The backbone of the gaming community has always been remote connections; talking to and forming friendships with people a million miles away through the magic of the screen.
However, there are some things that COVID-19 has made nearly impossible in the gaming community, with numerous tournaments shut down over the past few weeks in order to protect the health of both players and production staff.
The LEC and LCS are the two most recent leagues to move to a remote-access format, after the LPL and LCK were taken offline earlier this year. During their weekend of absence, many fans were left to confront the horrifying realisation - what do I watch when my favourite region isn’t playing?
We are here to assuage that fear: read on for a list of alternate sources of high level League of Legends gameplay, collected by us to stave away the blues of social distancing.
League of Legends Pro League (LPL)
With the COVID-19 outbreak beginning in China, and the LPL forced on hiatus due many of the players living in the epicentre of the outbreak, many thought the LPL would be unable to return for the rest of the Spring Split.
However, a solution was eventually discovered, and it was decided the tournament would be played remotely from team houses until the epidemic had calmed down.
With the high-octane, high-lethality gameplay we have come to expect from Chinese teams, tune in for skirmishes, unique picks, and a toplane carry meta unlike anything else in the world.
With top teams Royal Never Give Up, Invictus Gaming and FunPlus Phoenix all having achieved international acclaim in recent years, now is a perfect time to explore a region which had gone relatively unnoticed by Western fans.
If you need somewhere to jump in, look no further than the first series of the season - a nail biting best of three series between the 2018 and 2019 world champions.
In the coming weeks, a match to watch out for is FunPlus Phoenix versus Royal Never Give up on the 22nd March - a clash of titans made harder for Royal Never Give Up with the loss of their superstar AD Carry, Jian "Uzi" Zi Hao.
FunPlus Phoenix won Worlds 2019 (Picture: Lolesports)
Oceania Pro League (OPL)
Another region which has gone under the radar to many Western fans, the OPL has an advantage as one of the only minor-region leagues to have an all-English broadcast.
With the OPL talent finally beginning to be exported to major leagues, the world is finally beginning to take notice of the region as a whole. OPL alumni include Origen’s support Mitchell "Destiny" Shaw and 100 Thieves’ mid laner Tommy "Ryoma" Le.
Although tuning in live can prove a little difficult for EU fans due to the time zone difference, the VODs are all available on YouTube and Twitch, and are worth the watch for both the up-and-coming talent in the region and the superbly talented on-air broadcast team.
The OPL is often overlooked (Picture: Lolesports)
Emerging Region Leagues (EU ERL’s)
Most EU fans will have heard the ERLs mentioned numerous times on the LEC broadcast - with many of the most successful players in the LEC finding their feet in EU’s minor regions, widely considered to be some of the best in the world.
If you’re looking to continue supporting your favourite LEC team, then look no further than these leagues - many of which contain the ‘sister teams’ for all-star LEC rosters like Fnatic, Excel and G2.
Tune in to the UKLC to watch Excel’s sister team BT Excel continue their undefeated winning streak; look to the Superliga Orange to watch G2 Arctic battle against MAD Lions Madrid; and check out the German Prime League to watch Schalke Evolution go head-to-head with the wonderfully named Unicorns of Love: Sexy Edition.
Funny names aside, the ERLs are a stomping group for future LEC pros- if you want to impress your friends with your in-depth knowledge of EU’s next wave of talented rookies, or get a read on the meta by watching the scrim partners of many LEC teams, then look no further than Europe’s emerging regions.
EU and NA in-house tournaments
Last but not least, we have the LEC and LCS in-house tournaments. Set up by players and casters, these in-houses are, to put it nicely, an absolute mess (but in the best possible way).
The LEC in-houses, all available on YouTube and have treated us to Fnatic’s top laner Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau role-swapping to the jungle on Zac and Gragas, and G2’s Rasmus "Caps" Winther role-swapping back to midlane and going 13/2/7 on Sejuani.
Meanwhile, over in the LCS, the in-house tournament saw the infamous 2016 Team SoloMid roster reunited at long last - a nice nostalgia trip for fans looking to remember the ultimate bottom lane bromance of Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng and Vincent "Biofrost" Wang.