Riot Games is changing its plans for the 2021 League of Legends World Championship (also known as Worlds). The event was supposed to take place in China for the second year in a row, but is moving to Europe due to travel complications caused by the rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
“We’ve reached a point where it’s extremely difficult to ensure that qualifying teams and their best players can participate in the Worlds this year,” said John Needham, Riot’s global head of eSports, in a video. “After considering all possible options, we concluded that moving the World Cup to Europe provided the best opportunity for most teams and their best players to compete.”
Worlds 2021 was supposed to take place in five cities across China, culminating in Shenzhen in November, after it was initially announced for the US in 2018. Riot didn’t reveal exactly where in Europe it will bring one of the biggest e-sports events this year, though Needham noted that accessibility for the greatest number of teams and their main players will be the most critical factor. Riot will reveal more details about the 2021 Worlds in the coming days and weeks.
Earlier this month, Riot moved the final matches of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) – the sport’s North American league – from an arena in New Jersey to the LCS Arena in Los Angeles. He said the increase in Delta variant cases meant he “can’t, in good conscience, run a big fan event right now.”
Other e-sports are still advancing with face-to-face events in North America. The 2021 season of the Call of Duty League has just ended, with the championship weekend being held at the sold-out Galen Center in Los Angeles. The Overwatch League playoffs and grand finals are scheduled to take place in Dallas and the same arena in Los Angeles, respectively, next month, marking the sport’s return to face-to-face events across the United States.