The long wait ends on Tuesday, October 5, with the League of Legends 2021 World Championship kick-off. This year, the tournament heads to Reykjavik, Iceland, instead of the initially intended China, where Riot Games decided not to host the tournament due to the worsening COVID-19 situation.
Even though the change of location won’t bode well with the Chinese teams, who now have to travel halfway across the globe, it’s hard to say that there is any home ground advantage in play, knowing that there will be no fans at the venue. Perhaps some players, namely Heo “ShowMaker” Su, will see their cortisol level rise due to playing on EUW servers, but it’s not like playing in Europe will affect teams too much.
The LoL Worlds won’t feature Vietnamese teams for the second year in a row, which is quite saddening. Even though it was highly unlikely for either of the VCT representatives to go all the way, it’s always exciting to watch Vietnamese teams on the international stage.
Due to VCT’s withdrawal, Riot Games changed up the format and awarded Europe’s third seed, Rogue, with a direct invite into the main event. A nice gift for the European side, but those who already know how the LoL Worlds draw played out should understand that it hasn’t benefited Rogue too much.
2021 LoL World Championship Format
As per usual, the LoL Worlds will kick off with the Play-In stage. The opening stage of the tournament will run from October 5-9, featuring 10 teams split into two groups of five.
The groups will play out in a single round-robin, with all fixtures as best-of-one (Bo1). The top teams from each group will get invited into the main event, while the third and fourth-placed teams from the same group play each other in the qualification round.
The winner will face off against the second-placed team from the opposite group for one of the remaining two tickets for the main event.
The Group Stage will play out without any differences. The 16 remaining teams will get split into four groups of four, with a double round-robin format in place and all games played as Bo1. The teams will play each other twice, with the top two teams advancing into the playoffs.
Play-In Group A: Hanwha Life Esports, Infinity, LNG Esports, PEACE, RED CanidsPlay-In Group B: Beyond Gaming, Cloud9, Galatasaray, DetonatioN FocusMe, Unicorns of Love
2021 LoL Worlds Group Stage Draw
The 2021 LoL Worlds group stage draw concluded on Wednesday, September 22 and provided some thrilling groups. Some teams might not be too happy with the draw, but outside of Group A, it’s difficult to say which team will make it out alive, especially not knowing how till the teams adapt to the new patch.
Group A: DWG KIA, FunPlus Phoenix, Rogue, Play-In Team #1Group B: EDward Gaming, 100 Thieves, T1, Play-In Team #2Group C: Royal Never Give Up, Fnatic, PSG Talon, Play-In Team #3Group D: MAD Lions, Gen.G, Team Liquid, Play-In Team #4
2021 LoL Play-In Stage Betting Preview
The Group A of the 2021 LoL World Play-In stage is more or less decided. Although you should never underestimate minor region teams in a Bo1, it’s more than fair to say that LNG Esports and Hanwha Life Esports are by far the strongest teams in this group.
As fourth-seeded teams from LoL Pro League (LPL) and LoL Champions Korea (LCK), LNG and HLE should tear through their group, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one ends this stage without a single loss.
LNG Esports are priced as the favourites (1.436 Pinnacle) to win the group, with HLE in second at 3.22 (Pinnacle). RED Canids (13.44), Infinity (29.99), and PEACE (69.26) are all priced generously but fairly.
Group B could be far more exciting and close than initially expected. Cloud9 (2.36) are the main favourites to make it out as the top-seeded team, which I would agree with had they been a bit more consistent throughout the year.
They are viewed as the best team in their group, but I would challenge that statement since this is not a team I would count on to win the games they should have. Also, it’s important to consider that Western teams are consistently overrated – thanks to the narratives of how the West is catching up to Asian teams.
Beyond Gaming are priced at 3.60 to win Group B and are a bet I would consider taking. Even though you could argue that finishing second in the PCS isn’t that big of an achievement, Beyond Gaming went toe-to-toe to PSG Talon and field Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan, who many will remember as a stand-in ADC for PSG Talon at the MSI 2021.
