The final quarterfinal of Worlds wraps up. All hail the LCK
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.
The third quarterfinal has concluded, and in hindsight, it was nice to have 2-3 years where Worlds wasn’t an LCK victory as a forgone conclusion. 3/4 Korean teams made it to semifinals, all on clean sweeps, and the only one who didn’t was knocked out by another LCK team. Let’s see how the final team punched their ticket to semifinals.
TLDR: Gen. G shut their doubters up by snuffing out the last hope of the west.
Summary: Well that was anticlimactic.
This was considered a match that could go either way. Both teams saw each other as the best opponent they could’ve drawn. You had Gen. G looking for redemption for past international failures on one side and Perkz looking to take C9 and NA back to past glory on the other. I personally had this series as going 5 games.
Instead, Gen. G shut out the only hope of NA in three distinctly different ways. Game 1 saw Gen. G run over the early game. Cloud 9 wanted to get ahead early with playmaking champions like Yasuo for Perkz (received questions as Lulu/Aphelios Xin were already shown) and Lee Sin for Blaber, while Gen. G were prepared to take it to late game with Aphelios/Lulu, Aatrox mid, and Kennen. Almost everything went wrong in the early game for Cloud 9. At 20 minutes, Gen. G had a 3k gold lead, and Cloud 9’s snowball had completely failed to start rolling. With better scaling and a better teamfight, it seemed poised to be a Gen. G victory with minimal effort.
Then against all odds, C9 at 24 minutes found an ace in the mid lane due to an overextension from Gen. G.
All of a sudden, this was a game again. C9 even took the lead on the Baron power play. Rascal received criticism for not having the confidence to pull the trigger on the ultimate in the key teamfight. Momentum was swinging C9’s way. But Gen. G would do what they do best, stall the game out and wait to scale. All the waiting would finally pay off when Perkz made a frankly inexcusable dive into 5 people. Cloud 9 would get the soul afterwards, but Gen. G would take the Baron as Clid hit the smite despite being kicked away. By then, Ruler had too many items on Aphelios. Life could keep him safe on Lulu, while BDD and Clid served as unkillable frontliners. Gen G. would take the Elder dragon without any contest, and secure their 2nd Baron, and Cloud 9 couldn’t hold out against two game-ending buffs.
Game 2 on the other hand, was all Gen. G, all the time. There would be no massive error to let C9 back in, no miracle fight for the unlikely underdog. Just simply one-sided domination from laning phase to the nexus falling. Clid’s Lee Sin was a thing of beauty as he worked with BDD’s Syndra to put Perkz in an early hole he never truly climbed out of. Blabber’s Poppy could do nothing as Clid completely took over the game. BDD’s play in lane and ability to roam around the map created a massive snowball in the early game. Rascal’s Graves got ahead early and Fudge’s Malphite couldn’t serve as a frontline engage. Ruler and Life did their jobs. At almost no point was C9 even competitive in the game. Every Gen. G member was massively ahead of their NA counterparts.
The final game in the series would see some hope for Cloud 9. Blaber and Zven would find advantages in the early and mid-game. By the 26-minute mark, Cloud 9 had an almost 6k gold lead. BDD was quiet on his slmost signature Zoe. Zven and Perkz were set up for success. Fudge hit key items spikes. C9 may not have completely sealed the deal, but they were in a commanding enough position to take it to game 4.
Unfortunately, old habits die hard, as Zven found out.
His NA legacy up until this point was dying at a crucial moment in a key game due to incredibly poor positioning to lose a winnable game and failing to show up when it mattered most. That scenario reared its ugly head again as BDD caught him out with a Paddle Star (despite having summoners up) and a bubble as he tried to frontline. Gen. G caught him out, won the fight, and took the soul which was one of their few win conditions. He only dealt 37 damage in the most crucial fight in the game. It would only get worse as he would be caught by a Lee Sin kick with everything up again at 31 minutes to end the fight and allow Gen. G to secure Baron. And when it came time for the last-ditch fight? He wasn’t even there, and he died one more time with flash still up as Gen. G cleaned up the base and completed the sweep. It’s rare when you can point the fingers at one player for so many mistakes, but here? This damage chart tells all.
Less damage than the opposing support. That is brutal.
And thus ends many things. Cloud 9’s run at Worlds, the LCS’s final team falls, and the last western team has been eliminated from Worlds. Much like MAD Lions, Cloud 9 was a very mixed bag. There is an optimistic and a pessimistic way to look at it and both of them seem quite valid.
On one hand, Cloud 9 were one miracle fight away from being swept by TSM and not even making it to Worlds only 2 months ago. They suffered a devastating loss to the LJL, and were drawn into the one group nobody wanted to be drawn in. Despite all of that and the criticism that followed them, Cloud 9 escaped the dreaded group and made it to quarterfinals. They were the first NA team to make it to the knockout round since their previous appearance in 2018. Even if it didn’t end quite as they hoped, they still have many memorable moments to take home with them, and they have truly cemented themselves as the only North American organization that can and will accomplish anything at Worlds. No matter the circumstances, Cloud 9 almost always shows up to Worlds.
The pessimistic view is that they went 2-4 in groups, only got out due to one of the biggest collapses by a favorite on the Worlds stage and got swept 3-0 by one of the weakest 1st seeds. Going into this match, Gen. G were looking beatable, Cloud 9 simply got knocked aside by them in almost every regard. Perkz looked completely outmatched by BDD, and BDD even said in the post-game interview that “Perkz was the weakest mid laner in the quarterfinals”. Meaning, yes, BDD considered the 11-million-dollar man to be a weaker mid laner than Cryin. Zven once again failed to show up in the clutch. Cloud 9 and by extension the entire Western League of Legends scene look completely outmatched by the LCK. And time will only tell if it will ever get any better, much less to the levels of parity of 2018-19.
As for Gen. G, they showed up and played some solid League of Legends. Clid finally got redemption after being knocked out of international events by Perkz 3 times. His playmaking and control over objectives were what helped win Gen. G the series. Rascal played a very solid series. BDD continues to impress. He whipped out the unexpected Aatrox pick in game 1, put Perkz in the dirt and snowballed his team in game 2, and brought the game back almost by himself on Zoe in game 3. Although Ruler and Life may not have been stars of the show, they certainly showed up and did their jobs. And that was all they needed to do. With their opponent in semifinals EDG underperforming, and with how they look now, Gen. G have a shot to make it back to the World Championship final for the first time since 2017 when they won it all.
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.