If you don’t live in North America, better start adjusting your sleep schedule ahead of Worlds 2022. Riot Games’ provisional schedule for the tournament reveals that it’s going to be a test of endurance for international viewers.
Worlds 2022 begins on September 29 and will visit three North American time zones over its month-long duration. To maximize North American viewership, most matchdays (Play-Ins through Semifinals) will begin at either 3 pm or 5 pm local time. That equates to, at the earliest, 21:00 CEST and 5:00 KST. However, the pièce de résistance is the Grand Final which begins at 1:00 CEST and 9:00 KST.
All of this begs question: who is this Worlds 2022 schedule for?
Average viewership of the LCS hit a record low in Summer 2022 at 115,545. Korean was the second-most popular language to watch the LCS in, but most Worlds matches begin before dawn in the country. With matches running throughout the European nighttime, most fans in that region will likely catch up with the tournament the following morning.
Judging by the schedule available to us, Worlds 2022 is prioritizing North American viewership despite that region’s documented decline in interest. Riot’s plan could very easily backfire, especially if no North American teams reach the playoffs.
North America has always been a difficult place to run an international event. It carries numerous logistical challenges along with a history of minimal success for LCS teams on the international stage.
However, the solution is not to make Worlds 2022 less accessible to the international community.