So, it’s that time of year again when the League of Legends World Championship releases its anthem and the community rejoices… Until they actually listen to it — and then social media will be awash with differing opinions like “I think this year’s song is good!” or “this one’s forgettable” and of course, the classic “Warriors was the best.”
And recently, Riot Games unveiled their theme song for 2022: Star Walkin’ by Lil Nas X along with a nifty animated anime-like video.
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) September 23, 2022
Once again, this theme song has divided opinions. It’s now up to Upcomer’s staff of Mozarts and musical connoisseurs to convene, flame each other, and share their expert musical opinions with their Worlds anthem tier lists.
Worlds anthems tier lists
My list definitely has some hot takes but hear me out. Starting with D-Tier, I think everyone will agree that Worlds Collide is the worst song and that’s to be fair. It’s not hype and it doesn’t even have a music video to paint a picture. But the other D-Tier is perhaps the hottest take. I do not like Warriors as a song. That’s just my personal opinion though. Not saying Imagine Dragons can’t make bangers (Enemies is fantastic) I just do not like this one at all.
In C-Tier we have Phoenix. It’s…ok. It’s not bad but I’m an anime fan and I really like the animated videos more than this mix of the weird hybrid between anime and live action.
B-Tier is where we find the latest release, Star Walkin’ and Take Over. Star Walkin’ isn’t actually as bad as people make it out to be. The song is great even if it’s not as hype. The video, for the most part, is also really cool. The only gripe I have is that is that the fight scene isn’t longer. Nothing drives hype more than a fight scene. Take Over has a lot of fighting and the song is ok but my issue is that I’m not invested in the faceless character that “Faker” is training.
Now we get to A-Tier. Although Legends Never Die doesn’t feature pro players (just champions instead), it is by far the best song on this list. It’s in A-Tier from the song alone. If it had a better video it would be the undisputed best. The other hot take on this list is having Ignite in the third spot. Worlds songs in my opinion are supposed to get people hype for watching Worlds specifically. Ignite is incredible as it retold key moments from previous Worlds up to that point. The Taipei Assasins bit still gives me chills to this day.
The final two songs on this list are what every song should strive to be. Burn it Down barely makes it into S-tier because it perfects the players AS the champions fighting. An Incredible display of hype that makes the viewer think they are watching an anime and wanting more. Please give us more Chovy versus Showmaker fighting scenes in the future. But when looking at the all-time greatest Worlds song nothing compares to Rise. It has the perfect mix of hype from a song standpoint, it has the players as champions and it tells a complete story with “Ambition” overcoming everyone to win Worlds 2017. Riot Games perfected the formula with Rise and should just do that every year.
E.G. “Megalodontus” Kant
Before anyone says anything, yes, yes I get it, my musical taste is probably pretty rubbish and cancel-worthy. But it’s my trash so let me explain a little before I’m forced to disappear from the internet.
One thing I will add is that sentiments have changed a lot when people listen to these songs over time, as have mine.
Let’s start with Warriors. Warriors is the best and putting anything else above it is sacrilege. Anyone else who says otherwise? Shun the non-believers! SHUN THEM (Warren is shunned)!
Star Walkin’, is the most recent addition to the list. It’s just…not my taste? Lil Nas X is clearly talented but I think I’m too much of a boomer. I have tried the x1.25 speed as people have been saying, and I like it a little better but not a whole lot still. To me, it doesn’t feel like a Worlds song as it lacks the usual hype. Riot’s choice to include this song with censored words really pulls it down even more for me and while the animation was solid, the storytelling of it didn’t work well with the song.
Fly, fly, Phoenix, flies to S tier. It surprised myself because I didn’t like it much at release. I thought it was too…drawly, but I loved the animated story of Caps, Faker and Rookie seeking redemption. But as time wore on and with none other than FunPlus Phoenix winning Worlds that year, it just came together momentously and left a strong lasting impact. This song will always evoke FPX’s run to the title and it encapsulates a Worlds journey like no other (Warriors is unique).
For my A tiers, Rise at A is controversial considering how beloved it is in the community. I think its animated story with the song blasting behind it, is easily the best pre-World’s hype package. But as a standalone song, Rise is just ‘ok’ for me. Sorry. For Ignite, I think it’s very underrated and easily the most listenable song on its own, next to Warriors and Phoenix. I suppose it’s like Star Walkin’ for some people. Ignite’s video recounts the big moments in past Worlds, as well as its very catchy techno beat, makes it a unique package that has aged extremely well (for me).
Legends Never Die is just a classic. Chrissy Costanza hits all the high notes and the song is paced wonderfully. Video-wise, it felt like a LoL promo than for Worlds, however.
Worlds Collide to me is like Legends Never Die, it’s a classic. It’s the one that started it all and even listening back to it now, it’s still not bad. It’s the ‘good, not great’ feeling and it doesn’t have any story or video, so B-tier. Burn It All Down is…kinda mediocre. It’s the same overview as Star Walkin’: PVRIS are clearly talented but this song doesn’t work wonders for me. The video and story are excellent but it’s just another pop song. However, this one might grow on me yet.
And lastly in C-Tier, other than Star Walkin’ is Take Over. Yes, I think Take Over is the worst Worlds theme song. It’s hype-ish for Worlds but it’s not something I’d ever listen to on its own. The song itself was…just not very good, I’ll leave it at that. What saves it from lingering in a tier of its own are two things: the animated story is good (Tian’s Lee Sin was chef’s kiss) and it had more than one language in it.
If anything, even though I didn’t like Take Over, I was hoping very much Riot was going to commit to this direction for Worlds songs, to incorporate different languages and artists worldwide to reflect the nature of the tournament. It’s difficult to coordinate but it’s Riot Games. I would’ve loved a song with some Spanish in it, for example, since this year’s Play-ins will be held in Mexico. I suppose hope springs eternal.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to disappear from the internet.
