It’s that time of year once again. The League of Legends World Championships is upon us. 22 teams across 11 different regions have gathered in Reykjavík, Iceland to compete for the title of Worlds 2021 champion. With so many games being played each day, it might be tough to keep up, let alone have time to watch them all. But don’t worry, Upcomer has curated the marquee matchups from each day, so that spectators know which games are essential. Here are the games we should all keep an eye on for the first day of the Worlds 2021 play-ins on Oct. 5.
Hanwha Life Esports vs LNG Esports
Start time: 4 a.m. PT/7 a.m. ET
Perhaps the most important match of the entire play-in stage will be the first game of Worlds 2021. South Korea’s fourth seed will be taking on China’s fourth seed in a battle of what many consider to be the two strongest teams in the play-in stage. But, there is another reason why spectators should keep an eye on this match. Not only is this game a hot play-in-stage affair, but it’s also a reunion.
Back in 2018, one of the best teams in the world — Griffin from the LCK — marched into the World Championships looking like contenders to win it all. The Korean second seed had a truly stacked roster from top to bottom. Two of the most prominent members of that team were mid-laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon and jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong.
However, after turmoil between the head coach and its players led to an early exit and the eventual breakup of the Griffin roster, some members of that team have found new homes two years later. Two of those players are looking to finish what they started back in 2019, but they’ll have to start from the play-in stage.
Tarzan has now found a home on LNG, while Chovy is the mid-laner for HLE, finishing third in MVP voting during the LCK summer split. The match for Griffin pride kicks off real soon.
DetonatioN FocusMe vs Cloud9
Start Time: 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET
Two fan favorites heading into the event will also be squaring off against each other on day one of the play-in stage. But, this won’t be the first time these two teams have played this year. Japan’s representative, DetonatioN FocusMe, have a long history of playing in international competition but they’ve never been able to pull things together. That was until the Mid-Season Invitational earlier this year. With a backup support player, DFM turned heads by putting in their bid as the best wildcard-region team since Albus NoX Luna. DFM came one fight away from taking a game off the reigning world champions, DWG KIA, but their biggest feat during MSI was taking a game from Cloud9.
Cloud9 are entering Worlds with something to prove. With the signing of their $10 million mid-lane superstar, Luka “Perkz” Perković, the team were expected to destroy the LCS in 2021. After accomplishing that goal during the first half — earning a trip to MSI — they were humbled, especially by DFM. Cloud9 did make it to Worlds 2021 to get their rematch against DFM, but being in the play-in stage in what many consider to be the harder group, makes this first match for C9 very important. A DFM win here will put the LJL reps in a fantastic position to be Japan’s first-ever group stage representative.