Over the past week, three of the four major regions in the League of Legends global power rankings have locked in their representatives for the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational, leaving China’s League of Legends Pro League to follow suit on April 18.
DWG KIA of South Korea’s League of Legends Champions Korea have earned their spot as favorites entering into the tournament. With the League of Legends Championship Series’ Cloud9 punching their ticket to Iceland for North America and MAD Lions wearing the League of Legends European Championship crown for the first time, the stage is set for the first international tournament of 2021.
Here’s a look at the top teams around the globe as we prepare for MSI and the Summer Split beyond it.
Results this week: 3-2 against Team Liquid
Movement this week: New
After missing out on the chance to attend MSI after winning the LCS 2020 Spring Split, Cloud9 have earned a shot at international glory.
Their hard-fought 3-2 victory over Team Liquid in the LCS 2021 Mid-Season Showdown grand final has earned them a spot at the 2021 MSI (and on our rankings) for the first time in the organization’s history.
It’s clear that Cloud9 are the best team in North America after this series. Across the board, the team stepped up and showcased some of the highest-level individual play the LCS has seen all year. Superstar mid laner Luka “Perkz” Perković was an X factor for the team. His playmaking and fearlessness them team from the brink of elimination at multiple points throughout the series, and he averaged a staggering 80.7% kill participation throughout all five games, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
In addition to an impressive showing from Perkz, the team showcased their strategic creativity in Game 5, where they initiated a lane-swap in the early game to counter the effective roaming of Team Liquid support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in.
If the resilience and real time problem-solving Cloud9 displayed in finals is any indicator of what we’ll see in Iceland, LCS fans can be proud to have them represent the region overseas in May.
— Nick Ray
9. MAD Lions
Results this week: 3-2 against Rogue
Movement this week: New
MAD Lions showed their perseverance in a five-game series by taking advantage of small windows of opportunity and showing excellent teamwork against LEC final opponent Rogue. The first two games favored Rogue, with MAD struggling to close the 1.5K gold gap in the second match. In Game 3, however, MAD Lions top laner İrfan “Armut” Tükek started dominating team fights, going 6-1 as MAD gained momentum, took down Baron and denied Rogue the 3-0.
MAD then pushed it to Game 5, where Javier “Elyoya” Prades’ overall shot-calling and Armut’s bravery in the final teamfight led the squad to their first LEC title and made them the first team other than Fnatic or G2 Esports to win an LEC title since 2014.
Now, they’ll have a chance to prove that European teams other than those two dynasties can shine on an international stage, too.
— Carolynn Soba
8. Suning Gaming
Record: 14-7 (34-15 game record)
Results this week: 3-0 against LNG Esports, 3-0 against Team WE, 1-3 against Top Esports
Movement this week: —
Suning Gaming had an explosive start to their playoff run, slamming LNG in a 3-0, winning their third game in just 17 minutes in a nearly perfect manner. That was to be expected, though, since Suning had just beaten them 2-0 two weeks before during the regular season.
Suning then faced Team WE in Round 2, sweeping them as well with another near-perfect game despite a 2-0 loss a few weeks prior. Unfortunately for Suning, the momentum of their 6-0 start to the playoffs wasn’t enough to ram through the fresh Top Esports, who matched Suning’s pace and rivaled Lê “SofM” Quang Duy’s creativity in the jungle.
After multiple 40-minute bangers, Top Esports came online to smack down Suning and end their hot streak. Suning may not have advanced to MSI, but they concluded with a 7-3 run in the playoffs to take them into their break before summer.
— Parkes Ousley
Record: 14-6 (32-18)
Results this week: 0-3 DWG KIA
Movement this week: -2
After thrashing T1 in a 3-0 series, Gen.G went up against the behemoth that is DWG KIA. Gen.G put up a valiant fight, especially in Game 2 as AD carry Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk posted a 14/2/8 kill/death/assist performance. Still, the No. 2 team in the LCK went down to the League of Legends Champions Korea regular season and playoff champions in a sweep.
Gen.G were a solid second-place team in the LCK this spring. They split their matches against DWG in the regular season and defeated most of the lower-placed teams with ease. If given the opportunity to play internationally, Gen.G may match up well against other top teams. However, fans will have to wait for the summer to see the squad test their metal against the rest of the world.
— Declan McLaughlin
6. JD Gaming
Record: 12-5 (25-12)
Results this week: —
Movement this week: +1
The beneficiaries of a Gen.G loss, JD Gaming have moved up a spot since their loss to FunPlus Phoenix a week ago. The team was a victim of FPX’s deep playoff run but still have the chops to claim a top 10 rank.
Jungler Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok remains a bright spot for the team’s future. The 2020 regular season MVP is still a focal point for the squad, with his 72% average kill participation and early objective control sense. When he gets his team a lead, they tend to win out, as JDG won 86% of their matches when they are ahead in gold at 15 minutes this spring.
