So many problems…where do we even start? Fans must be sick of seeing the stream of issues plaguing the One Esports Dota 2 Singapore Major, which kicks off this Saturday until April 4, over the last few days.

Most of these, of course, revolve around COVID-19. Holding a physical event was always going to be tough, and the virus has already damaged the chances of those looking to snag the bulk of the $500,000 prize pool. 

Here are the COVID-19 casualties so far: Quincy Crew’s top offlaner Arif “MSS” Anwar; Team Nigma offlaner Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov. Natus Vincere and beastcoast have officially withdrawn due to the coronavirus as well.

Meanwhile, Neon Esports’ John “Natsumi-” Vargas “is unfit to travel”, according to a statement published by chief executive Robert Campbell on Twitter. T1’s Carlo “Kuku” Palad has also been ruled out due to a “recent health problem”.

Even commentators have not been spared, with Ioannis “Fogged” Loucas announcing his no-show due to illness.

While Filipino organisation Neon named Rafael “Rappy” Palo as a substitute, North Americans Quincy Crew’s stand-in, Milan “MiLAN” Kozomara, had his flight cancelled for technical reasons. The replacements for wild carders Nigma and T1 are Roman “rmN-” Paley and Lee “Forev” Sang-don respectively.

Update: Wilson “Poloson” Koh Chin Wei will stand-in for Quincy Crew.

Credit: Neon Esports Facebook

Natsumi-’s dropout was not the only problem faced by Neon. The Philippine government had initially suspended non-Overseas Filipino Workers and foreigners from entering the country from 20 March to 19 April to curb the spread of COVID-19. It would have left Neon in limbo once the tournament was over. Fortunately, borders have been reopened to returning Filipinos.

The biggest gripe about the Major, though, has to be the COVID-19 protocols. ONE Esports announced that the esports teams will only need to be isolated “until they receive a negative test result, which can take up to 48 hours”, which came as a surprise. In January, players competing in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang M2 World Championship in Singapore had to serve a 14-day quarantine.

Eliminated teams will also have to return home immediately to minimise interactions, the organisers added. Popular caster SUNSfan revealed on his podcast that many teams were allegedly hoping that the Major would be cancelled due to safety concerns. However, in a joint statement on Dota 2 community portal joinDOTA, 10 participating teams quashed the rumours and voiced their support for the competition. 

With such a rocky buildup, let’s hope the tournament holds it together without any further hiccups – even with two teams already dropping out. Fingers crossed!

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