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League of Legends

Worlds 2021 Semifinals Preview

Tom Matthiesen

Three-and-a-half weeks after the 2021 League of Legends World Championship started, only four teams are left standing. Gen.G Esports, Edward Gaming, T1, and reigning world champions DWG KIA each are just two victories away from lifting the trophy. Who will get to write their chapter in esports history?

Faker Worlds 2021 Semifinals

Can Faker make it to his fifth Worlds final? (Image courtesy of Lance Skundrich for Riot Games)

Worlds 2021 has turned into a South Korean party. Three of the four remaining teams hail from the LCK and have full Korean lineups, and Edward Gaming has two on their roster too: mid laner Lee “Scout” Ye-chan and bot laner Park “Viper” Do-hyeon. Statistically, the chances are high that the Summoner’s Cup will find its way to South Korea yet again. But let’s take a look at how the semifinals stack up and if Edward Gaming can stand tall as the final LPL representative.

DWG KIA vs T1 — October 30th

This Worlds 2021 semifinals is considered by many to be ‘the true final’ of Worlds, implying that whoever wins this series will win the whole tournament too. But is that a fair assessment?

Admittedly, DWG KIA has looked unstoppable. Though in hindsight you can argue that they had a relatively easy group, going undefeated in the Group Stage is incredibly unlikely. To illustrate: going 6-0 has happened only three times before, and two of those teams ended up winning the tournament altogether. DWG KIA’s biggest challenge at Worlds so far was their second game in the quarterfinals against MAD Lions. Though the European squad put them on the backfoot, the LCK champions bent the opposition to their will through impeccable navigation, punishing every mistake made. DWG KIA is still undefeated at Worlds.

T1 basically faced no opposition from Hanwha Life Esports in their quarterfinal match and marched on with ease. The biggest challenge so far for the triple title winner has been the Group Stage, where they dropped the first game against Edward Gaming. Ever since, T1 has cruised to their victories. They play a clean game, sure, but to say that this squad has had to sweat is a big stretch.

Damwon

(Image courtesy of Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games)

In fact, it’s not outlandish to suggest that DWG KIA can sweep T1 in a clean 3-0. DWG KIA has been versatile in the champions they play and in their playstyle too. Bot laner Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun has played five different champions, his mid laner, top laner, and jungler have each played six different champions, and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee has played a whopping eight different champions in nine games. DWG KIA is as perfect as teams can get. Kim “Khan” Dong-ha has blossomed into the best top laner in the tournament and the mid/jungle duo has been as formidable as ever. DWG KIA’s bot lane was supposed to be their weak side, but they too have looked rock solid.

However, T1’s bot lane duo is a different cookie. It is arguably the strongest bot lane in the entire tournament and it’s expected that T1 takes at least a game off DWG KIA. Bot laner Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong support and Ryu “Keria” Min-seok have nothing but dominated their lanes, withstanding the force of Edward Gaming’s fearsome opposition in the Group Stage. As said in our quarterfinals preview, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok plays a more supportive role, setting up his teammates. T1’s top side is strong, sure, but DWG KIA is a step above. If T1 wants to be competitive in this semifinals, their bot lane is what they’ll have to play through. It’s time to find out if Gumayusi has something else up his sleeve besides Aphelios, whom he has played seven times across nine games.

Though calling this semifinal ‘the true final’ based on the pure team quality is overblown and perhaps even disrespectful towards the two competitors on the other side of the bracket, the storylines in this series are to dream about.

Should DWG KIA win, they head to the finals with a chance to become the second team ever to win Worlds back-to-back. It would mark their era. For every player but Khan, it would mean a chance to defend their Worlds title. And even Khan has a beautiful story attached to him: this is his last shot at winning the trophy before mandatory military service.

The only organization so far to have defended the title and to win Worlds three times stares DWG KIA in the face. T1, named SK Telecom T1 during their successful runs, seeks to prevent their opposition’s era from happening. And to spice it up even more: DWG KIA Head Coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun was the coach who guided SK Telecom T1 to all those victories.

And of course, there is Faker. There’s always Faker. The League of Legends god. Should he win against DWG KIA, he’ll appear in his fifth Worlds final. Is there a step above godhood? We might find out soon.

Edward Gaming vs Gen.G Esports — October 31st

Ah right, this one. The ‘other’ Worlds 2021 semifinals. It’s unfortunate (albeit understandable because of the storylines) that the community hype is directed at the first semifinals. This is the second time in the entire year that an LPL team will play a best-of-five against an LCK team. The only other time was during the Mid-Season Invitational when Royal Never Give Up won the final against DWG KIA.

The clash between EDG and Gen.G is bound to be a messy one. EDG played in the only quarterfinal that didn’t end up in a clean 3-0. Against RNG, the LPL’s champions had to go the distance and only clutched out a series win after five games. In true LPL vs LPL fashion, the series was dirty, it was sloppy, but boy was it entertaining. Still, if it weren’t for a double Baron steal by Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie, EDG might very well have been eliminated.

Gen.G Esports, on the other hand, almost sleepwalked to their semifinals spot. Cloud9 did put up a decent fight in the first game of their quarterfinals but ultimately was swept away cleanly by the South Koreans. Truth be told, we did not learn a whole lot about Gen.G in the series.

Bdd

(Image courtesy of Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games)

Individually, the teams rely on different players to succeed. For EDG, top laner Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun is a key to success. He has only played two champions so far at Worlds: Jayce and Graves. But impressively so, he has not needed more than that. Especially his Graves hits like a truck and it’s probably a good idea for Gen.G to ban the champion altogether. A weak point in EDG’s early game is their bot lane, which falls behind their competition in early game statistics. Nevertheless, especially in the Group Stage, the strength of Viper shone through. He isn’t one to be underestimated.

Gen.G’s superstar is Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong. He was their shining light in a chaotic Group Stage and continued to lead the charge against Cloud9. Second in line for Gen.G is bot laner Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk. It is unconventional in the Worlds meta to be so reliant on a mid laner and bot laner; most teams have funneled resources to their top laner. Bdd especially was given a lot of freedom by his lane opponents in previous series, and it’s unlikely he’ll get the same liberties against EDG.

When comparing the two teams’ playstyles, the differences are as clear as the similarities. Both EDG and Gen.G love to lean back and hold off on aggressive plays. However, the two teams invest their time differently. EDG uses the downtime to farm gold and get their players to their champions’ item spike. Gen.G uses their time to play for vision and set up for objectives. It’s at these objectives that the fireworks will most likely break out, as both teams love playing towards them. Who wins? EDG’s gold-buffed champions or Gen.G’s positional advantage? It will be a tense series, though EDG’s brute force is in an advantageous spot.

EDG

Image courtesy of Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games.

In terms of storylines, this series is much less juicy than DWG KIA vs T1 is. There is barely any crossover between Gen.G and EDG. Of course, the meeting of two South Koreans in the mid lane and in the bot lane is an exciting mini-regional clash. Scout was trained in the shadow of Faker and only found his great success when going to the LPL, and now has to topple one of Faker’s most prominent contestants in the LCK.

Individually, there is a bit more to get. Ruler starred on the Samsung Galaxy roster that won the 2016 World Championship. With a victory over EDG, he would be one step closer to donning the crown once again. Viper was part of the explosive Griffin lineup that took the world by storm in 2019 before falling apart one year later. He is back on the hunt and has proven himself more than enough, but lifting the cup is all that matters.


The Worlds 2021 quarterfinals start on Saturday, October 30th, at 2 PM CEST. You can watch the games live on the official LoL Esports site.