Could we see a repeat of Stockholm?
One of the major stories that emerged from the Apex Legends Global Series Stockholm LAN earlier this year was the COVID-19 protocol put into place for players. At that event, no one who tested positive for COVID was allowed to play and several teams had to field substitutes, while at least one team was forced to play the entire tournament as a duo.
With the ALGS Championship in Raleigh weeks away, details are emerging about that events COVID policy. And it doesnt seem promising for teams that have to travel long distances.
While ticket information for attendees requires a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination, it appears that only a negative test will allow players to access the playing areas of the event venue. Unless there are isolated playing areas where players who test positive may play from that players havent been informed about as of yet, it seems likely that any players who test positive for COVID will be excluded from the Championship.
This is the scenario that played out in Stockholm, where several high-profile players were forced to sit on the sidelines. Most notably, champions Reignite won the Stockholm LAN despite missing star Noyan “Genburten” Ozkose. Cloud9 and SCARZ were among the other teams that needed to find emergency subs in and around Sweden, while Team Singularity could not find a substitute at all. The South Americans were forced to play a man down throughout the event, and despite that, somehow managed to not finish in last place.
Now, teams have already begun the process of looking for substitutes they can possibly use while in the U.S. for the tournament.
While the experience of Stockholm has allowed teams to build their own contingency plans, the revelation that Raleigh might not have any difference in COVID policy from Stockholm is a major disappointment. Teams from all over the world will be forced to fly on long plane rides to compete in the event before milling around in crowded airports and then finding hotels, practice centers, and eventually playing in front of a live audience. Even if players are incredibly responsible in how they choose to protect themselves and do not seek out unnecessary contact with others, contracting COVID is almost an inevitability for some of these players.
Other esports have successfully returned to LAN with contingency plans in place that allow players who test positive for COVID to still compete in LAN events from isolated areas. Even after the terrible optics of players being forced to sit out in Stockholm, it seems the situation could repeat itself in Raleigh.
Alongside other criticisms the ALGS Championship is already facing, the biggest Apex event of the year will have plenty of questions it needs to answer before it kicks off on July 7.