LoL Esports announced that Worlds 2020 will take place exclusively in Shanghai, China. It will run September 25 through October 31.
This is the first announcement about the event since April 23, when they decided to cancel the Mid Season Invitational, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They stated “This decision also allows us to dedicate our global esports team and resources to planning for Worlds 2020. We are totally committed to delivering the biggest spectacle we’ve ever produced in China to celebrate our sport’s 10-year anniversary.”
Since then, the pandemic has continued running its course throughout the world. Various countries have cancelled large events, issued travel restrictions, and more, in hopes of reducing the virus’ spread. LoL Esports explains “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.
Early Worlds stages will be purely digital, lacking an in-person audience. LoL Esports expounds “While we want to keep our plans for the show a surprise, rest assured that we’re committed to bringing our unique visceral live sporting experience throughout the event to you digitally — in true League of Legends Esports style.”
However, the World Championship Finals will take place at Pudong Soccer Stadium, as its inaugural event. The stadium is home to the Shanghai SIPG F.C, and plans on hosting the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. LoL Esports will share information regarding tickets and safety protocols, if a live audience is permissible, later this summer.
As a result of these adjustments to 2020 Worlds, China will also host the 2021 World Championship. North America, initially slated to host 2021, will host Worlds 2022. LoL Esports wants to ensure fans get a fully live experience in both countries in the future.
A Bubble System?
Most of these plans were reported by ESPN on July 9, where they also revealed sources confirmed Riot might utilize a “bubble system” for Worlds 2020. This bubble system was introduced in the NBA, described by SportingNews.com as follows: “The concept is simple. The NBA figured, as long as it could get all players, coaches and team/league personnel packed into one place — with COVID-19 testing assuring that none have been infected with the virus, of course — and not let any non-essential people in, it could preserve the health and safety for all involved.”
Perhaps LoL Esports will follow a similar protocol to ensure Worlds 2020 goes on safely.