The two representatives of the Vietnam Championship Series will not attend the 2020 League of Legends World Championship beginning in Shanghai on Sept. 25 amid concerns of players and staff being unable to reenter Vietnam if they leave for China due to coronavirus precautions in Vietnam, sources familiar with the decision told ESPN.
The news was first reported by Vietnamese gaming and entertainment website Gamek. The Vietnamese Championship Series summer playoffs are ongoing with the losers’ bracket finals between EVOS Esports and GAM Esports set for Thursday. Team Flash are already qualified for grand finals and would be qualified as one of Vietnam’s two worlds seeds.
As of Monday, Riot is not expected to replace the Vietnamese teams, instead running a 22-team tournament rather than 24 as originally planned. Riot Games did not respond to a request for comment.
Currently, Vietnam holds one seed in the main event stage and one seed in the play-in stage based off of recent international performances in the past few years. How their withdrawal from the world championship will affect their future seeding at other events is undetermined.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected esports globally. Riot Games canceled the Mid-Season Invitational earlier this year, which also would have affected seeding in the future for teams around the world. Riot is set to hold the world championship in a bubble environment, akin to the NBA, WNBA and NHL, in Shanghai due to concerns about the coronavirus.
Due to a second rise in COVID-19 cases domestically, South Korea’s LoL Championship Korea went online for the remainder of their playoffs and regional qualifier. Both the League of Legends European Championship and the League Championship Series in Europe and North America respectively have been online since March.
Immigration issues are a key topic of the upcoming world championship, as Riot Games works closely with its parent company Tencent and the Chinese government to allow for participants to enter — even from countries, such as the United States and Brazil, where COVID-19 cases are among the worst in the world per capita. That, though, is only half of the equation, with reentry into their home countries being a large concern as well, top U.S. esports immigration lawyer Genie Doi told ESPN in an interview several weeks ago.
— ESPN’s Tyler Erzberger contributed to this report
Genie Doi heads the immigration practice group at ESG Law where she provides fast, responsive and results-driven immigration counsel to esports teams, talent, and institutions.
Named Top 40 Under 40 for immigration law by the American Academy of Attorneys and an Immigration Law Rising Star by the American Institute of Legal Advocates, Genie has represented hundreds of clients from 14 countries across 6 continents and counting.
Genie Doi is a past speaker at ABA TECHSHOW 2020.