Skipped the 2020 edition due to Covid-19, the Mid-Season Invitational officially returns, the first international tournament of the competitive season of League of Legends. Contrary to the world championship which closes the professional year and in which the two or three best teams of the various competitive circuits compete, depending on the ranking of the regions (one in the case of the minor regions), the MSI welcomes only the winners of their respective championships. , making sure you have the best team in every single league.
The choice of the 2021 location was not trivial, necessarily having to take into account the Covid-19 factor. Iceland is currently one of the countries least affected by the epidemic: since the beginning of the emergency it has registered just over 6,000 cases, with a daily increase of 5-6 cases at present. Undoubtedly one of the places at least apparently safest and, above all, that can guarantee everything necessary for the event: modern internet lines, large spaces, accommodation facilities to be used for teams and organizers, simple airport connections, even for those who it has to get to the other side of the world. The alternative could have been New Zealand which is currently hosting the America’s Cup of sailing, the oldest sporting competition in the world. In addition to being a convenient place only for ocean teams, however, New Zealand has currently returned to lockdown until at least 10 March.
Reykjavik will host the League of Legends MSI, Icelandic capital, land of volcanoes and ice, from 6 to 23 May 2021. The best 12 teams in the world will participate in a totally renewed format, divided into three phases. No preliminary Play-In, the teams will all start from the same point, distributed in three groups of four with Bo1 home and away matches. The first two of each group, for a total of six, will move on to the next phase in which they will all be brought together in the same group, in the same way as the previous ones: round-trip Bo1 matches. The last two will greet the tournament, the best four will advance to the playoff stage with Bo5 knockout matches.
Not just League of Legends. Reykjavik will also host VALORANT’s first ever international live event, the Masters of the VCT – VALORANT Champions Tour, which will replace the MSI: the League final will begin on May 24, the day after. Participating will be the top 10 teams from around the world, ready to fly to Iceland to win a place in the VALORANT Champions. For Riot’s tactical shooter, at the baptism of ice and fire for a live event, a full and intense week of battles is planned with the final set for May 30th.
Starting in April, thousands of teams will try to qualify for Phase 2 of the Masters via their respective regional Challengers events, with the top 10 securing a spot in Reykjavik. “The VCT Masters in Reykjavík are our next step in establishing VALORANT as the fastest growing international eSport”, he has declared Whalen Rozelle, senior director of the export section of Riot Games. “Our fans are some of the most passionate in the world and we want to work hard to offer them a live event so they can see the first international match of their favorite teams.”
Teams from both esports will be quarantined upon arrival in Iceland. For the safety and health of players, staff and locals, the events will not be allowed to have a live audience, but all matches of the MSI and VCT Masters Phase 2 will be broadcast around the world on different digital platforms.
Both competitions will be played in the Laugardalsholl stadium, for the first time the theater of esports competitions but already famous throughout the world. In 1972 it hosted the chess match between Boris Spassky, from the Soviet Union, and Bobby Fischer, from the US, in the middle of the Cold War. A game of immense symbolic but also qualitative value, later defined as the “match of the century” in the history of chess. Thus, after having appropriated the symbols of football and traditional sport, Riot Games aims to find links also with the world of chess, a discipline in this period at the center of media attention with a boom in new users, especially online. And with many esports organizations, including Italy’s QLASH, who have decided to bet on chess as well.
“We are all thrilled to be able to showcase Riot’s world-class esports competition to such a beautiful and unique country as Iceland, to underscore how passion for our esports can be found in every corner of the world,” he has declared John Needham, Global Head of Esports at Riot Games. “The MSI and VCT Masters will allow us to get to know the rising stars of this season and will also be the starting event of our broader and more appreciated collaboration with Verizon in support of the ecosystem of our esports”.
In addition to these two events, Verizon’s multi-year agreement as an official 5G partner also extends to international events highlights of the League of Legends and VALORANT competitive calendar, including the World Championship, returning to North America in 2022, the All-Star eSport event of LoL, three VALORANT Champions Tour Masters tournaments and the VALORANT Champions. Verizon is also a central partner in VCT Game Changers, VALORANT’s new program that will organize monthly tournaments to provide more opportunities for players to compete at semi-professional and amateur levels.