Day 2 of Worlds groups wraps up. Close calls, heartbreak, and action define the day.
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 which are happening now, before eventually ending with the finals on November 6th.
Day 2 has wrapped up and it was so much better than day 1. The games were close, fun to watch, and set up for a very interesting rest of the group 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: EDG strike first in the battle between legacy orgs.
Summary: This was the matchup I was most excited about when group B was drawn and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint. Both teams played with a heavy amount of respect for each other’s strengths and win conditions. Nobody was making head scratching plays early. EDG would win the early fights, but not by so much they would snowball as hard as some teams did on day 1. T1 were consistently behind, but there were never quite out of reach. Suffocation would be the name of the game as EDG slowly strangled out T1 with better fighting. T1 weren’t necessarily bad, EDG just had them beat at every turn. Flandre’s Graves dealt massive damage in key fights. Meiko’s Leona found the crucial engages and Jiejie’s Jarvan IV backed him up. Viper was untouchable in the backline on Jhin. And Scout showed the man he originally was a substitute for who was the better mid laner on the day. Not only did his Sylas deal massive damage, but his use of ultimate was incredible. Him stealing Shen ultimate that scales with 135% of the user’s AP (not much on Keria’s Shen) saved his frontline or caught out members multiple times with massive shields and put him in position to wreak havoc on T1. EDG are living up to the hype and I am excited for the rematch coming soon.
EDG look to close out the group stage 3-0 against DFM at 12pm while T1 look to get back on track with a win over 100 Thieves at 1pm.
Game 2: (LCK)
TLDR: Rogue have a terrible early game. Damwon almost throw it all away. Neither team walks away satisfied.
Summary: I’m still not entirely sure what just happened. That game had no right being that close. If DFM/T1 didn’t happen, I would say that Rogue had one of the worst early games of the entire tournament. The Fiddlesticks pick for Inspired might’ve worked in theory, albeit it was extremely risky as DK had shown Talon. But because Odoamne’s Graves was solo killed twice by Kahn’s Jax, DK had complete freedom to invade Inspired’s jungle as much as they wanted to. He could do nothing as Canyon took all his jungle camps and Kahn completely negated Jax’s weaker early game. The Orianna pick from Larssen wasn’t as good as it needed to be. Despite the good matchup, Showmaker’s Ryze did so much more. Hans Sama and Trymbi were the only ones showing up on Lucian/Nami but even they couldn’t carry the massive deadweight that was the rest of the team. Damwon KIA had an over 5k gold lead before 15 minutes.
Then at 28 minutes, Rogue did this.
What do you even take from this game if you are either team? Rogue’s early game was atrocious. Odoamne genuinely looked like he never played Graves before picking it on stage against DK. Inspired had no agency in the early game and Canyon made his life miserable. But they fought back. If they don’t get in that massive hole early, maybe they take the win and blow group A wide open. If you’re Damwon, you had a massive snowball early. DK looked like gods among men for the first 15 minutes of the game and even the casters were just waiting for the inevitable to play out. But they let Rogue back in it. Ghost and BeryL were no match for the RGE bot lane, even when the team had a massive lead. That fight in mid lane didn’t need to happen. Sure, they pulled it out eventually, but it was far from clean and the only reason RGE had a shot was because of Damwon’s bad decision making.
Rogue look to keep up momentum and upset a tournament favorite in FPX at 8am, while DK look to close out the perfect 1st round robin against C9 at 11.
Game 3: (PCS)
TLDR: Willer and Morgan drag down HLE as solid play from PSG puts the PCS on the board.
Summary: We should all be thanking Hanwha Life Esports for how considerate they were in this game. They could’ve just let Deft snowball his Draven early and let Chovy’s Azir do the rest, but they instead chose to use this game to inform the non LCK audience why they received their reputation.
