The 2021 League of Legends World Championship is the most important and tense tournament of the year, as the game’s best teams come together with aspirations of leaving as the world’s best. Every match brings stress, but that doesn’t mean every interaction with an opposing team must be.
Just like in traditional sports, showing signs of respect and sportsmanship is an important trait for teams and players. The act of being humble reminds them that although this tournament means so much to everyone, showing class and having fun is a priority as well. Many teams, players and even coaches have shown their acts of kindness through interactions during Worlds. Here are the highlights of the annual tradition of jersey swaps and gift exchanges.
Coaches get in on the tradition
The jersey swap as a sign of respect isn’t just for players. Although coaches in League of Legends are seen in professional suits instead of jerseys, MAD Lions coach James “Mac” MacCormack decided back during the 2021 Mid Season-Invitational that coaches should get in on the fun, too. There, he reached out to legendary coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, who is now coaching DWG KIA to exchange neckties. He even attached a personal handwritten note.
With both teams meeting back up at World 2021, kkOma came prepared as the two coaches exchanged neckties once again. And this time, kkOma delivered a handwritten note written by his wife. Although this seems to be the first time coaches participated in the tradition, it wasn’t the last.
Starting where we left off last time: exchanging ties with kkOma. 2 wonderful traditional Korean ties and a handwritten letter from kkOma's wife (whose English is very good!). I couldn't be more honoured by these amazing gifts❤️🙏 pic.twitter.com/5kmTpoxi2d
— James MacCormack (@MacCLol) October 10, 2021
Additionally, in a bittersweet exchange, Mac caught up with Unicorns of Love head coach, Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant, right before UoL were returning home after being eliminated from Worlds.
We couldn't say goodbye to our beloved Russian fighters without a present exchange between our Coaches.
See you next year!!
— MAD Lions English 🇬🇧 (@MADLions_EN) October 10, 2021
Meanwhile, even in defeat, Mac showed respect to Team Liquid after their match on Day 1 of the group stage.
— James MacCormack (@MacCLol) October 11, 2021
Jersey swaps between players
Many teams at Worlds this year have already participated in jersey swaps, and some have done multiple. Some jersey swaps even have sentimental meaning on top of the usual respect factor.
Hanwha Life Esports bot laner Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu spent two years of his career with Edward Gaming. At that time, his support partner was Tian “Meiko” Ye, who is still the support for EDG. But at Worlds 2021, Deft and Meiko got a chance to reunite.
On behalf of EDG, Flandre and Meiko sent our best wishes to @HLEofficial.
Meiko gave Deft a copy of Sun Tzu's Art of War and said:" You can study it, but do not use it on us."😆
Good luck! Hope both of us can do our best in Worlds!#EDGWIN #HLEWIN #Worlds2021 pic.twitter.com/anK5QisJG5
— Edward Gaming (@EDG_Edward) October 10, 2021
Edward’s current bot laner got a chance to participate in a jersey swap, too. Park “Viper” Do-hyeon got to meet up with T1 bot laner Park “Teddy” Jin-seong and perform their own jersey swap.
PSG Talon are another team who participated in multiple jersey swaps, with both Rogue and Team Liquid.
— PSG TALON (@PSG_Talon) October 12, 2021
— PSG TALON (@PSG_Talon) October 11, 2021
Meanwhile, some jersey swaps were humorous, including this one between Fnatic’s Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau and Gen.G’s Kim “Life” Jeong-min where they posed together wearing each others’ jerseys with their names written across the front.
— FNATIC (@FNATIC) October 6, 2021
Then there’s Team Liquid, who seemed to go on a jersey swap spree this year at Worlds. So far, they have done exchanges with MAD Lions, Rogue, Beyond Gaming and T1.
Today we're playing vs @TeamLiquidLoL and both bot laners are ready for their matchup 😍😍
— MAD Lions English 🇬🇧 (@MADLions_EN) October 11, 2021
Wishing you good luck in Group D – Starting tomorrow 😉 pic.twitter.com/PUbnbLQFQh
— Rogue (@Rogue) October 11, 2021
— ̷BEYOND GAMING #PCSWIN #BYGWIN (@BYGgaming) October 10, 2021
— T1 LoL (@T1LoL) October 10, 2021
LPL reps come bearing gifts
Jerseys and neckties aren’t the only things exchanged at Worlds, so far. The representatives from LPL took the time and effort to reach out to teams to give them traditional Chinese gifts. The top three seeds partnered up with a western team to show them a part of their culture. Each western team received a personalized fan (as well as a jersey) on top of other unique, Chinese items.
Edward Gaming reached out to Team Liquid to perform their traditional Chinese gift exchange.
— Edward Gaming (@EDG_Edward) October 9, 2021
Royal Never Give Up sent mid-laner Yuan “Cryin” Cheng-Wei to meet up with Cloud9 mid-laner Luka “Perkz” Perković to exchange gifts in this hilarious interaction.
— LPL (@lplenglish) October 11, 2021
And finally, FunPlus Phoenix ended up exchanging gifts with Rogue.
See you again soon on the rift, yeah? 😏 pic.twitter.com/PLpARoBpXb
— Rogue (@Rogue) October 8, 2021
Although only one team can take home the Summoners Cup, many of the teams and players participating at Worlds 2021 will still be able to take home some very special souvenirs they received during their time in Iceland.