China's LPL Spring grand finals postponed to 23 April due to COVID

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The LPL Playoffs will be on Saturday 23 April. Games will be played Remotely. Photo: LPL Official Twitter Page/Riot Games
The LPL Playoffs will be on Saturday 23 April. Games will be played Remotely. Photo: LPL Official Twitter Page/Riot Games

League of Legends (LoL) developer Riot Games has decided to hold the Tencent LoL Pro League Spring Playoffs grand finals remotely on Saturday (23 April) due to the rising COVID-19 cases and the unrest sparked by the lockdowns in Shanghai, China.

The announcement was made on LPL’s official Twitter page one day after the clash between police and some residents in Shanghai.

The decision was made once again by the LPL management “to protect the health and safety of [our] players, coaches, team personnel, and staff”.

China has been holding live esports events since last year, including a live audience viewing of the 2021 World Championship grand finals between LPL team EDward Gaming and 2020 Worlds Champion DAMWON KIA from South Korea.

However, it was a different story this year because of COVID-19 outbreaks, with the number of positive cases skyrocketing to over 20,000 last week.

China issued a lockdown last month amid the Omicron variant outbreak after cases in the country started to struggle with the rise of cases in the mainland, where most of the cases are in Shanghai, Beijing, and its neighbouring province Jilin.

The lockdown in Shanghai was extended on 5 April after the city reported a surge of more than 13,000 asymptomatic cases and 268 symptomatic cases. China also reported over 20,000 cases on the same day.

The LPL Playoffs had already been delayed twice this month, from 30 March to April 8, before it was delayed again to 11 April.

The playoffs then resumed remotely on 12 April, where Top Esports defeated Victory Five 3-2 in the Upper Bracket semifinals.

On 13 April, second seed Royal Never Give Up (RNG) defeated JD Gaming 3-2. The next few matches were also adjusted in the calendar to stretch the playoffs games until next week.

Victory Five ousted JDG in a 3-1 victory in the Lower Bracket semifinals on 16 April, while the Upper Bracket Finals between Top Esports and RNG will now happen on Sunday.

The Lower Bracket Finals were moved to Wednesday, which will be followed by the LPL Grand Finals next Saturday.

In a stream last week, LNG Esports mid laner Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang expressed concerns over the LPL not being able to participate at the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational if the representing team won’t be allowed to play remotely.

The MSI 2022 was recently confirmed for Busan, South Korea, and will have teams from 11 regions participating. The League of Legends Continental League (LCL) will miss the MSI this year due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

It remains to be seen if the LPL will be able to participate in the International mid-season competition.

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.

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