Worlds 2021 Group Draw Takeaways And North America's Chances
The most hype League of Legends tournament of the year is finally back in all its glory which means teams from regions all across the world will be fighting to obtain the World Championship’s Summoner’s Cup. On Wednesday, the groups for both the play-in and group stages were finally drawn, giving teams a glimpse of who they will be facing come the tournament’s start on Oct 5.
As always, there will be plenty of looked forward to matchups as well as what many will crown as the “group of death”.
Group A: Hanwha Life Esports, infinity Esports, LNG Esports, PEACE and Red Canids
As it’s tended to be in the past years, the minor regions have had it rough, and this play-in stage’s Group A is no exception. Korea’s Hanwha Life Esports, and China’s LNG Esports are both in the group and by virtue of the region’s they represent, they will be a big problem for the rest of the teams. Not only that, these teams have some absolute stellar players in their ranks, namely Hanwha Life Esports’ mid-laner, Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon and LNG Esports’ jungler, Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong.
For this group, the top two should be a lock-up for both Hanwha Life Esports and LNG Esports, it just depends on who will finish first and who will finish second. That leaves the rest of the group to compete for the third and fourth place spots in order to be able to move on to the Play-in’s knockout stage. By virtue of their experience, Infinity Esports look like the team that will claim that third spot while Red Canids with their new and young talent can claim the fourth.
Group B: Beyond Gaming, Cloud9, Galatasaray Esports, Detonation FocusMe, Unicorns of Love
This is the more contested of both groups, as although Beyond Gaming and Cloud9 are the favourites to come out on top of Group B, the rest of the teams in the group can cause major issues. The other teams are arguably the best three minor region teams in Detonation FocusMe, Galatasaray Esports, and of course, Unicorns of Love. If Beyond Gaming and Cloud9 want to avoid the likes of either Hanwha Life or LNG Esports in a knockout stage, they’ll have their work cut out for them.
One of the teams that will be looking to knock down Beyond Gaming and Cloud9 is one of the most successful minor region teams of all time, Unicorns of Love. The Unicorns will most certainly at least take the fourth spot and go on to compete in the knockout stage. This leaves the likes of Detonation FocusMe closely behind the magical horses.
Main Event Group Stage
Group A: DWG Kia, FunPlus Phoenix, Rogue
Looking at this group wholistically, this could be anybody’s “group of death” but not for the normal reason. This group has both 2019’s and 2020’s world champions in FunPlus Phoenix and DWG Kia respectfully; it can’t get any harder than that. DWG Kia is Korea’s number one seed and if it wasn’t for a number of fumbles in the LPL summer final versus EDward Gaming, FunPlus Phoenix would’ve also been a number one seed in another group. This means that the rest of the teams in this group are in for a rude awakening—Europe’s Rogue and whichever play-in team will take the fourth spot in the group.
Group B: EDward Gaming, 100 Thieves, T1
As stated previously, this group has China’s number one seed, EDward Gaming, and although not quite as dominant throughout the 2021 season as FunPlus Pheonix, they are still a very real threat that stands out as one of the clear favourites to get out of this group. The other favourite for a lot of pundits and fans to go alongside EDward Gaming would be Korea’s T1. T1 are certainly not the dominant powerhouse the organisation has been known for years but they are no slouches themselves. They did struggle against DWG Kia in the LCK summer finals and narrowly got a win in the regional finals over Hanwha Life Esports.
This leaves the last two remaining teams: 100 Thieves and whichever team qualifies appropriately from the play-ins. The Thieves are formidable challengers themselves, as the reigning LCS champions, they have a lot to bring to the table.
Group C: PCS Talon, Fnatic, Royal Never Give Up
Group C is one of the more balanced groups, at least relative to Group A and B. PSG Talon are the standouts of the group as the only champions but come from a weaker-sided region which is the Pacific Championship Series (PCS). This puts the likes of Europe’s Fnatic and China’s third seed, Royal Never Give Up as contenders.
