Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) and Beastcoast announced on Friday (26 March) that they have withdrawn from the ONE Esports Dota 2 Singapore Major after more of their players contracted the coronavirus and risked exposure to the rest of their teammates.
Three Na'Vi players test positive for COVID-19
Na'Vi previously had two of their players, Bogdan "Iceberg" Vasilenko and Andrii "ALWAYSWANNAFLY" Bondarenko, test positive for the coronavirus, which forced them to enlist team coach Andrey "Mag" Chipenko and Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev as substitutes so that they can still attend the Major.
However, Na'Vi said that Mag also tested positive for COVID-19 a few days before the team's flight to Singapore. He had been in contact with the other players on Na'Vi during their boot camp for the Major, except for Iceberg and ALWAYSWANNAFLY who had already been isolated after their own positive cases.
Na'Vi added that Nikola "LeBronDota" Popović was eager to replace Mag as their substitute for the tournament, but his flight to Singapore was unfortunately cancelled because of technical reasons. To further complicate the team's situation, some of its players who were previously in contact with Mag began to have fevers, one of the most common symptoms for COVID-19.
"The very limited remaining time left the tournament operator only with a connecting flight, during which the player's PCR test would expire. This option increases the risk that the player would be stopped on his way to Singapore. In that case, the team will unfortunately not be able to perform at the championship," Na'Vi said in a statement.
The organisation also explained that the Singapore Major's organisers told them that if at least one of their players tested positive for the coronavirus upon their arrival to the Republic, the entire team would have to self-quarantine.
With the Major starting on Saturday (27 March), the requirement for Na'Vi's players to self-quarantine would mean they could no longer participate in the tournament even if their complete roster was in Singapore. Depending on the length of the self-quarantine period, there was also a chance that the team would not be able to return to their home region in time for the start of the next Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season.
With three of their players contracting the coronavirus and the added risk of missing the start of the next DPC season, Na'Vi ultimately decided to withdraw from the Singapore Major.
The team added that Ramzes had already flown to Singapore before they decided to withdraw from the tournament. Upon his arrival to the country, he will be eligible to stand-in for other teams that are missing a player.
"We wish the best of luck to the other CIS players at the Major, and a speedy recovery to Mag, Iceberg and ALWAYSWANNAFLY. We would also like to express our gratitude to [Ramzes]," said Na'Vi.
Beastcoast's Stinger tests positive for COVID-19
Beastcoast announced that they have also withdrawn from the Singapore Major after team captain Steven "StingeR" Vargas tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week. While StingeR has already been isolated, the team said his teammates may have also been exposed to the virus as they were all in contact as they were preparing for the Major.
The rest of Beastcoast's players have tested negative for COVID-19 and are being monitored closely. However, the organisation said that the incubation period for the virus has cast doubts over whether or not the team would still have a negative test result before their flight to Singapore.
"Safety is our highest priority and we feel that traveling at this time and potentially exposing others would be irresponsible. In accordance to [World Health Organization] guidelines, we will be enforcing a quarantine for all players as a precautionary measure," Beastcoast said in a statement.
While the organisation said that they are "very disappointed that our players will not be able to show their capabilities against the best in the world" in the Major, they would be looking forward to the next DPC season instead.
Other players miss Singapore Major due to COVID-19, health problems
Aside from the players on Na'Vi and Beastcoast, four other players from different teams will also be missing out on the Singapore Major due to positive coronavirus cases and other health-related issues.
Quincy Crew's Arif "MSS" Anwar, and Team Nigma's Ivan "MinD_ControL" Ivanov are both out of the tournament after they tested positive for the coronavirus. Neon Esports' John Anthony "Natsumi" Vargas and T1's Carlo "Kuku" Palad will also not make it to Singapore due to undisclosed health problems. Neon Esports and T1 have not confirmed whether the reason behind their players' absences was a positive coronavirus test or not.
Meanwhile, Virtus.pro's Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko also fell ill but did not produce a positive test. His team has called up a substitute as a precaution but still intends to participate in the Major with him in the lineup.
The Singapore Major's rules state that players who have tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the event, even if they were able to recover shortly before the team's departure to Singapore, will be unable to play in order to minimise risk of exposure for other players.
Teams participating in the Major have already begun to arrive in Singapore. Foreign teams coming to the republic will not need to quarantine for 14 days, instead being required to take a COVID-19 test and undergo a 48-hour isolation period upon their arrival to the country, and follow a strictly-controlled itinerary during their stay.
In addition, teams that have been eliminated from the Singapore Major are required to leave immediately in order to minimise the risk of further exposure to them and the remaining teams in the tournament.
Format changes following Na'Vi and Beastcoast's withdrawals
Na'Vi and Beastcoast's withdrawals from the Singapore Major has forced a change in format for the tournament, as they were previously given direct seeds in the Group Stage and Playoffs, respectively.
With Na'Vi vacating one of the Group Stage spots, three teams will now advance from the Wildcard Stage according to a statement from Singapore Major organiser PGL. Only two teams were originally supposed to advance from the Wildcard into the Group Stage.
In addition, seven teams will now advance from the Group Stage into the Playoffs due to Beastcoast's withdrawal. Six teams were originally supposed to advance from the Group Stage, with the top two teams there meeting the directly-seeded Playoff teams in the upper bracket.
Since Beastcoast was one of the teams that were slated to start in the upper bracket, the third-placed team of the Group Stage will take their spot. The number of teams that will advance to lower bracket of the Playoffs remains at four, though they are now the fourth to seventh-placed teams of the Group Stage.
The Singapore Major is scheduled to start on 27 March and will run until 4 April. The event will feature 18 teams from the DPC's six regional leagues competing for the lion's share of a US$500,000 prize pool and 2,700 DPC point pool.
For everything you need to know about the ONE Esports Singapore Major, check here.