Reviewing every LEC and LCS team’s performance at Worlds 2021

The competition was too fierce for the West, but at least a couple of teams put up an exhilarating fight.

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After Cloud9’s unceremonious quarterfinals loss to Korea’s Gen.G, both Europe and North America have been eliminated from the 2021 League of Legends World Championship. The last time both regions failed to reach the semifinals was back in 2017, when Samsung Galaxy took down the SKT dynasty.

Some people might have expected a result like this, due to the overall forms that a majority of the representatives were in prior to the event. Others were much more hopeful, stating that a month-long break was enough to reset the teams’ mentals and give them enough time to prepare for the marathon that is Worlds.

Fast forward into the knockout stage, however, and you’d find NA and EU League fans thanking the universe they even had teams to root for in the first place. Some teams completely floundered under the pressure of the stage, while others put on one hell of a show before being sent back home.

Here are reviews of each Western team at Worlds in terms of how their performances will be remembered.

Fnatic

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Considering the unfortunate circumstances that this team entered Worlds with, it wasn’t a complete surprise Fnatic failed to make a positive impression at Iceland this year. Before losing Upset due to an urgent family matter, this team was right in the thick of the action as a contender to qualify for the knockouts. But being forced to field rookie AD carry Bean before the start of groups was a worst-case scenario, and it took a massive toll on the rest of the roster.

Related: Fnatic releases poignant behind-the-scenes video showing team’s Worlds 2021 struggles

The other underlying issues that plagued some of the other members didn’t help either, and as a result, Fnatic constantly stumbled from the mid game onward in most of their matches. The squad wasn’t in-sync at all when it came to team-wide decision making, from constantly mistiming abilities, to failed skirmishes, or simply getting caught out of position. They currently have the third-most deaths of the tournament, according to Oracle’s Elixir, which is just as many deaths as teams that have played twice the amount of games.

Fnatic will be one of the bigger “what-ifs” in European history. They were placed in a group that was completely winnable by many peoples’ standards, with teams like the LPL’s third seed RNG, LCK fourth seed Hanwha Life Esports, and the PCS’ PSG Talon. But now, the end of their 2021 journey will be an afterthought as the region continues forward into the future.

Rating: D

100 Thieves

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As the newest first seed to come from NA, 100 Thieves drew out equal parts cynicism and optimism from the LCS fanbase. This team looked strong when facing off against regional competition, but they weren’t nearly as dominant or consistent during the 2021 Summer Split as many of the other first seeds coming from regions like Korea, China, and Europe.

During their matches, it felt like the bright lights stunted their possible ceiling as they played out their games with hesitance. They also had the fifth-worst average gold difference in the event, and they couldn’t stop the bleeding once it started. Some of their draft decisions were disappointing as well, which threw them into an early hole they couldn’t get out of, even though they did end up winning against DFM and EDG to finish the group stage.

100 Thieves might have peaked at the right time to win the LCS championship, but as soon as that momentum died out over the course of the month-long break, they didn’t have enough time to ramp themselves up against some of the best teams in the world. Even still, a classic NA 3-3 record with a win against the LPL’s first seed is something that can be built upon to come back stronger for 2022.

Rating: C

Team Liquid

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Name a better duo than Team Liquid and 3-3 records at Worlds. We’ll wait. This is the fourth time in a row this team has had an even record in groups—only to be eliminated at the end of the day—and we’re sure the players and staff are even more frustrated than the fans watching at home.

Before the tournament began, Liquid had to deal with several different internal problems through the 2021 Summer Split. Whether it was Alphari stepping back from the lineup, Santorin taking a break due to health issues, or Jatt leaving the team halfway through the season, this team persevered through a storm for a chance to see the sun. Unfortunately for the team, the clouds never really went away as they forced a tiebreaker but were routed by Gen.G.

Inconsistencies plagued the team across the group stage. The roster understandably drove their plans through their superstar top laner Alphari. But even though he had an impressive 534 average gold lead at 10 minutes, Alphari had the fourth-lowest kill participation percentage among Worlds top laners and a 2.4 KDA. His individual leads couldn’t translate into further success, which is shown through the team’s overall average gold lead at 15 minutes sitting at -674. It also didn’t help that Tactical was often caught out with his lackluster positioning, leading to the second-highest share of his team’s deaths among ADCs at Worlds.

Rating: C

Rogue

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So close, and yet so far. Even though they were one of EU’s top teams over the past few seasons, Rogue still came into Worlds with minimal expectations after being seeded into the supposed Group of Death. Who would expect a team that just got swept twice in a row during the 2021 LEC Summer Playoffs to challenge for a spot in the knockout stage in a group with two of the tournament favorites?

Several matches and a couple of tiebreakers later, Rogue would be one teamfight away from being the first LEC representative to qualify for the knockout stage at Worlds 2021. They had played some of the best League we’ve seen from them all year, and their road ended after one ill-advised Realm Warp. But they also provided us with one of the best games of the year.

From smart macro plays to decisive teamfighting against both C9 and FPX, Rogue were so close to becoming one of the newest European teams to make the next stage at Worlds. Split-second decisions in high pressure situations would be the difference, and when the dust settled, the NA representatives stood tall. But this was also probably the greatest battle in the history of NA’s perpetual rivalry against EU.

Rating: B

MAD Lions

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As the only other Western representative to make it to the knockout stage, MAD Lions’ fiery playstyle was on full display in this tournament. From their group stage heroics against LNG Esports to facing off against the best team in the world, the pride of Europe stuck to their guns and fought to their dying breath.

After the quarterfinals, MAD had the second-highest average combined kills per minute of any team in the tournament at 0.91. Their games were bloodier than every team—save for their LEC brothers over on Fnatic, who had a 1.15 CKPM after the group stage. They didn’t have the best early game, but they excel in mid-to-late game teamfighting, which is exactly how they made it to knockouts in the first place.

The only problem was when they ran into DWG KIA in the quarterfinals. The Korean juggernauts are so adept at finding early leads through superior laning, and they’re also the hardest team to stop once they’ve grabbed hold of the reins. They’re also really good at finding different venues to shrink deficits, should they ever find themselves in one, and they showed this in their game two comeback.

It was an impossible task to take, but the Lions’ performance is something to be proud of nonetheless.

Rating: A

Cloud9

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Cloud9 might struggle during the regular season and go through many ups and downs throughout the year, but when Worlds comes along, you can bet that this organization will try its hardest to light the torch for their region.

This year, the boys in blue put up one of the most memorable group stage runs in League history by battling their way through the Group of Death. They made the record books as the first LCS team to win a tiebreaker at the Worlds group stage and etched the greatest chapter in the feud between EU and NA.

Unfortunately for the team, they disappointed many fans with their anticlimactic sweep at the hands of Gen.G. But that dissatisfaction might have been driven from the hype and new expectations set from their dream-like comeback to qualify for knockouts. Gen.G are still a very good team, and C9 simply couldn’t replicate the same confident play they had from before. Their run to the finals wasn’t meant to be, but you’d be lying if you said they didn’t bring some of the most exciting games you’ve ever seen in recent memory.

Rating: A


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