The 2021 League of Legends World Championship kicked off on Tuesday in Iceland with the Play-In stage, where LNG Esports picked up two wins to go on top of Group A.
The first match of the day saw a clash between China and Korea as the LPL’s LNG Esports (2-0) took down the LCK’s Hanwha Life Esports (1-1). This game hinged around LNG top laner Hu “Ale” Jia-Le’s Jax, a hard counter to a majority of HLE’s auto attack-based champions. With Ale ignoring tons of damage with his Counter Strike ability, HLE could do little to stop Ale from rampaging around to a perfect 6-0-8 KDA (kills-deaths-assists ratio). While Ale feasted, the rest of LNG took objectives and took good teamfights with their lead, securing a win in 41 minutes.
LNG Esports went on to take on the OCE’s representatives, PEACE (0-1), and beat them in 25 minutes behind another strong performance from Ale, this time as Fiora. LNG Esports ran over PEACE’s unfocused teamfighting composition, handing PEACE their first loss and securing the top spot in Group A.
Hanwha Life went on to take a sloppy win over Infinity Esports (0-2) in 31 minutes, finishing Day 1 with a 1-1 record and questions about how they’ll perform down the stretch.
To close out Group A action, Brazil’s RED Canids (1-0) took down Latin America’s Infinity Esports in 33 minutes. Infinity had a decent early game, drafting strong laning champions, but couldn’t turn that into much of anything as RED grouped up and punished Infinity’s poor positioning as the game went on. RED Canids looked strong as they handed Infinity their second loss of Day 1.
Over in Group B, Turkish representatives Galatasaray Esports (2-0) had an impressive debut, going undefeated against international mainstays Unicorns of Love and Beyond Gaming. First, Galatasaray took down the PCS’ Beyond Gaming (0-1) in a 34-minute beatdown. GS abused BYG’s top half of the map early on, leading to huge advantages for GS’ jungle and top lane. This would snowball as they worked on freeing up their bottom half, running away with objective control and tempo in the process. Beyond Gaming did what they could to stay afloat, but Galatasaray ensured that any comebacks got cut short en route to their first win.
In Game 2, Galatasaray took down the CIS’ Unicorns of Love (0-2) in a 29-minute match that was never close. GS was all over UoL from the jump, setting up early plays and grabbing kills while UoL picked at the scraps. GS’ aggressive pick-based comp kept UoL from grouping up and using their teamfighting-focused composition, spreading the pressure across the map until UoL was trapped in their own base en route to a Galatasaray win.
In other Group B action, North America’s Cloud9 (1-0) impressed in their Worlds debut with a 28-minute win against Japan’s DetonatioN FocusMe (1-1). Cloud9 played around their strong side lanes by enabling mid laner Luka “Perkz” Perkovic’s Sylas to roam around the map and pick up kills en route to an 8-0-2 KDA. By the time DFM’s composition was online, Cloud9 had already put a stranglehold on the map, starving DFM out of resources and leading to the eventual win.
DFM didn’t end Day 1 empty-handed, though, as they took out UoL earlier in the day to the tune of a 35-minute win. DFM’s assassin-heavy composition targeted UoL’s immobile mid laner, Lev “Nomanz” Yakshin’s Orianna, and picked up several early kills, throwing UoL off-kilter and destabilizing them in the middle of the map. From there, DFM took what they wanted while UoL could do little more than pick up occasional trade kills as DFM went onto the win.
–By Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media