- Edward Brady
Day 3 of Worlds wraps up. Group A goes to plan. Pandemonium in Group B.
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 will take begin on October 11th before eventually ending with the finals on November 6th.
Day 3 has wrapped up and I’m still not sure what just happened. The first 3 games were complete stomps, the 1st two were about as expected, then group B happened, and everything is upside down. History was made, salt was had, and expectations were subverted. . 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: Probably the most one-sided game of the tournament. LNG with all the momentum they could ask for moving forward.
Summary: The expected result played out. There would be no chaos, no upsets, only complete and utter domination on the rift. It began as early as draft phase in which LNG picked up two counters to Infinity’s picks (Wukong into Jayce, Lissandra into Leblanc) but also one of the strongest bot lane combos in the tournament (MF/Leona). INF picked a composition that relied heavily on getting picks while not having much survivability. It went about as well as everyone expected. Ale dominated the laning phase from level 1, Tarzan served as a very strong carry on Graves. Light and Iwandy would combo their ultimates to rip through INF in every fight. Icon shut down any member of INF that wanted to dive in. Ale had 3 kills and a 3k+ gold lead over Buggax before 15 minutes. No member of Infinity came close to matching LNG in gold or power. The game would only last 23 minutes and it would be so one-sided that LNG got to see the easter egg of the rift herald dancing if it survives a game after being summoned. The top/jungle duo of LNG combined for a score line of 14/2/4.
With this match, LNG Esports qualify automatically into the group stage. With how dominant they were in the play-in stage, and great every player looked, I am incredibly excited to see how group D plays out. Ale vs Alphari/Armut is going to be a must watch match in the group. You have EU’s fan favorite top laner, TL mostly relies on Alphari to be the big carry, and although LNG doesn’t live and die by Ale, he is having an incredible tournament. The only reason I’m not more excited about LNG is that this was all done against much weaker competition. Even then, LNG took care of their business in dominating fashion. Everyone looks on form and if they keep this up or even improve in the group stage, group D is going to be entirely up for grabs. If anything, this makes me more excited to see the other LPL teams. LNG was the ultimate dark horse and the odd one out when compared to the storied organizations of EDG/FPX/RNG. If the weakest member looked like this? The LPL is going to be very exciting to watch this Worlds.
Game 2: (LCO)
TLDR: A preview of the second best-of-5 goes the way of PEACE. The game snowballs out of control fast for RED
Summary: No matter who won the game, this one was guaranteed to be one-sided after the draft as the two teams had very different philosophies that could net them victory, but had no backup plan. PEACE drafted a composition around champions that spike in power at level 6. Kennen, Nocturne, Tryndamere, Braum, and Lucian. All of these champions want to get ahead early and snowball a game. They are more than capable of doing so with big teamfight ultimates. Unfortunately, all of them are quite terrilble if they fall behind early. Meanwhile, RED Canids’ draft had almost no hope of standing up to PEACE early. But if they somehow pulled out a lead or just weathered the storm, they would outscale PEACE with a better 5v5 with champs like Ryze, GangPlank, and Leona. If they didn’t survive the early game, they wouldn’t have time to scale up.
In the end, PEACE’s game plan would be the one to succeed as a fight just as most members were hitting level 6 would go their way. They would get the early lead and never let go. RED would try to fight but they were just too weak to truly contest the OCE reps in any meaningful way. The game would be one-sided and fairly quick. As a result of this, PEACE finish 3rd, and RED Canids finish 4th. The teams will rematch in a best-of-5 tomorrow and PEACE get side selection as the higher seed.
TLDR: DFM dominate Beyond Gaming. Victory comes off of one early play, and sets the LJL up for history.
Summary: That game wasn’t even close. The DFM solo laners got huge trades onto their BYG counterparts and they all but sealed the deal at 3 minutes with almost the exact same play they used to beat Galatasaray. Husha went for an early gank, Yutapon flashed away from the damage, Evi teleported down bot lane first, and 2 kills went DFM’s way as Maoan was late on his Teleport. This was especially critical as BYG ADC Doggo has been the key factor in victories for the entire year. Putting him behind by giving his lane opponent 2 kills is huge. I feel really bad for Kino. He has had to endure the miserable experience that is playing Ammumu support when behind. The champion is supposed to go in, has no way to get out, and aside from natural bulk and items, has no real way to increase survivability. Only 3 minutes later, Evi and Steal would kill Liang and Husha 2v2 while Aria forced Maoan away in the 1v1. DFM was almost 6k gold ahead by 15 minutes. Evi was massive on Urgot, Steal was landing key sleeps, and Yutapon could take half a health bar off any squishy member of BYG. BYG wouldn’t even pick up a kill until 22 minutes in when an overextension by DFM resulted in a 3 for 3 trade. That good trade was not the start of a comeback. DFM quickly closed the game out by getting Baron, infernal soul, and a win to close out group stage.
