The time has come for the big dogs to play at Worlds 2021. Ahead of the Main Event group stage kicking off, we’ve ranked every single team who’s made it this far, and who’s mostly likely to lift the Summoner’s Cup in just a few weeks time.
The Worlds 2021 Play-In Stage brought its fair share of surprises. First of all, Japan finally made it out after years of trying. Their fairytale run has resonated with League of Legends fans globally, and there’s an underdog story for the ages right there waiting for them.
However, the big dogs are now here to play. DWG KIA, FunPlus Phoenix, MAD Lions, T1 — all of these squads and more have one goal to lift the Summoner’s Cup.
Who’s got the most realistic chance? Dexerto’s League of Legends experts have broken down the full Worlds 2021 power rankings ahead of groups so you know who to watch (and maybe help your Pick’Ems).
16. DetonatioN FocusMe
DetonatioN FocusMe’s journey from small-fry to Main Stage is the stuff of fairy tales. It’s got the flavor of Albus Nox’s 2016 run, but unlike the Russians, there’s little hope for this one making it to playoffs.
While Evi and Aria are great solo lane threats, and DFM have a diverse champion pool, they lack the experience to duke it out with the best of the best. Groups will be a great learning opportunity, but likely nothing more. However, never discount the power of a good fairytale.
15. Hanwha Life Esports
They’re called Chovy Life Esports for a reason. Across the Play-In Stage, the mid lane star had to lift his team to get a spot in the Main Event. Sure, they only dropped one game to LNG Esports, but they weren’t the most convincing in their victories.
- Read More: The best players at Worlds 2021
There’s big question marks around Morgan and whether he can keep up with quality top laners at Worlds. Willer proved himself in the jungle and Deft is a veteran down bot, but Hanwha Life so easily loses games through their top side — something teams will definitely exploit in the Main Event.
Cloud9 are a bit of a wildcard. Their group draw of DWG KIA, FunPlus Phoenix, and Rogue hasn’t helped their chances of getting to playoffs again. Based on their Play-In performances though, it feels hard to back them.
They were vulnerable in the best-of-ones, ultimately missing out on automatic qualification to Japan’s DFM. They also lost to the last-placed Unicorns of Love, and nearly dropped Game 1 against PEACE.
Perkz had some great games, and Blaber got Olaf two too many times (twice). However, Cloud9’s bot lane was lacking consistency, something they need if they want to start the miracle run.
Rogue might be rated low, but they have the potential to surprise. The skill cap of this squad is incredibly high as seen by their consistency this year. However, they haven’t really managed to set themselves apart as the top dog of Europe.
A couple of things need to go right if Rogue wants to be competitive in the terrifying Group A. Larssen needs to not fall into a slump like he did during the LEC Summer Playoffs, and Odoamne needs to stand ready to face the likes of Nuguri and Khan. Hans sama can stand tall, but he needs some help.
12. Team Liquid
They cheered when they avoided Group A, but can Team Liquid make it out of Group D? It doesn’t look promising. The NA squad almost looked their best when they brought Santorin back for the LCS Championship, but failed to secure the first seed.
- Read More: A preview of the LCS at Worlds 2021
Now two months on, and things should be stable again — hopefully. If Alphari and Santorin can stay fit and healthy through Worlds, then good things could be on Liquid’s horizon. They have been the crux of Liquid’s success in 2021 with Tactical having a quieter year, but if they can unlock the AD carry, we might be having a different conversation in a week’s time.
Gen.G will either be a semi-finals team or the worst in their group. For this squad, there is seemingly no in between. After a red-hot start in LCK Summer, slumps across the map almost saw them fall out of contention. That see-saw could be their undoing at Worlds.
- Read More: A preview of the LCK at Worlds 2021
Bdd and Ruler are great but aging. In fact, most of the carry responsibility falls on the latter — if he falters, Gen.G flop. Their success will also hinge on what Clid shows up at Worlds. While he has always made playoffs, he has fallen off somewhat in 2021. If Gen.G are forced to play YoungJae, things might get tricky.
We’re ranking Fnatic on the premise they would be playing Upset. However, with the news Academy AD carry Bean would be taking his place, expectations aren’t too high.
Bean joined Fnatic Rising in 2021, and was a key part in their push to the EU Masters Grand Final. While he couldn’t get the team over the line, he showed great proficiency on Aphelios and Varus. The Worlds meta moved on to picks like Miss Fortune and Lucian though, and Bean only has nine combined games on them in his three-year pro career (3-3 on MF, 2-1 on Lucian).
Fnatic shouldn’t be instantly discounted without Upset. Adam has been a star of the show in 2021 with his knack at finding solo kills, and Bwipo is an insanely effective jungler. However without Upset they lose their primary carry threat (Nisqy doesn’t fill that void), and it’s hard to rebuild from there.
9. 100 Thieves
The power of friendship brought 100 Thieves back to Worlds, but can it push them to new heights? When comparing the 2018 roster to 2021’s, it’s a night and day difference. Closer is the best jungler (if not player) in North America right now, and Abbedagge has broadened the scope of what 100 Thieves can do.
