Hand Shakes, High-Fives Banned at ‘League of Legends’ Event, Due to Coronavirus

Organizers are finding it increasingly hard to hold gatherings with lots of people, and weird compromises are being made.
March 6, 2020, 6:23pm
Characters from the popular video game League of Legends.
Artwork courtesy of Riot Games

The Game Developers Conference was cancelled last week. It’s looking increasingly likely E3 is also on shaky ground, and other geek-related events are scrambling to figure out a path forward. Besides conventions, the other gaming events most impacted by the spreading novel coronavirus are esports events, where thousands of people gather into close proximity to watch skilled players square off against one another in close proximity.

Some esports events are simply ditching audiences, while the upcoming League of Legends spring finals, set to be held in Texas in April, are taking a different approach: competitors can no longer high five their teammates or shake hands with the opposing team after a match.

“The dynamic and rapidly-evolving situation around Covid-19 (aka coronavirus) is concerning to us, like the rest of the industry,” said League Championship Series commissioner Chris Greeley in a statement on Twitter today. “The health and safety of pro players, fans, and employees remain our top priority.”

League of Legends developer Riot Games did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what other steps they might be taking, or how they’ll enforce this policy. (Update: A spokesperson told VICE Games that "teams were briefed on the policy changes prior" to today's announcement and that the company will "continue to monitor the ongoing situation closely and follow best practices and recommendations from health authorities.")

For the moment, the event is still happening, but in addition to cancelling in-person fan meetups with players, anyone who no longer wants to attend can apply for a refund.

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