- Edward Brady
Day 1 of Worlds wraps up. LNG goes undefeated, Turkey and Brazil show up big time.
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 will start with the play-in stage starting October 5th, before advancing to the main stage groups which will take begin on October 11th before eventually ending with the finals on November 6th. As the teams prepare to do battle in Reykjavík, Iceland, let us look at our participants and how they got here.
Day 1 has wrapped up and it was fairly exciting. We got to see 2 former teammates go at it, some minor regions reclaimed lost glory while others had their dreams die live on stage. I will be going through each game, giving the result, a headline that sums up the match, and a summary of how the game went, and a look at who the teams will play next.
Game 1: (LPL)
TLDR: The audience gets their first taste of the meta. Slow game as Ale weathers early storm to take over on signature Jax pick.
Summary: I think if you told people that this would be the 1st draft between 2 of the best teams in Play-Ins a few months ago, people would’ve called you crazy.
Thanks to many streams tracking the pros throughout their bootcamps and interviews leading up to Worlds, some of these picks were expected. Tryndamere mid lane just takes 3 rejuvenation beads to start and never dies. Qiyana jungle got buffed. Ale played Jax quite a few times in LPL. Icon picked Gragas mostly to keep Tryndamere away from the squishy members.
The game would be a slow one and both teams would show some nerves and surprises. LNG would mess up their combo that defines their teamfight multiple times. Tarzan would hit 4 people with his ultimate and Light wouldn’t be in position to follow up. Despite many visits to the top lane from Willer, Morgan only got a small lead and Ale was not completely shut down. The first gank was just Ale outplaying it, but the 2nd one broke down with some mistimed abilities. The focus points were clear for both teams as Tarzan would visit the bot lane to get Light ahead, while Willer would try to get the Irelia ahead. Chovy almost took over the game on Tryndamere as he got to run rampant throughout the backline if LNG messed up the combo. He definitely showed why the pick was so hyped up coming into Worlds.But LNG would eventually start winning the key fights. HLE was all AD (Karma isn’t picked for damage) and Ale would itemize against it with items like Plated Steelcaps and Randuin’s Omen. Picking Jax here was a very smart move against so many auto-attackers. In the final fight, LNG would be able to keep Chovy out of the backline, while HLE couldn’t do the same against Ale as he jumped into 3 people and was in very little danger of dying with counterstrike and Sterak’s Gage.
The top/jungle duo of LNG would end with 4.5k and 2.2k gold ahead while Light would clean up the positioning mistakes and be a huge source of damage, ending with a 4.1k gold lead. Deft and Vsta got shutdown early and while he would do some damage in the midgame fights and prove to be very slippery, Light’s MF damage would clean up more kills, and Iwandy’s Rakan was vital for getting picks, starting fights, and keeping the squishy members alive. Meanwhile the top side of HLE would go a combined 0/8/5. Sure, KDA’s don’t tell the whole story but HLE trusted in Morgan to be the carry and it didn’t particularly work out. It’s hard to draw any big conclusions from the game as it is the first one of Worlds, but LNG winning here was huge, as if they win out, they advance to group stage and get side selection in a potential tiebreaker match with HLE.
Game 2: (CBLoL)
TLDR: Infinity’s great early game falls apart off overcommitments. TitaN overcomes early errors to carry the game.
Summary: More of the picks people were expecting have shown their face as Infinity picked up a Lucian/Nami bot lane. The pick would work wonders early as Infinity would start the early game very strong. Cody would help WhiteLotus pick up 1st blood, INF would pick up 2 more, while RED could only pick up 1 because TitaN canceled his MF ultimate with his own flash. Don’t worry, we’ve all done that before. WhiteLotus would efficiently use the early power of Lucian to pick up 4 kills by 15 minutes. It wasn’t perfect as RED top laner Guigo was getting stronger and Cody was mostly silent, but INF was ahead and had the tools to win. They had a 6-3 kill lead and 3 early dragons. WhiteLotus was huge on Lucian, Buggax was playing well on Kennen.
