The 2021 League of Legends World Championship is coming to a close in 24 hours. There is one series left, with no more than five possible games to go in this year’s premier League esports event. Edward Gaming and DWG KIA have made it this far, but only one can take home the Summoner’s Cup.
DWG KIA are favorites going into the finals, but EDG have a clear chance to upset them. Last year, Chinese team Suning did their best, but they could only take one game off the South Korean powerhouse. Will EDG fair better? Or will DWG KIA become the second team to win Worlds back-to-back?
Upcomer League writers put their heads together to predict the outcome, the MVP and more. Here’s what they had to say:
Who will win the 2021 League of Legends World Championship?
Parkes “parqueso” Ousley: I feel like there is really only one answer here. I don’t even think EDG are the second-best team at the tournament. Unless you have access to scrim results between the two teams, or unless you’re doing an incredible deep-dive into very minor specifics of how they play to determine an EDG favored outcome, it’s 100% DWG KIA taking the trophy. While their overall 2020 season looked stronger, their 2021 Worlds season has been arguably more impressive. Edward Gaming are a strong team, sure, but they don’t hold a candle to DWG.
Kim “Khan” Dong-ha is having the best international performance of his career by far, even better than that of Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon and his famous “0/3 power spike” of 2020. On top of that, Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu has cemented himself as one of the best junglers of all time and Heo “ShowMaker” Su continued to his greatness. Plus, EDG had a lot of trouble in certain aspects of their draft against Royal Never Give Up and Gen.G Esports. Unless they have magically fixed all of those issues, it’s going to be another 3-0 finals.
Nick Ray: Actually, Parkes is wrong. There are four answers here, because there are four contributors to this article.
Dad jokes aside, I think that EDG’s only way to an upset over the reigning champions would be to over-perform on the day. They’re a strong squad, so this is possible, but DWG KIA simply have too many ways to deal with the tools that have been working for EDG (hard-engage comps). I don’t think there’s a stronger topside core at this tournament than Khan, Canyon and ShowMaker. Even though I give EDG an edge in the bot lane, there are simply too many weapons on the side of DWG KIA for whatever situation EDG can throw at them. And, from what we’ve seen at Worlds 2021 so far, they don’t have many to choose from.
Tom Matthiesen: I’m setting myself up to eat my words, but I’m confident DWG KIA are going to lift the trophy on Saturday. This team was tested in a battle of the ages against T1 in the semifinals, but DWG KIA’s sheer resilience simply astounded me. Before that series, we already knew their macro was great, their teamfighting unparalleled and their champion pool an ocean. However, since that oh so memorable clash against T1 was the first time DWG KIA had to actually sweat at Worlds 2021, we now know this team also has incredible stamina.
EDG also displayed stamina in their series against Gen.G and RNG, but those were undeniably of a lower quality. Entertaining, for sure, but messy. EDG made their qualification for the finals unnecessarily difficult for themselves. I think DWG KIA are going to punish this sloppiness relentlessly in the finals. Khan did have a rough series against T1 but, otherwise, he has been impeccable. Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee were supposed to be the weak side of DWG KIA, but they have stood tall against their opposition. And let’s not forget: the best duo in the world right now in Canyon and ShowMaker; the shatterers of dreams.
Warren Younger: I have faith that Edward Gaming, my original pick to win the whole tournament, will pull through. They have not played at their peak yet, but, despite playing well below-average, they have taken down every foe they encountered to reach this point. They have shown resilience in all of their best-of-five series, being able to clutch out Game 5’s in each of their quarterfinal and semifinal matches.
DWG KIA enter as the heavy favorites, but that team has been playing well all event long. We know exactly what DK team is showing up, and based on their semifinal match against T1, we know that the best team in the world is not unbeatable.
EDG and T1 have similar roster strengths and playstyles. With EDG having a stronger roster overall than T1, this team can be the one to stop DWG KIA from winning back-to-back titles. All EDG have to do is show up and play their best. If they do, the title is coming back to the League of Legends Pro League.
EDG 3 – 2
Who do you predict to be the MVP for the finals?
Ousley: I think the MVP is usually based on one of two things: either complete dominance over the opponent in the same role or incredibly clutch plays in the final moments of a game. There’s one player who has the highest likelihood of both, and that’s Canyon.
Not only is he worthy of a permabanned Lee Sin, giving DWG draft advantage, but he is always in the right place at the right time, with impeccable objective control and some of the most clutch late-game fights of any player of all time. I personally think he is the single best player in the world right now, and he is going to prove it this finals. The last three final MVPs were all junglers, including himself last year, and he’s going to get the first back-to-back MVPs by winning it again this Saturday.
Ray: Canyon and ShowMaker are great picks here, and for good reason. But if I’m making a prediction, my gut is telling me that the answer is Khan. Sure, he has the narrative edge with this potentially being the last professional match he will ever play before going off to complete his mandatory military service, but it’s more than that. I believe Khan may have the most volatile matchup out of all of his teammates against Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun. That’s mostly due to the nature of his role, but the matchup is definitely swung in his favor. I think if he’s able to play at the level he’s showcased so far at Worlds (or even surpass it), then it’ll be difficult to deny him the honor.
Matthiesen: It’s no surprise that the jungler is crucial in a world championship success run. There’s a reason why the finals MVP for the past three years have been junglers. And while Canyon is still the king of the jungle, I expect ShowMaker to walk away with the MVP award. He has ascended to even greater heights than last year, flexing his champion pool without any issues. ShowMaker knows exactly where he needs to be and what he needs to do in a teamfight to make his opponents scatter with their tails between their legs. He even said he doesn’t want to be remembered as “the next Faker,” but rather as himself. ShowMaker has his sights set on his own chapter in the history books and I’m convinced he’ll write it.
