After the final day of the 2021 World Championship group stage resulted in a four-way, 3-3 tie, an entire tiebreaker knockout was required to sort things out.
The high-stakes situation between four evenly matched teams ultimately saw two advance to the playoffs and two booted from the event entirely. In the end, it was Gen.G and MAD Lions that were sent to the Worlds 2021 playoffs and Team Liquid and LNG Esports that were sent home.
Europe’s MAD Lions and North America’s Team Liquid were the sides with a greater uphill battle at the start of the day, each beginning with a single win from the first round robin, while Korea’s Gen.G and China’s LNG Esports were in the driver’s seat.
Team Liquid showed arguably the most impressive form on the day, beating both of the Asian representatives while only dropping a game to LEC champions MAD. The back-to-back European winners themselves also picked up two wins against Team Liquid and LNG to match the LCS side’s 3-3 record, while LNG and Gen.G only managed one win each to eventually finish on the same win/loss record as the Western sides.
This forced an unprecedented four-way tiebreaker which took an entire knockout bracket to resolve. Seeding was determined by which team had the quickest winning game times. Gen.G came out on top while Team Liquid came in last, setting up the first tiebreaker match between the two. The Korean side decisively eliminated the NA hopefuls in a one-sided, 37-minute affair.
The second and third seeds, MAD Lions and LNG, faced off for the final knockout spot in a gruelling head-to-head. The latter spent much of the game with a slim gold lead, however fights and skirmishes frequently went in MAD’s favour as the game stretched later and later.
As LNG took aim at MAD Lion’s nexus turrets, the LEC titleholders finally completed their turnaround as they wiped out their opponents, set up a teleport backdoor for top laner İrfan Berk “Armut” Tükek and secured the game-winning ace with a precise Ezreal ultimate from bot laner Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság.
With MAD and Gen.G confirmed as the knockout qualifying teams, all that remained was to determine who claimed the top seed heading into the next stage. Another drawn-out match saw MAD Lions on the losing side as Gen.G secured the top spot after 49 minutes.
With the group stage having come to a close, the knockout draw has now taken place to outline the route each side must take if they hope to reach the final.
Notably, the final remaining LPL sides RNG and EDward Gaming must face-off against each other to leave only a single Chinese side remaining in the semi-finals, while the West’s last teams Cloud9 and MAD Lions begin on opposite sides of the bracket with the chance to meet in the grand final should both make it that far. But neither team has an easy road ahead in that regard.