Riot Games announced this morning that Worlds 2021 would be moving from China to Europe following surges in the Delta variant of COVID-19.
“After considering all potential options, we concluded that moving Worlds to Europe provided the best opportunity for the most teams and their best players to compete.”John Needham, Global Head of Esports at Riot Games
In a video released by Riot Games, Needham explained that while vaccines have been distributed worldwide, the new string of COVID cases have made the visa process extremely difficult, with fears that some LoL esports teams may not be able to compete with their full rosters.
“Our teams and professional players invest incredible amounts of time and resources to compete for the Summoner’s Cup, and we feel a great responsibility to make every effort to give them that opportunity,” he explained.
This announcement also comes as several teams from across the world from multiple regions have begun determining which teams will represent them at Worlds. Regions such as North America and Europe have chosen their participants while others will qualify in the coming weeks.
Worlds 2021 was originally planned to take place in a five-city tour across China with stops in Shanghai, Qingdao, Wuhan, Chengdu, and the finals being held in Shenzen.
Needham also directly addressed the announcement to Chinese League of Legends fans who may be disappointed in the cross-continental move.
“We recognize there is no replacing the energy that comes from having Worlds in your region, but we’re still planning to deliver amazing experiences across China to view and participate in Worlds,” he said. “We’re confident these experiences will make our Chinese community proud.”
The announcements did not entail which cities in Europe will be hosting the respective events of Worlds. Further announcements are expected in the coming weeks as to where Worlds will be held and what format the event will take place in.
Europe previously hosted Worlds in 2019 where FunPlus Phoenix defeated G2 Esports 3-0. Last year, Worlds was held in Shanghai with no audience minus the Grand Finals, which held a limited audience.
Worlds will continue to be a global phenomenon, and fans can expect more updates to come with regards to League of Legends’ biggest event of the year.