The 2020 League of Legends World Championship might still take place in China.
Earlier today, it was reported that the Chinese government has canceled all sporting events for the remainder of the year. Despite speculation that this could force Worlds to be rescheduled or scrapped entirely, the restriction won’t affect the event after all thanks to the fact that China does not officially recognize esports as a sport. According to a report by ESPN, Riot Games is considering adopting a single-city, “bubble hub” format.
This format would see teams travel to Shanghai, China weeks in advance. All teams would go through the mandatory quarantine time and protocols. From the hotel, teams would move to a centralized location where the tournament will take place. By quarantining everyone and minimizing contact with people from outside the space, it can theoretically guarantee players remain healthy throughout the event.
It’s implied that Tencent Holdings, parent company of Riot, is in conversations with the national government of China. This conversation might guarantee that teams get visas approved in time for the event. With this system, Worlds 2020 would have no live audience.
Canceling the event entirely would have represented a massive loss not only for Riot, but also for the city of Shanghai. The city has been trying to establish itself as an esports hub, hosting Worlds 2020 just a year after bringing in Dota 2’s The International 2019.
The 2020 World Championship will be very different from what Riot envisioned for the 10th edition of the event. This year, Riot planned on delivering the biggest World Championship to date with the event taking place across six cities in China. The grand final would have taken place in the Shanghai Stadium, a 50,000-seat venue.
According to ESPN, Worlds would return to China in 2021 to give Riot the opportunity to realize its original plans for the event. North America will host the event in 2022.