Upcomer’s League of Legends power rankings are making a comeback for the League of Legends 2021 World Championship, before the tournament kicks off on Oct. 5. With only a week until the show kicks off, we’ve gone ahead and ranked all 22 teams heading to Iceland.
For the first time since the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational, the best teams in the World will see how they stack up against one another. Just like in our last global ranking, the League of Legends Pro League leads the pack. While the strength of the LPL and League of Legends Champions Korea is apparent within the top 10, MAD Lions, PSG Talon and 100 Thieves are three teams capable of rising well-above their expectations.
1. Edward Gaming (LPL 1st seed)
The best team from the best region coming into Worlds 2021 is Edward Gaming. After a busy 2020 off-season, one of the old guards of the LPL region has finally returned to top form with an absolutely stacked roster from top to bottom. Spring split MVP Park “Viper” Do-hyeon and his support Tian “Meiko” Ye make up the best bot lane in the entire world. The Spring Split all-LPL first team mid laner and MVP of the Summer playoff finals, Lee “Scout” Ye-chan, is also performing at his peak.
Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun is also making his first World championship appearance in his seven year career. Flandre has always been one of the elite top laners in the LPL and will finally get a chance to showcase himself on the world’s stage. LPL english caster Munchables said fans should keep their eyes on the Touhou Project enthusiast.
“I think Flandre is in exceptional form right now.” Munchables said. “I think all of the hate towards him has subsided since he actually won the summer season of the LPL. I think he’ll have a pretty amazing tournament.”
Munchables also mentioned that EDG jungler, Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie, is the biggest question mark. But if all of these players can play like they did against FunPlus Phoenix in the Summer Finals, expect EDG to hoist the Summoner’s Cup in early November.
— Warren Younger
2. FunPlus Phoenix (LPL 2nd seed)
Let’s be honest — FunPlus Phoenix were supposed to be the tournament favorites. They were supposed to be the number one seed from the LPL and they were supposed to be in the number one spot here, too. However, their performance in the finals against EDG was just too much to keep them there, and now they’re stuck in a group with DWG KIA as a result.
Despite that, they’re clear favorites to be one of the two to advance to the Knockout Stage, and the fact that they now can’t face DK in the knockouts until the final is actually a boon for the Chinese superpower. Perhaps their fall from grace at the very end of the summer was all “calculated” for the best possible Worlds run they could ask for.
FPX’s biggest weapon is their mid laner, super carry Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang. He not only got first team all-pro this summer, he was also named MVP of the whole league. He’s had the best split of his life, flame horizoning his opponents while still out roaming them.
In the regular season, he had the highest earned gold per minute of every player in the league, and he was second highest in the playoffs, behind his ADC, Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang, who had only one single gold higher. He also had the highest kill participation in the playoffs out of every player who played more than three games at more than 80%.
Doinb isn’t the team’s only source of firepower, since FPX have a star studded roster from top to bot. Four of these players won Worlds together in 2019 in Europe, and the other one won Worlds in 2020 in China.
This tournament was supposed to be in China, is now in Europe and all signs point to the team claiming their second Worlds trophy. Well, all signs but the big circular Edward Gaming crest that stole away the LPL Summer Finals.
— Parkes Ousley
3. DWG KIA (LCK 1st seed)
DWG KIA are back to their regular level of play after a Mid-Season Invitational slump and experimentation. While the team did not barrel through the league like in 2020 (pun intended) they are peaking at the right time and look revitalized after not taking the first half of the season too seriously.
DWG KIA are going into the tournament on a six series win streak, counting the regular season and playoffs, and did not look like they broke a sweat in any of those matches.
While the Worlds meta may impact how the team plays initially, DWG KIA are known for changing things on the fly. They are coming in as a favorite to not only make it out of the group of death, but also win the entire tournament.
With the addition of Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, this team looks primed to take on another world championship campaign behind four of the players who lifted the trophy last year and a coach who has more hardware in his trophy case than anyone else in League of Legends.
— Declan McLaughlin
4. Royal Never Give Up (LPL 3rd seed)
Royal Never Give Up had a fantastic spring season, earning a 2021 LPL title and the 2021 MSI championship, putting them on the road to securing a grand slam to end the year. But that didn’t happen.
They fell to LNG Esports 3-1 in the summer playoffs but bounced back strongly and trounced Team WE 3-0 for a spot at Worlds 2021. Looks like they will have to wait another year to pave the golden road, but Worlds glory is still up for grabs.
The MSI champions do go into Worlds with some question marks, though, especially with the meta reportedly shifting quite drastically.
But you know who doesn’t have a question mark attached to him? Top laner Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao. The ‘little tiger’ has mauled all who stood before him and silenced the doubters at the start of the year, and he will lead RNG’s charge to World domination. Don’t forget their bot lane duo of Chen “GALA” Wei and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming either, who can both stand toe-to-toe with the best in the world.
Overall, we believe the reports of their ‘death’ have been greatly exaggerated, and RNG could contest for the crown, depending on how they develop throughout the course of the tournament. LPL caster Penguin is also not worried about RNG in the slightest.
