The League of Legends (LoL) Season 2022 World Championship will tour across North America this year, with 24 teams travelling from Mexico to New York, Atlanta, and California on their quest to claim the mantle of LoL world champions.
Since the LoL Continental League (LCL) won’t be able to compete in this year’s Worlds because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the LoL European Championship (LEC) has been given the fourth slot.
According to LoL developer Riot Games, the LEC had the best performance in the tournament for the past two years but does not have four seeds yet, so this is finally the region's chance to send a fourth team to Worlds.
Worlds 2022 will begin with the Play-ins on 29 September and will conclude on 9 October. This will be held at the Arena Esports Stadium (LLA Studio) in Artz Pedregal in Mexico City, Mexico. Twelve teams from different regions will compete in this stage.
Then those who have qualified from the Play-ins will fly to New York City, where the Group Stage will happen on 7 October and 13 to 16 October at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden, New York City.
In the Group Stage, four teams from the Play-In Stage will compete alongside twelve teams from China, South Korea, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, and Vietnam. The sixteen teams are split into four groups and play a Double Round Robin format.
The top two teams in each group will move forward to the Playoffs for the Quarterfinals, which will still be held in New York from 20-23 October. The semifinalists will then travel to State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, to compete from 29-30 October.
The finalists will then travel to the Chase Center in San Francisco, California, the tournament’s last stop.
The last two teams left standing will face each other in a best-of-five series in a bid to raise the Summoner's Cup and take the 2022 LoL World Championship title.
Is it good that Worlds 2022 will be a multi-stop event?
It’s been a while since Worlds was held in the United States and with a live audience.
The last time the tournament was held in America was during the 2017 World Championship, where T1 (then SK Telecom) took their third world championship title.
For instance, three of Fnatic’s Filipino players will miss the Arlington Major while China’s Xtreme Gaming withdrew from the competition altogether after, Lou “Iou” Zhen, their carry, was denied a visa three times.
Thunder Awaken, Talon Esports, Entity, Beastcoast, and OG all face the same issues with some of their players as well.
Will LoL's pro players face the same visa issues?
Not all countries need a visa to enter the United States, but many will have to face that hurdle.
These include teams and players from China’s LoL Pro League (LPL), Southeast Asia’s Pacific Championship Series (PCS), Vietnam’s Vietnam Championship Series(VCS), Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro de LoL (CBLoL), Turkey’s Turkish Championship League (TCL), and the Liga Latinoamérica (LLA).
On top of that, timing will also potentially make it harder for teams. While US visa applications and processes can be as fast as one week, applicants are encouraged to apply for a visa at least 90 days before the competition.
With some Summer Splits concluding as late as 21 August, this may pose a problem for regions requiring a visa to enter the United States.
More competitive regions like North America's LoL Championship Series (LCS), South Korea's LoL Korea Championship (LCK), and most of the LEC won’t have a problem.
But China’s LPL, one of the top regions in LoL esports, may face some issues.
Both teams are powerhouses of the LPL, and the possibility of them missing out on Worlds 2022 due to visa issues cannot be easily dismissed.
And while player substitutions are an option for teams, most of us know that substituting one or more players from the main roster may greatly change a team’s dynamic.
Visa woes aren’t new in the esports scene.
Many pro players, especially from regions with stricter visa application processes, have also been denied in the past.
And despite the massive growth of the esports scene in recent years, the issue is still prevalent.
Esports players are required to get either a B1 Business Visitor’s Visa or, if they are internationally recognised, a P-1 Athlete Visa, which has been notoriously difficult to obtain.
And while the success rate of LoL pro players is higher than most games, regions like PCS, VCS, CBLoL and others still face some uncertainty.
Hopefully, Riot already has a plan in place that will keep this from happening.
For one, we already know that Riot has employed the services of an immigration law practice for LCS imports since 2018.
This may give them a head start since Riot would have a team of lawyers who can represent the players.
It would be such a shame to have a team or even a player back out from Worlds 2022 just because of red tape. Everyone will have to cross their fingers and hope for the best.
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.