After a year of blood, sweat, and tears, the 2021 World Championship is almost here. The 22 best League of Legends teams across the globe have worked themselves to the bone during the Summer Split, and their efforts have allowed them to rise above the rest of the competition in their respective regions to reach the biggest League event of the year.
Everything they’ve built has culminated into this one tournament. This is where legends are made and legacies are forged. From formidable powerhouses to tantalizing underdogs, next month should bring some of the most memorable matches we’ve seen to date in the competitive League.
Worlds 2021 is set to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Here are our power rankings for each team attending.
22) Infinity Esports
Despite winning back-to-back LLA splits in 2021, Infinity Esports are outclassed by every other team at the tournament in individual talent. Earlier this season, the team was dispatched relatively quickly at the Mid-Season Invitational, winning one of six games at that tournament. We’re expecting a similar result for Infinity at Worlds.
21) RED Canids
Like the LCS, the CBLOL is going through a long-overdue youth revolution, and RED Canids are its harbingers. This team is made up of four rookies and a veteran ADC in TitaN, who is undefeated in Brazilian domestic finals. RED also gave current starting mid laner Grevthar his non-Academy debut in the playoffs, where the sixth-seeded RED Canids won all three best-of-fives in convincing fashion. If 2021 MSI representatives paiN Gaming were able to put on Brazil’s best-ever international performance in part because of the 20+ combined years of experience of brTT, Robo, and tinowns, however, this relatively green roster will more than likely not make a miracle run out of play-ins.
Led by a mid-jungle tandem of two former North American Academy players in Babip and Tally, PEACE will look to prove Oceania can still be a contender after a tumultuous year for the region. The team will be without its starting top laner Apii as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions but have replaced him with former LEC MVP Vizicsacsi in the interim. Vizicsacsi hasn’t played a professional game of League in nearly two years, but the presence of a major region veteran might just work in the favor of an Oceanic team that’s viewed as a severe underdog at Worlds.
19) Galatasaray Esports
A mishmash of players anchored by Bolulu in the mid lane of 2020 Papara SuperMassive fame and former bbq Olivers top laner Crazy provide the definitive best team from one of the best minor regions in the esport with a lot of prior international experience. The player to watch might, however, be support Zergsting, who has been in the TCL since 2014 but is finally getting his first taste of global competition outside of 2017 Rift Rivals. Old dogs might not be able to learn new tricks, but they are hungry.
18) DetonatioN FocusMe
DetonatioN FocusMe put up one of the greatest performances from a minor region squad back at MSI, capturing a win against Cloud9 and coming within inches of defeating the defending World Champions. DFM will face a similar uphill battle at Worlds, but they’ve proven they can hang with the big dogs of the international scene, at least.
17) Unicorns of Love
After underperforming at MSI earlier this year, UOL will be looking to wade through a crowded play-in stage, one where they can easily get left behind if they lose a few games. On the flip-side, the team could advance to the tournament’s group stage if they’re able to snag a few upsets throughout the play-in stage.
16) Beyond Gaming
The feat that the PCS’s second seed pulled off by upsetting PSG Talon in the upper bracket threw even one of our own writers into such a panic that they thought PSG got bounced into the play-ins. Even though Doggo and co. couldn’t beat the superior PCS (and pool one) squad twice, this team could still make some noise in the group stage.
North America’s historical best-performing team at the World Championship has returned after missing attendance for the first time last year. Despite a weak finish to the summer season, being North America’s third seed is not unfamiliar territory for Cloud9. While the region has yet to fail to escape the play-in stage portion of the tournament, the real test begins assuming they reach groups. The peak performance of Cloud9 is undoubtedly strong, but if key members like Blaber, Perkz, and Fudge are relentlessly targeted as weak links or cannot perform under pressure, a swift departure is all but guaranteed.
Rogue earned the title of “luckiest team at Worlds” before the tournament even kicked off. The team advanced straight to the group stage to fill the void left behind by the absence of a representative from Vietnam’s VCS. But the lack of a few warmup games in the play-in stage could doom Rogue to an early exit if they can’t whip themselves back into shape relatively soon.
13) 100 Thieves
North America finally has a new face at the top of the mountain, and they’re dressed in the stylish hoodies and hats of 100 Thieves. This team has quickly shown, however, that they are more than just a “hoodie org.” The biggest catalyst for success will definitely lie with their star jungler, Closer, who has elevated his game to new heights during this past season. Whether he’s making huge plays with Lee Sin or breaking the hearts of his competition with Viego, Closer has shown that if he is doing well, the rest of the heist should be going well too. He did have the most kills and the highest KDA among LCS junglers, and even had one of the lowest counter-pick rates in the league. With reliable carries in Abbedagge and FBI, 100 Thieves will need to maintain consistency as they try to keep the momentum they gained from sweeping Team Liquid to win the LCS Championship.
12) Hanwha Life Esports
Any team featuring Chovy and Deft in the carry positions should be considered a contender to make a deep tournament run. Last year, the two LCK superstars carried a relatively inexperienced DRX team to the quarterfinals of Worlds and will now look to make lightning strike twice with another relatively unproven squad in Hanwha Life.
11) Team Liquid
Team Liquid are the best North American team on paper. They have the players, coaching staff, and infrastructure to make history at Worlds 2021. The triple-threat of Alphari, Santorin, and Jensen are only enhanced by the dependable Tactical and CoreJJ. Obstacles throughout the season have prevented Liquid from playing to the best of their ability, but we could see another level to the team in Iceland.
