The 2022 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) is set to begin on 10 May.
However, for this year’s competition, the representatives from the Tencent League of Legends Pro League (LPL) will be playing remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in China.
COVID-19-related travel restrictions in the country will prevent the LPL representatives from appearing in person at the MSI, which will be held this year in Busan, South Korea.
As a result, they will have to compete in the tournament remotely, according to an update from Riot Games' Head of Global Esports Naz Aletaha.
“After extensive diligence performed by our technology, events, and competitive operations teams, we are able to allow the qualifying LPL team to compete remotely from China," said Aletaha.
Aletaha also mentioned that the representing team can play in their training facility or the LPL Arena in Shanghai, where local health and safety protocols will be followed.
Riot’s esports team said they took into consideration the infrastructure available, the location, and competitive integrity before making this decision.
One of those considerations was the ping that LPL teams may encounter while playing remotely. According to Aletaha, “the ping from China to Korea is manageable” and Riot has promised that a network latency tool will be used to maintain a ping close to 35 milliseconds as possible.
This tool was already used by Riot back in 2020 for the 2020 Mid-Season Cup. All MSI teams will practice and scrimmage under said ping conditions.
The LPL had to postpone their Spring Playoffs twice this year because of the rising COVID-19 cases in China.
On Friday (15 April), the LPL announced that the grand finals schedule had been moved to Sunday (23 April) and played be done remotely, with Royal Never Give Up and Top Esports competing in a best-of-five series.
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 of 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.
In a stream two weeks ago, 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.
As Riot is able to come up with a solution to this, the LPL will still be present in the 2022 MSI.
The MSI 2022 was confirmed for Busan, South Korea, and will have teams from 11 regions participating. This is the third year in a row that at least one regional team won’t be able to attend the MSI and the third year in a row where the COVID-19 pandemic directly affected the said competition.
In 2020, the MSI was cancelled due to COVID, 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.
For this year, while the LPL will play remotely, the League of Legends Continental League (LCL) will miss the MSI due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
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.