Team Liquid miss Worlds 2021 playoffs after tiebreaker heartbreak

Members of Team Liquid at Worlds 2021Riot Games

Team Liquid missed out on the Worlds 2021 playoffs after falling to Gen.G in the first match of a single-elimination tiebreak bracket.

It was all going so well. Team Liquid had helped force an unprecedented four-team tiebreaker in Group D.

However, they were unable to take the final step and fell to Gen.G in their final elimination match. The loss meant Liquid’s remarkable journey at Worlds 2021 was over.

Members of Team Liquid at Worlds 2021Riot Games
Team Liquid were eliminated from Worlds 2021 by Gen.G of the LCK

Team Liquid lose tiebreaker

Coming into the final day of the group at 1-2, the LCS second seed needed a perfect run through the day to stand a chance at qualifying for the playoffs. If they could pull it off, it would be the first time Liquid made it out of groups.

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Wins against Gen.G and LNG combined with the perfect set of results elsewhere meant that Group D ended in the first four-way tiebreak in Worlds history.

Team Liquid shares a group hug at Worlds 2021Riot Games
Team Liquid’s final day heroics helped cause the first four-way tie in Worlds history

Worlds tiebreakers involve additional best-of-one matches. In the case of a four-way tie, teams are seeded according to their combined victory game time. The fastest team plays the slowest team, while the two middle teams face off. The winners of these matches qualify for the playoffs and play one another to determine the seeding.

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Team Liquid faced Gen.G with a place in the playoffs on the line. Liquid took an early lead against the LCK second seed. However, Gen.G slowly erased Liquid’s lead.

Gen.G's Ruler at Worlds 2021Riot Games
Ruler was the key piece for Gen.G’s victory

This effort, which would eventually snowball into a 37-minute victory, was led by AD Carry Park ‘Ruler’ Jae-hyuk. Playing popular tournament pick Miss Fortune, the former Worlds champion was unstoppable. His 3/0/5 stat line was a crucial part of Gen.G’s win.

LCK dominance continues, NA history denied

Gen.G celebrate a win at Worlds 2021Riot Games
Gen.G’s qualification to the Worlds 2021 playoffs means all four LCK teams at Worlds will feature in the playoffs

With the win, Gen.G ensures that all four teams from Korea’s LCK appear in the playoffs at Worlds. 2021 marks the third consecutive year that all Korean teams in attendance at Worlds have reached the knockout stages.

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However, Team Liquid’s elimination means more pain for the LCS. With Cloud9 the only North American team in the playoffs, 2021 marks the seventh consecutive Worlds where no more than one NA team has appeared in the playoffs. The last Worlds to see multiple NA teams in the knockout stages was 2014.

Despite the loss, Team Liquid should hold their heads high. Their performance, alongside that of the Cloud9, has shown that the LCS is not the meme it was 12 months ago.

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The NA region will continue to build on the successes it has seen and lessons it has learned from Worlds 2021.