10) LNG Esports
The two teams from the LPL and LCK that are represented in the play-ins both finished eighth in their respective leagues in the Summer Split. While Hanwha Life snuck into the LCK regional gauntlet on Championship points, LNG got in because the LPL’s Summer Playoffs structure allowed them to make a run in which they played seven best-of-fives’ worth of games (two of which were against FPX and EDG), beat RNG 3-1, and more than filled out their resume as to why they deserve a spot at Worlds. Also, Tarzan.
Fnatic turned it around this season. Losing Rekkles and moving Bwipo from the top lane to the jungle somehow paid dividends in the 2021 LEC Summer Split. The signings of Adam, Nisqy, and Upset—a balance of rookie talent and experienced veterans—have propelled the team up the standings.
Don’t count Gen.G out just yet. Rascal, Clid, Bdd, Ruler, and Life might not be standout players alone, but as a unit, they’re more than capable of doing damage at Worlds. The team is a five-pronged attack with competent players in every position. They have the experience, team cohesion, and attitude needed to perform on the international stage.
7) PSG Talon
Look out for PSG Talon to be one of the few true dark horse teams of Worlds 2021. Many people were made aware of this team’s presence after their impressive showing at this year’s MSI, where they took games off of star-studded lineups like Royal Never Give Up, Cloud9, and MAD Lions. This hyper-powered roster plays like a baby LPL team, where they keep the pedal to the metal from the early game onward. They aren’t scared to make plays from top to bottom lane, and with Unified finally joining the team at an international event, we might see the PCS’ first seed make some noise, especially if some teams underestimate their true strength.
T1 have taken painful but necessary steps to get to where they are today. The team underwent a transitional period over the course of the season, switching players in, out, and back in again. But after parting ways with members of the coaching staff and taking a new, more grounded direction, the team has produced a formidable group of players with the potential to make a big impression at Worlds.
5) MAD Lions
Last year, the MAD Lions were young and inexperienced, and it led to them being knocked out in the play-in stage of Worlds. This time around, the pride of Europe has played against some of the best teams in the world at MSI, and the team has sharpened their skills throughout the 2021 Summer Split. A combination of flexibility and an LPL-like aggressiveness makes this squad one of the strongest Western teams at the event, and it should actually help them keep up with teams from across the globe. If there’s one European team that could actually make the finals, it’s going to be these lads.
4) Royal Never Give Up
Roster swaps have been a staple of professional League in 2021 around the world, yet no team has been more successful with their changes than RNG. After suffering years of subpar performances and constantly being bested by teams like FunPlus Phoenix and Top Esports, RNG decided something needed to change—and that something was their entire roster. Though we’ve seen similar moves in other major leagues around the world, none has proven more successful than RNG’s squad.
Xiaohu, Wei, Cryin, GALA, and Ming—each with years of experience in the LPL—came together under the leadership of Tabe to take RNG’s potential in 2021 to new heights. After taking control of the LPL in the spring, they secured the MSI 2021 trophy while barely breaking a sweat. Coming off their victory in the LPL Summer Regional Finals, RNG are looking the most dominant they’ve seemed in the organization’s history—which might just be what the team needs to get their first World Championship title.
3) EDward Gaming
The consensus on EDward Gaming seems to be that they belong right about third in the global pecking order, and they are not the best team from China. But make no mistake, they are absolutely contenders. And while their 3-1 win over FunPlus Phoenix in the LPL Summer Finals wasn’t a fluke, it was also not representative of both teams’ levels. That being said, EDG’s top side is one of the best in the world, and the team as a whole showed it can play from behind intelligently via cross-map plays, individual mechanical skill in skirmishes, and a great understanding of what the compositions they draft want to do in any given game. And Viper is still the best AD carry in the world. What might do this team in, however, are the floors of their solo laners, specifically top laner Flandre. To his credit, he played well from behind on Lucian in game one of that final against FPX, which is nothing to sniff at when facing down Nuguri. But Jiejie thrives on early-game junglers, and if there are no solo lanes to enable—and therefore no bridge into the late game for Viper to take over—better teams will beat them.
2) DWG KIA
The defending world champions are coming into this year’s tournament as one of the best teams in the world, but just barely missed out on the top spot in our Worlds 2021 power rankings for the second straight season—even despite their noteworthy pedigree. If there’s anything preventing DWG KIA from inhabiting the top spot in this year’s rankings, it’s the team’s strength of schedule, or rather, the lack thereof. DWG KIA have played in a relatively weak LCK all season, which makes us skeptical of how concrete of a contender they’ll be at Worlds. That being said, DWG KIA are one of the hottest teams in pro League coming into Worlds, as they’ve won 14 of their last 15 individual games dating back to week eight of the LCK regular season. They’re not just winning games, either. They’re stomping them.
Across those 14 recent victories, DWG KIA have won by an average of 9,000 gold, according to League stats site Games of Legends. If that dominance can translate into international games, DWG KIA should easily claim a second straight Summoner’s Cup.
1) FunPlus Phoenix
After failing to make last year’s World Championship, the LPL’s FunPlus Phoenix have risen from the ashes of their 2020 campaign and become an even greater iteration for their quest for another Summoner’s Cup—and they look like a favorite to win the tournament in 2021. The roster is filled with some of the best players in the world—they have a world champion sensation in Nuguri, a Worlds MVP with Tian, one of the most flexible superstars in the world with Doinb, and an experienced and talented bottom lane with Lwx and Crisp. They might have lost in the LPL Summer Finals against EDward Gaming, but they are set to light the competition ablaze with their overwhelming, take-no-prisoners playstyle.
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