“I think for RNG, they were cold coming into playoffs initially, then were able to cement themselves in the gauntlet,” Penguin said. “We saw it in the summer season as well. They came in cold and went 1-5, then finished top-four, so I have no worries about them making a deep run. Quote me on this: RNG finish top four, minimum.”
— E.G Kant
5. MAD Lions (LEC 1st seed)
In 2021, MAD Lions successfully built upon the framework their 2020 rookie squad established. They overtook Europe with back-to-back championships, putting a decisive end to the dominance of G2 Esports and Fnatic. And while their start to the summer split was slow, the team was resting after taking DWG KIA to five games in the MSI semifinals. When the playoffs came around, MAD Lions swiftly returned to their frighteningly high level of play.
MAD Lions are the best team the LEC has to offer by quite a margin. This, in part, comes from their intrinsic individual skills. Marek “Humanoid” Brázda and Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser are among the world’s elite in their role. But it is MAD Lions’ team play that has earned them their high placement on our list.
No matter how far this squad falls behind in gold or objectives, it never feels like they’re fully out of the game. Their teamfights are so astonishingly well-coordinated that they will seize the smallest opportunity to climb back and turn the tables on their opponent.
Against the absolute top teams listed above, MAD Lions might struggle, though. Their early game has looked fragile, which is why they’ve needed to overcome early deficits on several occasions. Nevertheless, a semi final appearance should be the minimum expectation for this team.
MAD Lions adapt quickly to their opposition, which should play to their advantage in the double Round Robin format, followed by best-of-five series in the Knockout Stage.
— Tom Matthiesen
6. T1 (LCK 3rd seed)
T1 have had a tumultuous season, as their roster has been anything but stable since the summer. Having gone through many different iterations, the team seems to have settled on a consistent lineup with youngster Moon “Oner” Hyeon-joon in the jungle and either Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong or Park “Teddy” Jin-seong in the bot lane.
That consistency seemingly unlocked the squad since they started taking down the top half of the table toward the tail end of the LCK season, mainly when it came to Gen.G. But T1 have had an issue where they will look incredible in one series and then their team fighting and rotations toward objectives look suspect in the next. They reached this high in the rankings due to their peaks but won’t break into the top five because of their valleys.
7. LNG (LPL 4th seed)
After a Cinderella run through the LPL Summer Playoffs, the eighth seed managed to capture their mid-season form at just the right time. LNG tore through favorites like Top Esports, Royal Never Give Up, Rare Atom and Team WE to capture the fourth and final Worlds 2021 seed from the LPL. But don’t get it twisted — this play-in team doesn’t plan on the clock striking midnight anytime soon.
On the backs of their superstar jungler, Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong, LNG are the overall favorites to make it out of the play-in stage and are capable of making it into the Knockout Stage. However, that’s if they play at their peak.
Other than Tarzan, none of the four other members have ever competed on the Worlds stage. On top of that, individually, LNG might run into issues against the better teams, especially beyond the group stage, according to Munchables.
“They don’t have the same late game prowess or insane mechanical skill in all lanes like some of the other top teams,” Munchables said. “LNG Excels when they can out team-play you, but not individually.”
If the solo lanes can hold their own against the top teams in the world, LNG can run as far as their team fighting and Tarzan can take them.
8. PSG Talon (PCS 1st seed)
PSG Talon are their region’s first seed at Worlds 2021 after going 18-0 in the Pacific Championship Series’ regular season and winning a keenly contested playoff final against Beyond Gaming. Even though this is only their second Worlds, PSG have shown their dominance transcends regional borders with recent, impressive performances at the Mid-Season Invitational.
Moreover, PSG are coming to Worlds with all five members of the team fully able to participate, unlike during previous tournaments when they had to use substitutes.
During their summer split in the PCS, they showed a mix in their play style, combining early game dominance with late team fighting prowess to win out games. Aside from a very good mid-jungle duo of Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang and Kim “River” Dong-woo, PSG also have a great bot lane. PCS caster PiraTechnics said he expects an interesting matchup in regards to PSG’s bot lane.
“I think Unified should have no problem dealing with an upset solo,” he said. “Expect PSG to win lane in that case”
Pira also mentioned that things may be trickier for the team against RNG.
“I think this could be a tough matchup for PSG,” Pira said. “Ming is an incredible support player, and will likely be able to match or exceed kaiwing, while Gala should have the mechanics to give Unified a hard time. I think I’d give PSG a 40-45% chance of winning lane here.”
Regardless of the odds, PSG have already shown they have what it takes to compete globally and will be looking to repeat that at Worlds 2021.
— Rashidat Jimoh
9. Gen.G (LCK 2nd seed)
Gen.G spent the majority of the 2021 summer split defying their haters, but their style is too one dimensional. They don’t play aggressively enough and they’re too reliant on individual players. Despite hearing the same criticisms for months, Gen.G remained a top LCK team throughout summer and earned the second seed.
With Team Liquid and MAD Lions joining them in Group D, and the likelihood of LNG filling out said group from the Play-In stage, doubters may be quick to write Gen.G off once again. According to Chronicler, it’s far too early for that.