It all fell apart for Infinity at the 19-minute mark as Aegis’s Lillia found a sleep onto WhiteLotus and Ackerman gave up his life for him. Cody was late on the teleport and Guigo picked up the kill on him. Only around a minute later, Ackerman would facecheck a bush with alone with Grevthar and Aegis in it while WhiteLotus was split up from his support and died to Guigo and TitaN. This also had the benefit of giving RED the baron and TitaN the shutdown gold. From there, RED never let up the gas. TitaN would hit massive MF ultimates, JoJo would keep him safe, Grevthar would be huge after a rather quiet laning phase with huge showstoppers and haymakers on Sett. And Guigo was untouchable on a side lane. This was the kind of start RED Canids needed as a win in the first game can be a huge confidence boost. So much of RED are inexperienced so getting out the nerves early and picking up a W in the process shows good signs for RED going forward. Huge props to TitaN as a big mistake like that early on the biggest stage can cripple the mental state. He didn’t let it and ended up outperforming WhiteLotus even when behind when it mattered most.
I don’t want to write off Infinity after 1 game, but there are definitely some concerns. Cody left a lot to be desired. He got counterpicked and he had very little impact, going 0/5/3 to Grevthar’s 5/2/6. In this case, the KDA’s tell much of the story as the laning phase (which stats show should’ve gone Cody’s way in significant fashion) was only back-and-forth, and he wasn’t doing much in teamfights. His Sylas never found a good fight, and in the battle of South American mid lane prodigies, he came up short. SolidSnake wasn’t making the plays he needed to on Jarvan IV. INF wanted him to make plays early and he really didn’t. WhiteLotus was the bright spot of INF early but an overcommitment cost him dearly. Infinity looked much more like their spring selves than their summer improvements. That was supposed to be one of the easier games of the group stage, so Infinity Esports are going to have to turn it around fast if they don’t want to go home early.
Game 3: (LPL)
TLDR: Ale has another fantastic game on a carry as the status quo plays out
Summary: One of the teams from a top 2 region plays a team from region that isn’t even technically funded by Riot Games. It goes about as well as you’d expect. PEACE brought out more picks that match the category of “meta now but would’ve got you laughed out of a room a month ago” with a Zed jungle for Babip and Ammumu support for Aladoric. Tarzan would run back the Qiyana, Icon would find a comfort pick in Leblanc, and Ale would lock in another carry top laner in Fiora. Vizicsacsi got a rude welcome back to the mainstage as Tarzan came top lane to get Ale ahead early. Ale would not disappoint as he would completely take over the game on Fiora. He had a Goredrinker by 8 minuites and knocked down 1st tower by 11. Icon would get ahead in the mid lane, Tarzan would stomp on Qiyana, the game was incredibly one-sided. Babip showed the weakness Zed jungle has. “If you don’t snowball early, you don’t do much. The game only lasted 24 minutes, was 15-5 in kills and LNG ended with a 13.3k gold lead. LNG will play RED Canids next at 7am tomorrow.
As for PEACE, there is little to talk about. They were never really expected to hold their own against the top 2 seeds of group A. The game wasn’t completely hopeless. Violet and Aladoric had some aggression in the bot lane early and they did find one big Ammumu MF combo when LNG were playing with their food, but by then they were already 6k+ gold down. Vizicsacsi got camped early and never got the opportunity to show off where he’s at (he did draw a respect Poppy ban). It’s not going to get much better. PEACE has a very front loaded schedule as Hanwha Life is up next at 6am tomorrow. They will need to shake off the early 2 losses (they should not beat HLE) and come out swinging against Infinity at 8am tomorrow if they want to get out.
Game 4: (LCK)
TLDR: HLE pick up the W, but it’s far from perfect and doesn’t inspire much confidence. Infinity has their moments.
Summary: Hanwha Life eventually ended up winning the game as expected, but there were quite a few questionable moments. HLE mostly picked comfort with Morgan getting Renekton, a champ that got hit with the nerf bat a number of times, Lee Sin for Willer, Azir for Chovy, and a runback of Ezreal for Deft and Leona for Vsta. For a good part of the early game, it looked like HLE were back in form and INF hadn’t learned anything. Cody was missing skillshots on Zoe, Buggax was losing to one of the weakest major region top laners on an only decent champion while he picked up one of the patch’s power picks in Graves. The early game wasn’t perfect as Morgan poorly executed a dive onto Buggax and traded 1 for 1. But HLE had out-farmed and out-fought INF in every lane.
