The groups for both stages of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship were drawn Wednesday and one of the groupings has created quite a stir among fans and analysts.
Two of the bigger regions have been paired together creating a stark contrast between the play-in sections.
Let’s take a look.
South Korea’s Hanwha Life Esports (HLE)
China’s Li-Ning Gaming (LNG)
Latin America’s Infinity Esports (INF)
Oceania’s PEACE (PCE)
Brazil’s Red Canids (RED)
A top heavy draw, the expectation is that HLE and LNG will battle for first and second with INF, PCE and RED fighting over the final two spots.
Despite the lack of strength compared to the big guns in their group, the battle for third and fourth will be closely watched by the other side of the bracket.
North America’s Cloud 9 (C9)
South East Asia’s Beyond Gaming (BYG)
Russia’s Unicorns of Love (UOL)
Turkey’s Galatasaray Esports (GS)
Japan’s Detonation Focus Me (DFM)
While there is the expectation that either C9, who are led by Luka “Perkz” Perković and lone Canadian Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme, or the Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan powered BYG grab first place, this is as close to a toss-up as there could possibly be.
UOL have always been a strong contender at Worlds and they are looking to make amends after a poor showing at the Midseason Invitational in May.
GS, despite this being the organization’s first international appearance, will also prove a challenge as Turkish representatives seem to shine on the big stage, regardless of what team gets sent.
DFM have been a consistent force in play-ins despite never making the main groups and this year looks to be no different.
The main stage is where the draw starts to get a bit crazy.
Korea’s Damwon Gaming KIA (DK/DWG)
China’s FunPlus Phoenix (FPX)
Europe’s Rogue (RGE)
There’s being unlucky, getting cursed, and then there’s whatever voodoo RGE and mid laner Emil “Larssen” Larsson is inflicted with.
Not only are they placed with defending champions DK in the “group of death” for the second straight year, this time EU’s No. 2 seed, must also contend with 2019 champions FPX.
Meaning Larssen will be tasked with trying to stop arguably the two best mids in the world, Damwon’s Heo “Showmaker” Su and FunPlus’ Kim “Doinb” Tae-Sang.
These giants are widely considered as favourites to be battling over the Summoners’ Cup on Nov. 6.
Whichever play-in team gets drawn into this group is going to have a mighty challenge on their hands.
China’s Edward Gaming (EDG)
North America’s 100 Thieves (100T)
Korea’s T1 (T1)
EDG come in as the Chinese first seed for the first time in a while and having taken down FPX in their regional split final, they have firmly placed themselves in the tournament favourite category.
T1 are no slouches either. Having been runners up in Korea to DK, and three-time champion Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok captaining the ship, you can never count this team out on the world stage.
100T look to make a splash in their group despite the formidable opponents. With their strong points of jungler Can “Closer” Çelik and mid laner Felix “Abbedagge” Braun, they look to make some noise and potentially cause an upset as well.
South East Asia’s PSG Talon (PSG)
Europe’s Fnatic (FNC)
China’s Royal Never Give Up (RNG)
The first of the two toss up draws, there is a chance for everyone to win this group, although RNG, spearheaded by Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao are favourites to grab first place.
PSG and FNC will be a good fight for the second seed with the potential of things to turn into a juicy three-way fight depending on who makes it out of the play-in stage.
Europe’s MAD Lions (MAD)
Korea’s Gen.G (GENG)
North America’s Team Liquid (TL).
Possibly North Americas’ best chance to make it out of a group, TL, captained by former world champion Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in, look to take advantage of their draw to power into the quarterfinals along with favourites MAD.
Despite their inconsistencies, GENG are still a strong opponent. With 2017 World Championship winning bot laner Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk on the roster, they can definitely advance if they show the strongest version of themselves.
Sure to be an interesting tournament that could bring forth numerous surprises and upsets. Action begins Tuesday, October 5 from the Laugardalshöll Indoor Sporting Arena in Reykjavík, Iceland at 11 a.m. GMT/7 a.m. EST.