MEO and IEM Melbourne postponed until 2021

Nicholas Taifalos

The 2020 Australian esport calendar has been thrown into turmoil following ESL’s announcement today that the Melbourne Esports Open & Intel Extreme Masters in Melbourne have been postponed to 2021.

Set for August 22-23, question marks about the event’s status were raised earlier this year following the progressive nature of the novel coronavirus outbreak that has swept the globe over the past four months. While COVID-19 cases in Australia have slowed this past month, the outbreak continues to affect major regions and with local borders remaining closed for the foreseeable future, as well as a nationwide ban on large gatherings & crowds, it seemed only a matter of time before the event was canned.

Overwatch Contenders @ MEO 2019

In ESL’s official update today, the organiser highlighted the importance of following local regulations in place in both Australia and Germany, whilst outlining details about ticket status for next year’s events and refunds. ESL’s Senior Vice President for the Asia-Pacific Region & Japan, Nick Vanzetti stated: “The decision was made based upon the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, including the protective measures implemented in respect of mass gatherings, which meant it was not possible to proceed with the event as scheduled in 2020.”

This sentiment was echoed by TEG’s Live Managing Director Tim McGregor: “TEG Live would like to extend our gratitude to the Victorian Government via its tourism and major events agency Visit Victoria, ESL both in Australia and Globally, plus presenting partner JB Hi-Fi for their ongoing support of the Melbourne Esports Open, which in just two editions has become Australasia’s biggest esports festival. Planning has already commenced for an even bigger Melbourne Esports Open in 2021 which will be headlined by Intel® Extreme Masters.”

The new dates for the 2021 MEO and IEM events have been set for August 21-22, with Rod Laver Arena and the surrounding Melbourne Park still the proposed venues for the premier Australian event. ESL One Cologne has also been pushed back a year, planned for July 16-18 at LANXESS Arena.

ESL One Cologne has been a highlight in the CS:GO calendar for over 6 years. Source: ESL

For the Melbourne events, Ticketek will handle refunds of live tickets for the following month, with all current tickets made valid for next year’s event should fans want to plan their trip next year. ESL One Cologne will go ahead this year without a live audience - details for the process regarding team, talent and staff travel to Germany remain unknown at this time. Ticket holders for both events will receive emails this week outlining the refund process if required, with fans instructed to cancel travel and accommodation for this year while possible.

It’s a hell of a blow for the Oceanic esports scene, which saw thousands pass through Qudos Bank Arena and Melbourne Park for 2019’s iteration of IEM and MEO. This was to be the first year that the events would be held jointly in the Victorian capital. Many other proposed offline events for 2020 have already been moved online, and with the remainder of the esports calendar this year likely to mirror that of it’s opening months, most are already looking to mid-2021 before live events may resume.