Riot Games has officially announced that Vietnam Championship Series teams will be unable to compete at the 2020 League of Legends World Championship due to COVID-19 and the tournament will proceed with 22 teams instead of 24.
In a blog posted Tuesday, Riot Director of Operations Tom Martell explained that the company "explored every possible option to include VCS teams while ensuring the safety of VCS players and the delivery of a world class event" Ultimately, the decision was made to omit Vietnamese teams from the tournament and bring the team total to 22.
On Monday, ESPN Esports confirmed initial reports that there were concerns of players and staff being unable to reenter Vietnam if they leave for China due to coronavirus precautions in Vietnam.
Due to the number of teams changing at worlds, the format will also be adjusted, according to the blog. The play-in stage will see 10 teams participate instead of 12.
The 10 play-in teams will be split in two seeded groups of five teams each and play a round robin. First place teams will advance to the group stage, last place teams will be eliminated and the remaining three teams per group will play a mini tournament: third and fourth place will play a best of five, the winner faces the second place team for another best of 5, the winner of that moves onto the group stage.
This new format also means that one team will be automatically advanced to the group stage from the play-in, and it was determined that the third seed from the LCK will be chosen, "after evaluation of past regional performance at international events."
Regarding future possible challenges approaching worlds, Martell wrote "Our internal teams have spent the year working with numerous agencies, governments, and industry stakeholders to ensure the health and safety of players and everyone participating in the event. However, if other adjustments may become necessary, we ask for your patience and understanding as we navigate through them."