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How has COVID-19 affected esports in case of LoL?

So far the League of Legend esports system has received one of the biggest blows from the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, a large number of leagues have managed to adapt to the current situation in short amounts of time. We will tell you about the ways of handling this problem used by different regions.

Providing the players and all the personnel of each organization with due protection became one of the main issues to be solved during the new pandemic. Riot Games has many more people in both of these categories compared to a number of other organizers. The company is also known for launching its own long-term leagues all around the world. Given these circumstances, it allows for controlling the situation in a much more straightforward fashion compared to the likes of Dota 2 and Rainbow Six Siege tournaments which are relying on intermediaries.

LPL ENG Stream team

LPL English stream casters

Chinese LPL was the first tournament to encounter the virus, which happened back in January. Some of the participants were unable to arrive at the tournament's venue due to the quarantine and movement restrictions imposed across China. We should remind you that it is the LoL Pro League that relies on the home match system (where the battles tend constantly switch between different arenas). Such conditions have made it impossible to hold the competition, and the organizers have decided to suspend it.

After this occurrence, all the titular championships in Asia have started to make attempts to counteract the pandemic, now conducting the audience-free matches on their arenas. LCK was the first such league, banning the viewers from the arena in a few days after the suspension of LPL. Some other competitions (including PCS and CK) have also followed the China's example and chose to suspend their matches indefinitely.

OGTV Analyze desk look’s "fine"

Looking at the West, we see quite different decisions in the beginning. While January marks the time period Asian authorities have responded to the problem, such decisions weren't being enforced in America and Europe even by the end of the February. Only Riot Games has shown a quick enough reaction – first forbidding the players and staff of the LCS and LEC teams to meet with the fans, and then enforcing the audience-free format for the leagues themselves.

The postponement of Mid-Season Invitational was the first big change of this kind for the worldwide LoL scene. The date of competition was moved forward several months, meaning that the regular stage of the second split would begin before the Mid-Season Invitational.

Location and other details will be shared as soon as possible, though we need to remain flexible given how much the COVID-19 situation has impacted international travel and live events for nearly every sports and entertainment property. That said, we’re committed to ensuring that MSI remains a truly globally resonant experience.

John Needham, Riot Games Global head of esports

This has caused a number of players and managers to announce that the rules of participation will be needed to change accordingly – as the post-MSI time period between the spring and summer split is when the teams are updating their rosters. However, a team participating in the Mid-Season Invitational will be forbidden from replacing its members.

March has brought a good deal of news where regional leagues have switched their formats from LAN to online. This kind of "home matches" was also embraced by the world's main leagues: LCS, LEC and LCK. It came to the point that recently all the playoffs of all the competitions across the world have switched to online format. Although this made the events less entertaining, it allowed to keep up with the overall schedule of the 10th esports season.

Still, as shown by LPL, the new format wasn't too detracting to the pleasure received by the audience – considering that nowadays most people spend their time at home. With the traditional sports being out of the picture, esports quite naturally becomes its replacement, as well as shows sufficient flexibility.

It should be noted that such competitions as LCL are capable of adapting to quarantine and all the related restrictions without spending much effort. This is because their original format was the online one to begin with, and switching back to it would require to large changes to be made. While the studio used for broadcasting is affected to the quarantine, but the players are already located in the team houses, with there being no need to further adapt to the new format.

Given all this information, it can be understood that the Riot Games are capable of tackling just any possible problem. The company has demonstrated quick decisions towards maintaining its esports system at such an early time when the authorities of the respective countries have only ever started to think about the quarantine and quarantine-related measures.

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