Call of Duty tournament organizer to run first LAN event during COVID-19 pandemic

The event is set to take place in Indianapolis.

Image via Activision

American Gaming Network, an esports tournament organizer, will host a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare LAN event in Indianapolis from July 31 to Aug. 2, becoming the first American organizer to do so during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The Indianapolis Open is expected to have about 40 teams of five players each, and the 200 or so players will be required to wear face masks, according to AGN. Hand sanitizer will also be provided. AGN owner Gage Cash said the organizer will conduct temperature checks at the door and plans to limit the number of people in the venue at one time.

Additionally, AGN is requiring competitors to sign a liability waiver, which states the player (and their legal guardian if the player is under the age of 18) is fully responsible for their safety and that the organizer cannot be held liable for any “loss, damage, injury, or death.”

Attorney Roger Quiles told Dot Esports there’s no guarantee that these waivers will help AGN or any organizer escape legal liability if a player or staff contracted COVID-19, although the arguments around whether the waiver would be valid depend on who challenges it.

Quiles said these waivers “are ripe for a challenge” and while it could be argued the players assume some of the risk by attending the event, they would have “viable challenges to the waiver” if they’re forced to compete in the tournament by their organization.

After AGN’s Call of Duty Twitter account tweeted yesterday with information about the Indianapolis Open, several players and community members criticized the decision to host a LAN event during the pandemic. The tweet was deleted within hours of its posting because the bracket wasn’t finalized, Cash told Dot Esports.

AGN was also criticized for not including face masks in a list of items players should bring to the event on its website. The organizer listed equipment needed for competition, as well as deodorant.

Despite the criticism, the event is still scheduled to take place. The tournament will begin on Aug. 1, but teams with VIP team passes will be allowed to enter the venue and practice today. AGN has another scheduled LAN event for Sept. 11 to 13 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Disclaimer: Roger Quiles represents Dot Esports’ parent company, GAMURS Group.

Update Aug. 1 12:21pm CT: AGN announced at 8:30pm CT yesterday the event would be converted to an online tournament after “discussions with representatives from Activision.” In a video posted to social media, however, numerous players were seen playing the online tournament from a local LAN center. AGN said it has nothing to do with these players.