For the well-being of our players, the London Spitfire has relocated our team to South Korea. We plan to play our upcoming @OverwatchLeague matches from the Cloud9 facility in Seoul.— London Spitfire (@Spitfire) March 25, 2020
Although still one of the countries with the highest number of Coronavirus cases - 8,961 and 11 deaths as of March 23rd according to the BBC - they seemingly have the outbreak under control due in part to an expansive testing and quarantine program that has seen the daily new confirmed cases come steadily down.
While commendable that the organization is keeping the wellbeing of players as the top priority, this poses a challenge for Blizzard and the OWL, that had a revised the schedule with the understanding that London Spitfire would be based in North American during the crisis.
London was placed on the North America East subdivision alongside Boston Uprising, New York Excelsior, Paris Eternal, Toronto Defiant, Atlanta Reign, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, Philadelphia Fusion, and Washington Justice.
All teams are currently residing in North America, with the only squads outside being the Chinese representatives Hangzhou Spark, Guangzhou Charge, Shanghai Dragons, and the Chengdu Hunters.
The Season 1 champions are set to play Paris Eternal and Toronto Defiant in Week 8 with no announcement regarding the possible cancellation of the matches, especially taking into consideration ping and latency issues connecting to an online lobby from South Korea to North America.
It'll be interesting to see how the matches play out and if either Paris or Toronto protest against taking the virtual stage in such difficult circumstances.
London is not the only team looking into relocating after the release of the schedule, with the Director of Business Operations and General Manager of the Vancouver Titans confirming they're going to follow suit.
Out of an abundance of caution due to the escalating COVID-19 situation, we are currently working to relocate the @VancouverTitans back to South Korea. We will not have further comment at this time but rest assured the team is excited to resume online play and scrimmages soon.— Anthony Muraco (@AnthonyMuraco) March 24, 2020
The Overwatch League will return on Saturday, March 28th with an all-online schedule and 16 spread out across two days.
Check out our guide on everything you need to know about OWL's new format.