League of Legends Pros Lash Out At MSI 2022's New COVID Measures
While most of the esports industry seems to be leaving the pandemic in its wake, the impact of the virus is still being felt. As the gaming world prepares to accelerate their return to live events and crowd-hosting, some of the biggest international events are taking every precaution possible - even now, affecting the players like never before.
Since the return to live events, players have been allowed to operate freely within a confined space on-stage, given that they have followed all of the protocols, including multiple rounds of testing and quarantines.
However, going into the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI 2022) in Busan, Korea, Riot Games has now opted to sharpen the COVID-19 measures on players, much to the dismay to some of those competing.
MSI 2022 Reportedly Tried Introducing On-Stage Mask Restrictions For Players
According to several players in attendance at MSI 2022, Riot Games attempted to introduce further restrictions regarding masks, ruling that players must wear a face-covering whilst on-stage and competing. The news was first revealed by Evil Geniuses support player Phillipe "Vulcan" Laflamme, who competed at the World Championships 2021 without a mask for Cloud9.
Evil Geniuses, who are making their first appearance at an international championship, have relayed this message through their coach Peter Dun. Vulcan first identified this as a problem for all players through communication methods, and further problematic for players who wear glasses, such as himself.
"Can’t wait to first-time foggy glasses league of legends and muffled mic comms today," Vulcan said on Twitter. Dun added, "This is not in the rule book for MSI. Even KR [Korean] and CN [Chinese] playoffs had players maskless during games," clearly puzzled at the choice from Riot Games.
A published version of the MSI 2022 rulebook also states that players are not required to wear masks on stage, contradicting the apparent ruling. "Team Members must wear masks at all times when outside the team lounge, except on stage or when otherwise directed by Riot staff," the rules read.
Riot Games Reverse Mask-Wearing Rule On Players
Following the community backlash, Riot Games has reversed the decision, according to Vulcan.
Taking to social media, to quote his previous tweet, the LoL professional thanked fans for bringing their "pitchforks", as he will now be able to compete as normal.
Should the ruling have stood, it would have made MSI 2022 the first international S-Tier competition to make players wear masks whilst competing, a ruling that Riot Games didn't enforce during their recent VALORANT Champions Tour Stage 1 Masters in Reykjavik, Iceland, either.