Sources: LCK hopes to return with online play by end of March

Riot Games

League of Legends Champions Korea, South Korea's premier esports competition, hopes to be back in action by the end of March, sources told ESPN.

Although sources close to the situation say Riot Korea and the LCK have discussed whether to continue playing in studio without an audience, it appears that the league will continue in an online format when it returns from its suspension.

LCK's 2020 spring season kicked off Feb. 5 in front of an empty LoL Park stadium, with fans not permitted to enter due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Media were allowed to interview players on-site, and the league took extra precautions to make sure all parties were safe. Interviewers were forced to wear masks during their time with players, and microphone equipment was covered.

On March 2, the LCK announced that it was indefinitely suspending the league at the conclusion of the first half of the regular season. A week prior to the final games at LoL Park, the media room at the venue was shut down. Along with the league's hiatus, LCK's weekly talk show, "Sunday Night LCK," was put on indefinite suspension.

"Due to the on-growing Corona19 epidemic, in order to ensure the safety of the members of the league, we have decided to have the LCK and Challengers Korea go on an indefinite hiatus," Riot Games Korea told outlet Inven Global. "Currently, we do not have a set return date and will keep a close eye on the epidemic to choose the appropriate date of return."

At the time of the league's suspension, Gen.G topped the standings with an 8-1 record, with rivals T1 and DragonX close behind with matching 7-2 records. The winner of the 2020 LCK spring season will advance to the second-biggest League of Legends tournament of the year, the Mid-Season Invitational, which recently had its start date moved from May to July due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. No location for MSI has been announced.

The game's pinnacle, the League of Legends World Championship, is still slated to take place later this year in China.