Doggo was the main carry for PSG Talon in Iceland earlier this year and is a player who can carry games. Obviously, he now has a weaker team around him than he did with PSG; however, this is still a good team.
DetonatioN FocusMe (6.60) is another team we shouldn’t overlook. DFM are a team comprised of only the best players from their region, and while I’m not saying that the JLJ is very strong, if you send your best squad to an international event, you are bound to do some damage.
We already saw what DFM are capable of at the 2021 MSI, where they won against C9 and nearly beat DWG KIA. The main thing to take away is that all five DFM players are capable of making plays, and that individual talent can win you important games.
The Play-In stage is a complete coin-flip – new meta, all games are Bo1, while most of these teams haven’t face one another before. Unless Vloud9 improve upon their showings in the LCS playoffs, this group is very open, which is why I am ready to take a smaller position on DFM at 6.60.
2021 Group Stage Betting Preview
Group A – Group of Death
Looking at Group A, it’s fairly easy to say that DWG KIA and FunPlus Phoenix will make it out alive, and I fully believe they will happen. While all games are played as Bo1, which could result in a few upsets, it’s very difficult to make a case for Rogue to outclass two former world champions and secure a top-two finish.
And it’s even harder to make the same case for Cloud9, who will get seeded into Group A, assuming they, LNG, HLE, and Beyond Gaming, make it out of the Play-In stage.
Still, I can imagine a world where C9 or Rogue cause an upset against DWG or FPX, in which case we can explore the possibility of either of them making it out. That is assuming C9 or Rogue manage to 2-0 one another. There is a world where it happens, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Group B – 100 Thieves Could Deliver
EDward Gaming (1.377) are expected to win Group B, which is fair; however, a lot of their success will come down to the meta. If we see a carry-heavy meta, EDG can always count on Park “Viper” Do-hyeon to do all of the work; however, if we see a jungle-support meta, EDG might not be as potent as it may seem.
T1 (3.39) are an enigma since you don’t know how well will they do. The big issue with T1 is their drafting, which was their biggest weakness of the season; however, if they can overcome this hurdle, T1 could impress many. I will keep in mind that Korean teams are reportedly doing well against Chinese teams in the pre-Worlds scrims.
Whether that information is correct and whether it will translate to the stage is anyone’s guess.
I wouldn’t bet on either of the two teams making it out of the groups. However, I am interested in how will 100 Thieves (18.19) do. Like the Play-In stage, the group stage matches are all Bo1, so upsets are on the cards.
If T1 haven’t improved their drafts, I can imagine a world where 100T cause one upset and assuming 100T do well against the Play-In team and 2-0 them, we could be looking at the same situation as in Group A. Still, I don’t see them topping the group with EDG standing in their way.
Group C -The Group Of Life
If Group A is the group of death, Group C is the group of life. With Royal Never Give Up (1.69), Fnatic (4.34), PSG Talon (6.54), and potentially HLE (7.40) landing in this group, it’s hard to make much sense of who will come out.
All teams, besides PSG Talon, are very volatile, with high highs and low lows. Obviously, RNG are the top dogs, but they have had some iffy moments over the year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they underperform.
Fnatic, as we know, can be very good, but due to their style of play, they can be equally as bad. The biggest concern with Fnatic is their top side, where Adam “Adam” Maanane will have to deliver against some of the best top laners in the world. And let’s not forget, he is a rookie.
Hanwha Life Esports might be the fourth-best Korean team, but they haven’t been very good this term. They’re, in my eyes, the worst team in this group, and unless they find some traction during the Play-ins, there is a world where they finish last.
Group D – MAD Lions (should) Win
MAD Lions (2.46) are expected to win Group D, with the Play-In team (likely LNG) priced as second-most likely (3.21), Gen.G (3.24) as the third favourites and Liquid as the least likely team to win Group D (11.88).
