Who will rise, who will fall, and who will take it all?
The biggest League of Legends event of the year, Worlds 2021 is rapidly approaching! There is about a week left until it starts, with the first segment of the competition being the Play-In stage. Here, the lowest seeds from the major regions, such as the LPL, LCK, LCS and PCS, will compete with the champions of the smaller regions for the remaining Group Stage spots. But among the 22 best teams in the World, which three are most likely to lift the Summoner’s Cup at the beginning of November?
While it seems a little lazy to pick a former World Champion, FunPlus Phoenix had a really lackluster season after winning Worlds back in 2019. The squad, which held the Cup in their hands, stayed together. However, they did not find much success in the 2020 LPL season. Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem and Kim “Khan” Dong-ha split the season in the top lane, which didn’t work out so well for the team. While their third place in both regular season and playoffs in Spring was not that bad, the Summer Split was a catastrophe. The team, which won Worlds just a few months before, finished eighth place in the regular season. Then they got knocked out in their first playoff match. They even failed to qualify to Worlds 2020 in the Regional Finals after they lost to Invictus Gaming.
However, for the 2021 season, they brought in former DWG KIA player Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, while also getting two substitute junglers, Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo and Yang “Beichuan” Ling, who played about the same number of games as Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang, their starting jungler. They finished fifth in Spring, after which they decided to drop the junglers, keeping Tian as the only player to aid from the forest of the Rift. This seems to be the format that works, as they finished second in both Spring and Summer Playoffs, while being the best team of the LPL in the Summer regular season. There was no team they couldn’t beat. And while they lost to Edward Gaming in the Finals, they are still regarded as the strongest Chinese squad at the moment. They are back in form, or even stronger, so they might be the team to win Worlds this year.
As opposed to FPX, it is not lazy to pick the current World Champion, DWG KIA. They qualified for their first Worlds in the first LCK season they participated in back in 2019, making it to playoffs before losing to G2 Esports in the first round. Then, they finished first in the 2020 LCK Summer Split, having a near-perfect 16-2 score in the regular season, while losing no matches against DRX before qualifying. The DWG KIA’s 2020 Worlds run then became a thing of legends, as the Korean superteam only lost four games total, one in the Group Stage against JD Gaming, one against G2 in the Semis, and one against Suning in the Worlds Finals.
The team didn’t let up this season either. They signed ex-SKT and FPX player Khan to the top lane after the departure of Nuguri, then proceeded to finish first in every segment of the 2021 LCK. Afterward, they made it to Finals at MSI, losing 3-2 to Royal Never Give Up. But now they can take their revenge. They are the sole rulers of Korean League of Legends, and we believe they have the best shot of being the only two-time Worlds winners next to T1.
And the European team that has the best chance to take the Summoner’s Cup home since Season One Worlds is the MAD Lions. Acquiring Splyce’s spot before the 2020 LEC season, MAD Lions finished fourth in summer. This meant they could attend Worlds in the first season they ever played in, much like DWG KIA. However, they had a really bad performance in the biggest event of the year, failing to make it out of the first stage. After Worlds, the team said goodbye to top laner Andrei “Orome” Popa and jungler Zhiqiang “shad0w” Zhao, and brought in TCL-champion İrfan Berk “Armut” Tükek and Spanish rookie Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batalla.
The new Lions worked wonders. While they only finished third in the Spring regular season, they became the only team to win an LEC title while not being named G2 Esports or Fnatic since Alliance in 2014. They beat Rogue in the finals, went to MSI, then finished in the top four. They even made it to Game Five against DWG KIA. Then, they returned to take the crown again, being the only team other than Fnatic and G2 Esports to get two consecutive European titles. They are a world-class team with explosive team fights and really good synergy, and honestly, Armut could just stare down the opposition. But he chooses not to.
These three teams are the most likely to win this year’s Worlds. Upsets may happen, but we would be really surprised if these teams didn’t make it to (at least) the semifinals. The 2021 League of Legends World Championship starts on October 5, and will last for more than a month, with the Finals being held on November 6!