Riot Games has announced that the 2021 League of Legends World Championships has been officially relocated from China to Europe.
Details surrounding the event, such as an exact location of where in Europe the tournament will take place, have not been revealed.
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In an announcement video posted by Riot Games, John Needham, the publisher’s Global Head of Esports, detailed that “accessibility for the highest number of teams and their best players” will be a key factor in where the tournament will take place.
Needham stated: “With the Delta variant… travel restrictions and COVID protocols have been even more complicated to navigate in 2021 than they were in 2020. Sadly, we reached the point where it is extremely difficult to guarantee that qualifying teams and their best players would be able to attend Worlds this year.
“As a result, we’ve made the tough decision to pivot Worlds from China to Europe.”
Riot Games’s global event was originally scheduled to be a multi-city event, with matches taking place in Shanghai, Qingdao, Wuhan, Chengdu and Shenzhen. This would have been the second year in a row that the World Championships would have been hosted in China. Last year, the event took place offline behind closed doors with the finals in Shanghai.
Reports surrounding the tournament’s relocation first emerged yesterday via Upcomer. One of the reasons detailed as to why the global event was being relocated is due to Riot Games running into difficulties securing travel for production crews to China.
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Europe last hosted the World Championships back in 2019, with the tournament taking place in Berlin, Madrid and Paris. This was also the last time the competition was held in front of a live audience.
Esports Insider says: Having a global tournament such as the League of Legends World Championships being relocated in such short notice certainly reflects the unpredictability of today’s climate. This news will certainly be disappointing to the Chinese fandom, which is one of the title’s largest fan bases. It’ll be interesting to see how this move affects Riot Games from an organisational perspective, ranging from planning teams’ travel arrangements to changing factors such as set design to facilitate this move.