Didn’t get why HLE is known as “Chovy (and sometimes Deft) Life Esports”? Thought the narrative of Willer and Morgan being terrible was overblown? HLE would give a detailed presentation on why people were hesitant to believe in them. Willer stealing 2 kills from a Draven (he NEEDS those to capitalize on passive) in a professional game should be grounds for Riot to investigate HLE for match fixing. Sure, Chovy still had a 43 CS leadover Maple at 15 minutes, but a Draven with 2 cash-ins on the passive vs a Draven that doesn’t get to cash in and eventually gets caught out losing 75% of his stacks, is the difference between a massive snowball and PSG getting a chance to get back in it. Hanwha was ahead for most of the game, but PSG were finding fights to stay alive.
The dam finally broke when Hanabi caught out Willer to kick off a fight that resulted in 4 kills and a baron for PSG Talon. HLE’s attempts to fight back were hindered by the other member of the terrible twosome. Morgan was put far behind early in CS in the Camille/Gwen matchup against Hanabi. He would take some poor fights in the mid game to give his enemies a bigger lead and he would have no hope of standing up to Hanabi in a sidelane (one of his primary jobs as Camille). He was squishy, dealt little damage and was far from the carry top lane HLE needed him to be when they drafted it for him. All in all, the Morgan/Willer duo went a combined 3/13/11. It is little wonder why PSG was able to come back.
PSG Talon also deserves plenty of credit. They took full advantage of HLE’s blunders. Everyone looked significantly better than yesterday after they shook off the early game. Unified went from a complete nonfactor day 1 to dropping members of HLE with 1 auto on Jhin. Hanabi went from getting slapped by Xiaohu to dunking on Morgan with Gwen. River hit the smites and did his job on Talon. Kaiwing had the heals on Yuumi. And Maple maintained his good form from yesterday as he took over the game on Leblanc. Between the miracle fight and now this game, PSG have shown an ability to fight back from a deficit. This is an ability that will serve them well when you look at their competition for 2nd.
Game 4: (LPL)
TLDR: Fnatic have their moments, but RNG dominate throughout
Summary: The double-edged sword of Fnatic is their aggression. They do not have an off switch. On one hand, this allowed Fnatic to fight back from deficits they really shouldn’t have 0been able to. Bean’s double kill turning around a fight and Adam getting 4 barons off RNG despite being very far behind come to mind. Fnatic know that they like to play aggressive and pick around it with champs like Hylissang’s Pyke and Adam’s signature Olaf. No matter the situation, Fnatic will never lie down and die.
On the other hand, the rest of the game was all RNG.
Royal Never Give Up read Fnatic’s aggressive level 1 like an open book. It resulted in Bwipo getting his flash blown and allowed Wei to get early tempo. Although Fnatic would try to match RNG blow-for-blow at all stages of the game, RNG played the map, and the fights much smarter. This meant RNG was getting key members like Xiaohu’s Kennen and Wei’s Viego to get fed early. And because Fnatic would not stop going in, even the members who got a bit behind early like GALA’s Kai’Sa to pick up kills in fights. By the time late game rolled around, RNG had such big leads and item advantages that Fnatic’s aggression was little more than running into a brick wall repeatedly. For all their fighting and kills, Fnatic only got 3 towers, 1 herald, and 1 dragon. RNG took everything else.
Just look at those gold leads. For reference, Bean had a lead at one point. But because Fnatic kept taking poor fights, he got kills and his key items to take over. I commend the effort but there was one other problem. Almost none of the Fnatic members looked close in skill level to their RNG counterparts. Nisqy in particular had one of his worst games of the year. Against probably the worst mid laner in the group. If they keep playing like this, Fnatic aren’t going to take a game at Worlds.
As for RNG, they are a mixed bag. On one hand, the individual players were on fire. And the team played smart. Xiaohu ran over Adam in lane and his Kennen ultimates were beautiful in fights. Wei got to have a masterclass game on Viego. Ming’s engage champions are as good as ever. People are still letting Cryin get Twisted Fate and he looked great on it. GALA after a slow start stomped the fights. The problem is that this is the 2nd game in a row where RNG clearly outclass the opponents in every regard but give them a chance to get back in off questionable decisions. They shouldn’t have issues getting out of groups, but they will want to work on playing a complete game if they want to make a deep run at Worlds.