Then at 15 minutes, Infinity found an Ace in the mid lane off of an overextension from HLE, a flank from Buggax, and great poke from Cody. All of a sudden, this was a game again! Ackerman picked off Chovy in the mid lane and WhiteLotus dropped a Bullet Time on him. While HLE were still ahead, the match should have been about as one-sided as PEACE/LNG. Instead, Infinity was hanging around and finding fights. In the end, HLE would punish an overextension from INF, and clean up their act from there. Morgan would pick up some kills on Renekton, Chovy had out-farmed Cody, never lost the mid lane lead and used it to its fullest advantage. Deft would hit almost every Ezreal Q he threw out in fights while being untouchable. Vsta found the engage that got HLE back in the driver’s seat. Despite the victory, it doesn’t exactly feel like one. People expected HLE to come out of game 1 angry and dominate a clearly inferior team through massive skill and macro differential. Instead, they were sloppy and couldn’t put Infinity away even when holding a lead for quite a while. Hopefully this was just play-in nerves/rust for HLE, and they kick it into high gear against PEACE tomorrow at 6am and RED Canids at 8am.
Infinity showed some signs of life. In that mid lane fight, they effectively punched above their weight class. Unfortunately, an overextension was what cost them once again. And that one fight was kind of all Infinity had in them. The early game was not great, and the game after the one fight wasn’t much better. I’m not sold on Buggax and seeing the reactions on social media, few others are. He was in a great matchup against a not great top laner, and he really didn’t do much of anything. In that one flank, he was mostly on clean up duty. SolidSnake actually kept up with Willer for most of the game, and Ackerman found some good engages, so that’s something. Infinity putting up a fight at all is a good sign, and they will need to carry that momentum into their only match tomorrow vs PEACE at 8am. An 0-2 start isn’t necessarily a death sentence when only 1 team gets knocked out in group stage. An 0-3 start with only LNG left, is.
TLDR: After a sub-par early game, DFM run over the Unicorns with Aria’s undefeated Leblanc. UoL have work to do
Summary: DFM showed that they were up to the task of being the LJL’s hope with a great showing against Unicorns of Love. Despite getting first blood onto Steal’s Talon jungle, the early game would go UoL’s way. BOSS and AHaHaCiK would work together top lane to get an early an early kill, 2 full towers thanks to the rift herald, and a massive lead over Evi. Evi was used to playing weakside and made sure not to bleed out any more than he had to. Gaeng was caught out on some poor pathing in the mid lane that forced Evi to waste his teleport bot lane and hand Nomanz a kill. The rest of the game, however, was all DFM. Yutapon and Gaeng would massively outperform Argonavt and SaNTaS. Yutapon would only die once when DFM looked for a fight under the tower in UoL’s base thanks to a great kick from AHaHaCiK. He was flawless the rest of the game, dropping Argonavt low in every trade in laning phase and dealing tons of damage in teamfights. Gaeng would be the primary engage while SaNTaS couldn’t quite find the flanks he was looking for. Although AHaHaCiK would keep up in gold with Steal for most of the game, Steal was a terror on Talon, stalking the rift and applying pressure onto the sqishy members of UoL. He ended 6/1/5 and his only death was on a towerdive on the nexus turrets. BOSS could only do so much when the rest of his team did so little, and even without much gold, Evi served his purpose as the frontline. The biggest difference between the two teams was the mid lane. Both mid laners were the stars of their teams’ seasons, and the main point of hype around the team, but only one would show up on the day. Nomanz was shut down by some ganks early and he never got back in it. His shockwaves would mostly miss their mark and he would die once when he could’ve flashed and died wasting flash when he was already dead. It wasn’t entirely his fault, but the drop in performance was noticeable.
