Worlds 2021 is finally over, and EDward Gaming has emerged as the victor by defeating Damwon Kia in the finals.
After a month of top-level play, upsets, and underdog stories, the premiere League of Legends event of the year has ended. EDG secured the LPL its third Worlds title in four years and denied DWG Kia a defense of its title with a 3-2 grand finals upset.
EDG has become the third Chinese team to win Worlds, after FunPlus Phoenix and Invictus Gaming.
Though EDward Gaming was one of the favorites heading into Worlds 2021, things shifted hard into DWG’s favor as the tournament progressed. Many fans, analysts, and professionals expected the LPL champions to crumble under the force of DWG KIA’s aggression in the Worlds 2021 finals. Instead, the Chinese contenders were able to disrupt DWG KIA’s relentless aggression with well-constructed drafts and careful, methodical play.
This victory puts many League of Legends esports mainstays into the history books as champions. Griffin alumn Park “Viper” Do-hyeon, who failed to find titles or international success in Korea, has risen to the top of the world on a Chinese team. At the same time, players like Lee “Scout” Ye-chan and Tian “Meiko” Ye can finally have a trophy to call their own after careers filled with ups and downs.
The first game was an upset performance from EDward Gaming, repeatedly using tempo advantages to claim dragons through clever use of teleports and excellent teamwork.
Kim “Khan Dong-ha took the game by the reins with a Yasuo pick to counter the enemy’s Graves top, perhaps in pursuit of his very own Yasuo Worlds skin. Early fights back and forth favored EDward Gaming thanks an invade onto the enemy red buff by Zhao “Jiejie” Li-jie, Lee “Scout” Ye-Chan, and Tian “Meiko” Ye turned into first blood on support Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee.
From there, Meiko continued to distinguish himself with beautiful Zilean play to enable Jiejie’s Jarvan in repeated team fights. After shutting DWG KIA out of dragons entirely, EDward Gaming claimed the Ocean Soul before destroying DWG KIA as they desperately attempted Baron for the second time. EDG swept into DWG KIA’s base with their baron and quickly snuffed out the LCK defending champions.
DWG KIA shifted gears for the second game, banning away Jiejie’s Jarvan and opting for more direct lane pressure with Jhin and Leona in the bot lane. ShowMaker and Canyon continued their recent tradition of snowballing leads around the mid lane. After acquiring the Graves for Khan, DWG KIA pushed their lead from the early game, the combination of Malzahar and Qiyana allowing DWG KIA to crack open the map for an early Rift Herald.
From that point onwards, DWG KIA repeatedly found the edge in nail-biting fights against EDG, wiping them at the second Ocean Dragon and cracking open the base of EDG. A baron steal from EDG bought them a bti of time to try and recover, but not enough to undo all the damage DWG had done. One last attempt to contest the baron led to an early cleanse by Viper and EDG being picked off and shut out of the second game.
DWG closed out the game to even the series and entered game two feeling confident.
The third game began slowly, with very little involvement from either team in the early minutes of the game. Slowly but surely, EDward Gaming found incremental advantages, gathering gold.
Despite the slowly growing gold lead of EDG, DWG KIA managed to continually apply the pressure needed to claim every drake in the early game, eventually threatening a 27-minute Infernal Soul. It was at this pivotal moment that DWG KIA found a beautiful team fight, shattering EDG’s lines with a flank through the bot lane tri-brush from ShowMaker on Sylas, touting the enemy Xin Zhao’s ultimate.
Once again, ShowMaker’s stellar individual play was a key focus for the defending champions. DWG took the victory and advanced to match point.
The fourth game was a slow and careful performance from EDward Gaming, as the team was afraid to risk too much and lose the series. With a strong jungle in Jiejie’s Viego, the LPL champions managed to repeatedly zone their opponents off of the drakes until they claimed a Mountain Soul.
There may have only been 5 kills at 30 minutes, but EDward Gaming pivoted to take Baron Nashor and DWG KIA’s desperate attempt to contest wasn’t enough to stop them. Despite no kill involvement until the very end, Li “Flandre” Xuan-jun was a full five levels above Canyon as the game concluded, a testament to EDward Gaming’s ability to grow with minimal combat.
EDward Gaming chased DWG KIA into their jungle as Flandre broke into their base solo with the baron buff. This was enough to even the series and force a fifth game.
Khan began his last game of professional play by making things as difficult as possible for Flandre. With help from his jungler, Khan used Graves’ lane bully status to push Flandre all the way past his tier two turret, forcing him to back as a massive wave crashed into his turret.
EDward Gaming struck back by funneling kills into their own top laner, supercharging their Kennen. Back-and-forth side lane pushes swayed through the midgame as the teams met neck-and-neck in gold at 20 minutes.
Flandre rebounded from his poor early start, catching out ShowMaker around the dragon and breaking the game open to put DWG KIA on Dragon Soul point. Despite an incredibly well played two-man baron by DWG KIA, EDward gaming thrashed them in the Dragon Soul fight.
DWG KIA baited EDG off a subsequent baron by threatening to take the Elder Dagon, but as soon as ShowMaker tried to disrupt Flandre’s flank, Meiko found a beautiful engage to pick off the jungler and secure the Elder Dragon. Picking off Canyon as he tried to scout the baron pit, EDG killed Canyon and secured themselves double buffs.
It wasn’t enough to end the game, but EDward Gaming broke open DWG KIA’s top inhibitor and one nexus tower. It was the next push that would shatter DWG KIA’s hopes of a second trophy. After a trying year, the LPL returns to the top of the Worlds stage, and a new wave of Chinese champions take home League of Legends’ highest honor.
DAMWON KIA’s journey at Worlds follows a pattern that can be seen across semifinal teams, those expected to perform later on in the tournament were deprioritized by fans, sending their price slowly downwards. So many days of downwards movement result in the stock bottoming out at $2 part way through the first week, before it sharply rebounded to more closely match DWG KIA’s status.
EDward Gaming, the upset champions who rallied back from an imperfect group stage in order to make a run all the way to finals, didn’t find quite as much success on Fandex. EDward Gaming were expected to be a tournament favourite, so early instability made potential investors more wary to pick up shares on Fandex. As a result, EDG’s share price didn’t waver much. Though fans might not have been able to turn much a profit off of EDG, the bragging rights for having faith in the upset champions can be worth so much more.