The 2020 LOL season, like almost every aspect of life this year, has been a bit different. Regional leagues are being played remotely due to the threat and spread of coronavirus. Originally scheduled for May, the 2020 Mid-Season Invitational was first delayed until July and subsequently canceled entirely as it became clear that international travel was not going to be feasible in that timeframe.
For now, the end-of-season World Championships in Shanghai, China, remains a “go”. When the MSI was canceled, organizers Riot Games issued a statement confirming that Worlds was still on the docket and that extra resources were being allocated to ensure a successful tournament.
Usually, the MSI is part of the qualification and seeding process for Worlds so Riot has had to adjust. The 2020 edition remains a 24-team tournament, but with the following qualifier distribution set in advance:
|Region||Number of Qualifiers|
|North America (LCS)||3|
|Southeast Asia (PCS)||2|
|Latin America (LLA)||1|
|Commonwealth of Independent States (LCL)||1|
The exact field and pool placements have yet to be determined, and it’s clear that oddsmakers don’t really know how to handicap the event yet.
You can track the LOL world championship odds via SportsBettingDime.com throughout the year, but the site hasn’t been able to update the odds for months as sportsbooks haven’t posted any new futures.
That’s telling, this year especially. With a nearly complete lack of professional sports to watch and wager on, eSports has seen a boost in popularity in 2020, pulling in new fans who, in past years, were tuned into more traditional sports. Riot and Red Bull even partnered to create a new online tournament series called “Power Spike”. Sportsbooks, of course, followed suit, offering odds and betting options on an increasing number of eSports leagues and events.
The fact that they are not yet posting odds on Worlds is a sure sign of the uncertainty around the event.
The reality is that the entire tournament is likely dependent on the world’s ability – China’s ability, in particular – to quell and control the spread of the virus. Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the White House’s (and world’s) leading immunologists, reminded NFL football fans that the “virus will make the decision for us” when it comes to starting the 2020 season.
Dr. Fauci says NFL season is feasible: ‘The virus will make the decision for us’ https://t.co/wICAyy1d2E
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) May 11, 2020
LOL and the other eSports leagues around the globe are much more able to run competitions remotely than sports like American football. But when it comes to a massive event like the World Championships, which is slated to take place in a 55,000-seat stadium, there really is no difference. Riot will not be able to hold the tournament if China is not able to ensure a safe environment.
It’s also unlikely that organizers would try to hold the flagship eSports event of the year without fans in attendance. With teams traveling from so many disparate parts of the globe, international travel to China will have to be safe period in order for the event to go ahead.