Like other Esport titles, League of Legends is struggling with the Corona crisis. Whether Riot Games will continue to fully host leagues like the LEC and LCS is questionable. What are the alternatives?
In these times of the Corona crisis and the measures that have come with it, League of Legends-Esport must also find new ways. The transfers of its leagues will be carried out in accordance with social distance guidelines.
In the European League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and the North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), Riot Games solved the problem at the end of the Spring Split by completely outsourcing both game operation and production from private homes by the end of March. However, this approach presented some difficulties.
Long breaks, sound problems and Co.
Of course, when moving such a complex production as the LEC broadcast from the studio to the private premises of the commentators and analysts, it is almost impossible to avoid technical problems. In both the LEC and the LCS, viewers sometimes had to put up with unusually long breaks and sound problems.
Although the production remained of high quality, Riot Games was naturally limited without a studio. The fact that the players also played in their teams’ gaming offices also resulted in connection problems, which sometimes dragged on for a long time and caused game interruptions.
In addition, there were unpleasant spoilers, because due to the deliberate time delay of the transmissions, which were supposed to guarantee fairness, various betting providers published results of the LEC and LCS matches in the broadcast several minutes before the end of the match.
One thing is clear: the health and safety of all concerned comes first. That is why it is probably not an option to simply move the match operations back to the studios in Berlin and Los Angeles for the summer split starting in June. What are the alternatives?
Studio crew as best option
What the Chinese LoL Pro League (LPL), for example, has done – despite a long break due to the Corona pandemic – is the production in the studio. However, neither players, audience nor press were on location. This way, only the production crews of the LEC and LCS in Berlin and Los Angeles would have to be gathered in one place.
With protective masks for the employees and sufficient safety distance, one would adhere to the Corona guidelines, while still having a centralized production for the broadcast, thus preventing technical difficulties and creating the accustomed ambience. However, the professionals themselves and all viewers would still have to stay away from the studio to ensure their safety. Admittedly, this would not solve all problems.
Nevertheless, this seems to be the best approach that Riot Games could take at the moment to make the production of its leagues as smooth as possible.
It is still unclear whether the publisher and organiser will continue to rely on pure online execution for safety’s sake or whether they will at least partially reopen their studios. The teams participating in the two leagues seem to agree to continue to play from outside, there were no critical voices.
The cancellation of the Mid-Season Invitational on April 23rd has shown: not all the hurdles posed by the spread of the coronavirus can be overcome by esport. A tournament with participants from different continents is simply not feasible at the moment, because due to the distance the whole thing doesn’t work in online mode. The participants also understood this decision.
On June 12, the LEC will start the summer split, the starting signal for North America’s LCS will follow one day later. League of Legends fans will probably have to accept some cutbacks in the summer, but at least the leagues can still be played in contrast to classic sports competitions.