The Vietnam Championship Series’ (VCS) withdrawal from the League of Legends 2020 World Championship has ushered in a massive format overhaul for the season’s culminating event, with fewer teams in the play-in stage and a free pass to the group stage awarded to one of the major regional representatives.
As confirmed by Riot Games this Tuesday, national travel restrictions related to COVID-19 mean the two qualifying LoL teams from Vietnam will not be able to attend this year’s event in Shanghai, China. As a result of these changes, the 2020 LoL Worlds will have 22 rather than 24 teams fighting for the prestigious Summoner’s Cup.
“Over the past several weeks, we explored every possible option to include VCS teams while ensuring the safety of VCS players and the delivery of a world class event,” read the announcement.
“VCS teams and VCS fans have been an irreplaceable fixture of Worlds, but in consideration of current circumstances, we have made the difficult decision to proceed without them this year.”
Team Flash had already secured their spot in the LoL Worlds play-in stage, where they were set to be joined by the winner of Thursday’s VCS Summer semi-final between GAM Esports and EVOS Esports.
While none of those teams will take part in the tournament, Riot Games have decided to award the two VCS representatives with a share of the prize pool as though they had participated.
The developer also confirmed some big changes to the format for the play-in stage, opting for a structure that will have minimal impact on the broadcast schedule.
The 10 remaining teams in the play-in stage will be seeded into two groups of five. Each of these groups will feature a single round-robin cycle with the first-placed teams advancing to the group stage and the last-placed teams eliminated.
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The third- and fourth-placed teams in each group will then play a best-of-five (Bo5) series where the loser bows out and the winner advances to a Bo5 series against the second-placed team from the opposite group. The winner of those matches will then qualify for the main event.
Since the numbers wouldn’t add up without additional adjustments, Riot Games had to pick one team from the play-ins to automatically advance to the group stage. In the end, they decided to award a free pass to the third seed from the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) due to the region’s success in previous international events.
As it stands now, all regions except for the LCK, Campeonato Brasileiro de League of Legends (CBLOL), Turkish Championship League (TCL) and League of Legends Japan League (LJL) have already locked in their representatives for the tournament.
The 2020 LoL Worlds will mark the first time since 2015 that the reigning champions won’t be attending the tournament, since FunPlus Phoenix did not make it through the LPL Regional Finals. This year will also mark the return of LGD Gaming, who were last seen at Worlds in 2015 ,and the first-ever appearance of Top Esports as the LPL’s top seed.
Other first-time appearances include: JD Gaming (LPL), Suning (LPL), Rogue (LEC), MAD Lions (LEC), FlyQuest (LCS), DRX (LCK), Machi Esports (PCS), PSG Talon (PCS), Rainbow7 (LLA) and Legacy Esports (OPL).
The 2020 League of Legends World Championship is slated to kick off on Friday, September 25 with the opening play-in matches, followed by the main event from Saturday, October 3.