Game 5: (LPL)
TLDR: FPX get on the board, but it is far from clean. Critical picks cost C9 a chance at an upset.
Summary: Cloud 9 had a very real shot at upending FunPlus Phoenix. That is a sentence I didn’t think I would ever say when the groups were drawn. The early game went incredibly well for C9. They found an early kill onto DoinB’s Malzahar and Blaber’s Qiyana secured both scuttle crabs. Even though DoinB turned around a dive from Fudge by pressing R, most of the early game went C9’s way. They were winning fights; they were taking objectives. Perkz’s Ryze was 2k gold ahead of DoinB before 15 minutes. FPX had another very poor early game. They looked very little like the juggernaut of the LPL they were advertised as. Lwx and Crisp were leading, but the rest was not going well. Cloud 9 were on the verge of pulling off an incredible upset after taking baron and the unthinkable was about to happen.
Then the mid and late game happened, and everything fell apart.
To put it bluntly, Perkz’s play in the late game was flat out embarrassing. Alongside Blaber, he was supposed to be the main carry for C9 in the late game. He had a massive lead over DoinB and all the ability to carry in the world.
He blew it. He got caught out with no vision in a sidelane not once, not twice, but 4 separate times. Most of them before critical objectives. Cloud 9 had no idea how to play the map with a lead and Perkz was the face of the C9 collapse. That game was winnable. And it wasn’t entirely on him, almost everyone else played worse in the critical fights too. But thanks to a terrible decision to have Perkz base race 4 members of FPX, alone, WHILE FPX HAD BARON NASHOR, Cloud 9 is now staring down the barrel of an 0-3 start in one of the hardest groups. Rogue and C9 were practically cinematic parallels in their matchups against the big 2. Rogue was terrible early and should have never even had a shot but took advantage of DK’s poor decision making to almost take the W, while Cloud 9 had every opportunity to get on the board thanks to a great early game and threw it away.
You can’t even be happy about the victory if you are FPX. This was a team you were expected to dismantle and they almost lost. If you took the nameplates off, the FPX that played the rest of 2021 and the FPX people are seeing now are almost 2 different teams. The most aggressive, win big and win quick team of the LPL has been stonewalled early twice. They got bailed out by poor decision making and some great play by Nuguri’s Kennen and the bot lane. Tian looked outmatched on Jarvan IV and DoinB had his champ pool pinched and his greatest strengths negated. C9 didn’t let him roam around and effect the map. One game is a fluke. Two is a pattern. FPX will need to clean up their act in a massive way if they want to live up to the lofty pre-tournament expectations people set for them. I’m getting 2015 LGD flashbacks from this squad.
Game 6: (LCS)
TLDR: DFM continue to serve as the punching bag of group B. 100T still have issues.
Summary: Let’s make one thing clear. DFM was expected to go 0-6 and not put up a fight in groups. It was a massive accomplishment that they even made it this far and any extra wins would be an unexpected bonus. That’s why despite DFM losing (and likely continuing to) in dominant fashion, people haven’t been too hard on them. They are punching well above their weight class and this is a learning experience more than anything.
With that being said, there are also expectations for the team on the opposite side. When playing DFM, the opponent must destroy them convincingly, fast, and with plenty of style to boot. Otherwise, massive red flags are raised. To their credit, 100T started just fine as they killed Yutapon 4 times before 10 minutes. But when it came time to close it out, things got a bit messy. For starters, the game was far from a speedrun, it lasted 33 minutes. That’s longer than DK/FPX lasted. More importantly, DFM were actually beginning to fight back. Aria looked great on Zoe and the Elder Dragon fight wasn’t a complete stomp. If Yutapon doesn’t make a terrible overstep in bot lane (seriously, what was he doing?), DFM might even win that fight. They killed 3 and almost killed Abbedagge, 100T only escaped that fight by a hair. I am somehow even less confident in 100T after this game than when they lost to EDG. They will need to clean up their act in a big way if they want to make it out of groups. As for DFM, mark your calendar for the rematch. If they don’t fumble early game so badly, that game was winnable from Aria hard carrying. If DFM gets a single win in group stage it will be an incredible landmark for the LJL.