Meanwhile Aria was noticeable for all the right reasons. He picked up one of his best champions Leblanc and absolutely dominated on it. He was unbeaten and deathless on it and neither fact changed. After a quiet early game, Aria picked up a few kills and massively snowballed ahead. He could delete any member of UoL in one or two spells. He went 4/0/7 and is now 35/0/33 on Leblanc in 2021. Against DFM, Aria showed that Leblanc almost has to be permabanned or picked against him. You can’t afford to give it up to him. If DFM keeps this level of play up while cleaning up the early game, they have a very real shot at making it through.
UoL on the other hand weren’t abysmal, their early game was quite good, but they do have a lot of things to fix.Argonavt had very little impact on Lucian and he didn’t look much better than Lodik did at MSI 2021. Nomanz had a very bad game, something he can’t really afford to do from here on out as he is the one who is supposed to bail UoL out of bad situations. I’m not sure if they did their research in draft when they decided to give Aria Leblanc. UoL must show more in their next game if they want to get out.
Game 6: (TCL)
TLDR: Galatasaray put the TCL back on the map. Beyond Gaming fall flat with questionable draft
Summary: Now this was unexpected.
Galatasaray have been incredibly dominant in their home region, but I wasn’t sure how well they were going to play against potentially stronger opponents on the biggest stage. Very well appears to be the answer. Crazy and the rest of GS made sure to abuse a questionable Jarvan IV top lane pick for PK. Bolulu and Mojito would roam top very early to dive him and punish the slower response from BYG. Mojito would make a repeat visit a few minutes later, and although Husha would pick up a return kill, he dropped the herald to pick up 1st tower. PK would get something done in mid lane when he combined with Maoan for a kill on Bolulu, and BYG had a 2-dragon lead. But Mojito found a 2-man Qiyana ultimate and Crazy would follow it up with the Slicing Maelstrom to get GS a 3 for 2 trade, stop the soul stacking, and extend the gold lead.
BYG would keep within striking distance for most of the game, but they could never fully mount the comeback. GS was always getting 1 more kill, always 1 step ahead, and these would all add up to Galatasaray getting the Baron and running over the rest of the game. Yet another big combo from Alive, Mojito, and Crazy would stop BYG’s desperate baron attempt and win them the last fight handily. If the members of GS are feeling any nerves, they certainly aren’t showing it. The team looked just as in sync and skilled as they did playing in their home region. As for BYG, this certainly wasn’t the start they were hoping for. That J4 pick got camped early and put very far behind while the rest of BYG couldn’t pick up the slack. They weren’t terrible, but Crazy was almost 2 items up on PK by the end of the game. J4 couldn’t serve as the frontline BYG needed. Beyond Gaming just need to put Jarvan IV top behind them, shake off the nerves and show up tomorrow for their matches against C9 and UoL. 1 bad game can’t define your tournament if you want to go far.
Game 7: (LCS)
TLDR: Cloud 9 comes out swinging and begins to silence doubters. DFM have a questionable draft and suffer dearly for it.
Summary: A not insignificant amount of people wrote Cloud 9 off before their first game was even played. Perhaps it was because that they only got 3rd with such an expensive roster, perhaps it was just the general perception of NA, perhaps people just wanted to believe in the minor region. Whatever the reason, C9 would go a long way towards silencing them with a complete shellackingof DetonationFocus Me. DFM certainly did themselves no favors with that draft. Picking Leblanc 1st gave plenty of time for C9 to think of a counter pick, Jhin isn’t exactly a power pick in the current meta, Evi blind-picking Gnar allowed Fudge to counterpick him and picking Alistar into Sylas is straight up reportable. Coach Kazu all but handed Sylas one of the ultimates he synergizes the best with on a silver platter.