Gaeng had the most deaths on DFM at 2, Yutapon and Aria only had one, and Evi and Steal went deathless. Evi’s Urgot, Steal’s Lillia, and Yutapon’s MF were working together to massive results. It began with the double kills early and only got better. The three main points of power combined for a 21/1/27 KDA. Gaeng would hit almost every Leona ability he threw out and his flash stun onto Husha kicked the whole snowball off. It wasn’t even like Aria was bad, he finished 1.2k ahead of Maoan, it’s just that his teammates overshadowed him. DFM are now the biggest fans of the Unicorns of Love, as a Cloud 9 loss would grant DFM a tiebreaker for 1st place. Even if DFM get second, they play the winner of PEACE/RED Canids. There is a very real possibility that an LJL rep will make the mainstage of an international event for the first time in history! I’m not quite ready to jump the gun, PEACE and RED had to go through much stronger 1st seeds in LNG and HLE, and if they learned things from those games, they would look much better than you might initially expect against DFM. But the opportunity is there and it’s the best they will ever get.
Meanwhile for BYG, I don’t know what to think anymore. I was willing to chalk up the loss to GS as a fluke after the close game against Cloud 9 and the dumpstering of Unicorns of Love. Doggo still looked good even when behind, and he has looked like one of the best individuals in play-ins. But this makes 2 ugly losses to minor regions, and close doesn’t put a W on the board. They will probably get to knockouts as I don’t see UoL beating C9, but they have a lot of things to clean up before the best-of-5 against Galatasaray. They don’t look terrible, but they need to be so much more if they want to have a prayer of getting out. Even if UoL loses and they beat GS, they are staring down the barrel of a best-of-5 against Hanwha Life Esports. Beyond Gaming have not lived up to expectations and they are going to suffer for it. If they want to make groups, they will have to do it the hard way.
If anything, this makes me even more worried about fellow PCS rep PSG Talon. PSG Talon were supposed to be the overlords of the PCS and BYG took them to 5 games. Twice, even winning one. I originally saw it as a sign that the PCS wasn’t a one team region. I thought BYG would crush play-ins, PSG would show up in group C and the two teams would show the world the strength of the PCS. But if their biggest competition looks like this? How hard of a fall from grace are PSG Talon in for?
Game 1: (LCL)
TLDR: I have so many questions
Summary: Mostly: where was this the other 3 games UoL? Everyone looked so much better than they have all tournament long. BOSS and AHaHaCiK combined for 1st blood on Fudge and both players had a great showing. BOSS was almost unstoppable on a side lane. It took 4-5 members of C9 to take him down, even when they caught him overextended. AHaHaCiK had great dragon control, good Lee Sin mechanics, and thanks to the early pressure, was far more impactful than Blaber, who coming into the game was performing the best he had in months. Nomanz finally lived up to the hype. He also took multiple members of C9 to kill even when at a disadvantageous position and finished 2.4k gold ahead of Perkz! Argonavt and SaNTaS looked unstoppable on the Senna/Sion bot lane. Argonavt only had 1 game of Senna in pro play before this and SaNTaS had no games on Sion. Argonavt went deathless, SaNTaS was everywhere. C9 kept the gold close for a long time, but it never felt like UoL lost control.
Meanwhile the other question is what was that Cloud 9? I thought the memes of losing to play-in teams died back in MSI. You killed them yourself when you stomped DFM. They had all the momentum in the world, their opponents looked lifeless in the 3 games prior and yet they played their worst game of the tournament at the worst possible time. It wasn’t even one guy, it was everyone. Although they kept it close in the gold department with better farming, but in the fights UoL stepped up every time. The only reason that gold lead was so close was because Argonavt was playing fasting Senna. That shouldn’t have even been a game and now they must clean it up for the tiebreaker against DFM. Even if they crush DFM, almost any and all momentum has been stopped dead in its tracks.
Tiebreaker 1: (PCS)
TLDR: UoL keep it competitive, but Doggo and Liang are just too much.
Summary: Beyond Gaming narrowly escape the play-in group off of their rock Doggo and Liang stepping up. UoL would attempt to run back the Senna lane, but BYG banned out Sion in the second round of bans. SaNTaS’s Wukong was nowhere near as potent as his Sion. Meanwhile, BYG would take advantage of the early Senna pick to give Doggo Draven. With the buffs he received before Worlds, and how hard he naturally hits, the early lane went all BYG’s way. Liang would be unkillable on Tahm Kench, turning around a 2 man attempt by UoL to shut him down. That’s not to say UoL wouldn’t fight back. Nomanz had a great game on Orianna and almost carried the game by himself. His shockwaves could blow up the less tanky members of BYG. AHaHaCiK would get some great kicks on Lee Sin. BOSS would recover from the slow start to deal big damage and even steal the baron.
In the end, it would be the Doggo and Liang show. Liang was an unkillable frontline, who was also capable of saving Doggo from UoL engages. Even though his ADC would be the flashier member, he was the true hero of the game. He was the one giving Doggo room to work, acting as an absolute nuisance during teamfights and stopping Nomanz’s back to ensure BYG could take the base and the W. Meanwhile Doggo was a monster on Draven. He had full reign in the lane early, and BYG would set him up for success. He could drop any member of UoL below half health with one axe by mid-game and was fully capable of almost one-shotting everyone in late game. Thanks to his passive, Doggo ended up earning 20K gold, dealt tons of damage, went 10/2/4 and was about 11k gold ahead of Argonavt. Although Beyond Gaming have made it to the knockout rounds, but they have much work to do if they want to make group stage.
