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On Thursday the Apex Legends Global Series announced that the upcoming Pro League Split 1 Playoffs are moving to an online regional competition format, rather than an in-person live event, due to complications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our priority is protecting our competitors, employees, tournament partner staff, and communities,” the ALGS said in its statement. “As we continue to monitor the COVID-19 Omicron variant, review the continuously changing country-by-country travel restrictions, and digest the direction given to us by health officials (including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO)), we’ve concluded a global in-person January event with players traveling from as many as 40 countries is not possible.”

The new event format for the Split 1 Playoffs will consist of five separate online tournaments where the top 20 Split 1 regular season teams from each region will compete in a Match Point series. The $1 million USD prize pool for the Split 1 Playoffs will now be split across the five tournaments. According to the ALGS statement, it has also adjusted the ALGS points system to account for the switch to five regional tournaments.

According to the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, the United States has had 2,412,764 reported cases of COVID-19 and 30,466 COVID-related deaths in the past 28 days. The World Health Organization has also told reporters that at least 23 countries have reported cases of Omicron. Several countries, including the United States, have instituted or updated travel restrictions due to the Omicron variant.

Another huge esports tournament, VCT Champions, has already run into players testing positive for COVID-19 during competition. It seems that with the large number of competitors who would have to travel from around the world, the ALGS was not willing to take a similar risk. That said, the Apex esports organization is still looking to return to live events when conditions are safer.

“We’ll continue to keep our fans as updated as possible and will provide more ALGS competitive event information when appropriate,” the ALGS statement said. “We want to reiterate that should conditions allow, we intend to return to LAN competition this May for the ALGS Split 2 Playoffs.”

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