The LoL Worlds Main Event hasn’t even started yet, but this year’s play-ins have already packed in quite a bit of excitement. They have been arguably the most competitive play-in stage in the tournament’s history, featuring a few upsets and most teams fighting to the bitter death.
After five days of intense battles, the teams that remained standing were:
- The LCK’s 4th seed – DRX
- The LEC’s 3rd seed – Fnatic
- The LPL’s 4th seed – Royal Never Give Up
- The LCS’s 3rd seed – Evil Geniuses
Let’s have a look at some of the stage’s highlights before the group stage kicks off on Friday.
A tight race for second place
The LoL Worlds betting odds indicated that Group A would be a toss-up between the UK-based Fnatic and North America’s Evil Geniuses. However, things got a lot tighter than expected, with no less than three teams – Evil Geniuses, Brazil’s LOUD, and the Japan-based DetonatioN FocusMe – caught in a deadlock for second place with a 3-2 record each.
The main talking point of this group, and possibly the team that walked away with the most hearts at the end of this, was LOUD. They’ve been on a meteoric rise this year, bringing home the CBLOL title for the first time in their history.
It also meant that they would make their first-ever appearance at LoL Worlds. They pulled off a sensational victory against Fnatic, causing a blot on their otherwise perfect campaign. It’s regarded as one of the biggest upsets in Worlds history, LOUD putting themselves firmly on the map and throwing the LoL Worlds betting market into chaos.
DFM were another team that impressed, though most wrote them off at the start. A superb victory against a slightly off-color EG set them up in second place, along with three other teams.
Chief Esports, widely regarded as the best team from Oceania to appear at the Worlds, have had an all-or-nothing sort of year. They won every single game in the round-robin of the LCO’s most recent split and dropped just one match – though not the series – in the playoffs before winning it handsomely.
In the Worlds, however, they went winless and fell to the bottom of their group. They were eliminated alongside Beyond Gaming, who crashed out with a 2-3 record.
COVID-19 disrupts rosters of Fnatic, Evil Geniuses
Fnatic coasted through most of their games as everyone predicted, apart from the speed bump they hit against LOUD. COVID threatened to play spoilsport to their campaign, with bot laner Elias “Upset” Lipp arriving in New Mexico just a day before the start of the competition and support Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov unable to join them until day two. Despite all the roadblocks, Fnatic still dominated their group.
EG, on the other hand, were all over the place, brilliant one moment and floundering the next as they have been ever since the LCS playoffs began. They’ve looked like a fish out of water without their star bot laner, the young Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki who took an indefinite break from the game following the LCS season.
Muhammed Hasan ‘Kaori’ Şentürk found himself catapulted from the Academy and into LoL Worlds, and while he hasn’t done badly at all, EG certainly miss their Prince of Pentakills. To add to their troubles, a false positive COVID-19 test for support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme kept him out of Day 1 game and resulted in EG dropping their game to Fnatic. A tie-breaker saw them eventually emerge as the group’s second seed after beating DFM and LOUD.
Check out the best bookmakers for LoL Worlds
‘Zeka’ stars as DRX dominate Group B
Group B’s games weren’t as tight, and generally stayed within expectations. The two top seeds were DRX and RNG, both of whom finished their respective leagues as fourth seed.
China is generally considered to have the best regional depth in the world, and so it came as a bit of a surprise when DRX took them apart on the first and went on to become the only unbeaten team in the play-ins.
Mid-laner Kim “Zeka” Geon-woo took center stage during the course of those five days, averaging an astonishing 7.4 kills per game and a creep score of 10.8, the highest across both metrics in the play-ins. MAD Lions and Saigon Buffalo gravitated to the middle tier with a 3-2 and 2-3 record, respectively. Turkey’s representative Istanbul Wildcats went winless, while Argentina’s Isurus dropped out of contention with a 1-4 record.
EG, RNG clear knockouts
Saigon Buffalo and LOUD were both knocked out of contention in the elimination round, leaving DFM and Mad Lions to move ahead to the next stage. DFM progressed in the knockout stage after knocking out fan-favorites LOUD, but RNG put a quick stop to their campaign.
The LPL fourth seed flattened them 3-1 in the qualification round, booking their spot at the main event. EG had to get past MAD Lions in the qualification round, which they managed 3-0 without fuss.
The LoL Worlds schedule sees about six daily matches, five days a week, until the Grand Final on November 17. Given the unpredictable and intense play-ins, the upcoming main event promises to be the most exciting edition of the Worlds yet.