TLDR: Detonation FocusMe make history. Cloud 9 honor LCS history.
Summary: The fan in me who wants to see minor regions succeed is incredibly happy.
The watcher in me who wants to see chaos is ecstatic.
The fan of a major rival in me is laughing hysterically.
The American in me threw his laptop out the window 15 minutes ago.
Detonation Focus Me have become the 1st LJL team to make a group stage. Every player of DFM was on fire. Evi found the flanks on Sett. Steal got early pressure on Xin Zhao. Aria completely outmatched Perkz. And Yutapon and Gaeng did the same in the bot lane. The game was far from a stomp. Blaber was taking over the game on Olaf, Zven found crucial MF ultimates, Fudge had good poke. The game was back-and-forth, on a knife’s edge. C9 got infernal soul, DFM got baron. It was an incredible game to watch. Both teams were giving it their all. But in the final fight, DFM showed up in a massive way. Gaeng and Evi kicked off the fight killing off Vulcan and cutting off Blaber. Yutapon and Aria would put out the damage numbers and DFM would take the dragon, the fight, the base, and the W.
It is incredibly difficult to put into words how massive an upset and an accomplishment is. Japan has one of the smallest servers and budgets of the LoL ecosystem. The LJL never won a qualifier when those were a thing. The most the LJL did was get out of play-ins groups on a tiebreaker and lose in a complete stomp to EDG. C9 destroyed them in their first matchup. But everyone showed up. These players on DFM have been around for years, they were the kings of their region but couldn’t get it done on the big stage. They were always the underdog but never could complete the Cinderella run. This year was the “super team”, the “LJL Exodia”. These were the best players in every position and there would be no excuses. This was the best opportunity they would ever get.
It was finally enough.
All the losses and struggles finally paid off. 7 years of pain being one of the weakest regions erased with one tournament. This DFM roster has my eternal respect and even if they don’t win a single game in group stage, they can fly home with their heads held high. You’ve done the LJL proud DFM. All the work finally paid off.
As for Cloud 9, I don’t even know why I am surprised they choked at the worst possible moment. Really, losing to wildcard regions is a national tradition of the LCS. It isn’t just limited to C9. 2016 Worlds, 2017 Worlds, 2018 MSI, 2021 MSI, and now 2021 Worlds. All that money spent on the C9 roster, all the hype of the previous 2 days. All of it. All to lose to a winless wildcard and a team they already destroyed day 1. They should still make it out. Neither PEACE nor RED Canids should be able to stand up to them. But the damage is done. Unless they escape the group of death in the main stage, this moment will be what they are remembered for
With the group stage wrapping up, the stage is set for the knockout round. Unfortunately, two teams will not be joining us for that. The first team to fall was…
Infinity Esports (LLA) 0-4: Incredibly disappointing
When I was looking back at Infinity Esports’ final and hearing the hype around Cody, I was wondering why LLA fans were still so pessimistic about their representative. I was not exactly expecting this team to be a world-beater, I wasn’t even expecting them to win a b05.
Now I fear I wasn’t pessimistic enough.
Infinity wasn’t completely awful. Only mostly awful. They had some decent early games and were in position to win a few games. That is about the only nice thing I can say about this team. The rest of the tournament was spent either throwing said leads by taking awful fights or getting completely stomped by superior competition. Cody was supposed to be the best player on the team and the rest of group A made him look like a complete amature for 99% of Worlds. He had approximately 1 good moment and the rest was underwhelming at best or terrible at worst. The only reason I’m being merciful is because he is a rookie. Perhaps it was just nerves. Buggax has no such excuse. He had almost no impact against RED when they were counting on him, could’ve destroyed Morgan on Graves but didn’t, got destroyed by Ale, and the one game he did have impact it just wasn’t enough. The rest of Infinity was utterly uninspiring.
Infinity showed very little improvement from MSI 2021. If anything, it almost looked like they regressed. If they make it back to an international event, I will be about as optimistic as the LLA Twitter users. That is to say, “not at all”.
The second team not qualifying for knockouts is…
Unicorns of Love (LCL) 1-4: Too little, way too late.
This send-off was originally much harsher. The team looked absolutely lifeless for the 1st 3 games. Nobody was playing well and there was nothing inspiring. Every player was jousting Infinity’s for the title of worst player of their position at Worlds.
Then they beat Cloud 9.
While they wouldn’t get out, they would at least make it competitive against BYG. If this UoL showed up for the first 3 games, perhaps they make it to the knockout rounds. Now all they are left with is the sting of “what could’ve been”. For what it’s worth, they are the reason that C9/DFM tiebreaker even happened. Thank you for your services, UoL. You allowed the ultimate underdog story to play out and gave the world a chance to laugh at NA again.
The World Championship will continue on October 8th with a best-of-5 between Turkey’s Galatasaray and Taiwan’s Beyond 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.