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Credit: Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

LPL moves online after massive coronavirus surge in China causes lockdowns


China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) has moved to an online format as coronavirus cases spike across the country, and as restrictions pile up to curb the biggest outbreak within its borders since 2020.

The situation in the country is unenviable: the city of Shenzhen is on lockdown until at least March 20 after cases across China tripled during the weekend.

China’s zero-tolerance approach towards Covid-19 worked until recently as outbreaks of the Omicron variant were contained. However, that changed during the last week, impacting all areas of life—including the LPL.

Indeed, the league already postponed Oh My God (OMG)’s games to the last week as the team entered a 14-day quarantine on March 9. As outbreaks continue and as lockdowns ensue across the country (especially in Shanghai), the LPL proactively worked around the situation.

The same cannot be said of the LCK: many outbreaks have occurred since the Korean Lunar New Year in February, and the situation grows direr as time passes—with Fredit BRION’s entire LCK lineup and some Academy players testing positive for the coronavirus.

As the LPL retains competitive integrity with starting lineups mostly preserved, the LCK is undergoing a crisis of sorts due to their live attendance requirement.

Their decision to stick it out, at least till the end of the regular split, prevented them from taking the necessary measures to ensure the highest level of competition, especially as stakes are raised. In Fredit BRION’s case, losses and forfeits can cost them their playoff spot as they are fighting for fifth place with KT Rolster and Kwangdong Freecs.