Riot Games delays MSI announcement due to coronavirus outbreak

Riot Games will delay the announcement of the dates and location for the 2020 Mid-Season Invitational due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

“As countries around the world respond to COVID-19, a.k.a. the Coronavirus, we’ve had to adjust our plans and delay announcing the timing and location of MSI 2020. While we remain committed to making the event happen, the health and safety of players and fans comes first and foremost, with the integrity of the competition a close second,” said John Needham, Global Head of Esports at Riot.

MSI traditionally takes place the start of May, but complications around the coronavirus outbreak have caused massive delays in some regions. China’s LPL is still on indefinite hiatus, now full three weeks behind schedule. Only one week of matches has been played in the LPL and with nine more to go on top of playoffs, it’s unrealistic to expect that the LPL finishes in time for the traditional MSI start. In Korea, the LCK has been playing without audience.

The spread of the virus and its seriousness thus poses a difficult question for Riot to answer considering the logistics. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 80,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide, and the death toll has now surpassed 2600 as of February 25. This is an increase of 7,000 new cases and 800 new deaths compared to just one week ago.

While the majority of cases are still in China (77.7K out of 80.2K cases total), the virus has spread to numerous countries world wide. South Korea, Italy, France, Germany, and the United States — all of which make for logical hosts for MSI 2020 — have all reported coronavirus cases, in varying numbers. Korea is second on the list behind China with 977 reported cases, followed by Italy (229), and Japan (229).

There are still countries in Europe that both have a rich esports culture and don’t have a coronavirus epidemic yet. Spain, which hosted the Worlds 2019 quarter and semifinals, have just two reported cases. Sweden, which has one of the oldest esports traditions on the continent and will host Dota 2’s The International this year, has only one reported case.

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