Australia’s premier esports event, IEM Melbourne, is going forward in 2021 — but not in the format many were hoping for. ESL has pulled the plug on a LAN environment for the CS:GO event, moving everything online due to COVID-19.
After being canned in 2020 entirely due to COVID-19, ESL are taking extra precautions for IEM Melbourne 2021.
While there was hope for the return of LAN play, that possibility is being pushed back to 2022. Instead, IEM Melbourne and the CS:GO tournament will be held entirely online.
“Due to the continued impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, [IEM] is shifting to an online only format and will no longer be played live at the Melbourne Esports Open 2021,” ESL said in a January 22 statement.
IEM Melbourne 2020 was set to include international squads as a Masters-tier event on the ESL Pro Tour. 16 teams were going to descend on Rod Laver Arena in August for a chance to compete for $300,000 USD and the Intel Grand Slam.
It’s unclear if the revised 2021 event will be on the same scale.
The Melbourne Esports Open, where IEM Melbourne was going to be hosted, is still locked in for August 21-22. Typically, games like League of Legends and Overwatch have featured center-stage on Rod Laver Arena.
“While we are not able to host the tournament in-person this year, we are looking forward to the chance to showcase the same memorable CS:GO in an online setting, and can’t wait to see the Aussie crowd again in the future,” ESL added.
“Melbourne Esports Open  at Melbourne & Olympic Parks is still set to go ahead with its program of activities.”
Anyone who has a ticket to IEM Melbourne will receive a full refund in the coming days.