Riot moves in-person 'League of Legends' championship due to COVID-19 surge

All post-season play will take place in Los Angeles.

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DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 25: The final play to end the game for Team Liquid that defeated Team Cloud9 to win their 4th straight championship during Day-2 of the 2019 LCS Summer Finals at Little Caesars Arena on August 25, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Team Liquid defeated Team Cloud9 3-2 in a best of 5 match play to win the North American 2019 League of Legends Championship. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

The eSports world is coming to grips with a resurgent COVID-19 threat. As The Verge notes, Riot Games has moved the last two matches of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) from Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Center to the LCS Arena in Los Angeles. The US spread of the new coronavirus' Delta variant has made it impractical to hold the large in-person event "in good conscience" even with vaccines in use, Riot said.

The LCS Arena is a "safer" location that will protect the health of Worlds representatives before they go to China, Riot said. While it wasn't surprised that other events would carry on, the Series didn't need to put people at risk just to offer its "core competitive product." LoL teams have played against each other in person at LCS Arena over the summer, but even those were derailed in favor of virtual competition after people associated with two teams tested positive for COVID-19.

The developer promised events at Prudential Center in the future, and said it would offer full refunds. More details would be coming soon, Riot added.

Other eSports leagues, such as the Call of Duty League, have pressed forward with in-person events in spite of the virus surge. However, Riot's decision suggests that at least some organizers are having a change of heart. We wouldn't be surprised if others followed suit, at least until vaccine use climbs and cases (hopefully) drop again.

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