Aykut “Kots” Sapaz
I would like to keep this foreword quick, so I will only mention one thing: This is solely a ranking of Worlds songs amongst themselves — any of these songs would easily be S in different tier lists (maybe except Worlds Collide).
Let’s work our way up from the WC tier: Worlds Collide is by far the least hyping, most out-of-theme and definitely the most bland Worlds song to date. Again, it’s still a good song, just not compared to masterpieces like Rise and Take Over. I don’t think it’s fair to judge the video, or lack thereof, of this Worlds song since we’ve seen exponential growth in quality in the animated videos these songs release alongside of (2014 Warriors is the exception to this rule). But nonetheless, this fact doesn’t score WC any cookie points.
One tier above we have two of the most recent Worlds songs, Burn It All Down and Star Walkin’. The easier of the two explanations is Star Walkin’, in which I like the collab very much and will listen to this song for the upcoming weeks, possibly months, but I don’t think it should have been a Worlds song. It suffers from the same lack of Worlds hype as Worlds Collide, except it gets bonuses in almost every other category, enough to boost it up a tier.
Many other people, especially Warren, rate Burn It All Down higher. I agree with them on some of their points but I have one major con — lack of innovation. Let your mind go back to 2017, 2018; when the release of a Worlds song would almost cast a shadow as big as the month-long tournament itself with the flame of a three-minute fire. “Wow, that was something else” would be the impression the song left on you. With Burn It All Down, I listened to a well-made song with an even better animation, but I didn’t have that impression, so down to the C-Tier it goes.
In place of the B-Tier, I would like to give some shoutouts to relevant songs that weren’t made for Worlds. First one is Starts Right Here, made for the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational. If it was a Worlds song, it would probably go to B-Tier or maybe even lower, but that’s an achievement worth mentioning for an MSI song in my opinion. Second one is Dance With Me of the LEC talent team with a similar reason as this song would be ranked better than some of the Worlds songs, at least Worlds Collide, if it was on the list. It’s incredible that the LEC talent team could create a song of such a caliber, taking on songs created for one of the biggest tournaments of an esports year.
Now we’re in the A-Tier, we’re in the big leagues, and we have 4/6 out of the remaining songs made for Worlds. I can summarize the core of these songs by three words: hype, catchy, good. They all have individual pros; Phoenix is more hype than others, Legends Never Die is better as song but is brought down by the lack of a better video, Warriors is a masterpiece of its time, and Ignite is better overall. It would have made S-Tier if it was one breadcrumb better as a song.
At the end, we have the two stars of the show: RISE and Take Over. In my opinion, this is the second best song made for Worlds, accompanied by the second best animation made for a Worlds song. The story told in three minutes gives you a resemblance of the career paths of many Worlds finalists and champions, which is just chef’s kiss from a storyteller perspective. Lastly, I would like to send my regards to E.G. who put this song at C-Tier on his rankings, mistaking today for Opposite Day.
As a special treat to whoever is still reading this article, I’ve saved the best for last. I don’t even think I need to explain that RISE is the best song created not just for Worlds but for any esports tournament to date, so I’ll focus on the story it tells and how well the song tells it.
The climb is a phrase used in many games by many people, mainly referring to their climb of ranks of a game. But what is the climb if you continue climbing until you reach the peak? In the words of the original video, “Reaching the peak takes more than skill. Only those with the ambition to RISE above all others will know its height.” The video shows us the rise of Ambition to the top, but at the end you see others on the climb, some one step below, some at the ground floor. That alone, excluding all other amazing details in the video, is enough to solidify this video as the best in this list in my opinion.
I’m going to be very honest here, the way I judge the World’s themes are purely by how hype I feel the songs are and the animation in the video. If the song helps me get a better pump at the gym it’s going to be higher on the list. What else would you use World’s anthems for?
I’ll start with C. I put World’s Collide in here because it’s just the most forgettable song relative to the other bangers on this list. Also there wasn’t really an animated video that featured players linked to their favorite champions, which is really what makes these songs bang. I cant believe E.G would somehow put this over Take Over and Star Walkin’. C’mon man.
In B tier, we have the most recent Star Walkin’, Take Over, and Ignite. For me, there is a pretty large tier gap between C and B. Now that I’m writing this blurb I realize I should have put Worlds Collide in D tier. To me, these songs are just the Walmart versions of the songs in the S tier. Take Over is Walmart Rise, Ignite is the Dollar Store Warriors, and Star Walkin’ is more of a pop song than anything else. All of these songs are bops. But do they make me want to rush to play ranked in a game that gives me endless dread? Not really.
In A tier, the songs begin to become a pre-workout. A shot of caffeine to the soul that pushes you forward. Most importantly, most of these songs have a scene where Faker’s glasses light up like a silhouette in anime and that’s sick. Burn it all down features so many cool pro players and the concept of transforming into your favorite champion. Something we all want to do. Phoenix makes me want to climb a mountain and is a banger, so it lands here. This climbing to the top of the mountain theme is going to stay so look out for it.
In S-tier, Warriors, Rise, and Legends Never Die. Rise has more signature champions paired with their favorite champions. The song is better, the fights are more thematic compared to burn it all down. There is a small focus on a few players instead of the large number featured in the latter. Legends Never Die is here simply because it is such a great song, and gives me incredible motivation.
Warriors deserves it’s own paragraph, and in many ways focuses on the heart and soul of Worlds. There are no champions, just unknown players that face defeat, and then climb back up to compete on the world stage. It is the song that represents the fans of League of Legends, not just the players. Also they have amazing Dragon Ball fights and I cant say no to that.