Riot Games Postpones Mid-Season Invitational Over Coronavirus

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  • MSI welcomes League of Legends teams from 12 different leagues around the world each spring.
  • League of Legends summer splits will begin in May to accommodate schedule changes.
Photo Credit: David Lee/Riot Games)

Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, is postponing its Mid-Season Invitational until July amid the global outbreak of COVID-19.

The international tournament pits the winners of spring splits from all 12 League of Legends leagues around the world each year. The 2020 tournament will be played over two weeks, beginning on July 3. The location of the event has not been determined. 

“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,” John Needham, global head of League of Legends Esports at Riot Games, said in a blog post. “That said, we’re committed to ensuring that MSI remains a truly globally resonant experience.”

Shifting dates for MSI will force Riot Games to play parts of its domestic summer splits in May, according to the company. Those matches will now take place between May 15 and May 30. 

Riot Games has been monitoring the Coronavirus outbreak since the start of the year, it said in an email – which is around the time when the game developer was expected to announce MSI tournament details for the upcoming season. 

The company’s two largest leagues, the Tencent League of Legends Pro League in China and League of Legends Champions Korea, have been most affected by the outbreak to date. 

The LPL resumed competitive play after nearly a two-month hiatus on March 9. Competitive matches are currently played online, away from live studios and spectators. Korea’s LCK has been suspended indefinitely since the beginning of the month. 

In the U.S., the League of Legends Championship Series has taken its own precautions by eliminating post-match interactions between players and fans. Fan events have also been suspended to prevent contamination for the remainder of the 2020 LCS spring split. 

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“Our events team is working with experts in the field and scenario planning in case this situation does not get resolved soon,” a Riot Games spokesperson said.

The provisions by the esports company add to the safety measures implemented by traditional stick and ball sports leagues in the U.S. On Monday, the NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS announced that they would close locker rooms to members of the media. 

More than 4,000 people have died as a result of Coronavirus around the world, including 27 in the U.S. as of March 10, according to USA Today