Has the Competitive Integrity of MSI 2022 Been Compromised?

Sadakshi Kalyan Ramun
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The MSI 2022 is kicking off on 10th May as per schedule and all the teams will be playing on 35 ping for “competitive integrity.”
The LPL representative is playing MSI remotely from China due to strict quarantine measures.
However, people in the LoL community are pointing out the fact that the Chinese team could play in MSI in person and then go back to China and quarantine, since the Asian Games has been postponed.

League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), the first international event of 2022, is all set to kick off on 10th May and the teams are all warming up in Busan, Korea ahead of the Group Stage. The biggest talking point about the tournament has been the fact that all teams shall be playing on 35 ping.

Riot Games announced that China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) representative will be unable to travel to Busan due to the COVID-19 crisis. Instead, the LPL team will participate in the 2022 MSI remotely, said Riot Games’ Global Head of LoL Esports, Naz Aletaha, in an official release.

In order to keep the competition fair, Riot stated that it will be using a network latency tool to maintain a ping as close to 35 ms as possible for all teams throughout the competition. This means that all the teams will be playing on an inflated ping at the 2022 MSI.

The main reasoning for the LPL representative – Royal Never Give Up (RNG) Esports – not traveling to Korea was that the quarantine norms in China are very strict and that they could potentially not make it back in time for the commencement of the LPL Summer Split and the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou.

The 35 ping rule is a huge disadvantage for the Korean representative T1 since players in Korea practice and play on an average of 8-9 ms, which is the exact same as playing on LAN. Many Chinese pros play on the Korean server and they are used to playing on 35 ping from China. Notably, the North American and European pros are also used to playing on high pings on their respective Solo Queue servers.

Asian Games postponement and MSI 2022

On 6th May, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) officially announced that after detailed discussions with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) and the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC), the OCA Executive Board (EB) has decided to postpone the 19th Asian Games, which were scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China, between 10th - 25th September. The new dates will be announced in the near future, added the OCA.

2022 Asian Games

Asian Games 2022

In essence, what this means is that the LPL’s Summer Split schedule will most likely not be condensed to finish the regular split before the commencement of the Asian Games. Now, the question of the LPL representative not wanting to undergo quarantine because of the fear of missing out on the Summer split is most probably out of the question.

Reasoning the same, League of Legends personality Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles questioned on Twitter, “With the postponement of the Asian Games, there is literally zero reason that RNG can’t fly immediately to Korea to participate at #MSI2022 on LAN. LPL matches can be delayed since the Asian Games are not happening in September. It’s only fair, right?” He added that the competitive integrity of the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) and MSI has been compromised “for absolutely no reason.

Many in the League of Legends community seemed to take a similar stance and pointed out that Riot could waive its COVID-19 quarantine policy for the LPL team. However, this idea might be pushing it a bit too far.

Dimitri Vallette, CEO of Red Marble Gaming, an international agency and consultancy company based in Shanghai, said that leaving China might be a costly affair at the moment. They said, “Yeah, but I’m in Shanghai, and we can’t even get out of our apartment (most people that is). Ping (Transport) to the airport cost over $500 (can go up to $1,000). Not to mention the 2-3 weeks quarantine on the way back, and God knows where it would happen.

Even if there is no government-mandated quarantine in Korea for foreigners who have been fully vaccinated, it might be too late for the LPL representative to travel to the tournament since they have only a couple of days left.

In the past, Nick “LS” De Cesare also delved into the possibility of the Chinese team playing on high ping, but he was quick to dismiss it saying it would not be possible in a professional tournament. The high ping will certainly have a bearing on the way pros play the game since they are all used to certain animation cancels or combos that are only possible on lower pings.

With the tournament beginning in a couple of days, the League of Legends community will soon get its answer to the questions: Is it worth artificially increasing the ping for all the teams? Did Riot Games make the right call?

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Sadakshi is the newest addition to AFK Gaming. As a passionate gamer and an ardent League of Legends fan, she brings her journalism experience to the esports scenes of LoL and Valorant