Not even a pandemic can withstand the riotous passion of League of Legends fans.
Following an extended period of doubt and anxiety among esports and League of Legends fans, Riot Games has finally confirmed the continued occurrence of the World Championship this 2020. Slated for commencement on the 25th of September and concluding with the Grand Final match on the 31st of October, the annual tournament will be hosted exclusively and physically in Shanghai, culminating at the Pudong Soccer Stadium.
While the League of Legends World Championship was meant to travel across the East-Asian subcontinent, limitations and restrictions caused by the volatile and still evolving COVID-19 pandemic threw the proceeding of the event in uncertainty. In recognition of the continued threat of the pandemic, Riot Games has not only decided to confine the physical aspect of the championships to Shanghai, but will also relegate early stages of the event to digital platforms for fans and viewers.
Riot Games has emphasised its dedication to minimising the risk of infection and any potential viral spread with their conscious efforts in keeping physical interactions and gatherings to a minimum.
“Hosting the event in a single city will reduce travel throughout the tournament and give us the ability to more closely control the show environment. We continue to use the guidance from various health organisations and local and national authorities to prioritise safety for our players, fans, and everyone involved with bringing Worlds 2020 to life,” the company said in a blog post.
Even though the physicality of the crowds will be missed for the bulk of the competition, Riot Games’ trend of going big continues with their choice of location for the finals.
The brand new Pudong Soccer Stadium is not designed to include space for activities of fitness, leisure, and entertainment, but will also be home to the Shanghai SIPG football club. Furthermore, the stadium is slated to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2023.
Between the location and the pandemic, fans around the world are sure to mourn their inability to witness the World Championships live. Thankfully, Riot Games’ reputation of serving their fans is held true with their planned virtual fan experience. The early stages of the championships will focus on providing a complete digital viewing experience. With no physical venues for this stage, viewers at home can be assured that they’re getting the complete experience.
After all, given League of Legends’ reputation as one of the most-watched and played esports games, it does make sense that the digital experience is catered to during the championship. And based on previous events, being part of a digital audience for the World Championship is still cause for excitement!
Riot Games has had a relatively inspiring track record for digital experiences. From the Elder Dragon in 2017 to 2019’s Holonet technology alongside virtual hip-hop group True Damage, they have time and again found ways to further innovate the viewer experience.
Even with the pandemic having dulled events across the globe, League of Legends fans, and supporters of Riot Games can continue to anticipate what the company may have in store for them in the 2020 World Championship.
Unfortunately, League of Legends’ North American fans will have to wait an additional year before Riot Games and the World Championship grace their shores.
Given the loss of opportunity to fully realise this year’s World Championship as planned, Riot Games will return to China for the 2021 tournament, allowing the nation and Chinese fans to experience the championship as promised. However, the 2022 World Championship will cross the oceans to the United States.
Till then, it is with continued anticipation that League of Legends fans await the crowning of their new champions.