Worlds is finally here. After some uncertainty with the venue and who will be able to attend the tournament, 22 of the best League of Legends teams from around the world descend on Reykjavik to crown the 2021 world champions.
The event starts for the lone Oceanic representative in the Play Ins. Four best-of-ones lies before Peace, with best-of-fives and a Main Stage berth the jewel at the end of the road. While the format is brutal and unforgiving, if Legacy’s run in 2020 is an indicator of what is to come, this stage is rife with opportunities to cause upsets, claim unexpected victories, and force earlier than expected exits.
Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the four teams in Group A that Peace must beat if they want to make Worlds history.
Hanawa Life Esports
The fourth seed from Korea will be looking to keep up their form from the regional championship. After a third-place finish in LCK Spring Split saw them gain 50 championship points, a slower Summer saw them finish 7-11, which was only good enough for eighth place and a playoff-less season. Those 50 points did become critical, however, as they were enough for the team to start in the first round of the Regional Final gauntlet.
Facing two best of fives to qualify, Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon and the team returned to some of their best form taking down Sandbox 3-1 in the first round, qualifying to Worlds with a 3-0 against Nongshim Redforce.
They also came close to punching their direct ticket to the main event, taking T1 to five games in the region final, ultimately losing a close game five. The Korean team will be eyeing off first place and the automatic berth into the main event and should probably be the favourite in this group.
The group’s other fourth seed, this time hailing from China, LNG Esports took the long road to get to this point. Finishing 8th in LPL Summer, the team started in the first round of one of the two gauntlet brackets that make up the first phase of LPL playoffs.
The team was able to run the gauntlet to qualify to the second phase of the tournament, first taking revenge for their early Spring Playoffs exit caused by Suning, taking them down in a close five-game series. They next faced 2020 Worlds semi-finalist Top Esports, beating them 3-1, before coming up against this year’s MSI champions RNG, and defeating them by the same scoreline.
Riding high, LNG entered the double-elimination Phase 2 of the playoffs looking to continue marching on towards the finals.
They were sent back down to earth, however, getting swept by FunPlus Phoenix in the upper bracket, before falling 3-1 to eventual Summer champs EDward Gaming. This fourth-place finish was, however, enough to see the team qualify for the regional final, needing to take two more series wins to make Worlds.
They were able to sweep Rare Atom in their first match, before taking down Team WE 3-1 to qualify for this tourney. Just like their Korean counterpart Hanwha Life, they will be eyeing the top spots in Group A and looking to bypass the qualifiers.
Hailing from Brazil, Red Canids continue to join the theme of teams running their playoff bracket to make Worlds. Qualifying in the sixth and final spot of the CBLOL playoffs with a 10-8 record, they took down Flamengo 3-0 in the quarter-finals, before facing Vorax Liberty in the semis, taking them down 3-1.
The final saw them come up against Rensga Esports, a squad featuring former Chiefs Esport jungle star Park “Croc” Jong-hoon. Red Canids were able to take down the team in four games, securing their trip into the Play Ins.
The Brazilian team will be looking to make their trip to Iceland worth it, taking as many victories as possible and push their opponents to the absolute limit as look to make it beyond best of ones.
The winners of the LLA Closing Playoffs, the Costa Rican-based Infinity Esports are the only team in this group who saw themselves top their league play, as well as being the only team who also attended this year’s Mid-Season Invitational.
Having finished the regular season in first place, they secured an automatic berth to the final within the Latin American region’s gauntlet-style finals. They faced Estral Esports in the grand final, and were taken to five games before winning.
What should we expect from Peace?
As I mentioned earlier, this group and this group format are tough.
Korea and China are always warring to be the best regions in the world, boast deep talent pools, and often have multiple contenders at each championship.
And in no way are Red Canids and Infinity slouches either. These two teams have worked hard to win their respective leagues and are looking to make an impact and name for themselves on the world stage. They will put in their best to make sure their trip to Iceland is longer than four games. They should stylistically match up well against Peace, playing an aggressive play style similar to what the team has faced thus far this year.
I expect Peace to do decently in this group.
While their opening contests against LNG and Hanawa Life will be tough, they will not be written off from minute one in any game, and will make their opponents fight hard to get the win, pushing games into potential fiestas.
There will be some questions about how they will do with their forced substitutions. With the team’s most consistent starter, Yao “Apii” Jian-Jing, unable to attend Worlds due to visa issues, the team has picked up former Splyce top laner Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás join them on loan for the tournament.
We still need to see how this change will affect the team, but with constant lineup swaps a feature of their split 2 run, I expect them to gel well with the former LEC star, and be able to bring it to their Group A competitors.