The League of Legends Worlds 2021 Main Event is about to kick off. With the final 16 teams now chasing the Summoner’s Cup, we’ve highlighted the players that you need to keep an eye on as they will make and break their team’s campaigns.
With Play-Ins now behind us, the Worlds 2021 action is now heating up. The big dogs are now here to play, with world champions and hopefuls clashing in what’s set to be an epic two-week battle.
While every player at Worlds is incredibly talented, there’s a select few you’ll need to keep an eye on.
This list is going to look beyond the typical pick of DWG KIA — the defending world champions are fielding a formidable roster of five again, with Showmaker leading a sharpened phalanx across the Rift.
However, there are a certain few stars that will be chasing glory, and have the power to truly dictate their team’s destiny.
Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok — T1
It would be remiss to not talk about the Unkillable Demon King on his return to Worlds. The three-time world champion was forced to watch at home in 2020, and for much of 2021 it looked to be the same — either on the bench behind rising star Clozer, or just missing out again entirely.
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In what could be his last chance at a record-breaking fourth title, Faker will be a commanding force on the Rift for T1. Wherever he goes, he demands respect — even if he might not be the flashiest player on the roster any longer. Ushering the next generation of Korean talent on his squad, Faker’s leadership is needed if T1 want to push for the Summoner’s Cup.
Park ‘Viper’ Do-hyeon — EDward Gaming
Viper might be the best player in the world right now heading into Worlds, and he’s truly been unlocked on this EDward Gaming roster. After a solid showing at Worlds 2019 on the Griffin roster, Viper now has the right team backing him to really let him carry.
EDward’s slower style of play really suits the Korean AD carry, and that shows in his incredibly high damage share in the LPL (around 30% in Summer). If he’s allowed to scale freely into the late game, no one (at Worlds at least) can match his high level of mechanics across a wide range of champions.
Adam ‘Adam’ Maanane — Fnatic
Adam is a rising star in Europe, and will have a chance to test his wares against the best in the world for the first time in Iceland. While he’s dominated EU Masters and the LEC, this poses a new challenge for the 19-year-old.
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He broke the solo kill record in the LEC, and has real potential to flex his muscles against teams like Hanwha Life and PSG Talon who lack those strong top sides. There’s one pick everyone will be keeping an eye out for though and that’s his signature Darius. He slaughtered G2 with it in the Summer Playoffs, and if it’s left open again, teams better be prepared.
Ryu ‘Keria’ Min-seok — T1
Keria is not just the leader of Korea’s next generation of support talent — he’s up there with one of the greats of all time already. When it comes down to mechanical prowess, no one can top the 18-year-old, who already has a Worlds appearance to his name from 2020 with DRX.
He has been the rock of a T1 roster that has otherwise been in total flux in 2021. His Thresh is one of the most feared in the world, and the Korean squad really rely on his proficiency on engage supports. If T1 wants to push for a fourth world title, it won’t be on Faker’s back (well, not his entirely), but Keria’s.
Gao ‘Tian’ Tian-Liang — FunPlus Phoenix
The 2019 Worlds MVP didn’t have a chance to defend his title in 2020, but he’s back in 2021 with vengeance. While he might not be the star of the FPX so much anymore — that crown goes to Doinb — Tian is typically the difference maker in big games.
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FPX will typically slap Tian onto a carry like Viego, Olaf, or his patented Lee Sin and let him go to town. Combined with the mid pressure put on by Doinb and a strong side top laner in Nuguri, Tian has all the tools at his disposal to shine again. Let’s not forget what happened last time the Phoenix rose in Europe.
Can ‘Closer’ Çelik — 100 Thieves
If you’re an NA fan huffing that hopium, then you’ve got to back Closer on 100 Thieves. The Turkish star earned an LCS Summer MVP award for good reason: He was menacing, and when the team was slumping, he was hauling them across the line to make it to Worlds.
With the jungle meta shifting further into carry picks like Talon and Zed, Closer can command his strong mid and bot lane pairings to really snowball games out of control. He hasn’t showcased either yet, but he has been pushing some Taliyah through, which will work well with 100 Thieves’ love of crossmap plays with Abbedagge’s Ryze and Twisted Fate.
Shunsuke ‘Evi’ Murase — Detonation FocusMe
The story of Detonation FocusMe deserves a mention. Japan has struggled for years on the international stage, barely managing to scrape wins. They commanded Group B in Play-Ins though to become the first Japanese side to make the Main Stage of an international event.
Evi was the star of the DFM show in Play-Ins, with the top laner showing up on the slightly unconventional pick of Urgot (at least in 2021) and posting a combined statline of 19/11/31 across his five games. The fairytale is still alive in Group B, especially for the LJL veteran, who has the chance to really shine in a group featuring plenty of aggressive top laners.