The 2022 Spring Split of the League of Legends Continental League (LCL), the official League of Legends (LoL) competitive circuit for Eastern Europe, has now been cancelled due to the ongoing crisis in the region caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
With the LCL's cancellation, no teams from the league will be able to participate in the upcoming Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) 2022 in Busan, South Korea.
LoL developer Riot Games previously announced the indefinite postponement of Week 3 of the 2022 LCL Spring Season just a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, which Russia still calls a "special military operation".
The LCL reiterated this announcement a week later on 4 March after careful consideration of the situation in Ukraine.
There were no further announcements from Riot for the next three weeks before 25 March's statement that the Spring Split was cancelled.
GIG.ME, the organiser of the 2022 LCL, made the announcement alongside Riot Games Russia.
“After discussions with the licensee, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the League of Legends Continental League Spring Split. In these difficult times for the region, we find it impossible to continue the league," GIG.me’s announcement reads in English.
"Unfortunately, as a consequence of this decision, the CIS will miss the Mid-Season Invitational this year. As soon as the opportunity arises, we will immediately share information about the format of the summer split of the CIS Continental League."
This year's LCL Spring Split featured One Breath Gaming, Team Spirit, Black Star Gaming, Unicorns of Love (UoL), CTRL PLAY, and Dragon Army. The teams in the LCL have players hailing from both Russia and Ukraine.
UoL Head Coach Fabian "Sheepy" Mallant expressed his sadness and disappointment over the cancellation of the tournament and missing the MSI.
"Everyone in [Unicorns of Love] has worked so extremely hard this year, scouting, try-outing, starting scrims 2 months before the Split, a detailed content plan... you name it. I feel so devastated for everyone involved," said Sheepy.
UoL General Manager Vivien Mallant followed up by saying that “esports should have been the chance to stay united," and calling the situation "absolutely devastating".
LEC caster Alex ‘Nymaera’ Hapgood called the cancellation a “heartbreak for the LCL", while UK Caster Yousuf “MilkyCereal” bin-Suhayl also replied to UoL coach’s tweet saying that it would be be "such a shame" to not the team at MSI.
UoL have not missed Worlds since 2018, and were even been invited to MSI 2021. The team ended their Worlds 2021 run in 21st place among 22 teams.
Meanwhile, LCL team Vega Squadron retweeted the announcement from the LCL and reiterated that there were "things more important than esports".
"We all pray for peace and safety for everyone suffering now!" Vega Squadron said.
This will be the third year in a row that at least one regional team won’t be able to attend the MSI. In 2020, the MSI was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2021, the Vietnam Championship Series was unable to send a representative to the MSI. VCS also missed Worlds 2021 in the same year.
The LCL wasn’t the only esports event affected by the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Last month, the 2022 EMEA VALORANT Champions Tour announced the postponement of week 3’s tournament at the same time as the LCL made theirs.
VCT EMEA then resumed on 5 March with dual broadcasts for Week 3 and Week 5 matches to catch up with the schedule. 2021 VALORANT Champions runners-up Gambit Esports have also allowed their roster to continue playing in the 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) EMEA as a neutral team called M3C or M3 Champions.
In the Dota 2 world, Russian organisation Team Spirit has decided to relocate from Russia to Serbia due to “practical and ethical” reasons. Dota 2 developer Valve Software even postponed the Dota Pro Circuit Spring Tour for Eastern Europe indefinitely.
The fallout from the war spilled into esports early on, with Ukraine-based organiser WePlay Esports terminating its partnership agreements with companies from both Russia and Belarus, refusing to air the Russian-language broadcast of the GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022 in favour of a Ukrainian broadcast. The said tournament also kicked off last without Russian team Virtus.Pro
If you'd like to learn more about how you can help Ukraine during this crisis, here is a list of international organizations you can donate to.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.