UPDATE Jan. 8: A few days after the LEC confirmed that the 2022 season was starting online due ot COVID-19 concerns, the LCS has followed suit. The 2022 LCS Lock In, which takes place at the beginning of the LCS competitive circuit as of last year, will be played remotely in a fully online format.
According to an announcement on the League of Legends European Championships' social media, the league has made the decision to begin the season remotely. The ten European teams will still play their matches, but will be absent from the LEC Studio in Berlin, Germany. The news comes just days before the start of the 2022 season, after LoL Esports' successful Worlds 2022 tournament held offline.
The Twitter post explains that the decision is in response to the ongoing restrictions because of COVID-19, and the rising amount of cases in Berlin.
"Our first and foremost priority is always the health and wellbeing of the players, coaches, team personnel and our staff," states the post. "To achieve that and ensure the continuity of the league itself, teams will compete from their own training facilities for the beginning of the split. We will continue to assess the COVID-19 situation on a weekly basis and hope to welcome players back to the studio as soon as it is safe to do so."
Throughout 2021, the European region successfully hosted two mostly-offline splits of the LEC, as well as the premier international competitions: MSI and Worlds. The former were held in Berlin, while the latter were hosted in Reykjavik, Iceland. LoL Esports has shown swift action regarding the developments of COVID-19 — beginning the first few weeks of 2021 LEC Summer Split remotely, later returning to the stage in Week 5.
The announcement comes at the same time as the increase of COVID-19 cases throughout the world due to the Omicron variant. Cases have risen to as many as 406,754 confirmed cases on Nov. 22, 2021, compared to 4,729 cases on Jun. 21, 2021.
The 2022 LEC Spring Split begins on Friday, Jan. 14 with Team Vitality facing off against MAD Lions at 9:00am PT.
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