Wednesday was a rough day for Western teams at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship group stage, as the European LEC and North American LCS representatives went a combined 0-6.
Korea's DWG KIA (3-0) took down North America's Cloud9 (0-3) in 32 minutes after Cloud9 had a characteristic early-game collapse. DWG KIA moved to a 3-0 record and sole possession of first place in Group A.
In other Group A action, China's FunPlus Phoenix (2-1) took down Europe's Rogue (1-2) in 34 minutes of action. FunPlus Phoenix looked dominant from the jump, taking control of the game early and starving Rogue out of resources. Rogue bot laner Steven "Hans sama" Liv had a good showing as Miss Fortune, but he couldn't save Rogue from getting trampled.
Meanwhile, China's LNG Esports (2-1) wiped the floor with Europe's top seed, MAD Lions (1-2) in 46 minutes. LNG Esports dominated every individual matchup and outsmarted MAD Lions in a macro sense as well, leading to a total and comprehensive 46-minute win.
North America's top seed, 100 Thieves (1-2), got clobbered by Korea's T1 (2-1) in a 29-minute affair. T1 thoroughly outclassed their opponents across each matchup, particularly in the top lane, where top laner Kim "Canna" Chang-dong's Kennen dominated his matchup. Canna got fed early on and played his part expertly, single-handedly winning teamfights with brilliant Slicing Maelstroms on his way to a 7-0-5 KDA (kills-deaths-assists). Even though 100 Thieves managed to steal a Baron Nashor late in the game, all that did was delay the inevitable as T1 regained control and closed the game out.
Some of the Western teams managed to put in decent showings, like Fnatic (0-3), who took the Pacific region's PSG Talon (2-1) to the limit in a 46-minute match. Fnatic, to nobody's surprise, went up-tempo from the jump, forcing constant fights to keep PSG Talon on their toes. As time went on, though, and as PSG's teamfighting composition scaled up, PSG started winning these fights, taking control in the mid game. Fnatic would do their best to come back into the game late, but sloppy teamfighting around the 40-minute mark ensured that PSG Talon picked up the win.
Similarly, Gen.G Esports (2-1) defeated Team Liquid (1-2) in 38 minutes. Gen.G came into this game firing on all cylinders, with their main carries of mid laner Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong and bot laner Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk playing in peak form. While Gen.G's substitute top laner Noh "Burdol" Tae-yoon made his Worlds debut on Camille by getting camped by Liquid, the rest of Gen.G got going, snowballing ahead and taking precious resources away from Liquid until Gen.G ran into their base and crushed the Nexus in 38 minutes.
In the other two matches on Wednesday, China's EDward Gaming (3-0) took care of business against Japan's DetonatioN FocusMe (0-3) in 32 minutes. EDG was brilliant throughout the match, combining crisp mechanics with oppressive macro play to all but shut DFM out of the game in the first 15 minutes. DFM did well to pick up some trade kills as time went by, but they couldn't stop EDG from taking their Nexus.
Finally, in a matchup of China vs. Korea, Chinese top seed Royal Never Give Up (3-0) took down Korean 4th seed Hanwha Life Esports (1-2) in 40 minutes. While HLE looked strong early in the game, RNG eventually took control of the game through costly mistakes from HLE. Whether it was itemization mistakes on primary carries or macro mistakes, like giving up their Nexus while attempting a late-game Baron Nashor secure, HLE fell short in the end as RNG took the win and advanced to 3-0 to the top of Group C.
In the 2021 Worlds Main Event, 16 teams are competing in four groups based on seeding, contesting a double round-robin of best-of-one matches in the Group Stage. The top two teams from each group advance to the Knockout Stage, which consists of a single-elimination bracket. Teams will be randomly drawn for the Knockout Stage so that first-place teams will oppose second-place teams, and no two teams from the same group will be placed in the same half of the bracket.
Matches in the Knockout Stage will be best-of-five all the way through the Nov. 6 grand final. The championship team will receive 22 percent of the total prize pool, which would equate to $489,500 based on the minimum guaranteed payout of $2,225,000.
Group play continues Friday with six matches from Group A:
FunPlus Phoenix vs. DWG KIA
Cloud9 vs. Rogue
FunPlus Phoenix vs. Cloud9
DWG KIA vs. Rogue
Rogue vs. FunPlus Phoenix
Cloud9 vs. DWG KIA
League of Legends World Championship Group Stage standings
DWG KIA (3-0)
FunPlus Phoenix (2-1)
EDward Gaming (3-0)
100 Thieves (1-2)
DetonatioN FocusMe (0-3)
Royal Never Give Up (3-0)
PSG Talon (2-1)
Hanwha Life Esports (1-2)
Gen.G Esports (2-1)
LNG Esports (2-1)
MAD Lions (1-2)
Team Liquid (1-2)
--Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media