What Can Riot Games Do To Save This Year’s League Of Legends World Championship

What Can Riot Games Do To Save This Year’s League Of Legends World Championship
Credit: League of Legends via Youtube

This year should be special for League of Legends fans around the world: It’s the 10th anniversary of the game’s World Championship.

Worlds is the annual culmination of the hard work and dedication of all major and minor regions and provides a dramatic viewership experience. But the COVID-19 pandemic has sent most countries into a recession worse than the 2008 financial crisis with vastly restricted international travel and bans on large crowds.

That means it’s unlikely that we’ll have the same World Championship that League fans are used to. So what are the options for the 10-year anniversary of Worlds?

Cancel it

For the safety of the players, coaches, and staff involved, the most sensible current approach is to cancel the event. There’s no outright cure for the virus, and, while multiple vaccines are in the testing stage, they’re far from becoming usable due to the extended period needed to ensure the safety of the general population. Current projections put a vaccine at around nine to 15 months away. This is the best-case scenario and some worst-case scenarios put a two-year window on the COVID-19 outbreak. The best projections, meanwhile, show multiple mini waves that should be containable by local governments without huge spikes of confirmed cases.

Change to an online format

After the Mid-Season Invitational was canceled, many community figures speculated whether Riot should try to go for an online cup. Their intuition was right and Riot announced on May 18 that the Mid-Season Streamathon would replace MSI this year.

One of the key moments of the Streamathon was the Mid-Season Cup between Korea’s LCK and China’s LPL. The tournament featured special rules to put both regions on equal ground, including an artificial ping increase to have an equal delay in-game for all players. The tournament was a success overall, raising over $600,000 during the stream duration and featuring multiple interesting segments from the League community, such as showmatches between casters and players from several regions, marvelous gameplay from multiple top-tier teams, and various challenges for the casters analyzing the game.

Go ahead with the tournament

The best-case scenario is to go ahead with the tournament and hope there’s a vaccine by October, which is when Worlds is usually held. If there’s a vaccine by then—which is highly unlikely due to the normal time frame needed of at least one to two years—and countries lift travel restrictions, this could be possible. But even if travel restrictions are lifted, restrictions regarding the number of people present in the same gathering could still be held, which would drastically impact the event.