Worlds 2021 is now well underway, with the playoffs stage set to kick off on October 22. Here’s what we’ve learned from the group stages and everything you need to know about what else is to follow.
The biggest LoL tournament of the year has reached its knockout stage after a set of exciting matches in the play-in portion and the group stages. The 22-team field has been cut down to eight, setting up exciting local and interregional matchups for the playoff portion of the tournament.
Every matchup in the playoffs will be a best-of-five affair, with the quarterfinals taking place between October 22 and October 25. The event will then proceed with the semis on October 30 and 31, with the grand final on November 6. Unlike the last time around, when the biggest matches all took place elsewhere in Europe, the entirety of Worlds 2021 takes place in Reykjavík’s Laugardalshöll Sport Center. It’s the second big LAN event hosted in Iceland by Riot after Valorant Masters Reykjavík a couple of months ago.
Here are the quarterfinal matchups for Worlds 2021 and our predictions:
Prediction: RNG – The MSI winners have been excellent at Worlds so far, winning their group on tiebreakers in front of Hanwha Life Esports. EDG as an org have struggled past the group stage of Worlds in the past years, but this doesn’t mean so much in esports when wholesale roster changes are so easy to pull off, and indeed, their current squad doesn’t have a lot in common with their last attempt.
Prediction: Gen.G – Both the qualification process and the group stage results point toward the mercurial Korean side’s triumph for this matchup, with the LCS side having to fight through both stages of the play-in to make it to the main event to begin with, only making it to the playoffs on tiebreakers behind the dominant DAMWON Gaming side in Group A. For what it’s worth, Group D ended in an entirely deadlocked field, with the separate tiebreaker matches deciding the playoff participants. All in all, it’s the gameplay on display coupled with the LCK-versus-LCS comparisons that make us side with Rascal and co. for this one.
Prediction: T1 – Sorry, we can’t believe the Cinderella story for this one. We’ve already had enough of those at TI to bet against T1 here. Though there is merit to betting on the underdog when it comes to the underdog in domestic derbies, with the lower-ranked side often aggressively focusing on this specific matchup in a way the bigger side just isn’t able to with so many other potential targets abound, neither the totality of the Worlds 2021 performances nor what we’ve seen so far this year suggests that we’re looking at a potential upset here on the biggest stage of them all.
Prediction: DAMWON Gaming – As exciting as MAD Lions’ emergence has been over the course of this season, just what are we supposed to do with the team 6-0 in the groups in pristine fashion, bet against them or something? At this juncture, they are ought to be seen as the favorites to win the whole thing, let alone the quarterfinals here against their LCS opposition.
Though the most exciting parts of the tournament are still ahead of us, the League of Legends matches we’ve seen to date already have major implications on the wider esports scene and are definitely worth discussing here. This even involves a couple of teams that haven’t even made it this far, but their relevance in LoL esports makes them really rather relevant here.
After a shockingly poor season that saw them miss out on Worlds 2021 entirely, it’s been basically confirmed that G2 fans can look forward to a complete revamp of their League of Legends roster, with ocelote confirming that Wunder, Mikyx, Rekkles, Grabbz and Nelson are all expected to depart with no trade offers blocked by the org.
Though the headline departures have already been made clear, there’s been nothing concrete yet about the upcoming replacements. Watch this space: G2 have been a near-permanent fixture at Worlds and we can expect big and impactful moves from the org going forward into a new era.
It’s not just G2 looking to turn a page, either: DAMWON Gaming’s Khan is likely going to bow out after Worlds 2021 as well, and Vizicsacsi also returned for a short last hurrah to help out PEACE as a stand-in for Apii with limited success. Though he plans to make a more permanent return to LoL esports, this may be the last time we saw him at Worlds in a serious playing capacity.
The second set of round-robin matches in the Worlds 2021 group stage saw the Chinese sides go 0-8 against Europe and North American sides, a devastating return to the mean after a near-perfect set of results at the first time of asking. With this, FPX crashed out in last place of Group A, RNG had to rely on tiebreakers to keep their first-place seed, LNG missed out on the playoffs entirely by the same margin, and Edward Gaming also slumped to second place in Group B, meaning the two remaining LPL sides will have to face each other in the quarterfinals. This makes it all the less likely that the Worlds trophy will go to China this year.