The 2021 professional League of Legends season has come to a close, and the slow crawl towards the start of the regular season has begun. This season, though, had plenty of top-notch matches to look back fondly on. From high-stakes playoff contests to do-or-die meetings on the international stage, the 2021 season played host to some truly exceptional League games.
Whether they were played in domestic leagues or during the pinnacle of the World Championship, some of this year’s top League games were marked as instant classics as soon as they wrapped up. Here are our top five individual games played during the 2021 pro League season.
5) T1/DWG KIA LCK Summer Split week one
T1 and DWG KIA played six classic matches this season, but no individual game was more captivating than the second game of their first Summer Split meeting. DWG KIA and T1 previously met in the LCK Spring Finals just a few weeks earlier, and T1 were undoubtedly looking for vengeance to start off the second half of their season. Apart from some high-octane late-game teamfights, most of which T1 won to secure the victory, this particular game was noteworthy because of the mid lane matchup between Faker and ShowMaker, who played Lee Sin and Sylas, respectively. To watch two generational players go toe-to-toe on two of League’s most mechanically intensive champions was a serious treat. If nothing else, this particular game is worth revisiting to see two players at the top of their craft face off in one of their most impressive bouts of the season.
4) 100 Thieves/Evil Geniuses LCS Summer Playoffs, round two, game four
The LCS stage was home to plenty of thrillers in 2021, but none were more dramatic than the fourth game of Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves’ second round Summer Split playoff match. For 34 minutes, 100 Thieves accrued a respectable gold lead, pushing EG to the brink of defeat. It wasn’t until EG initiated a desperate teamfight in the late-game to try and get themselves back into the contest that they found a spark of life.
In what could easily be described as the greatest display of personal skill all season, Danny staved off the entirety of 100 Thieves in a practical one-vs-five teamfight, ending up on the opposite side of the map before running through 100 Thieves’ Ssumday and Abbedagge with the help of Tristana’s late-game damage. He’d eventually claim an unofficial pentakill and drive EG to the finish line. 100 Thieves would go on to win the series one game later, but if EG had carried the momentum they mounted from this victory into another win in the decisive fifth game, the entire outlook of the LCS could have been altered with EG securing a trip to the World Championship.
3) G2 Esports/Fnatic LEC Summer Playoffs, round three, game five
For four consecutive seasons, G2 Esports and Fnatic each represented Europe at Worlds alongside each other. In 2021, however, the LEC’s final Worlds berth would be decided by a five-game playoff set between the league’s two most prestigious organizations. In that all-important fifth game, G2 and Fnatic turned in a classic, with Fnatic throwing all of their faith into the would-be Rookie of the Split Adam and their recently role-swapped jungler Bwipo.
The unlikely pair of heroes punched far above their weight class, defeating a superstar-packed G2 that had been predestined to not only attend Worlds, but make a deep run at the tournament. Through the power of Adam’s signature pick, Darius, in addition to a handful of clutch plays from Bwipo on Trundle, Fnatic toppled G2 in one of the best European games of the year.
2) Cloud9/Rogue tiebreaker at Worlds
With a spot in the knockout round of the World Championship on the line, Cloud9 and Rogue fought till the bitter end in one of the season’s best pro League games. Europe and North America hadn’t faced off in a Worlds tiebreaker since 2017, but this 54-minute slugfest made up for any lost opportunities the two regions might have had in the last few years.
The marathon match reached its apex when Cloud9 attempted to take the Elder Dragon at the 53-minute mark, with Rogue using Larssen’s Realm Warp to get the jump on a potential game-ending teamfight. Brazenly, Cloud9 support Vulcan dove straight into Rogue’s five-man Realm Warp, using Alistar’s Headbutt-Pulverize combo to thwart Rogue’s advance and initiate the final fight and subsequent push that would send Cloud9 to the bracket stage. It was only appropriate that a lengthy, methodical game that included seven dragons, 16 turrets, and 32 kills across the board ended with such an explosive finale.
1) MAD Lions/LNG tiebreaker at Worlds
The best game of 2021 featured the greatest comeback of the season, with MAD Lions turning the tide of an all-or-nothing tiebreaker game in its final moments to secure a spot in the bracket stage of the World Championship. Both MAD Lions and LNG played sluggishly throughout the back half of the group stage, bringing them to a crossroads in which only one of them would advance to the knockout round of Worlds. And, for the first 45 minutes of the tiebreaker, it looked as though LNG would punch their ticket to the Worlds top eight.
It wasn’t until MAD Lions flipped the switch in the final minute of the game, as AD carry Carzzy defended the Nexus from LNG in a tense one-vs-four scenario. Once teammates Humanoid and Elyoya were able to join the fight, MAD Lions grabbed the upper hand, keeping it for good. At the 45-minute mark, LNG were hitting MAD Lions’ Nexus turrets. By the time the 46-minute mark rolled around, the MAD Lions players were out of their chairs celebrating the most unlikely victory of the tournament.
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