Worlds 2021 roundtable: Breaking down all the biggest storylines

The Summoner's Cup in an arenalolesports, Twitter

DJ esports

Worlds 2021 has reached the knockout stages. As only eight teams remain, the battle for the Summoner’s Cup heats up. 

Which team has the most upset potential in the playoffs? Can DWG KIA defend their title? Do Cloud9 stand a chance?

We asked our League of Legends writers Andrew Amos, Isaac McIntyre, and Benjamin Mock to answer some of the biggest questions about Worlds 2021 ahead of the playoffs, which begin on October 22.

Which team is your upset pick for playoffs?

Amos: It’s a long shot, but it’s actually Gen.G. Most people have written them off after the Group D chaos — and I certainly did in my power rankings. However, Ruler has shown up to have a great Worlds, and I always value a team who can use a sixth man right like Burdol. Come a best-of-five, that’s an ace up Gen.G’s sleeve that only one other team (T1 with Teddy) has.

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McIntyre: I’d love to say MAD Lions, but playing against Damwon Gaming in the quarter-finals feels like a death sentence right now. Instead, I’ll look at the all-Chinese upper bracket battle, where Edward Gaming is the bettor’s favorite. RNG are the reigning MSI champions and know how to get the job done. I think they’ll keep EDG’s quarter-finals curse alive and move one step closer to finally securing a Worlds title for the illustrious LPL heavyweights.

Mock: I don’t think we’ve seen the best of MAD Lions yet. Sure, they were underwhelming in the group stage but MAD Lions have always been a best-of-five team. And while they face a tall task against DWG KIA, this is what Worlds is all about.

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DJ Esports oddsMAD Lions can be backed at 5.409 to beat DWG KIA

Who is your must-watch player?

Faker at Worlds 2021Riot Games
Faker wants to win his fourth Worlds and is ready to dominate the playoffs

Amos: Of course, the easy answer is Faker. What a story a fourth Summoner’s Cup would be for League’s (currently) undisputed GOAT. To be ‘contrarian’, I’d like to highlight ShowMaker. If ShowMaker can win back-to-back World Championships, then serious discussions need to be had about who the GOAT is. He has also unlocked a new level in 2021 — when other parts of the map have looked shaky, ShowMaker has proved to be the focal point of DWG KIA.

McIntyre: Like many at this Worlds, my eyes are on the Unkillable Demon King, Faker. His absence is always keenly felt at any Worlds he misses, and to have him back and coming into the quarter-finals as a top seed gives him a hand full of stacked cards. If anyone in the lower side of playoffs can best DWG it’s the three-time world champion, Faker. He’s never finished lower than top-four at MSI or Worlds. And really, who doesn’t want to see him win number four?

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Mock: I have to say Faker. We’ve been deprived of playoff Faker for two years, and it just feels so good to have him back at Worlds. People might say that he didn’t look fully online during groups but hey, that’s just because he wasn’t being challenged. Up against the likes of Chovy and, if all goes well, ShowMaker, I think we are in for a real treat.

DJ Esports odds: T1 are clear favorites against HLE, priced at 1.271

Can DWG go back-to-back? Or will we see a new champion?

DWG KIA at Worlds 2021Riot Games
DWG KIA are heavy favorites to defend their 2020 title

Amos: How could you look at their 6-0 group stage (the first since Longzhu in 2017) and think otherwise? After a Summer of experimenting, they have finally found their feet again. There was no team within even touching distance of them in BO1s, and let’s not get started on their scintillating BO5 form (their only BO5 loss in the last 12 months was against RNG at MSI). There are a couple of top picks to contest them — namely EDG and T1 — but expect Khan to get the send-off he deserves with DWG KIA.

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McIntyre: I was pretty heavy (as most were, it felt) on China coming into Worlds, but since the LPL’s stunning group stage collapse, EDG and RNG are certainly a tier below the true contenders this year: Damwon and T1. I don’t think we’ll see a new champion in 2021, because it’s either going to be SKT’s legacy living on through Faker and T1, or Damwon Gaming going back to back in China and Iceland to begin building their LoL dynasty.

Mock: For me, the winner of Worlds is going to come from the bottom half of the bracket. In fact, I will be even more specific and say that if both DWG and T1 make it to the semifinals, the winner of that match will go on to win to Worlds. They are probably going to face the remaining Chinese team and absolutely crush them. So yeah, DWG are likely going back-to-back, or Faker wins title number four. I just don’t see the talent in the top half of the bracket that can take down the Korean giants.

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DJ Esports odds: DWG KIA are 1.129 favorites to beat MAD Lions

Do Cloud9 stand a chance?

Cloud9 at Worlds 2021Riot Games
Can Cloud9 cause an upset at Worlds 2021?

Amos: Those who know me best know I’m a die-hard Korean fan, so I expect Gen.G to swiftly crush Cloud9 3-0 in quarters. It would be a wonderful fairy tale — one that NA League of Legends fans need to get behind. However, Cloud9 looked up and down in groups, and I’m not convinced Perkz can put them all in his backpack.

McIntyre: Definitely. Is it likely? Absolutely not, but betting against Perkz and his clutch factor in the biggest games is never wise. North America couldn’t have asked for a better run to the final with what looks like Korea’s weakest quarter-finalists in Gen.G, and then one of the rattled Chinese cohort, RNG or EDG, in the semis. Beating one of DWG or T1 in the grand final would be a mammoth task, but stranger things have happened in League of Legends.

Mock: No. Hopium aside, I think it’s time everyone acknowledges that Cloud9 didn’t win the second seed, FPX lost it. The last time a 2-4 team made it out of groups was in 2017. Longzhu Gaming went 6-0 while Fnatic, GAM, and Immortals all went 2-4. Fnatic then lost in the quarterfinals. Maybe Cloud9 can take a win over Gen.G, but is anyone really putting money on them to beat RNG or EDG? And even if somehow Cloud9 make it to the Grand Final, is anyone genuinely backing them to beat the likes of DWG KIA or T1?

DJ Esports odds: Cloud9 are priced at 3.099 to beat Gen.G

Odds correct at the time of writing.