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At least half of the League of Legends Championship Series teams are experiencing COVID-19 in some part of their LCS ecosystem, according to sources close to the league and some direct confirmation from teams themselves.

The LCS, which begins its preseason Lock In tournament on Friday, is facing similar struggles to other domestic leagues around the world with protecting staff and players from the viral Omicron COVID-19 variant. The league will begin play remotely for the 2022 spring season, and in 2021, the shift between remote play and in-person competition was a difficult hurdle for some players who struggled with burnout and uncertainty about what came next.

One team who responded confirmed that no player or coach across their LCS and Academy teams has contracted COVID-19 in the weeks leading up to the Lock In tournament. But the rest who responded had at least one positive case in either their player roster or coaching staff. The status of four of the 10 LCS teams is unclear.

One team had a staff member contract it, but it was not spread to anyone else on the team, sources said, and that staff member has already tested negative again after their quarantine. Another team had a few players contract COVID over the offseason, but they were quarantined during practice and did not spread it to their teammates.

An empty LCS Studio during Worlds 2021
The LCS studio will be empty for the start of Lock In. | Photo by Parkes Ousley

A week before the start of the LCS Lock In tournament, Riot Games moved the event from in-studio to remote play, which led to an outcry from fans who were excited to see the teams back in their LCS home. The LCS has been restricted to remote play for almost the entirety of the past two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. The LCS also had to cancel its asset weekend, in part due to COVID-19 related issues, but also due to a lack of fully processed visas, which limited the number of players who could attend.

According to a report from Dot Esports, the League of Legends European Championship is also having issues with COVID-19, with at least four LEC teams experiencing at least one case of COVID-19. The LEC started remote play this weekend, and the league is set to stay remote through the first three weeks of play, with an eventual reassessment about returning to the studio for Week 4, according to Dot Esports.

After the decision to move Lock In to remote play LCS Creative Director, Justin Restaino, tweeted out, “There is nobody more passionate about getting the LCS back to normal than the crew and players. Ultimately as we are seeing rising cases that affect those close to us, the health and safety of everyone comes first.”

He later followed up with a fan, stating, “There is an uptick in people testing positive. Not just in Los Angeles but within our ecosystem.” He explained that the LCS was moving the first weekend of the preseason tournament to remote play to protect LCS players and staff, as well as Rioters and others who would be on-site during the matches. Lock In play begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on Friday with TSM facing 100 Thieves.

Upcomer has reached out to Riot Games for comment on moving the Lock In tournament to remote play. This is a developing story.

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