Rumors of South Korea as the destination for MSI 2022 have now been confirmed

Riot Games has officially announced that Busan, South Korea, will host the Mid-Season Invitational 2022 (MSI 2022) this May. The venue and tournament details were announced in an official release late on March 29th. Between May 10th-29th, the international League of Legends tournament will take the stage at the Bexco Exhibition Hall in Busan.

The announcement confirms what was widely assumed to be the destination for MSI since reports emerged in February 2022. But the release surprised with the confirmation that an international live audience would be in attendance. This is the first time since Worlds 2019 that a live in-person audience will have attended a major international League of Legends tournament.

League of Legends books a Train to Busan

MSI heads to South Korea for the first time (Image via Riot Games)
MSI heads to South Korea for the first time (Image via Riot Games)

In the release, Riot Games Global Head of LoL Esports explained why South Korea was the perfect venue for MSI 2022: “South Korea has been a trailblazer in the esports industry for decades. We’re thrilled to honor its rich history in esports, the passion of Korean fans, and the talent of the pro teams by bringing MSI to Korea for the first time.”

Both Worlds 2014 and Worlds 2018 were hosted in Busan, South Korea. But as the release says this is the first time in MSI’s seven-year history that it will head to Korea. 

Busan has frequently been named as one of the most important cities in esports, with a deep history of StarCraft: Brood War finals and other esports events. The city’s mayor Park Heong-joon welcomed MSI in a statement in the release “Busan is a candidate city for the World Expo 2030. MSI 2020 will serve as a decisive opportunity for Busan…” 

A bold return to crowds for MSI 2022

The tournament will be played "in front of an international live audience" (Image via Riot Games)
The tournament will be played "in front of an international live audience" (Image via Riot Games)

The most fascinating part about this new release is the confirmation of an in-person audience. LoL leagues across the globe have struggled to return to in-person attendance due to Covid. Even teams have struggled to head to the studio for games. Riot Games has in the past persevered through sheer magnitude of resources to put on international events during a pandemic. But an international audience is a far more complicated task.

As we mentioned in our previous report, MSI 2022 will likely be held on a backdrop of rising cases of Covid in South Korea. Meanwhile, China recently entered its largest ever city-wide lockdown. Additionally, the Chinese league, the LPL, announced its Spring Playoff schedule that had been delayed by Covid. No replacement date has been announced.

Riot Games has aspirations for MSI 2022 are to have it be an international event. But it may find itself struggling against the rising tide of a pandemic resurgence in the region. If issues around their playoffs continue, the LPL could find itself in a similar position to the VCS at 2021 worlds. At that event, the entire Vietnamese region was left out of the tournament. Hopefully the LPL and MSI 2022 will not suffer a similar absence.