Riot Games announced on Tuesday the locations and formats for the two largest international League of Legends tournaments of the calendar year, the Mid-Season Invitational and the World Championships.
MSI will take place in various locations around Brazil, and Worlds will head to China, culminating in the 91,000-seat Bird's Nest in Beijing, host of the 2008 Olympics. The Bird's Nest will become the largest venue to ever host a large-scale esports event, breaking the previous record held by the 45,000-seat Seoul World Cup Stadium, which hosted the 2014 Summoner's Cup final between Samsung Galaxy White and StarHorn Royal Club.
MSI will kick off in São Paulo on April 28, culminating with the final on May 21 inside the Rio Arena in Rio de Janeiro. It will be the first time a major international League of Legends event has been held in Brazil and the first time all 13 global professional regions will compete against each other. Riot has added a play-in stage to its international competitions, allowing for previously called "wild-card" regions such as Brazil and Commonwealth of Independent States (which finished in the top eight of the most recent World Championships) to have better opportunities to grow in equal stature as the major regions of South Korea, China, Europe, North America and Taiwan.
The 13 winning teams from the inaugural split of the 2017 campaign will compete at MSI. For their consistency over the past two years at MSI and Worlds, South Korea, Europe and China champions will be awarded a direct placement into the six-team group stage, while the North America and Taiwan champions will need to compete in a play-in round to advance forward into the main event.
The 2017 World Championships will be staged over a six-week period in China from Sept. 23 to Nov. 4. The tournament will go through four cities: Wuhan (play-in stage, group stage), Guangzhou (quarterfinals), Shanghai (semifinals), and finally Beijing for the Summoner's Cup finals. The finals will take place inside the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, which was used extensively during the 2008 Olympic Games, including the opening ceremonies.
Like MSI, the format for Worlds has changed. The field has ballooned from 15 clubs to 24, making it the largest World Championships of all time. South Korea, Europe, China and North America will continue taking three teams to the competition, as will Taiwan, having its total seeds at the tournament bumped from two to three.
For the other eight regions, each will bring its best team, except for the highest-placing team of the former wild-card regions at MSI, which will be granted a second team to the World Championships. If two regions, such as Brazil and Commonwealth of Independent States, tie in placement at MSI, past international results from 2015 and 2016 will determine which region receives two seeds at Worlds.