As noted above, the Western teams will be overrated, so it doesn’t surprise me that MAD Lions are billed as the favourites to win their group. But I have a hard time believing that they’ll be better than Gen.G or LNG, for that matter.
People will want to fade Gen.G because they usually underperform at Worlds; however, like EDward gaming, Gen.G has a very good bottom lane. If the meta transitions to carry champions instead of the support jungle, Gen.G will be very good.
LNG (assuming they qualify) are a scary team to bet on. Unlike Gen.G, they will want the meta to focus more on jungle, where they field Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong, who is a player who can carry games.
But even if the meta favours their playstyle, LNG will have to overcome their inconsistency. I wouldn’t be surprised if LNG don’t make it out of groups, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it all the way to finals.
2021 LoL Worlds Selections
Predicting the champion is and never was easy for several reasons. League of Legends traditionally releases patches right before the championship, leaving the teams to figure out the best meta, and often we even see meta shifts during worlds.
Most recently, that was noticeable at 2019 LoL Worlds, where G2 were arguably the best team, but then the meta shift fit in perfectly with how FPX wanted to play, and the rest is history.
Then there are also stylistic differences between the regions and how they match up. Historically, LEC did well against LCK, LCK did well against LPL, and LPL performed well against LEC. So it’s a never-ending circle between the three major regions which is still present, grated to a lesser extend.
Lastly, it’s the luck of the draw in the playoffs – if you make it out of the groups and get an easy opponent in the quarters, you’re already through into the semis and at that point you’re three maps away from the finals.
If I had to pick the strongest team heading to 2021 LoL Worlds, it would be FPX, but they’re not a good bet at the offered odds. They’re good, but we don’t know if they’ll be as good at the tournament, mainly due to the questions surrounding the meta. I’m instead going for a longshot pick.
Gen.G to win 2021 LoL Worlds (17.47) (0.5 units)
Excellent odds, considering Gen.G have a legitimate chance to shine. As noted above, Gen. G’s chances to win the whole thing will heavily rely on the meta, which will have to be more ADC-focused, in which case Gen.G can always count on Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk to carry them to the promised land.
And it’s not like they lack quality elsewhere. Gen.G have been good over the season and clearly have the talent to compete with the best in the world.
One thing to note about Gen.G is that they enter the 2021 LoL Worlds with the same roster that flopped at the 2020 LoL Worlds – so they can be either the biggest disappointment of the tournament or they might impress.
Fnatic Top LEC Team (3.27)
A bet on Rogue to be the top LEC team is appealing (7.00), assuming you don’t believe either LEC team stands a chance to make it out of the groups, in which case the bet would void. However, it’s not very realistic to expect that bet to hit.
Fnatic are a team that can look very good, and they have historically done well at Worlds, making them an exciting team to watch. They’re also in a group with no clear best team, and they have an excellent chance to make it into the knockout stage.
I would even argue that Fnatic have a better chance to survive the group stage than MAD Lions, who will have to fight LNG and Gen.G. If they both make it into the quarters, it will all come down to which team will be luckier with their draw – and I’ll gladly take the 50/50 shot at 3.00.
DetonatioN FocusMe to win Play-In Group B (6.60) (0.5 units)
DetonatioN FocusMe have solid individual pieces and an excellent mid laner in Lee “Aria” Ga-eul. Obviously, the Japanese haven’t achieved much at the 2021 MSI, but it mostly had to do with them not playing around Aria.
I like DFM’s style of play where all five players are looking to make plays, and it’s not like he is the only good player. Anything can happen in the Play-ins, making DFM a solid pick at 6.00. Cloud9 will have to underperform for this bet to hit, but I wasn’t convinced with C9 and their performances over the season, so I can imagine a world where C9 finish second or even third.
Beyond Gaming are the second threat for DetonatioN FocusMe and their chances to win the group. They’re a good team, but they seem a bit overrated simply because Beyond Gaming hail from PCS.