Riot plans to have a limited live audience at Worlds 2020

Olivia Richman • September 23, 17:51

It’s been a tough year for live events in esports, but Riot Games is hoping to bring a live audience to what is likely to be the most-watched esports tournament of the year.

Despite the year’s events creating new and unforeseen obstacles for tournament organizers and game developers alike, Riot has been trying to maintain a relatively normal season across its competitive landscape for League of Legends. Even though most matches were held online, every region continued its scheduled matches for the spring and summer splits. Meanwhile, Riot had to cancel the Mid-Summer Invitational. They later were forced to change Worlds’ regional seeding distribution. 

“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,” Riot global head of esports, John Needham, said at the time. 

Now that Worlds has confirmed its 2020 schedule and Shanghai, China location, Needham is looking into establishing a bit more normalcy for the biggest League of Legends competition of the year. 

Worlds 2020 will have a limited live audience in Shanghai

During a 2020 Worlds media preview, Needham explained that the esports team is looking to open up the last series of Worlds to a limited amount of in-person fans in Shanghai. While this is an idea Needham is throwing around, the team is aware that it must be safe for players, staff, and attendees. That means things could change down the line. 

“We’ll see where we are when we get there. We have a few weeks yet to monitor health and safety at the event. I think we’re going to be fine, and we’ll have a small audience in the stadium, but we’ll see. It’s gotta be safe,” Needham said. 

Health concerns have canceled esports events around the world. This includes ESL’s Rio Major and Valve’s The International 2020. Through it all, League of Legends teams played in an online format. If they end up having any  kind of live audience, it’d be the first competitive League of Legends event to have live fans present in many months. 

Last year, over 100 million people watched the League of Legends World Championship. The event had a peak of 44 million concurrent viewers. Time will tell how many people will watch Worlds 2020 at home and in person. 


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