Games publisher Riot Games has announced that this year’s League of Legends World Championship will change its semi-finals host city from Toronto to Atlanta.
Originally set to take place at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, Riot said the relocation is due to COVID-19 impacting the viability of securing multi-entry visas to the United States.
As a result, the semi-finals will instead take place at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, the home of NBA team Atlanta Hawks.
The 2022 World Championship is set to take place later this year in North America across four host cities — Mexico City, Atlanta, New York and San Francisco.
With these changes, Riot Games has claimed the move will provide teams with a ‘clear path’ to complete at all stages of the event.
Naz Aletaha, Global Head of LoL Esports, Riot Games, commented: “We are committed to upholding our tradition of a multi-city Worlds tour despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and look forward to hosting the 2022 Semifinals at the state-of-the-art State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
“This news is no doubt disappointing to our fans and partners in Canada, and we want to sincerely thank Toronto, Scotiabank Arena, and our community for their understanding. We look forward to bringing a major LoL Esports event there in the future.”
Visa access for players is a problem that has plagued esports for years.
Perhaps a notable example was Dota 2’s 2021 The International having to relocate from Sweden to Romania due to the Swedish Sports Federation voting to not accept esports into the federation. This meant that anyone attempting to procure a visa for travel into Sweden for the event would be denied.