5. Top Esports
Record: 12-4 (25-10)
Results this week: 3-1 vs. Suning, 2-3 vs. RNG
Movement this week: -1
If you needed any more confirmation that China’s LPL is currently the most competitive region in the world, look no further than Top Esports finishing outside of the top three for the spring split after a dramatic 3-2 loss to RNG.
TES are arguably an upgraded side from last year’s team that won the summer domestic title and finished top-four at Worlds with the inclusion of new starting support Wang “Zhuo” Xu-Zhuo. While the solo lanes for TES seemed to have fallen into a spring slumber, the silver lining for the former Chinese champions is that their star jungler, Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan, is playing some of the best League of Legends in his career.
It wasn’t the spring split TES were hoping for, but there should be little worry that Zhuo “Knight” Ding will rediscover his world-class form come the summer. TES are still one of the most talented teams in the world individually and proved that with their win over Suning, but unlike previous seasons, the LPL is too deep to rely on just one or two players having a career split. To win the LPL this spring, the champion needs to bring their A-game every night.
— Tyler Erzberger
4. Royal Never Give Up
Record: 15-3 (32-13)
Results this week: 0-3 against FPX, 3-2 against TES
Movement this week: -3
Before Royal Never Give Up’s matches last week, they had a week and a half to watch the other teams battle through the playoffs to reach them in their triple round bye. But when it was finally their turn, they were caught off guard.
FPX used their playoff momentum to steamroll RNG and won 3-0, with each game clocking in under 30 minutes. Luckily for RNG, that loss was enough of a wakeup call for them to find a victory in their first loser’s bracket series against Top Esports. After a full five-game set with the last game going 43 minutes, RNG found themselves at the top and advanced to the losers final against EDward Gaming.
3. EDward Gaming
Record: 14-4 (33-11)
Results this week: 3-0 against TES, 2-3 against FPX
Movement this week: -1
EDward Gaming looked poised to take over RNG’s top spot after they rolled over against FPX, especially since they had just knocked off Top Esports. However, the LPL squad suffered a similar fate as RNG when they finally ran into FPX.
EDG did a lot of things right in the series and actually reached match point after a dominant Game 3 win saw Zhao “JieJie” Li-Jie outclass FPX’s Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang. That, in turn, enabled first-team All LPL players Lee “Scout” Ye-chan and Park “Viper” Do-hyeon to do the rest of the lifting, giving them an opportunity to close out the series.
However, after some poor fights from EDG the middle of Game 4, FPX took over, and in Game 5, EDG were simply out drafted and outclassed by Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang’s pocket Akali pick.
It was a heartbreaking turn of events for EDG fans after the team got so close to their first LPL finals in three years. However, EDG proved they have have the tools to beat FPX in a rematch — they just have to beat RNG in the losers final for a shot at redemption.
— Warren Younger
Record: 15-5 (36-15)
Results this week: 3-1 against JDG, 3-0 against RNG, 3-2 against EDG
Movement this week: +4
FunPlus Phoenix continue to make a shocking tear through the LPL playoff bracket, but their biggest test to date was against EDG. After falling behind 2-1 in the best-of-five series, FPX turned it around in Game 4 off the backs of Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon and Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang and stomped EDG in 25 minutes to force a decisive game.
Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang brought out yet another of his endless supply of pocket picks in Akali for the second time in the series. It ended the series with its second win. Doinb never died during the two games he played Akali, putting him en-route to a 10/0/10 KDA. More importantly, he was the MVP in the deciding game of the series that sent FPX to their second-ever LPL grand final.
FPX now have wins against the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 teams in the LPL, all back-to-back, and stand atop the region until another team proves otherwise.
1. DWG KIA
Record: 18-2 (39-10)
Results this week: 3-0 against Gen.G
Movement this week: +2
With DWG KIA’s demolition of a strong Gen.G roster in the LCK Spring Split final, their unrivaled supremacy continues. While they may not have played exceptionally well against Hanwha Life Esports, DWG KIA certainly showed they were only testing their limits with that series. They showed no mercy to Gen.G with a 3-0 clean sweep that let them lift the LCK Spring Split trophy.
The LCK champions began the series with a dominant showing in Game 1. Their Hermeirdinger and Senna champion combination perfectly answered all of Gen.G’s challenges, and Kim “Khan” Dong-ha’s flanks on the Sion proved instrumental, leaving Gen.G without a chance even before the fights began.
DAMWON mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su stole the show in Game 2 on Renekton, which allowed his team to stave off Gen.G once again. DWG KIA finally closed out Game 3 in under 28 minutes with just one tower lost.
DWG KIA’s read on the meta makes them a scary team to play against in any competition. According to Oracle’s Elixir, they had a mid-late game rating of 53.5 in the LCK 2021 Spring Playoffs, with the closest other playoff competitor, Gen.G, having a rating of 5.9.
Any team hoping to get the most out of MSI will have to find a way to dismantle the DWG KIA machine. Right now, it doesn’t look possible.
— Rashidat Jimoh