Riot Games announces big changes for 2020 World Championship

It has been confirmed by Riot Games that the teams qualifying to the 2020 World Championship from Vietnam will not be able to participate at the tournament due to travel restrictions, forcing the publisher to make some big changes to the World Championship format. 

With this sad news, Riot has released an update on the tournament format which will see some changes. The play-in stage in particular will be hit with changes, while the third seed from the LCK will now automatically qualify for Worlds' main event. 

The play-in stage will be changed from 12 teams down to 10. According to Riot, this is most optimal to keep an even number of teams in the play-in. With this change, one team has to be promoted directly to the main-event and the choice has fallen on the third seed from LCK. The decision is made after evaluating past regional performances at international tournaments. 

The new play-in stage will consist of two seeded groups of five teams. Each group will play a single round-robin, which means that all teams will play each other one time. The first-place team from each group will advance to the group stage in the main event, while the last-place teams will be eliminated. 

The third and fourth-place teams in each group will meet in a best-of-five series where the loser gets eliminated. The winner will go on and meet the second-place team in the opposite group in a deciding best-of-five series. The winners of those two matches will also qualify for the group stage. 

Riot notes that they will typically prefer a double round-robin format, but it won’t be possible under these new circumstances. Instead, the teams will meet each other only one time on Summoner’s Rift, but those teams will still get an equal number of red and blue side games in this format. 

With these changes, the group pool also changes a bit now that the third seed from LCK will be promoted directly ahead. The different pools are illustrated here. 

Worlds will kick off with the play-in stage on Friday, September 5, where teams including LGD Gaming and MAD Lions will be ready to battle. Riot emphasizes that more changes could be coming since the situation around the event can still change at any time.