Overwatch Contenders Korea will launch without live audience

North America and Europe Contenders already resumed.

Photo via Blizzard Entertainment
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The first Overwatch Contenders Korea season of 2020 will kick off on March 17 as scheduled, participating team RunAway announced earlier today. Matches will be played offline but without a live audience to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus.

This will offer fans some more matches to watch since the Overwatch League, which adopted a homestand format this year, has been heavily disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Dozens of homestands have been canceled or postponed. Six events that were set to take place in China and South Korea were canceled earlier this year, but even more were recently postponed across Europe and North America. More information has yet to be revealed about the postponed events, though.

Related: Every Overwatch League homestand affected by coronavirus cancellation

Meanwhile, after one year of online matches, the top regional league of Overwatch will resume with offline matches, which was highly demanded by the community. But due to the coronavirus outbreak, it will take form in an unexpected way. Launching offline matches without a live audience is a choice that many esports leagues have made recently, including the LEC and LCS.

South Korea has declared almost 8,000 cases as the virus continues to spread outside of China. This led to the postponement of the LCK, while the LPL resumed several weeks after being suspended.

Overwatch fans will be able to enjoy some high-level matches with the launch of Contenders Korea. It’s unclear, however, whether an English broadcast is scheduled for the launch. Some matches will be live on YouTube in Korean, but it’s unknown if this will be the case for all of them, according to RunAway.

The first season of 2020 will kick off with WGS Phoenix facing off against BATTLICA. While WGS Phoenix competed in the 2019 Korea Contenders season two, BATTLICA is a mix without sponsors formed by several players with years of experience in the competitive scene.

The format of the regional leagues changed for 2020. Here’s the new format:

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Meanwhile, the first 2020 season of Europe and North America Contenders already launched on March 10. Matches are available on YouTube.