Each year, hundreds of professional League of Legends players compete in a dozen leagues across the world. And since the game’s professional scene is splintered into these regional leagues, it makes it difficult for the best players from their respective regions to compete with each other on a consistent basis.
At the World Championship, though, the strongest players from each corner of the globe congregate, treating fans to memorable moments and “instant classic” games. Perhaps it’s the rarity of matches played between some of League’s biggest stars that makes Worlds so intriguing in the first place. It’s not often the greatest players in the world are given the chance to compete face-to-face.
At this year’s edition of Worlds, you’ll knowingly have your eyes on the game’s biggest stars—you won’t be able to avoid them (or the narratives that surround them). From the moment the first game begins to the lifting of the Summoner’s Cup, at least one of these players will be at the forefront of the Worlds discussion.
Here’s our definitive list of the top 10 players at this year’s League World Championship.
As one of the most experienced players on Royal Never Give Up, Ming has been an essential piece in his team’s quest to return to the top. The roster might have started off the 2021 Summer Split as a middling team in the standings, but after an eight-game winning streak, it was clear these players were still just as good as before.
The 22-year-old has been one of the best engage supports in the world. Through MSI 2021 and the 2021 LPL Summer Split, Ming has played 39 games on either Leona or Nautilus and has only lost 11 times. In a meta where precision and aggression must be balanced perfectly, he’ll be the go button that sets RNG in motion at Worlds.
Last season, Keria entered the global lens by reaching the quarterfinals of Worlds as a rookie with DRX. Now, in his sophomore season, the young support has become a staple of a T1 lineup that could easily reach similar heights. In the span of just 12 months, Keria ascended from an unproven rookie to one of the best players in the world—and the best at his position at that. The back-to-back LCK All-Pro support boosts a line of defense on a T1 team desperately searching for answers outside of their legendary mid laner. Plus, Keria is only getting better as he gets more experience. His meteoric rise to the top is showing no signs of slowing down and it’s likely that his stock will continue to increase if he’s able to outdo his debut Worlds performance in his second go-around.
The top 10
One of three former Griffin players at Worlds who are each arguably the best players on their teams, Tarzan is the backbone of an LNG squad that made a run from the bottom of the LPL bracket into the play-ins. Tarzan, in his team’s unlikely run to the gauntlet, had the second-highest kill participation (73.1 percent) and the lowest death share (17.7 percent) of all junglers, according to League stats website Oracle’s Elixir. And he played 20 games. His champion pool is diverse and includes a good Zac on top of the usual gamut of Lee Sin, Olaf, and Xin Zhao (9-2 since the start of the Summer Split).
A power ranking of players at Worlds would be incomplete without Faker, who’s aiming to win his fourth title in his sixth appearance at the international event. While a power ranking shouldn’t look solely at legacy when judging players, Faker has been an instrumental player to T1’s success in 2021. Faker has shown that he has comfort with being a low econ player (while still putting up impressive CSD and DPM numbers during the playoffs), even going as far as blind picking many mid matchups.
Despite Faker’s inherent strength in do-or-die scenarios, the field of mid laners at Worlds is still incredibly stacked. Strong players like Scout, Doinb, and ShowMaker (who’s aiming to go back-to-back at Worlds) have even stronger rosters surrounding them.
Role swapping is never easy. Just ask… a whole bunch of people this year.
Former mid laner Xiaohu became the first player to win MSI at two different positions when he won his second title in four years back in May—and he’s only leveled up his game over the course of the year. And with solo lane champion pools mixing as often as they do, similar to Perkz before him, his experience in other roles has made him one of the best top laners in the world. This is doubly valuable in a year with as much flex drafting going on as 2021.
The LPL has seen its fair share of LCK imports over the years, yet none have been more influential than the introduction of Scout to the scene. From humble beginnings as a part of T1 (then known as SKT) to years of sheer dominance alongside EDG, Scout has become synonymous with the LPL. While he’s certainly had his ups and downs over the past few years, Scout’s success with EDG in 2021 hasn’t gone unnoticed.