Fudge took full advantage of the counterpick as his Irelia forced Evi to recall and teleport back at 2:40. He then called Blaber’s Qiyana up to force him away from the wave and just like that, Evi is useless for the rest of the game. C9 knew very well who the main carry of DFM was going to be and got to shutting him down straight away. Vulcan and Zven roamed up to hand Aria his first ever death on the champion in 2021 for a C9 first blood. Perkz would be the star of the show on Sylas as he found time to roam up to top lane to secure Fudge a kill and make Evi’s life even more miserable. DFM would find 4 kills in the entire game. 1 from Evi when Fudge dove him and went 1 for 1, one off of 3 players hiding in a bush top lane, one in a fight when they were already 10k down, and one when C9 was ending the game. Cloud 9 got almost everything else. The game was a complete stomp in every sense of the word as they would end Aria’s win streak on Leblanc.
There would be no liabilities, no discoordination nor playing down to the opponent. Cloud 9 was a well-oiled machine and all 5 members showed up on the day. Fudge did a ton with his counterpick crushing the laning phase and teamfights. Blaber’s Qiyana would kill all of the memes that came from MSI 2021 as he ran over Steal. Zven and Vulcan would find time to roam around the map to help the rest of C9 out. The true star of the show was Perkz. With expectations at their lowest after an underwhelming split, he dominated Aria when he was on his best champion. Perkz found many opportunities to get out of his lane and apply pressure elsewhere. He ended up going 8/0/2 with almost 77% kill participation, he was dealing 640 damage per minute and dealt 41.3% of his team’s damage. The caveat is that it was against a minor region, but if Perkz and the rest of C9 maintain this form, they should stomp the Play-ins and might just make some moves in the main stage after all.
As for DFM, the match against Galatasaray at 11 am will be their biggest match yet. You definitely want to dodge HLE or LNG, so winning against one of the top wildcards is a necessity for getting 2nd. Cloud 9 will play fellow pool 1 seed Beyond Gaming at 10am and Galatasary at 1pm.
Game 8: (TCL)
TLDR: Galatasaray take Unicorns of Love to the glue factory. Incredibly disappointing day 1 from the LCL.
Summary: Watching the Unicorns of Love transform from a team that took Splyce to 5 games in 2019 and made it to groups in 2020 into what they are now has been one of the more depressing stories in LoL in 2021. The game would start slow, but after Galatasaray won a fight around Rift Herald at 8 minutes and used the herald to dive top tower, the game would be all GS. Alive’s Miss Fortune would get 2 of the kills and get ahead on the item curve. A dive onto Crazy would backfire as his Gwen would heal a ton off of the ultimate and stay alive long enough for reinforcements to arrive while Alive took 1st tower bot lane. Bolulu and ZergSting were everywhere on the roams. No part of the map was safe for UoL. All of Galatasaray got way too fed, way too fast. Galatasaray had a 6k gold lead at 15 minutes. Even a good combo from SaNTaS, BOSS, and Argonavt, it would only net one kill onto Alive while Crazy and Mojito would pick up 3 in response. Getting ocean soul at 22 minutes and killing 3 members of UoL while only losing one of their own would seal the deal. The rest of the (very short) game was just a victory lap.
To start with the bad first, this game felt like a funeral march for the Unicorns of Love’s hopes and dreams. The game was hardly even close. Every member of UoL looked outmatched. Nomanz couldn’t match the roams of Bolulu. For the player who was supposed to be the undisputed best in the region, he hasn’t even been the best player on UoL. He has been incredibly underwhelming. The UoL bot lane continued to disappoint. Argonavt and SaNTaS have not looked good. All UoL has left are the two pool 1 seeds and the way they’re playing; they aren’t beating either of them. Expectations were low after a horrific MSI and summer taking more effort to win than normal, but the Unicorns of Love are ducking under even those low expectations as neither of their games against the two (supposed) weakest teams in the group have been particularly close. There have been very few bright spots. While the rest of the regions have been evolving, UoL, and by extension, the CIS seem to have stagnated.
On the other hand, Galatasaray are putting the world on notice. They have looked great in both of their victories. My main concerns for the dominant Turkish team were nerves and inexperience and they aren’t falling prey to either. Everyone is firing on all cylinders. There hasn’t really been a weak link. If they keep up this form against DFM and C9 tomorrow, GS could make it out of groups and put the TCL back on the map.
The World Championship will continue October 6th with Taiwan’s Beyond Gaming vs Oceania’s PEACE at 6am 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.