In March, which seems so long ago, Riot halted the League of Legends European Championship spring season and all League Championship Series and Academy games, and changed the format of its Spring Finals, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today it announced that the Mid-Season Invitational, the second-biggest tourney on the LoL calendar (behind only the World Championship) will also be canceled.
“The Global League of Legends Esports team has been working hard over the past few months to react to these changes, support our regional leagues as they have successfully pivoted to online competition, and try to preserve our next big international competition, the Mid-Season Invitational. One outcome of this hard work was the decision to delay MSI from May to July with the hope that the crisis would be waning, travel restrictions would come down, and we could deliver an exceptional MSI,” Riot’s global head of LoL esports John Needham wrote.
“Based on the modeling of our external risk advisors, however, it appears highly unlikely that either the global spread/impact of COVID-19 or the restrictive travel and public gathering policies responding to the crisis will abate significantly by the time of MSI’s current planned dates (July 3-19). With this model plus input from health authorities, local governments, regional leagues and teams, travel experts, and other stakeholders, we have made the difficult decision to not hold MSI in 2020. We believe this decision was necessary to ensure the health and safety of the players, teams, crew, partners, media, and fans.”
Riot’s regional leagues have continued to operate, and Needham said that pulling the plug on the MSI now will enable them to revert to their original Summer Split schedules, which had to be changed in March when Riot postponed the event from May to July. Riot now aims to “support and amplify” regional play, and is also evaluating the possibility of of holding “alternative events and activities,” some of which it expects to share in the relatively near future.
The move will also enable Riot to focus its attention on the 2020 World Championship, which will take place this fall in Shanghai, China. This year’s event will mark the 10th anniversary of League of Legends esports, and Needham said Riot is “totally committed to delivering the biggest spectacle we’ve ever produced” to celebrate it.
Because of the cancellation of the MSI, Riot has made a number of changes to the 2020 Worlds seeding process, which will see extra seeds granted to some leagues. This year’s seeding will break down like this:
- LPL (China), LEC (Europe): 4 Teams each
- LCK (Korea), LCS (North America): 3 Teams each
- PCS (Southeast Asia), VCS (Vietnam): 2 Teams each
- CBLOL (Brazil), TCL (Turkey), LJL (Japan), LLA (Latin America), OPL (Oceania), LCL (Commonwealth of Independent States) : 1 Team each
More information about this year’s big event, including the actual dates, will be shared when it’s closer to happening.