Faker returns, EU battles with NA, DWG KIA pick up where they left off on first day of Worlds 2021 group stage

The best part? We get to do it all again tomorrow.

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The 2021 League of Legends World Championship is officially in full swing. The tournament’s main event kicked off today with the beginning of the Worlds group stage. 

As opposed to previous years where participants from different groups would take different days off throughout the group stage, every team in the tournament will play a game each day throughout the first round robin of the Worlds 2021 group stage. That means that today, League fans were treated to eight consecutive games between the best teams in the world. 

From matchups between one-time champions to the individual returns of some of the game’s most prolific stars to the international stage, the first day of the Worlds 2021 group stage was packed with storylines. Here are some of our biggest takeaways from the first day of group stage competition. 

DWG KIA take FunPlus Phoenix to task

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A meeting of the two most recent world champions should have produced an all-time classic on paper, but the opening game of the group stage was one of the most one-sided contests of the day. DWG KIA thoroughly dispatched the FunPlus Phoenix, the 2019 world champions, to open this year’s tournament, improving their all-time record at Worlds to a stunning mark of 19-3. 

At no point in the game did DWG KIA relinquish their gold lead. The wire-to-wire victory was wrapped up in 29 minutes with the defending champs winning by a kill score of 18-2. In the mid lane, the much-anticipated matchup between two former MVPs in ShowMaker and Doinb resulted in a resounding victory for the former. ShowMaker posted a meteoric scoreline of 6/0/10 on LeBlanc. Plus, the jungle faceoff between Canyon and Tian, the past two Worlds finals MVPs, wasn’t even close. Canyon’s ever-present Trundle allowed DWG KIA to push their advantage consistently and the team eventually won by a margin of nearly 15,000 gold. 

Tomorrow, the two teams will face off against Group A’s respective Western threats. DWG KIA are set to square off against Rogue of the LEC and FunPlus Phoenix are slated to play Cloud9 of the LCS. 

Back like he never left

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Last year’s World Championship was unprecedented for a plurality of reasons off the Rift. But on the competitive stage, Worlds 2020 was just the second edition of the tournament to not feature League’s all-time greatest player: Faker. Today, the best League player of our generation returned to the game’s ultimate tournament without missing a beat.

In T1’s 22-2 victory over DetonatioN FocusMe, Faker posted a perfect 4/0/5 scoreline on Azir, his most-played champion across his illustrious nine-year career. Tomorrow, Faker and T1 will kick off the second day of the group stage with a match against LPL champions EDward Gaming. 

EU vs. NA is still League’s hottest rivalry

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Say what you will about LPL and LCK teams consistently duking it out for the Summoner’s Cup each year, but there’s nothing more thrilling than watching North America and Europe throw hands in the group stage. Today’s schedule featured two matches from the EU-vs-NA rivalry, with the two regions splitting their respective bouts. Team Liquid upended LEC champions MAD Lions, while Rogue got the better of C9 in what we’re anointing the “battle of teams that barely snuck into the group stage.” Since the start of the 2019 season, European teams hold a 12-6 advantage over North American squads in the contests that they’ve faced each other in. 

The two Western teams to not face off against one of their counterparts today, 100 Thieves and Fnatic, were both gutted by Eastern teams. 100 Thieves fell to EDG, while Fnatic were dismantled by Hanwha Life Esports. The LEC and LCS won’t meet each other again until Friday, Oct. 15 when Rogue and C9 will run back today’s day one finale. 

Also, Yuumi is back?

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Admittedly, we broke into a cold sweat when Yuumi was locked in as the first overall pick in the first game of the Worlds 2021 group stage. League’s notoriously uninteractive support champion went on to appear in six of the eight drafts today, holding heavy sway over the Worlds meta so far. In 2019, Yuumi had a respectable presence at the World Championship with a 35 percent pick/ban rate at that tournament, according to League stats site Games of Legends. But back then, she was a niche pick that synergized well with Garen in the bottom lane and not much else. This year, she’s proving to be far more versatile and support players are picking the champion up as a carry in and of herself.

In T1’s rout of DFM, Keria out-damaged all five opposing players with Yuumi. Later in the day, C9’s Vulcan played the champion in a loss but still put up bigger DPS numbers than all but two of the 10 players in the game.

With the support meta at Worlds revolving mainly around engage-focused tank supports, Yuumi provides an outlandish change of pace. Whether that mixup in approach is deemed too outlandish to keep her on the “permaban” list remains to be seen, though. 

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