League of Legends Worlds 2020: Tales from the bubble

Prevailing by a final margin of 3-1, DAMWON’s victory restores the championship to LoL Esports’ most elite league, LCK (Korea), whose teams have won five total titles, but none in the past two years.

Damwon’s win caps off a season drastically altered by the covid-19 pandemic. Riot Games, which owns and operates the 12 regional leagues of LoL Esports around the globe, managed to get all their leagues back into action by late March after shifting to remote, online-only operations. Despite the conditions, the company claims average viewership grew by 30 percent year over year.

Deciding to push ahead with their year-end live event, Riot implemented a series of safety protocols for the World Championship to conform with the Chinese government’s standards and decrease the chances of covid-19 spreading among the players and team support staff.

Unlike the NBA bubble, players were free to leave the hotel after a 14-day quarantine in a Chinese-government run facility, which was a converted hotel, and a 7-day quarantine in their hotel. To get a better sense of what it was like to compete at one of the world’s biggest esports events amid such circumstances and hear more about their time both inside and out of the Worlds bubble, The Washington Post spoke with several participants from the event’s group stage.

On their arrival in China and coping with the 14-day quarantine

Joshua “Jatt” Leesman, head coach of Team Liquid

Attended all previous Worlds events, except for the first one, as a caster.

Going through the airport was really unique experience with all the airport staff being in full protective equipment from head to toe.

It was really difficult to prepare [for the tournament]. You could tell Riot had put in a lot of effort to make sure we could prepare, but it was still not ideal because they had to get this gear into the hotel and they couldn’t bring in new gear after we got there, and they had to do it for all the teams.

We had a humidifier, weights, a circular desk, a monitor, computer and we brought our own keyboard and mouse. The Internet was serviceable but not great. It was not an ideal practice environment, but I told the team, it was at least a level playing field, everyone was experiencing the same thing.

It was really stressful, but that was due to practice reasons, less about the room. There were a few times I wanted to take a walk, but I just got on the phone or looked around. The worst part was the food delivery, because it was fixed at certain times and we adjusted our sleep schedule since our first match was at 10 p.m. A lot of times our food was cold or stale.

Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in, Team Liquid player

Former World Champion (2017), two-time seasonal MVP with five straight Worlds appearances

It was pretty peaceful. No one was there, so I could just play League all the time. Actually, for personal practice, quarantine is kind of…

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