Younger: It would be so fitting for the narrative if Flandre could neutralize Khan in the top lane. When looking at the matchups lane by lane, mid lane is a slight advantage to DK. Bot lane is a big advantage for EDG. That means it’s up to Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie to hold his own against Canyon and for Flandre to take care of business against Khan. EDG wins this series if they are able to do those things.
With Flandre more likely to be in a situation to carry, if he can stop the best top laner at the tournament up to this point, he should walk away with the MVP award and, ultimately, get revenge for Lê “SofM” Quang Duy after Suning’s loss to DAMWON Gaming in the Worlds 2020 finals last year.
Is this the final you expected/wanted heading into Worlds?
Ousley: While I’m not at all surprised to see these two teams in the final, it’s not exactly what I wanted. I think it’s great that EDG finally made it past quarters (and I’m so happy they took the win over Gen.G), but I would’ve loved to see RNG perform better. I would have liked to see T1 with their young roster make it back to the finals, or something else. I also would be a bit more excited if I felt like EDG had a better chance of winning.It’s a bit of a bummer that I’m expecting four games at most, but I’m definitely not mad about the teams that made it. Let’s see if DWG can actually become the second back-to-back champions or if EDG will spoil that and give us a real show.
Ray: I feel like a lot of people were hoping for DK vs. FunPlus Phoenix after they were both placed into Group A, given the form we’d seen from the Chinese reps before the tournament. I’m a lot of people.
It’s a shame that FPX had a disappointing end to their run at the tournament, and it’s a shame we didn’t instead get to witness T1 vs. DWG in the grand final. That said, even though I predicted against them, EDG have been one of the most interesting teams at this tournament, even just going off of storyline. I still think we are in for three, four or five exciting matches on Saturday.
Matthiesen: I did think DWG KIA and EDG were among the tournament favorites before Worlds started. Then again, FPX were also on that list, and I had a small amount of hope that MAD Lions would be the next 2019 G2 Esports. My expected grand final was a clash between DWG KIA and FPX, but that dream (and with that, my Crystal Ball prediction) fell apart quickly when FunPlus Phoenix collapsed.
That said, a grand final between the LPL champions and the LCK champions is a great alternative. These two regions have reigned supreme throughout League of Legends history. What more can we ask for than an epic battle between their two best teams?
Younger: Before the Worlds 2021 groups were revealed, yes, I wanted to see this final: the LPL’s best taking on the LCK’s best. But, as the tournament progressed, I really wanted to see a best-of-five between T1 and EDG. I think that was the best final possible in every single scenario. It would have been the best for storylines, the best for viewership and it would have been the best gameplay wise, since T1 and EDG are like mirror images of each other.
However, this was definitely the final I expected, and I am so excited to see which team comes out on top. Even though the semifinals was LCK dominated, if EDG win here, none of that matters. At the end of the day, if the one LPL team in the semifinals wins Worlds, they prove that their best team is better than all the LCK teams. On the other hand, DWG KIA can confirm the LCK’s place as the best region in the world with a win on Saturday.
How do you compare Worlds 2021 to the past?
Ousley: It’s really a bit of both. Two of the groups had incredibly exciting second round-robins. With Cloud9’s escape after an 0-3 start in Group A to the first four-way tie in Group D, there were some really fun times. But, there were also some pretty lame times, too — like the second round-robin for Groups B and C and most of the quarterfinals. Even beyond that, most of our matches were repeats of what we saw earlier this year. LPL vs. LPL, LCK vs. LCK, MAD vs. DWG KIA, LCK vs. LCK again… It was a decently variable meta, which is nice, but the lack of a crowd, repeat matches and dead group days were also a huge bummer.
Overall, it was still an amazing tournament, but I do hope that Riot Games does something to change up the Worlds format a bit moving forward.
Ray: After getting a taste of it in 2019, I thought nothing could ever match the hype of watching a world championship in person. However, this year has shown me how high-level competition, and all of the twists and turns that come with Worlds each year, can be enjoyable no matter how you’re watching.
After one year of covering the tournament live and two years covering it at home (with a dog trying to jump onto my keyboard), I can confidently say that this is the most exciting Worlds I’ve watched since 2016 or 2017. And I’ve watched every single world championship live as it was happening.
Matthiesen: I’ve only seen Worlds 2019 and Worlds 2020 live, so I don’t have that much to compare to. I did enjoy this Worlds a lot because the meta seemed more fun than what I remember from previous years. However, all things considered, I probably put this one as the third-most entertaining on the list of three. Worlds 2019 was electric because I was there in person, and G2 Esports made it to the finals. Worlds 2020 also saw Europe succeed (albeit to a lesser degree) and had the amazing underdog run from Suning. I hope the finals will give us fireworks this year, no matter the outcome.
Younger: When I end up looking back at Worlds 2021, I think I’ll remember it in high regard. Worlds 2021 was special. It showcased the emergence of the League of Legends Japan League with DetonatioN FocusMe earning their first group stage berth. I’ll remember it for Cloud9’s crazy Week 2 performance and FunPlus Phoenix’s collapse. I’ll remember it for the insane, four-team tiebreaker in Group D, where Team Liquid was one game away from putting two North American teams into the quarterfinals for the second time in history. I’ll remember it for the crazy champion picks at Worlds, with Annie and Zilean, shocking the world. And, I’ll remember the impressive best-of-five series between T1 and DWG and how then, the very next day, Gen.G and EDG went the distance. Finally, it all ends with the two best teams heading into the tournament playing each other for the Summoner’s Cup.
I’m not sure if I’m ready to call this the best Worlds ever but it’s up there.