Matt's biggest storylines from Worlds 2021
The Finale - Damwon Gaming Kia vs. Edward Gaming
The Nexus exploded and my first thought was, “Wow, they lost. Damwon lost in the Worlds finals.”
“At least we’ll be getting a new skin color palette,” one of my friends joked after the last game was finished. Another went to sleep dejected and disappointed. Just the night before, he had claimed no one in the world wanted Damwon Gaming Kia to win the 2021 League of Legends World Championships (Worlds) more than him, not even the players and staff of Damwon Gaming Kia themselves. I think he cried himself to sleep that night.
Damwon’s loss can be attributed to a lot of things, from Khan running it down to Edward Gaming’s (EDG) perfect execution of their draft that would have been lackluster if they played anything else. In the end, the better team won.
EDG handily won Game 1. The draft phase in the game was, well, it was something. Khan locked in Yasuo as Damwon’s fourth pick on blue side. Flandre had locked in Graves. Historically, Yasuo is known to be heavily favored in the matchup if played proficiently, and it would offer some counterplay to EDG’s three ranged champions that they had locked in prior to the pick: Graves, Ryze, and Jhin.
There were probably better picks that would have worked in this situation and could have been slotted well into Damwon’s draft versus EDG. Malphite and Irelia would have dealt with Graves extremely well into the laning phase and also would have transitioned well into the mid-game team fights. Irelia provides incredible dueling power and split-push and also has kill pressure on Graves in lane. Malphite would have accomplished the utility on Yasuo’s ult with so much more.
All in all, Khan ended the game 0/4/2 with a score of 187.86 for his damage to champions per minute, barely higher than his teammate Beryl’s 178.27, despite Khan having the most gold on his team. Flandre’s Graves ended the game with a substantial 501.09 damage to champions per minute, contributing much more to fights and side lane pressure.
In Games 2 and 3, Damwon did what they do best and played to their strengths as a team. Game 2 saw Canyon’s Qiyana jungle up 822 gold at 15 minutes, which signified a decent botanical contrast early game, or what your Solo Queue teammates have likely referred to as “jungle diff.” Showmaker showed up big on Malzahar and outplayed Scout’s Leblanc with his point-and-click ultimate ability that suppressed the targeted enemy champion.
That, along with Malzahar’s passive spell shield, made Malzahar an oppressive opponent for Leblanc to lane against, and it prevented her from snowballing early. His ultimate alone can stop her in her tracks during team fights, and it sets up ganks incredibly well on an otherwise slippery champion.
In Game 3, EDG had a sizable gold lead of 3k at 21 minutes, but were forced into a bad spot when Damwon was one dragon away from infernal soul. They found themselves getting poked down by Ghost on Aphelios and Khan’s Gragas, as well as Canyon’s Lee Sin throwing out Q’s to whittle their HP bar. Trying to ensure that Damwon didn't secure the dragon, they huddled in river while eating the poke, and Showmaker came around from the side and pincered them. This resulted in a game-turning team fight for Damwon where they aced EDG, got the Infernal Soul and Baron, and ultimately won the game.
Game 4 ended when EDG secured Mountain Soul because, well, dragon souls are important. Mountain Soul rendered Canyon’s Talon effectively useless. He had already struggled to assassinate anyone past the early game because of EDG’s picks including Graves, Viego, and Lulu.
The former two itemize as bruisers in this current meta, allowing them to survive the damage of a Talon that hasn’t snowballed. All of Lulu’s abilities have many ways to prevent Talon from doing his job in mid -to late-game, from her crowd control to shielding to the temporary health addition to whichever ally she casts her ultimate on.
All of this led Damwon and EDG to the finale, the decisive Game 5, which was one of the pinnacle hype moments in League of Legends, second only to Vayne montages with flashy edits and electronic pop music.
I want to say Game 5 looked promising for Damwon, but it didn’t.
Canyon locked in the Trundle to counter Kennen with the intent of synergizing it with Syndra and Ziggs, but besides that, it ended up not doing much at all. Flandre found incredible 500 IQ teleport angles from smartly placed wards by Meiko. Viper popped off in team fights, aggressively flashing in during the dragon soul fight as Aphelios. Meiko’s Rakan and Flandre’s Kennen seemed to have had perfect synergy every fight and allowed no time to react. Meiko would use Shurleya’s, Flash, and Rakan’s ultimate to always find ways in and hit multiple enemies. This allowed Flandre to get a critical Slicing Maelstrom that would shift the tides of the fight heavily in favor of EDG.
In the end, EDG developed too much of a lead and was able to force Damwon into a fight after taking all three of their inhibitors, killing them in their own base, and winning the game. Jiejie flew out of his seat and screamed in victory. Against all odds and all doubts, EDG was the well-deserved, League’s 2021 World Champions.
The Fnatic Situation
Worlds was filled with unanticipated events in as well as outside Summoner’s Rift. For Fnatic, one of the unexpected events that ended in their tragic knockout from the tournament was star player Upset’s undisclosed family emergency that forced him to return home and rendered him unable to participate on the world stage for groups. A strong western team recognized globally, Fnatic ended their group performance with a record of one win and five losses, falling short of everyone’s expectations..
Currently, there is still a feud going on between Adam and Upset, and Bwipo left to join Team Liquid after their dismal Worlds performance and announced his indefinite hiatus before he took an offer in North America.
Icarus Floating on Cloud 9
In Group A, Cloud 9 (C9) showed everyone that western powerhouses aren’t limited to Europe and that there is still hope for North America, and FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) showed that maybe the East isn’t as invincible as we thought after imploding and ending up at the group stage with two wins and five losses, shocking everyone and being the other team along with Rogue to not make it out of Group A.
C9 ended up losing three games in a row to Gen.G in the quarterfinals, but they didn’t go down without a fight. Fudge showed up big with his playmaking skills and matched Rascal in the toplane. In Game 3, they had nearly a 3k gold lead at one point, but North America’s hopium soon turned into copium as Gen.G outmacro’d them, slew their fourth drake, received Mountain Soul, and took down Baron Nashor to solidify their win.
The Other Stories
Group D arguably got the most hype. Although it didn’t have any of the premiere fan favorites from any region, the fight to qualify for the quarterfinals was intense. There was a four-way tiebreaker between Gen.G, Mad Lions, LNG Esports, and Team Liquid. Unfortunately, Team Liquid ended up being knocked out, and Gen.G and Mad Lions moved on, making Cloud 9 the only team from North America to make it out of groups this year. Special shoutout to 100 Thieves for going down swinging and taking a game off EDG before taking their flight home.
Hope For the Future
The reigning world champions, as well as my favorite non-western team, Damwon Gaming Kia, ended up being taken down in a nail-biter of a series, getting nearly outplayed by EDG at every turn in the final game. North America had a few surprises of their own, and they came home after giving us performances we won’t forget.