After seeing all regional leagues go online in some capacity and the Mid-Season Invitational cancelled, League of Legends fans have been left wondering about what will happen to the pinnacle of the competitive LoL calendar, the World Championships.
Riot Games has now revealed its plans for League of Legends Worlds 2020 and while it will still take place in China as originally billed, the multi-city format for each stage of the competition has been scrapped in favour of hosting all stages in Shanghai. This will greatly reduce the amount of travel needed and therefore reduce the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus.
To ensure player safety in Shanghai, Riot will likely use a form of social bubble system that has been utilised in a number of sporting competitions that have restarted in the last couple of months, such as the Formula 1 World Championship. While a bubble system was rumoured earlier this month, the official announcement does not confirm whether this will be the case.
Riot also confirms the venue for the finals of Worlds 2020, with matches being held at the brand new Pudong Soccer Stadium. While the “earlier stages” of the competition (which likely refers to the play-ins and group stage) will focus on bringing a “virtual fan experience” to fans watching at home, the finals in the Pudong Stadium could facilitate a live audience.
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) August 1, 2020
Riot has not ruled out fans being let into the stadium to watch the finals, which is an exciting prospect. However, this is not set in stone. “If local guidelines for events allow us to proceed with an audience, information about tickets and safety protocols for those wanting to attend will be shared later this summer,” the announcement post reads.
League of Legends Worlds 2020 will span just over five weeks. The tournament will begin on September 25 and end October 31.
As the coronavirus pandemic has scuppered Riot’s plans of a touring event in China, the 2021 Worlds that was set to be hosted in North America will instead return to China again to have another crack at the multi-city format planned for this year. North America will now host Worlds 2022 instead.
This announcement – and in particular the prospect of having offline play with a live audience for the finals – is super exciting for League of Legends esports fans. With Riot’s past track record on creating amazing broadcast experiences at Worlds, fans watching from home will still likely be treated to a real spectacle.