Game 7: (LEC)
TLDR: An absolute bloodbath sees MAD Lions get in the W column.
Summary: That was probably the best game of Worlds so far! So much action, so back-and-forth. The fighting began at 3 minutes when Carzzy and Kaiser found first blood on Lucian/Yuumi and Ruler/Life traded one back, Humanoid killed BDD in mid lane and Elyoya and Armut found a kill onto Rascal. This all happened withing seconds of each other and the fighting never really stopped after that. MAD were finding more kills early while Gen. G was getting the neutral objectives. BDD would find a great Shurima Shuffle to take a fight while Elyoya’s Qiyana took the dragon to stop the soul stacking. One team would punch, the other would counterpunch. Almost everyone would get at least one chance to shine in a fight. Seriously, if you missed it and have about an hour to spend, watch the vod of the game. You won’t regret it.
Armut’s signature Wukong would land multi-man Cyclones while Rascal would deal the 2nd most damage on his team. Humanoid would pop the backline with one combo on Leblanc while BDD would melt through MAD Lions in the teamfights on Azir, dealing the most damage in the game at almost 34k. Kaiser’s Yuumi would keep MAD topped up in fights and allowed his carries to play to their fullest potential. Carzzy stole an Ocean Dragon and outscaled Ruler’s Kalista. Gen. G would sneak a Baron at 32 minutes, MAD would play the map well enough to completely negate it. Even though MAD Lions had more kills (19-12 at 35 minutes) the gold lead was only a manageable 2000. MAD would get to soul point but GEN would take the fight and break the base. This game, which went down to the wire, would come down to a big difference in one position.
Elyoya’s Qiyana massively outclassed Clid’s Xin Zhao. Clid could only really serve as a decent frontline. Sure, his scoreline looked bad, but he was the one who was supposed to buy time for BDD and the rest to do damage. Unfortunately for him, Elyoya had his number. He would take 4 straight objectives with 2 barons and the Ocean Soul, and his ultimates won MAD many teamfights. His final statline was 11/4/12 with 76.7% KP. He was definitely a key factor in MAD’s comeback from 4k gold down (par for the course for this squad really).
MAD Lions will look to break from the pack with a win against LNG at 7am tomorrow while Gen. G will look to do the same against Team Liquid at 10am.
Game 8: (LPL)
TLDR: LNG ties up the group at 1-1. TL regresses to normal Worlds form.
Summary: Ah, there’s the Team Liquid I know and sometimes tolerate. I’ve missed you!
Team Liquid do what they do best at international events. Draft themselves a composition with few options to win and even fewer to come back if anything goes wrong, do nothing early game, then lie down and die at the first sign of resistance. That was barely even a game of LoL. The casters had to really work to keep the stream entertained because Team Liquid sure wasn’t going to. I’m honestly not even sure why they bothered showing up to the venue today. Just forfeit beforehand and save everyone time. The true test will be tomorrow against Gen. G. They have had 2 very different matches. Which one is the standard and which was the fluke?
As for LNG, they looked much better. Icon got a good matchup with Leblanc and completely took over the game. Light’s Aphelios could drop any member of TL below half health with one or two autos. Ale’s Fiora ran over Alphari’s Gnar in the sidelanes. Tarzan and Iwandy did their jobs. With the group tied up at 1-1 all, it could be anyone’s for the taking. It’s just going to be about who shows up better on the day.
Also, as a bit of trivia, both the LEC and LCS have the same record in the group stage at 2-4. I guess only one team in each region gets the collective braincell for a day. RGE and TL got it yesterday, 100T and MAD got it today. Naturally FNC and C9 are going to pull off massive upsets tomorrow.
The World Championship will continue October 13th with China’s Royal Never Give Up vs South Korea’s Hanwha Life Esports. Gaming 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.