If there was a group that would allow PSG Talon to be the first Taiwanese team since 2015 to get past the group stage, it would be this one. A Fnatic that doesn’t seem to be as strong as previous’ years Fnatic and a Royal Never Give Up they faced in this year’s Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) semifinals are decent draws for the Talons. This doesn’t mean PSG Talon will get out of the group as the first seed though, as this year’s reigning MSI champions, Royal Never Give up look to take that crown. Leaving Fnatic and whichever team qualifies for the fourth spot battling for scraps.
Group D: MAD Lions, Gen.G, Team Liquid
Europe’s number one seed, Korea’s number two seed and North America’s number two seed. If someone were to look up the “group of death’s” definition, a picture of this group would rise up. Like the European dynasty before them in years past, G2 Esports, MAD Lions showcased a masterclass over the region, making them the undoubted favourites to do the best for the region.
This puts Gen.G and Team Liquid as the only non-number seeds. Gen.G are known to be the ultimate conformists or the team that cannot go too high nor too low. This makes things interesting as although they hail from a strong region like Korea, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will completely take over a group. Then finally, there’s Team Liquid. Team Liquid has never made it out of the group stage in all of their years of competition at the World Championships. And although they fielded strong rosters—at least relative to their region—they could never get over the hump. For all intents and purposes, this is their time to do it. This leaves the final team to join from the play-ins in a pickle as, depending on what team it is, things could get even more death-y.
North America’s Chances
Now that each group, both play-in and main event, has been looked over, let’s look at North America’s chances.
It’s no secret that as one of the “four major regions” North America, or the League Championship Series (LCS) hasn’t done too hot at Worlds these past few years. Multiple failures to get past the group stage—most recently the last two years in a row—and when they get there, they rarely get into the semifinals. With that in mind, let’s look at North America’s chances in each group.
As the sole North American team to play in the play-in stage, Cloud9 sort of got their work cut out for them, it also doesn’t help that they got the tougher of the two groups. Even so, Cloud9 still have a solid chance to come out of the group and qualify into the main stage. But as the cliche goes, it just depends on what Cloud9 shows up.
To end the 2021 LCS season, Cloud9 didn’t look too hot narrowly finishing in third place which meant that they took the third and final seed. One has to keep in mind that this is the very same Cloud9 who took Team Liquid to edge in the first-ever Lock In Tournament after starting poorly and completely dominated spring, qualifying for MSI for the second year in a row.
It’s certainly not one of the stronger teams the region has sent out to the World Championships but it isn’t one of the weakest either. For Cloud9 to be able to get into main stage play, they need the early 2021 Cloud9 to show up.
The Thieves are North America’s number one seed but even with that given advantage, they still have to fight really hard to get through to main stage play. With EDward Gaming and T1 in their group, it won’t be easy. The chances of them defeating EDward Gaming are low but when it comes to T1, one can become more optimistic. As stated previously, this T1 is not the same T1 of previous years but due to them coming from Korea, it won’t be easy. Thankfully for them, as China and Korea are already in their group, they won’t have to face the likes of Hanwha Life Esports or LNG Esports once the fourth member of the group is decided.
There is no other team more fitting to be part of the group of death than Team Liquid. As mentioned previously, Team Liquid has always failed to make it past the group stage which is surprising seeing as how they were essentially a two-year-long dynasty for their region, even making it to the 2019 MSI finals. Of course, this Team Liquid isn’t that same Team Liquid, mainly with their additions of top laner, Barney “Alphari” Morris and Edward “Tactical” Ra, but they can still make an impact.
Out of all of the North American teams, Team Liquid has the best chance to get out of the group. A MAD Lions that isn’t as dominating as other European teams at Worlds in the past and a Gen.G who often lacks firepower is the perfect mix for the North Americans. It will all come down to which team will join the group of death from the play-ins.