Riot Games has suspended the LCK indefinitely as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to multiple journalists covering the league.
The league, often regarded as the best in the world, will shut down after the first round of games March 6. In addition to the competition, “Sunday Night LCK,” the league’s weekly talk show will be suspended.
Riot Korea commented on the suspension of the league, according to Inven Global.
“Due to the on-growing Corona19 epidemic, in order to ensure the safety of the members of the league, we have decided to have the LCK and Challengers Korea go on an indefinite hiatus,” Riot said. “Currently, we do not have a set return date, and will keep a close eye on the epidemic to choose the appropriate date of return.”
The Centers for Disease Control issued a level three travel health notice for South Korea, which has more than 4,800 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Korea is one of four countries in the world—the others being China, Iran, and Italy—to receive a level three warning, which says travel should be avoided unless it is essential.
Twenty-eight people have died due to the coronavirus in South Korea. China, the country in which the first batch of cases was discovered, is nearing 3,000 deaths. Italy and Iran each have more than 50.
The LCK’s suspension is just the latest in an ever-increasing list of esports events affected by the respiratory illness. South Korea’s sole Overwatch League team, the Seoul Dynasty, canceled numerous matches that were to be played in Seoul. Some of the matches were make-up matches that were originally scheduled for events in China.
China’s premier League of Legends league, the LPL, also has been greatly affected by coronavirus. After the first week of play, the league was suspended indefinitely.
The Chinese national general administration of sports department requested sporting events in the country be postponed until at least May, which has forced the league to change to an online format for the rest of the split.
With the suspension of the region’s premier competitions, the preparation of Korea and China, who recently announced an online-only league after weeks of delays, will be severely hindered for the Mid-Season Invitational, which seems to be in limbo as well.
Information regarding the Mid-Season Invitational, the second-biggest international event of the year in League, has been delayed by Riot, which said Feb. 25 it had to “adjust [its] plans” in announcing MSI details, including the dates and location, because of coronavirus.
South Korea and China, League’s most successful regions, have each hosted the League of Legends World Championship. China, which hosted the event in 2017 in four cities across the country, is set to host the event again later this year.
The municipal government of Shanghai, the location of the 2020 Worlds finals, encouraged tournament organizers to forgo LAN matches in favor of an online model while health officials attempt to contain the virus. Despite the worries and the growing number of cases, the government said it is committed to hosting Worlds later in the year.