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On Thursday, the League of Legends European Championship made the decision to start its season online. On Friday the League of Legends Championship Series did the same.  The LCS made an official announcement Friday afternoon that its pre-season Lock In tournament will have the group stage portion held entirely online. This is due to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Los Angeles county area.

The Omicron variant started to spread in the United States in mid-December. The New York Times reported cases in Los Angeles County were down to 1,000 cases per day in November. On Thursday, January 6, the New York Times reported that there were an alarming 37,094 new daily cases in the area. That is an increase at a rate of nearly 37 times the number seen just two months ago.

California reinstated its indoor mask mandate due to the severity of the situation. The mandate is in place through the middle of February according to the Los Angeles Times. The mandate states that every individual, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask when in all indoor public settings.

The LCS announcement echoed the LEC announcement.

“Our first and foremost priority is always the health and safety of players, coaches, team stage and Riot staff.” said the LCS in its official statement.

It went on to say that it will reassess the situation when the Lock In tournament reaches the knockout stage.

The bright side is that the Lock In tournament does not have an effect on the regular season. Some teams are not even fielding their starting rosters in the Lock In tournament. For example, TSM can’t field their starting roster due to “multiple issues related to COVID” with imports Zhu “Keaiduo” Xiong and Wei “Shenyi” Zi-Jie.

The LCS Lock In tournament starts with the group stage on Friday, January 14. The knockout stage will take place on the following Saturday, January 22.

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