Riot's favoritism towards the LPL? Why MSI being played on 35 ms is a huge disadvantage to the LCK

Image via Riot Games

The Mid-Season Invitational 2022 (MSI) starts in less than nine days. With each region’s representing teams safely making their way to Korea, they’re quarantining for five days before their tournament run starts on May 10.


There’s one team that’s playing from the comfort of their practice room, the LPL’s Royal Never Give Up, and it's not really their fault.


Due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions set by the Chinese government, circumstances prevent them from traveling to Korea to compete. However, since China is close in proximity to Korea, Riot Games decided to artificially set the ping to 35 milliseconds for the entire event.


Especially for the LCK and their representative, T1, this is a huge disadvantage. Players based in Korea practice on the KR server [solo queue] with an 8-11 ms ping, depending on where in Korea you are. Korean pro players usually have 8-9 ms, which is the exact same as playing on LAN.

I get 10 ms playing from home. Depending on where you are in Korea, you get 8-11 ms

A majority of the LPL pros also play solo queue on the Korean server, due to the quality of the player base being widely considered a lot higher than those in China. The milliseconds they get from China is around 35.


Fredit BRION’s top laner, Morgan, who has experience playing in the LPL and practicing from China, talked about why Chinese pros play on the KR server in a recent interview.


“Although there is a Chinese server, other LPL players thought that the overall quality of the Korean server was a lot higher, so they preferred playing on the KR server. Even with higher ping from China, they still preferred to play on the KR server. I’ve never played on Chinese servers, but I think that there are too many one-tricks on the Chinese server, which makes it unsuitable for practice.”


T1’s bot laner Gumayusi, recently talked on his stream about the milliseconds being universally set to 35 for MSI. He stated that “The ms difference is definitely noticeable, and as far as I know, Faker’s especially sensitive to ms changes.”


Every pro player will voice a similar opinion as Gumayusi, in that the difference between 8 and 35 ms is night and day. In the highest level of gameplay, the tiniest difference in micro defines what it means to make a good or a bad play. 

 A fan asked Gumayusi via donation: "Can you really feel the difference from 35 ms? I'm just a normal dude, so I can't really tell the difference myself." [Screengrabbed via T1 Gumayusi's stream]


Korean pros never practice on a ping that’s higher than 8-11 ms, which means that they’re used to certain muscle memory that’s ingrained into their systems. The same goes for the LPL pros. So the milliseconds being universally set to 35 for the entirety of the tournament is definitely disadvantageous for the LCK. 


There are good reasons to believe that this instance isn’t the first time that Riot Games provided advantages to the LPL. During last year’s MSI, there was the whole scheduling controversy, where LPL representative [RNG], being the lower seed, was granted the better semifinals match schedule over the LCK [DWG KIA], who were the higher seed. Favoritism was also shown to Chinese media outlets, where a select few were invited to fly over to Iceland for the later stages of the tournament, which was being played within a bubble.


VCS had to completely opt-out of international tournaments during the pandemic because of the government restrictions. Although circumstances then and now are different, you didn’t see Riot Games accommodating them on the level that they’re doing to the LPL this year. While there’s little argument to be made that MSI would be very bland without the LPL, the matter of competitive integrity remains questionable.

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