If you're a League fan, you'll know that we're only a couple of months away from Worlds. Today, Riot Games announced that the final for Worlds will take place in Incheon, South Korea, on November 3. There's just one small problem: there's no venue yet.
In a quick FAQ below the dates and details for this year's World Championships, Riot explained that their preferred location for this year's finals "fell through late" in the booking process. As part of a mea culpa, Riot global events lead Derrick Asiedu tried to explain why the developer is only able to announce dates and locations so late in the piece, given that the locations and dates for last year's Worlds were announced in February.
"Both the venue and us were interested in hosting the World Championship Finals, but there were a few variables that meant we had to wait a few more months before getting a firm commitment. In the meantime, we hedged our bets, went searching for a ‘plan B,’ and initiated conversations," Asiedu wrote.
"At this point, our preferred venue was unsure as to what dates they could sign to, which obviously had an impact on how we scheduled out the rest of the tournament. Through no fault of theirs, their timeline was being constantly extended and they couldn’t give a firm answer. Every week we’d come back together to see how much closer we were to confirming final dates, and every week we’d think we were just a bit closer. We weren’t."
The Riot events team kicked off negotiations with their backup venue, hoping to close the deal there. But for "other reasons", negotiations collapsed there as well. Come June, Riot didn't have a venue secured for their finals. And towards the bottom of the explainer, Asiedu added that a venue still hasn't been nailed down:
We would have liked to have informed all of you earlier, if just to let you know this was a priority for us and to maintain transparency as to where we were in the process. Unfortunately, revealing this kind of information also gives leverage to the venues we negotiate with - especially if they know we’re on a tight timeline. We opted to stay silent, and are once again sorry for all of the confusion.
We’re excited to have Finals in Incheon and have already made great progress in securing a venue that is worthy of the Summoner’s Cup.
I feel a bit bad for Riot here — obviously negotiations have been ongoing throughout the year, and clearly for multiple reasons, their main options fell through. That's left the team in the awkward spot of having to find another venue in short order, but they now have to do so while being open with the League fanbase — which will undoubtedly hurt them at the negotiating table.
To stop this going forward, Riot is looking to roll out a multi-year roadmap for Worlds so that venues are locked in well in advance. As a fun thought exercise, three main stadiums come up when you do a quick search of Incheon: the Incheon Football Stadium, which seats just under 21,000; the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium, which holds 30,000; the Incheon Munhak Stadium, with a capacity of just over 49,000.
All three of those would be smaller than last year's LCS finals, which took place in the 80,000 seater Beijing National Stadium. Bigger isn't always better though: a smaller stadium, particularly ones where fans are quite close to the pitch (similar to the setup for basketball stadiums or many football grounds in England), can work quite well.
It's entirely possible that other venues could be in play as well, of course. Either way, League fans waiting to book their tickets for Worlds finally know where the plane's headed. More information about Worlds, as well as the slightly truncated schedule (but same amount of match days) can be found on Riot's site.