After three days of intense Play-in games, we have the first two teams that advance to the main event groups! LNG Esports have shown LPL's fourth seed means business, while Detonation FocusMe launched a heroic effort worthy of an anime protagonist.
The Worlds play-in group stage began on October 5th and after three days of intense games, the group standings have been decided.
The Play-in serves as the introductory stage to recent League of Legends World Championships. It brings the champions of the emerging regions together with the lower seeds of the major regions in a mini-tournament to determine which four teams will advance to the main event groups. The ten teams are split in two groups of five, with each group featuring two teams from a major region and three minor region representatives. The teams play a single round robin. After it, the team on top advances directly to the groups, with the second, third and fourth teams playing a series of best-of-five elimination series to determine which two teams will follow the group leaders. Only the bottom team in each group is excluded.
This time, the LPL and LCK representatives - LNG Esports and Hanwha Life Esports - were drawn in Group A alongside Infinity Esports (LLA), PEACE (LCO) and RED Canids (CBLOL). LCS third seed Cloud9 and PCS runners-up Beyond Gaming started in group B together with LJL's Detonation FocusMe, TCL's Galatasaray Esports and the LCL's Unicorns of Love.
So, how did the groups play out?
Group A: LNG are Invincible
From the first game against Hanwha Life Esports, LNG Esports showed they were not going to fool around like their 2020 counterparts LGD Esports. Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong and Hu "Ale" Jia-Le took apart HLE and then proceeded to do the same three more times aainst the other teams in the group. LNG is going directly to group D, the only main event group without a LPL team, and MAD Lions, Gen.G and Team Liquid should take them seriously.
Hanwha Life started the group poorly, but they eventually got into gear and after an iffy early game against Infinity left PEACE and the RED Canids no chances. The LCK team will play a best of five series for a group spot, but we think its last two games show it is in a good spot.
After a poor start against the two favorites in the group, PEACE showed that Oceania's top 6 spot at MSI was not a coincidence. Mid laner James "Tally" Shute and AD Carry Vincent "Violet" Wong had good performances in their wins and should show us more in the Bo5 series.
CBLOL's RED Canids had an up and down event, defeating Infinity after trailing them for most of the game and having a good start against LNG, while crumbing to PEACE's good early game. The five-game series between the two should be interesting.
Finally, Infinity will have to go home as one of the disappointments of this tournament. The LLA team had its moments, especially against RED Canids, but was never able to close out the game.
Group B: Is that DFM's final form?
The tournament did not start well for the Japanese champions, who were soundly rooted in their first game against Cloud9. However, they found an - admittedly shaky- win against Unicorns of Love and picked up steam on the second day with victories against Galatasaray and Beyond. They got a chance at a rematch against C9 after the LCS team stumbled. It was a close game despite a good start for them, but in the end DFM triumphed and won LJL's first main event spot at Worlds.
Cloud9, meanwhile, cannot help but feel disappointed by their day 3 performance. In the first two days, the team looked on point with great play from all lanes. However, they seemed to be caught off-guard by the dogged resistance of then-winless Unicorns of Love and this loss forced a tiebreaker with DFM. In it, Cloud9 were on course for a win, but a few tactical mistakes cost them dearly and in the end DFM's better teamfighting was too much for the LCS Champion.
coaching C9 at worlds isn't stressful at all pic.twitter.com/qpcXZNkURG— LoL Esports (@lolesports) October 7, 2021
If Cloud9 can rue its day 3 performance, Galatasaray perhaps feels the same for day 2. The TCL champions started strong with wins against Beyond Gaming and UoL, but dropped what many then saw as an easy win against Detonation FocusMe and crumbled against Cloud9. They should try to up their game for the elimination tournament, because even if Beyond Gaming's slump continues, HLE is a different matter.
The PCS representatives Beyond Gaming, meanwhile, came in with high expectations but were only able to perform at the level we expected against Unicorns of Love. The group was seen as closer in power than group A, but still, this cannot be a satisfactory result for the Taiwanese team. They now face Galatasaray for a shot at Hanwha Life - and while this task is not impossible, it seems to be beyond what they have shown us so far.
Finally, Unicorns of Love had their moments at Worlds, but outside their win against Cloud9 they showed a tendency to lose early game too hard to be able to come back. Much as we like their attitude and their jerseys, the LCL champions left us wanting more from their play. Hopefully they will come back stronger next year.
Congratulations to LNG and DFM - they continue to the group draw, though LNG's position in the groups is predetermined. For the LJL, this is the first time they have gone so far - and they wore their hearts on their sleeves.
HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE pic.twitter.com/Ex6aSMmbE1— LoL Esports (@lolesports) October 7, 2021
Meanwhile, Friday will have Beyond Gaming take on Galatasaray and PEACE square off against Red Canids. On Saturday, the winners of these series will face Hanwha Life Esports and Cloud9 respectively for the last two main event spots.
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