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“The only player I really want to face is Faker because we have been playing for so long”, said Xie “Icon” Tian-Yu during his post-match interview, after LNG won the first series of Worlds 2021 against Hanwha Life Esports.

Both Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Icon have been playing League of Legends for a very long time, but never faced each other. Icon’s journey in League has been LoL Pro League centered, almost making Worlds in 2017 with Oh My God.

LNG at Worlds 2021 play-in stage

After a historic Split for LNG and Icon, the team qualified for the play-in stage after winning the LPL regional finals. Now, LNG kick off their Worlds 2021 campaign with the opening match against Korea’s HLE. The expectations coming into this series were high for both teams, representing their respective regions. While LNG had an explosive start in bot lane, HLE seemed to be gaining more map objective advantages. However, a costly mistake from Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu in mid-game turned the series in favor of LNG. The team’s top laner, Hu “Ale” Jia-Le, proved to be unstoppable on the Jax with a 6/0/8 Kill/Death/Assist ratio.

Furthermore, Icon was also able to hold his ground against HLE’s powerhouse, Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon. Even though Chovy showed glimpses of individual brilliance with the Tryndamere, he could not steer his team to victory alone. When asked on his Gragas pick into the Tryndamere, Icon said “It’s because Graga’s E has the same cooldown in the later stages as the Tryndamere’s and in team fights, all I have to do is stand next to my carry’s and protect them.”

LNG will hope to continue their impressive start in the play-ins to advance to the Worlds group stage. Meanwhile, HLE will focus on bouncing back from their first loss of the tournament. Even though LNG still have a long way to go before qualifying for the group stage, they will fancy their chances after today’s win. For Icon, he will be hoping LNG are placed in Group B so he can finally face Faker at Worlds 2021. However, if that does not happen, he may have to wait till the latter stages to have his wish fulfilled.

Jimoh Rashidat is a freelance esports writer with over two years of experience. She covers FIFA, League of Legends and general gaming content.
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