For the second year running, the League of Legends World Championship was due to take place in China. A multi-city tour including five distinct locations from Shanghai in the opening stage of the tournament to Shenzhen in the finals had been planned.
But to accommodate as many teams as possible during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Riot had to make the tough decision to pivot Worlds 2021 from China to Europe.
“We figured 2020 would be the hardest Worlds we ever had to produce,” said John Needham, Riot’s head of esports, on Aug. 24. “With vaccines being distributed worldwide this year, we anticipated a return to some sort of normal in 2021.
“Well, unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case. With the Delta variant, travel restrictions and COVID protocols have been even more complicated to navigate in 2021 than they were in 2020.”
With China out of the question, Europe was the next best option for the end-of-year event. “After considering all potential options, we concluded that moving Worlds to Europe provided the best opportunity for the most teams, and their best players, to compete,” Needham said.
Worlds 2021—expected to take place in Iceland from Oct. 5 to Nov. 6—will bring together the top teams from 11 regions to compete for the Summoner’s Cup.
All in all, 22 teams are expected to face off at the event, including four teams from China and Korea, three teams from Europe and North America, two teams from Taiwan, and one team from each of CIS, Latin America, Turkey, Brazil, Japan, and Oceania.
Here are all of the teams attending Worlds 2021.
- FunPlus Phoenix (qualified for groups)
- EDG (qualified for groups)
- RNG (qualified for groups)
FunPlus Phoenix clinched their first Worlds berth since winning it all in 2019. Their dominant semifinal sweep of WE ensured them a spot in the domestic finals and, at minimum, the highest amount of championship points of any team with 180.
EDG qualified for Worlds 2021 following a convincing win against Team WE in the LPL Summer Split semifinals. With 160 championship points, behind only FPX in the standings, the team advances straight to the group stage of the end-of-year event.
Royal Never Give Up secured China’s third seed at Worlds after beating Team WE in the regional finals, offsetting an early loss to LNG in the LPL Summer Split playoffs.
A win over Team WE in round two of the LPL regional finals assured LNG the fourth and final spot at Worlds 2021. This will be the first time the team has made it to League’s end-of-year event.
- DWG KIA (qualified for groups)
- Gen.G (qualified for groups)
- T1 (qualified for groups)
- Hanwha Life
DWG qualified for Worlds 2021 based on championship points gained over the season. A total of 190 points—90 from the Spring Split and 100 from the Summer Split—secured qualification for the reigning world champions.
Gen.G secured a spot at Worlds 2021 after picking up 150 championship points. A strong performance in the spring and summer regular seasons cushioned the blow for the team’s early exit in the playoffs.
T1 made it to Worlds 2021 despite setbacks throughout the season. A run through the Summer Split playoffs—beating SANDBOX in the quarterfinals and Gen.G in the semis—earned the team 100 championship points, adding to the 30 gained in spring.
A convincing 3-0 win against NS RedForce in the LCK regional finals secured Hanwha Life the final spot at Worlds 2021. Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon, arguably one the best mid laners in Korea, and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, a celebrated veteran in the region, will be returning once again to the international stage.
- MAD Lions (qualified for groups)
- Fnatic (qualified for groups)
- Rogue (qualifed for groups)
In a repeat performance of the LEC Spring Split playoffs, MAD Lions beat G2 Esports 3-1 to secure a spot at Worlds 2021. The former LEC champions left much to be desired in the best-of-five series.
Fnatic overcame long-time rivals G2 Esports to earn a spot at Worlds 2021. Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau’s switch from the top lane to the jungle paid dividends in the playoffs.
After placing first in the LEC summer regular season with a 13-5 record, a hard-fought win against Misfits was all Rogue needed to qualify for Worlds 2021.
LCS (North America)
- 100 Thieves (qualified for groups)
- Team Liquid (qualified for groups)
For the first time since 2018, 100 Thieves qualified for Worlds after beating Evil Geniuses in the LCS Summer Split playoffs. A roster reshuffle in the offseason has made a significant impact on the team.
Team Liquid qualified for Worlds 2021 after a decisive 3-1 win over TSM in the LCS Summer playoffs. The team got it together when it mattered the most, despite issues with health, player management, and coaching staff throughout the split.
A return to form for spring champions Cloud9 saw the team qualify for Worlds 2021 after a narrow 3-2 win against TSM in the loser’s bracket of the Summer Split playoffs. NA’s most storied team will once again represent the region on the world stage.
- PSG Talon (qualified for groups)
- Beyond Gaming
PSG Talon were crowned the PCS champions following a flawless 18-0 run through the summer regular season. A nail-biting 3-2 win against Beyond Gaming in the grand final secured the squad a spot at Worlds 2021.
Beyond Gaming took down reigning champions PSG Talon in the semifinals after overcoming a 2-1 deficit to punch their ticket to Worlds 2021. It is the org’s first Worlds appearance in as many years since acquiring the spot of ahq eSports Club in January.
The teams representing Vietnam will no longer be able to attend Worlds 2021. When Riot pivoted the end-of-year tournament from China to Europe, teams from Vietnam were faced with difficulties acquiring the necessary visas. Riot confirmed this in a statement on Sept. 9.
- Unicorns of Love
The Unicorns will be returning for their third consecutive Worlds appearance after bouncing back in the LCL Summer Split playoffs. The team, having lost to CrowCrowd in round two, redeemed themselves in the final.
LLA (Latin America)
- Infinity Esports
A 3-2 win over Estral Esports in the LLA 2021 summer final saw Infinity Esports qualify for Worlds 2021. A blend of Uruguayan, Peruvian, Chilean, and Argentinian talent, the team will look to make their mark in Europe later this year.
- Galatasaray Esports
Galatasaray will make their debut at Worlds following a 3-0 win over NASR in the TCL Summer Split playoff finals.
- RED Canids
After barely even qualifying for the CBLOL playoffs, RED Canids beat Flamengo Esports, Vorax Liberty, and Rensga Esports to earn a spot at League’s end-of-year event.
- DetonatioN FocusMe
DFM made it back to Worlds after overcoming Rascal Jester in the LJL Summer playoffs. A closely fought loss in round two of the double-elimination bracket was recovered with a clean sweep in the final.
Peace pulled out the upset in Australia and swept MSI representatives Pentanet.GG in the LCO Split Two finals, securing a spot at Worlds 2021. The team, despite barely making it into the playoffs in the first place, finished with a dominant 3-0 performance against the Split One champions. With top laner Apii unable to attend Worlds after failing to meet travel eligibility criteria for the event, LEC veteran Vizicsacsi will be taking his place.
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