Olivia R. April 23, 2020
Ongoing international travel restrictions and safety risks have led Riot to officially cancel this year's Mid-Season Invitational.
According to an official statement from Riot's global head of esports, John Needham, his team has been working hard to react to regional and international changes affecting League of Legends tournaments in hopes of "preserving" the "next big international competition," the Mid-Season Invitational.
At first, Riot attempted to move MSI to July, "with hope that the crisis would be waning, travel restrictions would come down, and we could deliver an exceptional MSI."
Fans and players were already concerned about this update. Having the international competition smack dab in the middle of the Summer Split seemed inconvenient and even frustrating. Some players expressed that they wanted MSI to be canceled altogether, since it disrupted the flow of next season's games.
Now, Needham and the rest of Riot's global League of Legends esports team have decided to cancel MSI completely due to continued restrictions to travel and public gatherings. They don't see any significant changes coming in time for MSI, which was going to begin on July 3.
"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," Needham stated.
This comes as no surprise, since League of Legends journalist Travis Gafford dropped this heavily supported rumor earlier in the week. But it does still bring up a lot of questions about League of Legends' 2020 competitions going forward.
What will Worlds look like in 2020?
So far, all 12 regional League of Legends leagues have continued to compete in the Spring Split by continuing their matches online. While this wasn't ideal for many players and teams, who expressed frustration over competing from their bedrooms, it at least kept the competition going. Going forward, Needham has decided that the regional leagues will revert to their original Summer Split schedules, which were initially changed due to MSI's odd timing.
"We want to support and amplify the weekly play of the regional league teams and players as they now compete to win their Summer Splits and qualify for the 2020 League of Legends World Championship," Needham explained.
Without any international competitions in the near future, Riot has started to look into alternative events and activities. These possible plans will be shared in the following weeks, Needham said.
Meanwhile, the global League of Legends esports team will be focusing their resources on planning for Worlds.
"We are totally committed to delivering the biggest spectacle we’ve ever produced in China to celebrate our sport’s 10-year anniversary. While we must remain nimble with our plans, we are eager to celebrate everything that we love about League of Legends with a memorable Worlds 2020," Needham said.
He then announced that there will be 24 invites based on regional competition to account for the absence of MSI. This was outlined in a seperate press release, where Riot revealed that LPL and LEC will have four teams qualify for the World Championship since they are currently ranked first and second "based on their performance in international competitions over the past two years." Vietnam's league was given a second seed to Worlds as well, since they had the strongest performance in international competition, including MSI events.
The 2020 World Championship will see the following regional seed distribution:
- 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
When Worlds is closer, Riot will share more information about pool placements for all seeds.
"Thank you for your continued support and understanding during this time. It bears repeating that the health and safety of our players and others involved in our events is our top priority. It has been inspiring to see the resilience of esports during this crisis. We look forward to continuing to see you on Summoner’s Rift in the weeks, months, and years ahead," Needham concluded.