The 2021 League of Legends World Championship is upon us, and that means one thing (aside from the actual tournament): the worlds song.
A tradition began in 2014 when rock band Imagine Dragons penned and released “Warriors,” in collaboration with League creator Riot Games. Ever since, each world championship has been accompanied by its own anthem to represent it.
Before the eighth song and music video drop tonight, to celebrate the commencement of the 2021 event, Upcomer’s staff came together to rank the previous seven iterations from worst to first. From Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s broccoli eating in “Ignite” to Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang going full Lee Sin in “Take Over,” here is our cumulative ranking.
Every Upcomer staff member scored each worlds song from a 1 to 10 scale, with both the music video and song taken into consideration. A choice of 1, the lowest possible score, would count as 1 point towards the overall score for the song. A 10, the highest, would count as 10 points towards the overall score for the song.
7. Worlds Collide (2015) – 86 points
It’s almost unfair to rank Nicki Taylor’s “Worlds Collide” amongst the rest of the anthems. It’s not that it isn’t a catchy tune; there’s an argument to be had that it’s one of the better songs on this ranking. But, when it comes down to it, it’s impossible to ignore the lack of music video alongside the song.
Whereas every other anthem on this ranking is paired with a beautifully crafted music video, the “Worlds Collide” music video is a rotating crystal showcasing stock images of landmarks where the tournament will take place. If this ranking was based solely on the song itself, “Worlds Collide” probably doesn’t find itself at the bottom. But, alas, the static video curses it to the bottom ranking.
6. Ignite (2016) – 89 points
Maybe the most polarizing of all the songs, Zedd’s “Ignite” narrowly squeaks by the revolving crystal to avoid the No. 7 spot. Overall, “Ignite” houses a colorful and memorable music video with callbacks to some of the more significant moments in the tournament’s history. But the song itself has divided fans. While some love the EDM track, others have rebelled against it, labeling it the black sheep of the yearly anthems.
Zedd is a big gamer and even recently collaborated with Riot Games in a skin collection for their first-person shooter VALORANT. Who knows, maybe Zedd will get another crack at the anthem in the coming years?
5. Take Over (2020) – 120 points
The most recent worlds song “Take Over” comfortably clears the bottom two entries to sit at the No. 5 position. As a joint effort between Jeremy McKinnon, Henry Lau and Max Schneider, the rock anthem showcases an unknown League of Legends player. He’s guided by Faker to become the best player in the world by defeating former champions on his quest to the top.
In terms of scoring, “Take Over” had few detractors but few lovers as well. A majority of the Upcomer staff scored it between a five and a seven on their cards.
4. Warriors (2014) – 123 points
The one that started it all. Without “Warriors,” there is no “Take Over,” “Ignite” or the newest edition coming out tonight. Imagine Dragons were gigantic fans of League of Legends, playing the game religiously on their tour bus, and the partnership with Riot Games was an organic one. Riot aimed to take their production to the next level and Imagine Dragons wanted to pen a love letter for one of their favorite games.
The music video, which depicts the struggle of rising to the top as a professional gamer, has been elevated upon and bettered in later editions. Yet, none of those could have come together without “Warriors” first blazing the trail for the songs and music videos to come.
3. Legends Never Die (2017) – 125 points
Against The Current, with lead singer Chrissy Costanza, are the creators of our No. 3 song on the ranking. Unlike a majority of the other songs on this list, the music video for “Legends Never Die” strays away from the esports side of things — aside from the few glimpses of a nameless player standing in the player entrance tunnel at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, China.
The video instead focuses on characters inside the world of League of Legends — like Garen, Lee Sin and Ashe — as they battle through their personal struggles and tribulations.
2. Phoenix (2019) – 127 points
The only person who can dethrone Chrissy Costanza for second place turns out to be Chrissy Costanza. As the sole person to be featured twice on the worlds anthems, Costanza teamed up with Cailin Russo for “Phoenix,” a power ballad to accompany the 2019 edition of the world championship.
Phoenix is the first music video that features the real-life players instead of animated depictions. It follows Faker, Song “Rookie” Eui-jin and Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther as they clash with expectations, online harassment and the internal struggle of being a superstar esports player in today’s ever-fluctuating landscape.
1. RISE (2018) – 154 points
When the dust settled and we tabulated the results of our staffers, three clear tiers emerged: the bottom tier (“Worlds Collide” and “Ignite”), the high tier (“Warriors,” “Legends Never Die,” “Take Over,” and “Phoenix”) and finally, the “RISE” tier.
“RISE” finished 27 points above Phoenix for the No. 1 position; head and shoulders above the other anthems in our list. It received far and away the most 10/10 votes, with its lowest score coming from a single staff member who voted it a 6/10. The rock anthem has become the standard that every worlds song has attempted to live up to in all aspects.
The music video showcases the 2017 championship run of Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong, from his group stages duels to his final clash with longtime rival Faker. As another song and music video are about to be unveiled, the question isn’t only whether it will be good; it’s whether it’ll be anywhere as good as “RISE.”