Worlds 2021 Play-Ins Preview
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Worlds 2021 Play-Ins Preview

Kicking off the annual League of Legends World Championship, the Play-In stage features teams from a host of emerging regions as well as lower-seeded major region sides to decide who will progress onto the Main Event.

Lee "Couple Sodi Pops" Jones
Freelance Esports Writer
1st Oct, 21·☕️ 5 min read
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Kicking off the annual League of Legends World Championship, the Play-In stage features teams from a host of emerging regions as well as lower-seeded major region sides to decide who will progress onto the Main Event.

Competition Information

Play-Ins begin on Tuesday 5th October, running for five days until Saturday 9th. Competition starts in a group stage, splitting the 10 organisations into two groups with each containing 2 pool one and three pool 3 teams. Pools were earlier decided based on regional strength.

Each group begins with a best-of-one, single round-robin to determine placing. The first-placed teams automatically progress to the Main Event, whereas second to fourth instead face a knockout.

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Knockouts are played through best-of-five series and start with the 3rd place teams each playing against the 4th place from their own group. The winning team then goes up against 2nd place from the other group, and the final winners of those series earn the final Main Event spots.

The Current Season

Group A

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TeamLeaguePool
Hanwha Life EsportsLCK1
LNG EsportsLPL1
Infinity EsportsLLA2
PEACELCO2
RED CanidsCBLOL2

Unsurprisingly, all expectations at proceeding from group A will fall fully on the shoulders of Korea’s Hanwha Life Esports and China’s LNG Esports. The former boast superstars Chovy and Deft in their lineup while the latter will be looking to jungler Tarzan, formerly of Griffin, to spearhead their run into the Main Event.

Latin America’s LLA, Brazil’s CBLOL and Oceania’s LCO (formerly OPL) have never before seen one of their sides progress through the Play-In stage. LLA’s Infinity Esports make their second international appearance of the season having also represented their region at MSI earlier this year, while they now make their second World Championship after competing in 2018. Jungler SolidSnake is the only player to be part of the roster on each occasion.

Both LCO champions PEACE and CBLOL winners RED Candids make their debut appearances on an international stage this year, with the Oceania representatives sporting a familiar name to European fans in top laner Vizicsacsi who has joined as a substitute for the tournament after recently announcing his return to pro play.

Group B

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TeamLeaguePool
Cloud9LCS1
Beyond GamingPCS1
Detonation FocusMeLJL2
Galatasaray EsportsTLC2
Unicorns of LoveLCL2

Group B is more likely to be evenly matched of the two groups, though that doesn’t mean that North America’s Cloud9 and Southeast Asia’s Beyond Gaming aren’t still the clear favourites to take the top two spots. The latter have kindly decided to also represent the Vietnamese fans and give them a team to cheer for during the tournament after Riot announced that no VCS teams would attend Worlds due to travel restrictions.

Both Japan’s DetonatioN FocusMe and Russia’s Unicorns of Love enter the Play-Ins with previous World Championship experience and both have picked up wins in the past. Galatasaray Esports make it an international tournament for the first time.

Sodi Pops’ Pick - LNG Esports to progress to the Main Event

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Starting life in the Play-In stage after qualifying through arguably the game’s strongest region, LNG failing to proceed to the Main Event would likely be the biggest underachievement in Worlds history if it were to somehow occur.

Only MAD Lions in 2020 failed to make it to the Main Event after coming from one of the major regions (LPL, LCK, LCS, LCS), and so the same could even be argued for Hanwha Life, Cloud9 and Beyond Gaming too.

Realistically all should make it through, though Beyond is likely to have the toughest time with some tricky emerging region opponents in group B.