After a thrilling five-game series to kick of the League of Legends World Championship semifinals, the second team to earn their spot in the finals is about to be decided. The League of Legends Pro League champions, Edward Gaming are set to take on the League of Legends Champions Korea second seed, Gen.G in a five-game series Sunday. Here is a look at how each team got to this point and how each team can win to advance to the Worlds 2021 finals.
EDG’s road to the semifinals
Edward Gaming came into Worlds as one of, if not the, Worlds 2021 favorites. As winners of the LPL, EDG capped off a season that saw them at the top of the standings the entire year. After bringing in world-class bot laner Park “Viper” Do-hyeon from the LCK and grizzled veteran top laner Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun from LNG Esports, EDG took their talented squad all the way to their first LPL title in three years and first worlds appearance since 2018.
On the way to Worlds 2021, EDG took down the LPL’s best including two of the three other international LPL representatives FunPlus Phoenix and LNG. The only team EDG didn’t beat domestically that made it to Worlds 2021 were Royal Never Give Up, who were the Mid-Season Invitational champs.
At Worlds 2021, EDG got off to a fantastic start. A 3-0 week that was highlighted with a methodical win versus LCK summer finalist T1 gave spectators a glimpse at why EDG were considered a top three team. However, in Week 2, EDG took a big step back. They lost their second game to T1 and instead of setting up a tiebreaker for the first seed in Group B, EDG also lost their second match to the League Championship Series champs, 100 Thieves. EDG finished 4-2 in the group stage and just like that, the tournament favorites lost all of their prestige off of two best of ones.
Their punishment was drawing RNG in the Worlds 2021 quarterfinals. Heading into the matchup, EDG had an abysmal record against RNG over the past few years. RNG were 10-1 against EDG in their past 11 series. After a wild back and forth best of five, which featured the now-legendary Annie fiasco, EDG came out on top to make it to their first-ever Worlds semifinals.
How Gen.G made it to this point
Gen.G have had a quiet 2021 season. Coming off a Worlds 2020 quarterfinals appearance, Gen.G entered 2021 looking to improve on that result. Throughout the 2021 LCK season, Gen.G spent the majority of the time near the top of the standings. But unlike EDG, Gen.G were stuck behind in the shadows of the reigning world champs, DWG KIA. In the spring finals, DK swept Gen.G. In the summer split, Gen.G took advantage of DK’s uncharacteristic dip in performance. At the end of the regular season, Gen.G were tied for first place. But in the playoffs, T1 exposed Gen.G. Gen.G still qualified for the international tournament as the LCK second seed due to their performance over the course of the year.
At Worlds 2021, Gen.G were placed into what many considered the group of life. Gen.G were placed into a group with MAD Lions, LNG Esports and Team Liquid. Gen.G were considered one of the favorites to move onto the quarterfinal stage for the second year in a row. But at the same time, every other team looked capable of beating each other. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. For the first time in the history of the World Championships, there was a four-way tie at the end of the double round robin. Every team in Group D finished with a 3-3 record. This triggered a single-elimination best-of-one bracket that would decide which of the 3-3 teams would move on.
After drawing TL in the first round, Gen.G dashed the hopes of North America. They defeated TL and earned a birth to the Worlds 2021 knockout stage. Their next match was against MAD Lions to determine who would advance as the first seed. Gen.G won that game as well.
In the quarterfinals, Gen.G drew Cloud9 in what many considered a wide open matchup. Some people thought that even though Cloud9 had a 2-4 group stage record, they were a little favored. But, Gen.G steamrolled Cloud9 in a 3-0 sweep to set up their match against EDG in the semifinals.
How EDG and Gen.G can advance to the Worlds 2021 finals
EDG come into the match against Gen.G as heavy favorites. In nearly every lane, EDG have the advantage according to public perception. The only lane where Gen.G have any sort of advantage is in the mid-lane. Gen.G’s Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong is having a great tournament, but his opponent is still arguably the better player. Lee “Scout” Ye-chan hasn’t showcased his carry potential that earned him the LPL finals MVP. In that match, Scout overcame the former Worlds 2019 champion and LPL summer MVP Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang. If Scout can play at that level, Gen.G’s path to victory is all but erased. But if Bdd can continue his run and Scout slumps, the door is open for an upset.