Riot Games have officially cancelled the League of Legends 2020 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also announcing some huge changes for the upcoming LoL World Championship.
The coronavirus crisis has had a significant impact on the League of Legends esports industry, with many regional LoL competitions moving to an online format. Riot Games initially postponed the MSI until July, while Summer Splits across all regions have been shifted due to the schedule interruptions caused by COVID-19.
Further changes were announced on Friday when John Needham, the Riot Games Global Head of Esports, declared that the MSI has been cancelled outright to ensure the health and safety of those in the LoL esports community.
“One outcome of this hard work was the decision to delay MSI from May to July with the hope that the crisis would be waning, travel restrictions would come down, and we could deliver an exceptional MSI,” read the announcement.
“Based on the modelling of our external risk advisors, however, it appears highly unlikely that either the global spread/impact of COVID-19 or the restrictive travel and public gathering policies responding to the crisis will abate significantly by the time of MSI’s current planned dates (July 3-19).
“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.”
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The fate of the MSI was up in the air for quite a while. The event no longer carries the weight it once did, and many teams may see its cancellation as a blessing.
Esports fans, on the other hand, may be left disheartened by the news. As Rift Rivals was also scrapped, the cancellation of the MSI means that the LoL World Championship is the only remaining international tournament of the split.
Riot Games also unveiled some huge changes to the seeding structure for LoL Worlds 2020. The League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and China’s LoL Pro League (LPL) will each contribute four seeds to the tournament, while the Vietnam Championship Series (VCS) and newly formed Pacific Championship Series (PCS) will get two apiece. The LEC and LPL previously had three seeds each, like the LoL Championship Series (LCS) and LoL Champions Korea (LCK), and the VCS had only one guaranteed place.
While North American and Korean LoL fans have voiced their disapproval, the decision reflects the fact that the LPL and LEC have outperformed all other regions in recent years. Chinese teams were crowned world champions in 2018 (Invictus Gaming) and 2019 (FunPlus Phoenix), while Europe had representatives in both of those finals. Furthermore, all three of the LEC’s representatives finished in the top eight last season, with G2 Esports reaching the grand finals.
The VCS gets two guaranteed berths in the final 24 because its strong international record compared to other single-seed leagues, while the PCS is an amalgamation of two competitions – the League Masters Series (LMS) and League of Legends Southeast Asia Tour (LST) – that had one seed each.
2020 LoL World Championship regional seed distribution:
Four seeds – LPL (China), LEC (Europe)
Three seeds – LCK (Korea), LCS (North America)
Two seeds – PCS (Southeast Asia), VCS (Vietnam)
One seed – CBLOL (Brazil), TCL (Turkey), LJL (Japan), LLA (Latin America), OPL (Oceania), LCL (Commonwealth of Independent States)