[Update] MSI 2022: Riot Games Mandates Masks for Players on Stage?
: For the first match of MSI 2022, players of T1 and Saigon Buffalo are on stage, getting ready to claim their first victory of the tournament. Contrary to the reports, the players of both the teams are not wearing masks on the stage, hinting that Riot could have reverted its mandate after the backlash from the community.
Evil Geniuses’ support player Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme and head coach Peter Dun confirmed the development. Vulcan on Twitter, “Riot has now changed their mind it seems, thanks for the pitchforks everyone” and added, “Common League community W.”
COVID-19 has been taking its toll on the routines of people from all walks of life for the last two years now. Esports has not been spared either, because most LANs have faced the wrath of the virus. Now, just hours before the start of League of Legends’ Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) 2022, Riot Games has reportedly brought in a new COVID-19 rule to be followed during the course of the international LAN at Busan, Korea. Members of North America’s (NA) Evil Geniuses have brought to the fore that Riot has reportedly mandated masks for players and coaches while on stage.
Evil Geniuses Head Coach Peter Dun takes to Twitter
Evil Geniuses head coach Peter Dun wrote on Twitter, “Found out this morning that Riot [is] going to insist on all teams at MSI wearing face masks on stage at the venue in Korea even during games. This is not in the rule book for MSI. Even KR [Korea] and CN [China] playoffs had players maskless during games (and you have to wear before/after).”
According to Dun’s tweet, it seems like Riot had instructed the teams about the mask mandate on the day of the MSI 2022. Notably, when Riot Games brought teams back into the studios in the major regions of NA, Europe, Korea, and China, players were maskless while on stage. The biggest disadvantage would be for players who wear spectacles since masks tend to fog up the glasses.
Evil Geniuses support player Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme said, “Learned yesterday that we have to play with masks on for MSI stage games. Can’t wait to first-time foggy glasses league of legends and muffled mic comms today.”
Notably, all the players were asked to self-quarantine for a week at their accommodations by Riot Games even though there is no official Korean mandate. It was a limited one where those quarantined were allowed to go between players’ rooms and the practice room provided inside the hotel.
League of Legends personality Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles also shared his two cents on this development of mask mandates. He replied to Dun and pointed out, “It [Riot] actually explicitly states in the MSI 2022 rulebook that you don’t have to wear masks on stage.”
However, in the rulebook Riot has stated that “team members must wear masks at all times when outside the team lounge, except on stage or when otherwise directed by Riot staff.”
The MSI has been a tournament that has been hit by COVID-19 in the past three years. Last year, the representative from the Vietnam Championship Series (VCS) was not able to participate in the event and the year before, the tournament was called off completely. It seems to make sense as to why Riot is being extra cautious but it could have certainly informed the teams well in advance.
The players are already at a disadvantage since they will be playing a LAN tournament on 35 ms and now they have to find a way to effectively communicate and overcome visual impediments while wearing the masks on stage. MSI 2022 is all set to kick off in a couple of hours today (10th May) with the opening match between Korea’s T1 and Vietnam’s Saigon Buffalo.