A preview of Worlds 2021 semifinals.
The World Championship (also known as Worlds) is the second of two yearly international tournaments in the League of Legends Esports scene, where players compete on franchised teams for fame, pride, a considerable salary, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash prizes.
22 teams from 12 regions (The Vietnam Championship Series couldn’t send their 2 teams due to covid travel restrictions) will compete for the ultimate prize in LoL esports, the 70-pound Summoner’s Cup. The tournament started with the play-in stage on October 5th, before advancing to the main stage groups, before eventually ending with the finals on November 6th.
The quarterfinals have wrapped up and unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to the hype. 3 clean sweeps and one good series. Fortunately, these semifinals have the capability to be some of the most exciting in years. I will be previewing each semifinal in order of when they are happening. Starting with…
Match 1: (#1B)
(LCK #3) vs (LCK#1)
How they got here: Possibly the two biggest names in the LCK have had incredibly dominant roads to the semifinals. T1 completely dominated LCK 4th seed Hanwha Life Esports in every position in every game. At no point did HLE ever even stand a chance as T1 completely decimated them 3-0 on their way to their 6th semifinals berth.
Damwon KIA showed a similar level of domination against the final hope of Europe, MAD Lions. While MAD would have their moments, getting a sizable lead in game 2 and mounting a comeback in game 3, Damwon KIA shut them out through superior mechanics, teamplay, and decision making in the clutch.
Neither team was truly challenged in their quarterfinals, and both teams topped their groups despite stiff competition. Now the only thing standing between these two organizations and a return to the finals stage they are oh so familiar with is each other.
What to watch for: This might just be one of the most hyped-up quarterfinals matches in League of Legends history. There is a good reason some fans and analysts are calling this the “true finals”. Damwon KIA have been looking unstoppable and T1 is the only team who currently looks like they stand a chance at beating them.
Any position you look, any narrative you chose, there is a guarantee that you will find something big. In the top lane, you have one of the game’s biggest veterans in Khan up against one of the fastest rising stars in Canna. Both have served as incredible carries for their teams. With both players primarily playing carry champions like Graves, Jayce, and others, it is sure to be a brawl in the top lane between the two best in their position left in the tourney.
In the jungle, you have a rookie starter in Oner up against Canyon. Oner, despite his youth and inexperience, is having the tournament of his life. His stat sheet is looking incredible with the lowest deaths, 2nd highest KDA, 56% FB rate, and highest GD@10 of all junglers. Canyon meanwhile needs no introduction. He hasn’t missed a beat from his Finals MVP form in 2020 and has been tearing through some of the most hyped up junglers like tissue paper. His Lee Sin against the MAD Lions looked immaculate both when he was ahead and playing with a deficit.
In the mid lane, it is Faker vs Showmaker. You could just leave it at the names alone and that would be enough. But for the players themselves, both are centerpieces of the teams and key parts of their success, but in different ways. Faker is more than willing to sacrifice an early lead and his personal stats in order to move around and secure advantages for his team elsewhere. While his stats may not look amazing on the surface, he is the reason so many of his teammates have the stats that they do. Showmaker has absolutely served as a carry for DK on champs like Leblanc and Ryze, but perhaps his best, and almost signature champion is Twisted Fate. He has played it 3 times with a KDA of 10, and consistently is able to roam around the map to secure advantages for DK. This is going to be a match between two of the biggest names in LoL and between two of the best mid laners to ever play the game. The greatest of all time against the one looking to take that title for himself.
And in the bot lane, its Gumayusi/Keria vs Ghost/BeryL. Gumayusi and Keria are having an absolutely stellar Worlds and have made a case for themselves as the best bot lane in the world. Gumayusi’s Aphelios has practically become a must-ban, as he has 7 games and no losses on it at Worlds. Keria came in hyped up as one of the best supports at Worlds and is absolutely delivering. He is playing whatever the team needs, be it enchanters or engage supports, and is looking good on both. The two players are threats individually and together. Their KDAs in the quarterfinals were 36.0 (Keria) and 30.0 (Gumayusi). Gumayusi didn’t even die once. Meanwhile, Ghost and BeryL have been the unsung heroes of DK. Despite the doubters, Ghost is putting up some great stats and has served as a solid ADC for the star-studded squad. BeryL is never afraid to make a play or roam around the map and has played 8 unique champions in 9 games.
Even the coaching staffs match up well with each other. Coach kk0ma and Faker were one of the most feared duos in League, and now they are on opposite sides as each try to win their 4th World Championship. Daeny left Damwon to coach T1 but left in July and headed back to his old team. The new coaches Stardust and Moment, despite being called up in the middle of the season, are taking T1 back to glory.
There is a good chance this best-of-5 will go down in history, and no matter who they are cheering for or if they have a team in the hunt at all, everyone is hoping and praying it isn’t a stomp one way or the other.
Prediction: DK 3-2 With the amount of talent in all 5 positions and behind the scenes for both teams, this quarterfinal is about as even a quarterfinal with Damwon KIA can get. Both solo laners are some of the best left at Worlds, and although you can give a slight advantage one way or the other (top is about even, mid is slightly DK favored), both teams’ star players are more than a match for each other. Both teams also have a clear advantage. Although Oner has been amazing, especially for a rookie, Canyon is a transcendent talent. He is practically impossible to bet against with his fundamentals and how he always shows up in the clutch. In the bot lane, that goes to T1. Gumayusi and Keria are having a tournament to remember. While Ghost and BeryL are fall from terrible, the T1 bot lane is looking almost unstoppable.