Ssumday was starting to come into his own at the end of the LCS season too. However, there is a difference between great and legendary. Back home, 100 Thieves are insanely talented. But this is Worlds, and it’s hard to have faith in NA. I guess they’ve got the fact they’re five ‘imports’ going for them? It’s hard to place 100 Thieves because they’re just a solid unit rather than individually flashy, but they for sure won’t be a pushover.
8. PSG Talon
Finally, PSG Talon can start an international event with their main AD carry in Unified. No more visa issues for the PCS squad, hurray. We’ve seen that they can do internationally with subs, really pushing to the world’s best with super-aggressive dives to try and generate hard snowballs. Imagine what they can do with their full roster.
Despite this, PSG Talon stocks are definitely down though after Beyond Gaming’s embarrassing exit in Play-Ins. This was a side that they went 5-5 across two best-of-fives back home with. If Beyond played like they did, and PSG is their equal, don’t expect much. Talon has defied expectations at the last few international outings though, so there’s some hope.
7. LNG Esports
A Play-In team making it out of groups? It’s more likely than you think. LNG Esports were expected to do well, but they were clean and clinical in every single game. In fact, every player had best-in-role stats in terms of K/DA, and generally looked a cut above the rest.
- Read More: A preview of the LPL at Worlds 2021
This was the LNG Esports that started dominating in LPL Summer, and one that could be a dark horse for the Summoner’s Cup. Ale is a menace on the top side. Pair that with Tarzan’s ability to find picks out of nowhere, and LNG are a real threat to snowball anywhere on the map.
It cannot be understated how big this is, but Faker’s back. Better yet? He’ll be playing all of Worlds with Clozer not making the cut. T1 have looked a lot better with Faker in 2021, and that only improved once they ditched former DWG KIA coach Daeny. Something obviously wasn’t gelling, and both teams have improved for the better.
Faker might not be the carry threat of T1 anymore, but he doesn’t need to. Canna and Teddy (or Gumayusi) can do the heavy lifting as the Unkillable Demon King moves around his pawns. Don’t forget about Keria, who is probably the best support at Worlds. This T1 roster is no joke, and they are a title threat.
5. Royal Never Give Up
It might seem weird putting the MSI 2021 champions down in fifth after the showing they put up in Iceland last time, but Summer didn’t treat RNG nicely. They struggled to get things going, dropping easy games. However, they’re here when it matters.
It’s a younger RNG roster than you’d expect, but they don’t lack experience. Xiaohu and Ming are big-game players, and a big focal point of RNG’s success. With Ziggs and Varus slowly leaving the meta and Kai’Sa still missing GALA’s champion pool could be exploited, but he’s also partial to Miss Fortune and that gives RNG another threat. It’s not all doom and gloom for RNG, but it won’t be as easy as MSI was.
4. MAD Lions
MAD Lions are the west’s best hope at Worlds. The two-time European champions have proven they are on a level with some of the region’s best sides of all time. Whether they can manage to match the prowess of the G2 Esports 2019 side that made a grand final when Worlds was last in Europe though…it’ll be a tall order.
- Read More: A preview of the LEC at Worlds 2021
They’ve made plenty of improvements from 2020. Elyoya is an exciting new jungler, while Armut fills a void in the top side that gives MAD more flexibility to play around Carzzy and Humanoid — the latter being Europe’s definitive best player heading into Worlds. With a relatively easy Group D to prove themselves in, MAD will be eyeing nothing less than a semi-final.
3. FunPlus Phoenix
FunPlus Phoenix have risen from the ashes after 2020’s failure. Not only that, but with Nuguri on their side, they’re likely even more of a threat than when they won in 2019. The world champion top laner is a solid upgrade over GimGoon, who basically played Gangplank every game.
Doinb is in tip-top form back home too. With Ryze floating back into the meta, and plenty of emphasis on roaming, we could finally see the god carry Doinb rather than the Malphite-playing support. Oh, and Tian is still as good as ever. Expect FPX to really challenge DWG KIA in Group A — the winner of that tie will be front-runners for the title.
2. EDward Gaming
We’re used to seeing top-class AD carries on Chinese teams at Worlds: JackeyLove, Uzi, Huanfeng. This time, China’s best hope of reclaiming the Summoner’s Cup rests on Korean star Viper. The former Griffin bot laner has torn up the LPL this year, especially in Summer after the team started moving to play around the prodigy.
EDward Gaming might seemingly be all about playing through Viper, but they’re also more than capable of playing through Flandre top. If Scout gets Ryze too, that’s trouble brewing (Note: Scout was once a trainee under Faker’s wing, so watch that match in Group B).
However, Viper and support Meiko will be doing the heavy lifting for EDward — it worked in China, and it should definitely work at Worlds.
1. DWG KIA
The 2020 World Champions are on for the back-to-back. It’d be only the second time in history a team has won two titles consecutively, with SKT having done so in 2015 and 2016. A small hiccup at MSI rattled the Koreans — who said they weren’t at peak form.
With coach Daeny back from T1 though, they look as formidable as ever. Canyon and ShowMaker are the most terrifying jungle-mid duo at Worlds, and what Khan brings over Nuguri is an ability to let that shine due to his weak side nature.
If you lost faith in DWG KIA after MSI, don’t be surprised when they lift the Summoner’s Cup again, because it’s like a whole new team since Daeny’s return.