“I don’t think Gen.G is making a deep run, that’s not happening,” he said. “I think Gen.G is going to do the most Gen.G thing possible by making everyone upset by stomping their group and then not doing anything else in the tournament.”
We have Gen.G ranked just outside the top eight on our list, but with proven talent like bot laner Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk and mid laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong stacking the lineup, anything is possible. In fact, Chronicler cited the team’s sixth man in the top lane, Noh “Burdol” Tae-yoon, as a potential key factor in the team’s ability to succeed at Worlds.
“Against worse teams, they outscale them within the first ten minutes. Against good teams, they always get punished,” Chronicler said. “With Burdol, at least they f***ing go for it. At least they try s***.That’s the one universe I see Gen.G do well: they slot in Burdol and he just bops people.”
Gen.G are used to being counted out, but they’re the LCK’s second seed for a reason. There’s a real possibility this team makes quarters against the predictions of some analysts, just as they did last year.
— Nick Ray
10. 100 Thieves (LCS 1st seed)
The first time 100 Thieves qualified the World Championship as an organization in 2018, their critics were quick to call it unearned. Now, they might be North America’s best shot at making noise in Iceland and breaking the region’s recent streak of international embarrassment.
Felix “Abbedagge” Braun and Can “Closer” Çelik are the best mid-jungle duo in NA this year. If they’re playing at the level we know they can achieve, 100 Thieves are projected to contend with T1 for second place in a treacherous Group B headlined by LPL first seed EDG.
A top 10 placement may seem like a bold choice for the LCS champs, but it’s a ranking that acknowledges their real potential to upset during the Group Stage. The focus tends to fall on 100 Thieves’s ace topside, but even bot laner Victor “FBI” Huang is hopeful about his ability to shine against the world’s best alongside his duo Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun.
“T1 has a really good bot lane, so it’s gonna be fun to verse them if we do at Worlds,” FBI said at a press conference after the LCS Championship Grand Finals. “I’m pretty confident that me and huhi can take them out, so we’ll see.”
11. Fnatic (LEC 2nd seed)
Fnatic head into the World Championship revived. After a rough spring split, the team recovered surprisingly well by switching Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau to the jungle and picking up rookie Adam “Adam” Maanane to play in the top lane.
For several weeks in a row, Fnatic sat atop the LEC standings by playing a skirmish-heavy style. When their fall came toward the end of the regular split and Fnatic had to win three consecutive best-of-fives to make it to Worlds, they delivered. The team even made it to the LEC playoff grand finals.
A momentum-driven team, Fnatic have a lot going for them. Their bot lane is one of the strongest at the tournament. Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer had one of his best years, proving to be a mid laner that can put the team on his back.
But Fnatic have obvious flaws in their play as well, which were exposed by MAD Lions in the LEC finals. Fnatic do not know when to take a step back and avoid fighting; they’d rather go down being punched in the face than wait for a better opportunity to strike. This impatience might catch a few teams off guard, but those with a clear, structured approach to the game will come out on top, eventually.
Fnatic’s group at Worlds is tough. MSI champions RNG and PCS champions PSG Talon are more well-rounded heading into the tournament. But if Fnatic’s evolution has continued from the summer split, perhaps they can throw a spanner in the works.
12. Team Liquid (LCS 2nd seed)
Team Liquid take up the rear end of our top contenders for getting out of the group stage. They aren’t predicted to advance, but if they adapt to the meta well and play their own game, they’ve proven in the past they can take on most anyone. That said, they left a lot to be desired in the LCS Finals, so there is definitely plenty of work for them in their boot camp.
That said, Liquid have two of NA’s three best players in Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in and Barney “Alphari” Morris, and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has the strongest international record while on an NA team. Alphari is strong enough in the top lane to hold his own against most, if not all, of the competition, at least in lane. The same goes for CoreJJ in the support role. If Jensen plays to his ceiling, and if Edward “Tactical” Ra can perform more closely to his 2020 mark, then the incredible facilitation from Lucas “Santorin” Larsen should prove to be enough to take some games off unwary opponents.
Coaches, analysts and other LCS staff have been giving props to NA recently, even for some factors that have historically been their worst. During the LCS Finals weekend, Cloud9 CEO Jack Etienne said he felt like this was NA’s strongest chance at Worlds to get every single team out of Groups (though he may not be thinking that now with DK and FPX in his future). While none of the players who were asked about it agreed, each said they felt their own team would make it out. Also, near the end of the summer split, former MAD Lions head coach, Peter Dun, tweeted out that he felt NA had played the side lanes better than EU this year.
Others have had their own Twitter takes alongside him, too. Sure, tweets are just tweets, and some are clout farming baits, but with the lower level of play across the globe this year, this could be NA’s best chance to upset the crowd favorites.
13. Hanwha Life Esports, LCK
14. Beyond Gaming, PCS
15. Cloud9, LCS
16. Rogue, LEC
17. DetonatioN FocusMe, LJL
18. Galatasaray Esports, TCL
19. Unicorns of Love, LCL
20. PEACE, LCO
21. Infinity Esports, LLA
22. RED Canids, CBLoL