These teams played in the finals of LCK Summer only two months ago and that was a 3-1 victory where DK capitalized off mistakes and poor decision making from T1. With T1 looking to have cleaned those up, this series could very well go down to the wire. There are plenty of worlds where T1 is the one to take the victory. I give the narrow edge to Damwon KIA because of their dominance and how few reasons they have given me to doubt them. They are undefeated at Worlds, and everyone is on fire. Damwon KIA at their peak can beat any team in the world and although T1 will make it a fight, the statement will still stand true.
Match 2: (#1D)
(LCK #2) vs (LPL#1)
How they got here: Both teams entered their quarterfinals with adversity from their fans and haters and a lot to prove. Gen. G were lambasted for having to fight tooth and nail to get out of group D, and Cloud 9 looked as ecstatic to draw them as Gen. G looked for drawing C9. The series was predicted to be one that could go either way, but Cloud 9 also had the NA hype train behind them. Gen. G shut them up fast with a 3-0 sweep. They stopped a comeback in game one, were utterly dominant in game 2, and fought back from an early deficit in game 3. Gen. G defied fan expectation as every player performed and the LCK sent their 3rd team to the semifinals.
Edward Gaming drew a ton of flak for dropping the ball in groups yet again. As punishment for losing control of a group they were running away with, EDG were forced to fight an LPL civil war in the quarterfinals against their rival Royal Never Give Up. Unlike the other 3, this series was a bloodbath. RNG drew first blood through great play from Wei and Cryin. Game 2 saw the surprise of the tournament as RNG busted out the Annie in quarterfinals. It didn’t quite work out as EDG ran over the early game and didn’t completely throw it away to tie it up. Game 3 was much of the same story. EDG got a big early lead, but almost threw it away off of overextensions and poor decision making. The hero of the hour was the young jungler Jiejie on Olaf. Against all odds, he stole the Baron to keep EDG in it.
RNG would tie it up in game 4 thanks to surprisingly enough an Annie pick from Cryin. RNG took the early lead and never let go. It was all set for a do-or-die game 5. EDG would take it in dominating fashion as everyone outperformed their RNG counterparts. The black and white brigade would punch their ticket to the semifinals. EDG finally broke the curse. After 6 years of trying, EDG would finally make it to their first ever semifinal!
What to watch for: This is a very interesting matchup. When looking at all 4 semifinalists, EDG are the odd ones out in more ways than one. Not only are they the only non LCK team, but they are also the only team to not have a Worlds title. T1 have 3, DK won last year, and Gen. G (then Samsung Galaxy) ended the SKT dynasty in 2017. EDG have not only not won a Worlds, but they have also never even made it to finals, as they have been stuck in the quarters and groups for over half a decade. \
As for the matchup itself, there are 3 roles I would keep my eye on, the jungle, the mid lane, and the ADCs.
Neither Clid nor Jiejie were hyped up as the best players on their teams or the best of their position, but both are the major reason their teams are here in the semifinals. Clid made play after play against C9 and completely outmatched Blaber at every turn. As for Jiejie, the 2 baron steals speak for themselves. He was also a key factor in making game 5 as big a stomp as it was.
In the mid lane, you have two mid laners who have been underappreciated for years but are stepping up at the best possible time. BDD, despite always being elite, always was in the shadow of other star LCK mid laners like Faker, Chovy, and Showmaker. Now he is dragging Gen. G to success kicking and screaming if he has to. His mechanics have been great, and his champion pool has been one of the more unique ones. Although he has steered clear of the TF and the Ryze, his Aatrox in game 1 worked wonders and his Zoe has been a thing of beauty. It got them to the quarterfinals in the tiebreaker, and he sealed the deal with a great paddle star and bubble onto Zven in game 3.
And the bot lane is seeing two of the most hyped-up ADCs square off. Ruler is a Worlds winning ADC and he has been one of the premier ADCs of the world for years. He hasn’t exactly had his best tournament ever this year, but if anyone on Gen. G is going to step up, it should be him. Viper meanwhile was touted as the best ADC in the world entering Worlds 2021. He too hasn’t quite lived up to all the hype surrounding him. While he has been far from awful, he is not the best performing ADC at the tournament and was rather silent in most of the RNG series. Neither player has played to their peak, and both will have to if they want to secure their team an advantage.
Prediction: EDG 3-2. Once again, this is a matchup that could truly go either way. Neither team has looked fantastic so far and both teams have had to fight and struggle to get this far. This series is going to be decided by which teams and players play up to their potential. There is a reason Gen. G is the 2nd seed from the LCK and EDG is a champion of the LPL. But with how they have played, neither look to be up to the task of facing either DK or T1. One of these teams will have to not only win the series but prove that they deserve to be a finalist in the process.
I am giving a slight edge to EDG as I believe they have a higher peak than Gen. G. Much like T1/DK, there are scenarios where Gen. G take this, but I think EDG has the edge in too many positions for the LCK rep to overcome. If EDG plays their best League of Legends, they should make history with their first ever visit to the finals.
The World Championship will continue October 30th with the 1st semifinal, South Korea’s T1 vs South Korea’s Damwon KIA, starting at 7am CST. You can find the full schedule at https://lolesports.com/, and catch every match there, on the LoL Esports YouTube channel, or at https://www.twitch.tv/riotgames.