Worlds 2021 knockout stage roundtable: ranking potential finals by hype
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Only four teams remain at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship, and each of them bring compelling narratives to the table as potential finals contenders. But while many have called for a particular matchup based on fandom, the strength of the players or even a bet, which combination would be the most exciting?

To answer that question, Upcomer assembled some of its League of Legends experts to rank which Worlds 2021 finals matchups would be the most hype.

1. T1 vs. Edward Gaming

Team T1 poses at the League of Legends World Championship Quarterfinals Features Day on October 20, 2021 in Reykjavik, Iceland. | Photo by Lance Skundrich for Riot Games

Out of the four remaining matchups, this one is by far the best case scenario for a multitude of reasons. T1 vs Edward Gaming brings together a mix of great storylines, great matchups and, as a result, it will bring in the greatest amount of viewership.

Starting with the storylines — EDG are making their first ever trip to the semifinals in the organization’s history and are on an unprecedented run. But for T1, it’s the exact opposite: they are the team that has won Worlds the most, with three titles to their name. They are looking to extend their dominance over all the other orgs. This matchup would be the first time finalists versus the final boss of finals. But that doesn’t even touch on the players.

Lee “Scout” Ye-chan versus Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is one of the best storylines at Worlds 2021, period. With Faker being the GOAT, the question has always been who will surpass him. Meanwhile, Scout used to be Faker’s understudy on T1 before moving to the League of Legends Pro League. This matchup fulfills the classic student versus the teacher archetype, only this time, it would be on the Worlds finals stage.

When it comes to team dynamics, T1 and EDG are nearly identical. Both teams feature world class bot lanes. Some would say the two bot lanes are the two best in the entire world, which would give spectators quite the spectacle. As for the mid lane we already know that both players are key factors for each team. To wrap it up, both teams have unproven players in the jungle and in the top lane, though each teams’ players are performing well above expectations.

This is a mirror match, and what a Worlds finals it would be to see teams that are even going at each other with all their might.

Finally, both teams are the most popular teams within their respective regions, which would almost guarantee this final breaking viewership records. For the sake of good League of Legends with good storylines, this needs to be the finals.

— Warren Younger

2. DWG KIA vs. Edward Gaming

Edward Gaming’s Park “Viper” Do-hyeon poses at the League of Legends World Championship Quarterfinals Features Day on October 19, 2021 in Reykjavik, Iceland. | Photo by Lance Skundrich for Riot Games

Basically, Upcomer wants to see Edward Gaming make it to the finals. Having two regions represented there would be more hype, by far, than having it feature the League of Legends Champions Korea first and second seed (or second and third seed). But, having the first seeds from Korea and China battle it out for the Summoner’s Cup would be a treat.

DWG KIA could become the first team to make a perfect run at Worlds if they 3-0 T1. And though it isn’t likely, if they do manage to pull off the sweep, the finals would be extra exciting to see if EDG could spoil their run. DK are here to defend their title, and so far, they’ve done just that and more. And even though we all love underdog stories, it would be pretty exciting to have another team win back to back, too.

This is truly a make or break moment for a whole new dynasty. If DWG KIA beat T1 in the semis and take out the LPL first seed in the finals to win their second Worlds in a row, they will have cemented themselves as a very persistent presence at the pinnacle of League of Legends. It’s something Invictus Gaming were close to doing themselves before they broke down in 2019. DK are on the verge of something amazing.

On the flipside, EDG making it to the finals after five years in a row of losing out in the quarters (one year not even making it out of groups) would be a great rebirth story for the team. They already broke their “curse,” but if they go even further and win the semis, too, it would be a huge victory for the org. They have such a tainted story, making it to Worlds five years in a row just to bomb out prematurely time and time again. It’s almost akin to TSM, and nobody wants that association.

Also, let’s be honest. Even if Gen.G beat EDG and make it to the finals, we all know T1 and DK would make it a quick and boring series. We’ve seen Gen.G face those teams too many times this year. Let’s get some interregional action here! This is WORLDS, not LCK Fall Split.

— Parkes Ousley

3. T1 vs. Gen.G Esports

Gen.G’s Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong (R) poses at the League of Legends World Championship Quarterfinals Features Day on October 19, 2021 in Reykjavik, Iceland. | Photo by Lance Skundrich for Riot Games

While maybe not the sexiest matchup in terms of it being an all-LCK final, would any other grand final have a better storyline surrounding it?

It’s the ultimate revenge story. A dynasty and era ended in Beijing, 2017, when Samsung Galaxy (now Gen.G) broke SK Telecom T1 and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, shocking the world by sweeping the back-to-back champs.  Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk caught Faker in the mid lane and, in the aftermath, with Samsung celebrating their conquest, the greatest of all-time slumped in his chair, broken.

Four years later, it’s the runback for the ages. Faker reborn and T1 reloaded, the three-time world champion mid laner surrounded by the next generation of South Korean stars to bring the winningest organization back to the top. And opposing them, there would be Ruler and Gen.G, the anti-heroes, reborn under their own new banner with a chance to finish off the GOAT once and for all.

It’s a narrative usually only saved for blockbuster movies, and regardless of how the series went, the result would be iconic. Either Faker conquers his personal demons to retake his rightful throne, or Gen.G does the unthinkable by repeating history. In doing so, Ruler would also ascend the ranks of the all-time greats, possibly even solidifying himself as the best AD carry to ever play League of Legends.

— Tyler “Fionn” Erzberger

4. DWG KIA vs. Gen.G Esports

DWG KIA, Worlds 2021 finals contenders, posing
DWG KIA poses at the League of Legends World Championship Quarterfinals Features Day on October 20, 2021 in Reykjavik, Iceland. | Photo by Lance Skundrich for Riot Games

So here I am, once more, finding a reason to defend Gen.G. Yes, it is rated our lowest “hype” finals due to, well, almost everyone not believing in Gen.G and lack of a really compelling narrative in comparison to the other possibilities.

While both teams have had their tussles in spring, their most recent and only ever meeting in a finals setting was in the LCK 2021 spring finals, where DWG KIA swept them 3-0. In terms of a  traditional rivalry, there really isn’t one. Thus there is potential to build a memorable series that can serve as a flash point should they meet again.

However, if it’s the players, there are many narratives to be had. Ruler for example, is a World Champion and, like Fionn mentioned, he denied Faker and took down a dynasty. Heo “ShowMaker” Su is the defending champion, just like Faker was. Ruler could cement his name as the giant killer if he repeats this act. But there is also the matchup of Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong and ShowMaker in the mid lane, too, which truly signifies the passing of the torch. Which mid laner would create their own legacy like Faker has done years before them?

Then, there is jungler Kim “Clid” Tae-min, often skirting the edges of glory but never finding true international success despite two domestic titles. And he’s up against arguably the best jungler in the world in Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu to prove he can carry that title.

It’s an all-LCK team final, but it does feel like the new against the old, with DK often compared to LPL teams against Gen.G’s classic, almost unchanging, LCK playstyle. Perhaps that alone is enough to carry this series in terms of excitement, since no matter who wins, it shows South Korea has enough variety in their league to deploy any kind of style and still dominate on the international front.

— E.G “Megalodontus” Kant

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