Running It Back - Gen.G Going Into Worlds 2021 Semifinals
Gen.G did not have many eyebrows to raise going into the 2021 League of Legends World Championship. As the second seed hailing from Korea and being placed into what by analysts, pundits and fans' standards was the most contested group, there was a good possibility that this team didn’t even make it out of the group stage.
Prior to making it to the World stage, Gen.G first had to play through the Korean League of Legends league, or as it’s known by, the LCK. During the spring, Gen.G managed to get themselves all the way into the finals of the spring split, in which they were swept by reigning world champions, DAMWON Kia. It was a bit of back to the drawing board moment, as a team that made no changes from the previous year to this current year.
In the summer split, they performed slightly worse. Although the team managed to get second only to the team they initially lost to in the spring finals once again, Gen.G finished in third place. But luckily for them, they had enough championship points to go into the biggest international tournament of the year.
At Worlds, as mentioned before, they got placed in a tough group by their standards. The group had the likes of Europe’s number one seed and the team who dominated the region all year long, MAD Lions, North America’s Team Liquid who were looking to finally find Worlds success with a reinvented roster, and China’s LNG Esports who made it into the group by dominating the play-in stage.
The Korean representatives took the challenge in earnest, dominating the first round-robin of the group stage with only one loss. But in the second round-robin, things got a bit disjointed and messy as the unprecedented happened - World’s first four-way tie in the group stage. Although the team started messily, they regained composure when it came to the tiebreakers. All they needed to do was defeat Team Liquid in order to get into the quarterfinals. They handily took the win. This led to another easy victory over MAD Lions for the group’s first seed.
In a way, this is all par for the course for this Gen.G team. A team known to be a consistent rock, taking down the teams below them while losing to the teams above them, was to be expected in the quarterfinals. What was not expected was the level of performance that some of the players are individually having at the tournament, namely, mid-laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong and jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min.
On top of their individual performances, both of these players have been working really well together throughout the tournament. Clid is seemingly anywhere and everywhere, making sure that Bdd always has backup. While Bdd himself has been, in many ways, smurfing the entire tournament.
This level of gameplay, this “smurfing” from Bdd was seen in Gen.G’s quarterfinals match versus Cloud9. It was Bdd’s world, and Cloud9 happened to be in it. Bdd has always been a known quantity with his comfort picks - an honest staple for the Gen.G as a whole - and the likes of his Zoe, Syndra and Azir.
He’s been playing so well that he even went out of his way to get out of his comfort zone with an Aatrox pick in the mid-lane of game one to counter Luka “Perkz” Perkovic’s Yasuo. Not only did he handily destroy the best Western player of all time, he handled the rest of the game. Gen.G as a whole frankly did that. The Korean team not only played supremely controlled in the early game, but they also gave a Cloud9 squad that relied on a level six power spike in their champions no inches.
Cloud9 - in retrospect - had one of the best compositions to start a series against Gen.G with. As a team that can’t handle on the fly decisions, and is fully aware of that, this was it. But Gen.G handled it with swagger, and although they faltered a bit in the mid-game, they still closed it out.
Going into their semifinals matchup versus China’s Edward Gaming, this Gen.G could take what they’ve done so far in stride, iterate on it and execute at the end. The balls in Gen.G’s court, it’s time to dribble.