Pros and experts give closing thoughts on the Worlds 2021 group stage
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The 2021 League of Legends World Championship group stage has ended, with a couple of wild results and a some more standard ones. In the end, three of the four Korean representatives took the first seed of their group, with the fourth and final rep advancing as a second seed. Only two of the four Chinese teams made it out, and North America and Europe each had one team advance from the group stage to the Worlds 2021 knockout rounds.

With that portion of the event fully completed, Upcomer has gathered a few pro players, casters and analysts from around the scene to give their thoughts on the group stage, highlight standout players and give their knockout stage predictions.

Did the group stage results line up with your expectations?

Aidan Joseph “5fire” Reckamp: Honestly, the group stage was a lot crazier than I expected. I had a bad feeling that only the LCK/LPL teams would make it out, but the groups were so close and so crazy that it totally exceeded my expectations.

Mo “Revenge” Kaddoura: I would say definitely not. I expected the European teams to be competing at a much higher level. Obviously, the Fnatic situation with Elias “Upset” Lipp makes this a bit harder to tell, but overall, EU looks at a very similar level to NA internationally this year.

Liyu “Cody” “Cody Sun” Sun: As an NA fan, I didn’t have very high expectations going into groups this year, but seeing our teams fight through tooth and nail to try to make it out of groups
was very inspiring and a pleasure to watch. I can genuinely say that all three teams played beyond my expectations and deserve all the praise they get.

I’m very excited for C9 in quarters and I pray that they can bring it home, NAmen.

Mike “Beora” Skriloff: Before the group stage started, I kind of just assumed that maybe Team Liquid gets out, but I think 100 Thieves also had a shot, in my head. I did not think Cloud9 was gonna get out. The next day, they go 0-3. I was like, alright, yeah, that makes sense. Everyone’s going 0-3. I was like, okay, it’s gonna be an LPL versus LCK bracket draw.

The way this turned out, anyone who says they expected that is f*****g lying. Like, there’s no shot in hell that anyone expected the way this groups played out. It greatly exceeded my expectations. This has been the most fun Worlds I’ve ever seen.

Joseph “Munchables” Fenny: While group stages were extremely turbulent and the games themselves didn’t pan out as I’d expected overall, two out of four teams making it out of groups is decent from LPL — but I’d expected three. Obviously, FPX were a huge disappointment, and to be honest, EDG and RNG showed some significant weaknesses during their matches. But, they made it through and that’s what counts.

I’d also hoped for more from EU, but considering the group RGE were in and the FNC situation I’m not surprised with the result. I think NA is the most exciting story of this Worlds — they have a real chance at making a semifinal thanks to C9.

Jake “Hysterics” Osypenko: The group stage didn’t line up anywhere near my expectations. I thought our top-three LPL Seeds would blitz through the competition, but instead I got nervous each time an LPL team took to the rift. Personally, I think our teams have been underperforming massively as to what I saw in the regular season, but I also think NA has performed so much better than expected and Korea has had a really good read of the meta, so it’s made life a living hell in groups that were expected to be cut and dry.

I also think Europe, this Worlds, has been pretty weak, and I didn’t expect them to have a single seed make it past the group stage. I said the same with NA teams, but I found myself rating them higher than the EU seeds in each group.

Who was your Group Stage MVP?

5fire: My MVP would probably be Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong. It seemed like he just couldn’t make mistakes. He played the carry Aphelios, he even played the supportive Jhin/Ziggs; 10 CS per Minute (CPM) average. People might overlook him because of Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok (or anyone on DWG KIA), but he was really f*****g good.

Revenge: It’s pretty hard to choose one person for group stage MVP, but it would probably have to go to Ryu “Keria” Min-seok for me, so far. This guy is an absolute menace.

Cody Sun: My group stage MVP has to be Luka “Perkz” Perković. I’m glad his LeBlanc was able to clutch through the banger vs Rogue.

