Press release

​​​​​​​Day 1: MSI 2022

​​​​​​​By Naz Aletaha, Global Head of LoL Esports

MSI 2022 is finally here, and Day 1 brought us some amazing League of Legends! We saw win streaks upheld, upsets secured, and old rivalries play out. While I am incredibly proud to see MSI in full swing and fans back in the stands, I want to share some thoughts on the first day of competition. 

The pandemic continues to be dynamic. Its impact to our sport, pro teams, community, and events is felt around the world, and MSI is unfortunately no exception. Our goal is to minimize that impact as best we can and deliver another incredible MSI, safely and fairly. 
The challenges have been real. Some have been preventable, and we take accountability for those. Others have been unpredictable, but with some nimbleness and creativity, not insurmountable. I’d like to provide more context on some of these challenges and share how we are approaching them.   

To ensure the health and welfare of all those participating in MSI, we implemented a variety of safety protocols in consultation with risk prevention professionals and local authorities. One of those protocols is the requirement for masks within the venue, which applies to pros before and after games, staff, crew, and audience. Due to the size of the Groups venue and the proximity of the stage to the audience, we made the decision to require pros to wear masks while on stage to maximize protection against covid. To maintain parity across competitive environments, RNG would also be required to wear masks while competing remotely. 

This new rule, however, was not clearly communicated to teams ahead of the tournament, causing confusion and frustration among players who had been understandably operating under the premise that masks would not be required. After hearing feedback from various pro teams and consulting with our risk assessment partners, we decided to amend the protocol. Teams can now elect to wear masks while they compete at their discretion, and we will distribute surgical-grade masks to the Group Stage audience to offer more protection for everyone in the building. The late and unclear communication here was an oversight on our part, one we apologize for and will learn from as we look to provide the best competitive experience going forward. 

Another consequence of the pandemic has been the constraints on travel. With Shanghai on lockdown since early April, RNG was unable to travel to Busan. Fortunately, we have the infrastructure necessary to support remote play between China and Korea by maintaining a 35ms ping for all players. Recently, some areas in Shanghai, including RNG’s location, have been faced with a stricter “no-traffic” lockdown, meaning deliveries cannot be made nor can anyone come in or out of the RNG facility. While referees are not allowed inside RNG’s facility, we are monitoring their games and providing ref support virtually, similar to how we monitored the LPL playoffs. We have placed multiple cameras and microphones to monitor RNG’s match room at all times. These cameras and mics allow us to view all the screens of all competing players throughout the competition, as well as get a full view of the room to ensure that nobody besides the participating players are present. We have also prioritized a single “look in” camera instead of the usual five player-facing cameras to ensure that there is enough available bandwidth to maintain consistent ping for the matches.

We’ve also seen questions around the specifics of the competitive environment for the players, in particular about the headsets that the RNG players are using. Due to the lockdown in Shanghai, we haven’t been able to provide our stage headsets to the players at the RNG training facility and have asked them to use their personal headsets while the lockdown constraints are still in effect.  These headsets do not have the same specialized technologies that we developed for our stage headsets, resulting in a significant amount of echo for players when speaking through the voice communication software. To combat the echo, we’ve allowed the players to mute each other in the software and talk to each other within the match room, with some players removing one ear of their headsets to accommodate. For clarity, RNG players only mute the incoming audio from their teammates -- all voice comms are still transmitted to our referees for monitoring. This is a departure from the on-stage environment in Busan, but it is a necessary one to ensure that RNG is able to communicate with the same clarity that the players on stage are. We are committed to maintaining competitive integrity throughout the competition and will continue to monitor matches in Shanghai and Busan accordingly.

As we head into Day 2, I want to thank the eleven competing teams for not only showcasing the best of LoL Esports, but for your resilience and feedback as we navigate these challenging times together. To our fans, thank you for engaging and caring about our sport so deeply. We’re thrilled that despite the turbulence of covid, we can come together as a community and celebrate League on a global stage. Here’s to a great MSI 2022!