The 2021 League of Legends World Championship will kick off with a bang when two eastern giants clash in the first match of the play-in stage.
It will be a match between LCK’s Hanwha Life and LPL’s LNG Esports. Both teams come out of their respective regions as the fourth seeds and are looking to be the strongest contenders in the play-in stage. The two have been drawn into group A against each other, making this group seem strong from the start.
As both teams are playing in the same group, it looks to be this exact matchup that will determine whether Hanwha Life will come out in first place or if LNG will be the superior of the two. The three other teams in the group, Infinity Esports, PEACE, and RED Canids, all look to have a hard time and would need to deliver some incredible upsets to advance from the group.
With the Hanwha Life and LNG matchup being crucial for how this play-in group plays out, Riot is kicking off the whole tournament with this exciting match. It will be a match between former teammates Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon and Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong, who both played together on Griffin back in 2018.
Now both players are considered the start on each of their own squad. Chovy is the backbone of Hanwha Life and has been the carry for the team this whole split despite struggles along the way. The same goes for jungler Tarzan, who has been the playmaker for LNG all year. Tarzan also played a big part in LNG’s miracle run in the 2021 LPL Summer Split playoffs, where LNG played its way through the very first round of the playoffs and eventually qualified for Worlds through the regional finals.
Since this is the first match between the two squads, it will obviously be hard to predict who the strongest team is. Both teams have had ups and downs during the season but always managed to grind their way back and achieve great results.
LNG is without a doubt the team that is looking to make some early-game plays happen, while Hanwha Life might take a more careful approach. For Hanwha Life, it will be all about getting Chovy on a comfort champion that he can shine on. Being considered one of the best players in the world, everyone should keep an eye on Chovy to see if he manages to outplay LNG’s mid laner Xie “icon” Tian-Yu.
If this doesn’t happen, there’s a chance Tarzan can just take over the map and create too many advantages for Hanwha Life to handle. This has been seen plenty of times already in the LPL, where LNG gets to play comfortably to all its strengths because of the space Tarzan creates on the map. If this happens, even Hanwha Life will have a hard time holding on.
Hanwha Life roster:
LNG Esports roster:
An opening match of Worlds is always hard to predict, especially after a year with very limited international competition. As two fourth seeds, this will be the first time that Hanwha Life and LNG get to clash on the big stage and it will be a hard one to predict.
Based on regional strength and form throughout the season, LNG should have an edge against Hanwha Life who many thought would never make it to the world championship. If LNG manages to shut down Chovy, then there’s very little depth remaining to Hanwha Life’s play. This could be punished by the Chinese squad, who are used to more versatile play in their home region.
With these advantages in mind, a win for LNG will give odds 1.57 while a win for Hanwha Life will give odds 2.25. The odds are still fairly close and there’s no doubt that Hanwha Life could potentially pull out an upset, but the safer play is LNG.
The match between Hanwha Life and LNG will kick off on Tuesday, October 5.