Beora: My answer for MVP is that I really don’t have one. The most valuable player is based on the series at hand, and there were so many important series that it’s impossible to say who was the most valuable out of all the eight teams that qualified for the bracket.

What I will say is an honorable mention of a player that I really thought was super stand out, even though their team didn’t make the quarters, was Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau.

I thought this guy was f*****g insane. He came into the LEC as a jungler and a lot of people did not have high expectations for what he was going to do. He came in, he smashed, came to Worlds and, against top junglers in the world, really showed up.

Munchables: As much as I love the LPL, if you don’t think Heo “ShowMaker” Su was the Groups MVP then you’re simply insane. The man is an absolute monster. The command he has over the map is unparalleled right now (especially in the three Twisted Fate games we saw), he’s in peak form and, in my mind, is the best player in the tournament until proven otherwise.

Hysterics: Group stage MVP is honestly Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming, I think a lot of where RNG found their success came off the back of this guy with his setup. He is criminally underrated and his decision-making as a support is what gives RNG options a lot of the time in their games.

What player/team would you like to see step up in quarters?

5fire: I really want to see MAD go crazy. They showed what they are capable of. If they can step it up and make a series out of it, it could be one for the history books.

Revenge: I would like to see Cloud9, especially their bot lane, step up against Gen.G. It looks like ruler and Life have been performing really consistently in their group, so if Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme perform at their best level, it should take away a strong win condition from them.

Cody Sun: I’d personally like to see Vulcan pop off in the best of five. I think he’s performed pretty decent so far, but I know he’s got way more up his sleeve. If the opposing team
sleeps on him, he’ll show them the true wrath of the French Canadians.

Beora: I want to see if MAD Lions can step up. Mad Lions, step up, bro! F*****g clap ‘em, dude. This is your only chance. This is the finals if you beat these guys.

Munchables: I think it’s going to be crucial to see Yuan “Cryin” Cheng-Wei have an unprecedented performance for the rest of Worlds if RNG are to win it all. He’s been a player that’s massively reliant on Twisted Fate, and I’ll be amazed if EDG allow him that comfort. He’s going to have to dig deep to survive knockouts.

Hysterics: I want to see Lee “Scout” Ye-chan come alive in playoffs. He’s been decent so far, but the Scout we got in the 2021 Summer LPL Finals was the Scout that dumpstered Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang and reminded us why this guy is now a deserved resident in the LPL. Again, he’s played decently, especially against Faker in their first group game, but I want to see it pushed further.

Who is your pick to win it all?

5fire: As much as I want MAD to step up, DWG KIA really does look poised to take it all. They are consistently so good.

However, I also want to shout out T1, who I think improved A LOT between weeks one and two. If they can keep that momentum going, they could push all the way.

Revenge: I can see DWG KIA or EDG taking it (Note: Revenge originally picked FPX before they were knocked out.)

Cody Sun: Worlds has been very competitive so far, but I personally have to go with DWG KIA. From my perspective, they have a very flexible approach to the game as well as really impressive drafts.

Beora: I mean, it has to be one of the titans. I would put my money more toward DK. At the same time, Faker might just unleash on DWG KIA in that series, so it’s hard to say. In my head, it’s EDG vs. DWG KIA, and I think DWG KIA just wins, which is such a boring answer.

Munchables: I think the statistical favorite is DK, but I’m going with my gut and saying RNG can do it. In Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao, we trust.

Hysterics: I wouldn’t be a biased LPL caster if I didn’t say EDG. I think the current form of this team is the best LPL choice, and I’m expecting them to beat RNG. Even though I’d be happy to see either of them make the run into those finals, my head is telling me that EDG have had the best overall showing and they have a relatively easy side of the bracket.

I truly believe it could just as well be LCK’s year, but something tells me DK are liable to fall in a best of five against a more powerful LPL opponent than they faced last year in Suning. All hail the LPL Bo5 buff.

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