The menace in the mid lane continued to make a name for himself in 2021 by outshining other top-tier LPL mid laners like Doinb and FuFu, eventually leading EDG to the LPL Summer Split playoffs where he achieved yet another MVP accolade. Scout’s previous Worlds experience as a part of EDG may not be up to par with other LPL teams, though, and it’s been a while since he’s graced the stage. But with the way he’s shaped himself as a formidable mid laner since his last Worlds appearance in 2018, the world might need to keep their eyes on who could be the next championship mid laner.
If there’s any team looking for Worlds success once more, it’s FunPlus Phoenix. Falling out of Worlds contention in 2020 was enough for the 2019 world champions to seek other options that would return them to greatness—and the way to do that was recruiting talent from the team that won it all last year, DWG KIA.
To stand out on a roster already full of championship-caliber talent, FPX picked up Nuguri—and to immediate success. The former world champion top laner immediately made his impact known within his new team, but he struggled a bit to find the synergy needed to bring FPX to the top in the first half of the year. Yet when the summer came around, Nuguri helped rekindle the flames of success FPX had yearned to grasp once more. In just one year, Nuguri made FPX look like that team that took it all at the 2019 World Championship, making it clear he’s headed for the trophy regardless of the team he’s tied to.
In a region renowned for its AD carries, Viper is criminally underrated. In 2021, the player contributed enormously to his team, helping transform EDG from a mid-table LPL side to regional champions. He might not have the highest kill participation or KDA in his role, but he has something that stats can’t measure: the clutch factor. Viper is a playmaker through and through.
Last year’s world champion jungler is hoping to repeat with DWG KIA. In a meta where proactivity is rewarded, Canyon has proven he can perform and create leads for his team with whatever tools he’s granted. Canyon boasts impressive stats, like topping damage-per-minute and KDA stats among junglers in the 2021 LCK Summer Split playoffs.
Canyon’s strength is not only based on his own merit, but the fact he also has strong teammates who he can rely on and ones that can help him succeed, like BeryL supporting and ShowMaker in the mid lane. Look out for DWG KIA attempting plays that require high tempo being set up by their jungler.
If Dopa thinks Chovy is the best mid laner at Worlds 2021, he must be good. The Hanwha Life player is a constant threat. No matter if it’s a solo kill in the laning phase, a well-timed roam to the bot lane, or a fight around the Baron pit, he’s always willing to make plays. He’s often the difference-maker on a team that leaves much to be desired in other areas of the Rift.
Chovy is also versatile. He’s a playmaker, but he’s capable of sitting back when needed. And that’s reflected in his champion pool. In the 2021 LCK Summer Split, he played 21 champions from Yone all the way to Lulu.
Heralded by many as one of the best players in the world right now, Doinb returns to the Worlds stage looking to lead his explosive team to yet another Summoner’s Cup. The 24-year-old phenom is still bringing a ton of flexibility to the table, having played 17 different champions across the 2021 Summer Split. The fun-loving, bright-eyed superstar also had the third-highest KDA in the LPL this past split, with the second-most kills in the league, according to Oracle’s Elixir. With a Worlds MVP caliber jungler beside him, a star world champion top laner, and an experienced duo in the bottom lane, Doinb has free rein to break out anything he wants for the win—even if it’s Tryndamere mid.
League teams are built around the mid lane. On every championship-caliber team in history, success has spread from the middle of the map like tendrils. Decorated mid laners of yore such as Faker, Rookie, Crown, and more have all made the other players around them stronger on their championship-winning teams. And that’s precisely what ShowMaker does for the rest of DWG KIA.
While this year’s entire DWG KIA squad is filled with stars, ShowMaker on his own is enough to push any team into championship contention territory. Since the beginning of 2020, ShowMaker has won nearly 200 games for the DAMWON organization—more than most players will win in their entire careers. It’s quite fitting that ShowMaker capped off the first decade of professional League by winning Worlds last year, and if he’s able to ring in the game’s next decade by doing it again, he’ll expand his illustrious legacy as one of the greatest, most time-transcendent League players ever.
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