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League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational canceled due to coronavirus pandemic

The 2020 World Championships in China are now Riot’s primary focus

League of Legends world championships Image: Riot Games

The Mid-Season Invitational, the international tournament that marks the halfway-point in the League of Legends competitive season, will not be held in 2020. Riot Games announced the tournament’s cancellation on Thursday morning, citing public health concerns regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic.

While most sports leagues around the world were shut down indefinitely, Riot Games was able to continue competition in League of Legends by moving its in-person league matches online all almost all regions. Over the last several weeks, teams in Europe, China, and North America, as well as other regions, have played the final matches of their seasons online. Last week, North America hosted its Spring Split Finals online, too.

Normally, at the conclusion of the Spring Split for each region, the winning teams move on to the Mid-Season Invitational, also known as MSI, to compete against the winners in all other regions. MSI 2020 was originally scheduled for May, but was delayed in early March as COVID-19 spread and when it became clear that both international travel and large gatherings were not possible. A new date for the tournament was set for July before the event was canceled on Thursday.

However, MSI’s cancellation doesn’t mean there won’t be any League of Legends esports events between the Spring and Summer Splits.

“We also are working with other teams throughout the Riot organization to evaluate alternative events and activities,” says John Needham, the global head of League of Legends esports. “We are hoping to have some plans far enough along to share with you in the weeks ahead.”

Any events that do end up happening are likely to be less competitive regional events that can be held online. While pivoting to online matches works well when all the players are in the same region — and the same city, in most cases — it isn’t an option for international competition. Ping would be frustrating for both the competitors and viewers — and someone would have an instant advantage, depending on where servers were hosted.

According to Needham, the team will now focus its attention on the League of Legends World Championships which are set to be hosted in China sometime in fall 2020. This event will be League’s 10th World Championship and was planned to be a massive celebration. Needham says that the team remains committed to that plan.