Riot Korea has announced that from tomorrow, the LCK is heading back online. The domestic League of Legends Korea league had previously been held in its regular venue of LoL Park, but had been without an audience since February 2020 due to COVID-19.
The move is motivated by an increase in cases in the Korean capital of Seoul, but has been described as a “preemptive measure” rather than a direct reaction to infections within the LCK. The league will remain online until the finals of the LCK regional qualifiers, which end on September 9. Social distancing guidelines had previously been at level one, but have now been raised to level two, forcing the pivot to online play.
At level one, as well as the absence of crowds, every headset, seating area, microphone, and keyboard was disinfected in between uses. However, this is no longer sufficient, and so online play is necessary. Referees, other match staff, and production teams will now travel to players’ houses for matches.
These people will require a temperature measurement before entering player homes, and will wear masks and use hand sanitizer for the duration of their visit. Casters and other broadcast staff will continue to operate from LoL Park under the same level one disinfection protocol.
The first match after moving online will feature SANDBOX Gaming and Hanwha Life Esports, a dead rubber affair between the teams eighth and ninth in the 10 team table; neither can qualify for the playoffs.
In fact, the five teams in the playoffs have already been confirmed, with the finals being contested between Gen.G, T1, DragonX, KT Rolster, and DAMWON. Griffin, who topped the Spring league last time and lost in the playoff finals, has suffered a disappointing season and currently sits bottom of the league.
T1 were last year’s Spring playoff champions, then named SK Telecom T1, and the team will be looking to retain its crown despite the switch to online competition.