne an ESL highlight

The showcase was one of the highlights from ESL’s release of its 2021 esports calendar. For all events and dates, go here.

Lest one suggest that ESL is being reckless with plans for the Cologne showcase, it should be noted that the event won’t get the final greenlight until all local regulations and guidelines have been met. In a news release DreamHack stated: “The decision whether ESL One Cologne will remain an in-person tournament will be reevaluated closer to the competition start date.”

And the dream of a return to ESL Gaming in-person competition doesn’t stop in Germany. ESL and DreamHack have also announced plans for a DreamHack Atlanta festival in November. Perhaps they figure that with Joe Biden in the White House, America might be on top of the pandemic by that point.

Still, most ESL and DreamHack events will be organized to ensure maximum safety for all involved. That means that the majority of esports competitions under their umbrellas will be played in a studio where there is no live audience.

And DreamHack and ESL stressed that the entire 2021 calender of events isn’t set in stone.

ESL will follow health guidelines

The ESL release includes the following:

“The 2021 calendar will be dependent on the latest health guidance in light of the ongoing global pandemic, with ESL Gaming’s top priority being the safety and well-being of all personnel, players and attendees involved. When in-person competitions return, ESL Gaming will follow a “Return to LAN” protocol developed in close collaboration with teams and players to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 related risks as much as possible. ESL Gaming will share additional updates and plans following the first quarter of 2021.”

In the release, ESL Gaming spokesman Ulrich Schulze noted that the pandemic has meant figuring out way to pivot to keep audiences and esports teams and athletes engaged.

“We have had to react and change our plans so that we can ensure the safety of our community while still delivering the same world-class action,” Schulze said. “2021 will look different as we continue to follow the latest health guidance relating to the pandemic, but we are also excited at what prospects are on offer with this calendar. We are committed to returning players to a LAN environment and are currently aiming to have fans back in their seats.”

Mike Usinger once took the better part of two years to finish Grand Theft Auto. Over the course of his career he has written about everything from eSports to music to movies to travel.

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