2020 Worlds Format Change Announced, VCS Teams Unable to Compete
An unexpected 2020 Worlds format change was just announced, and it’s not a particularly positive one. Still, it was made out of necessity rather than the sake of experimentation. We already reported Riot’s plans to organize Worlds in an NBA-like bubble system; this means that all participating teams would compete in just a single city — Shanghai, China. This kind of set-up is still in place, but unfortunately, not all teams will have the luxury of competing.
Because of COVID-19 and national travel restrictions currently in place, the two qualifying teams from Vietnam won’t be able to travel to Shanghai. Riot and the VCS explored all possible options but were unable to find a solution. As a result, 22 teams will compete in Shanghai instead of 24. This is quite a big letdown, not just for the two best VCS teams who’ve worked tirelessly throughout the year to get to this point, but to the fans. Vietnam isn’t exactly a major region, but their teams were always far more competitive than one would expect. They often scrim with the best Chinese teams around. Naturally, they tend to pick up a couple of things. Their unrelenting aggression and sheer mechanical prowess entertained fans across the globe, and not seeing them this time around as well is quite a shame. Still, given the world’s current state, losing “just” two teams out of 24 isn’t all that dramatic. After all, the fact that we’re even getting a World Championship is like a small miracle in itself.
2020 Worlds Format Change | Play-In Stage
Because of this unexpected development, Riot had to restructure the event’s format to accommodate a fewer number of competing teams. This means we’ll see 10 challengers in the Play-In Stage instead of the usual 12. These 10 teams will divide into two groups of five. They’ll play a single round-robin, with the best-ranked team in each group advancing to the Group Stage; the two teams that did the worst (across both groups) will automatically be eliminated at this point. The third and fourth-best team within each group will then play a single Best of 5. After that’s over, the winner will face the second-best team from the opposite group and advance further.
Because of this slight 2020 Worlds format change, the third seed from the LCK will automatically advance to the Group Stage without competing in the Play-Ins. Riot came to this decision based on regional performance.
Overall, this isn’t exactly the way you want to start your day, especially not if you’re a fan of the VCS. Still, things could’ve been a lot worse, so we should count our blessings. Kudos to Riot for working around the clock to ensure a safe environment for all competing teams while maintaining competitive integrity. That’s not an easy thing, especially not in today’s challenging climate.