Riot Games announced that the League of Legends 2020 Mid-Season Invitational will now take place in July.
The official announcement came Tuesday morning. Fans had been waiting to hear a new date since Riot tweeted that the event would be postponed mid-February due to the spread of the coronavirus. Fans had grown frustrated with the silence in the weeks since, wondering if the event might be cancelled.
Now, Riot Games has confirmed that MSI 2020 will run from July 3 to 19.
“After discussing with our leagues and other stakeholders, we’ve made the decision to move our annual mid-year global tournament event from May to July this year,” said John Needham, Riot Games’ global head of League of Legends esports. “Shifting the tournament to the summer offers the best chance to see travel restrictions lifted, allowing teams from leagues around the world to travel and compete safely.”
According to Needham, the international event’s location is still being discussed. Riot understands, he said, that they need to “remain flexible” after seeing how impactful COVID-19 has been on international travel and live events for esports and beyond.
“That said, we’re committed to ensuring that MSI remains a truly globally resonant experience,” he said.
To accomodate for the MSI’s new date, the Summer Split had to be moved as well. Now, MSI will take place in the middle of the Summer Split. Here are the new start dates, provided by Needham:
Rift Rivals is another event affected by the flexible schedule and threat of the coronavirus. According to Needham, Rift Rivals has been canceled for all League of Legends regions.
“Rift Rivals produced some epic battles, but the challenges it created to the annual schedule were felt at both a regional and global level,” Needham said.
He noted that Riot “remains committed” to producing “globally resonant events” so they will be determining new ways to create this atomosphere and global competition in the “years ahead.”
COVID-19 affecting esports tournaments is nothing new at this point, especially for League of Legends.
China’s LPL was postponed indefinitely in January. It finally returned yesterday as a fully online league. South Korea was also cautious with its LCK. Teams still played live, but without an audience present. Then on March 6, the LCK decided to postpone due to growing concerns about the coronavirus. Players, including Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, reacted by donating to charities focused on combating the virus.
According to the Associated Press, more than 113,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 worldwide. The majority of the cases have been in China and South Korea, with most of the 3,900 deaths occuring in China. This has led to other esports, like the Overwatch League, to postpone games in that region.