The first day of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship play-in stage will end with a banger between two teams that could potentially go all the way to the main event.
It’s a match between CIS representative Unicorns of Love and the TCL’s Galatasaray Esports. Both teams come from regions that have previously been solid on the international stage and are considered to be among the strongest wild card regions out there. This year, the two are paired up against each other in group B where Cloud9 is currently looking like the clear favorite.
Besides C9, all remaining teams appear capable of taking one of the spots to the main event and maybe even upsetting C9 along the way. This first match between UoL and Galatasaray will be the first indicator of how strong the two Western wild card regions look. Both come out of a domestic summer split where they dominated their respective regions, especially Galatasaray Esports, who didn’t meet much resistance in the TCL playoffs.
Going into this match there will likely be with a lot of eyes on UoL, who impressed at the 2020 World Championship and even participated at this year’s 2021 Mid-Season Invitational where it came away with two wins in the group stage.
At last year’s Worlds event, UoL made it out of the play-in stage after doing great work in the play-in stage. UoL was then placed in group D together with Top Esports, DRX, and FlyQuest. The team didn’t manage to pick up a single win in the group stage. This year, UoL is in a spot where this could happen again, and it could potentially go even further in the main event.
Standing in their way will be Galatasaray, a team playing in its very first international event. After being a middle-of-the-pack team in the TCL for a couple of years, Galatasaray finally won its first split this summer and was rewarded with a ticket to Worlds. With familiar TCL stars such as mid laner Onur “Bolulu” Demirol and jungler Berk “Mojito” Kocaman on the squad, the team the experience and firepower to take down some good teams.
Galatasaray has been dominant in the recent summer split and is therefore accustomed to winning at this point. This could make them scary when given a lead in the play-in stage.
For UoL, there has been a bit more competition in the LCL where the team barely won the final in a five-game series. This could give UoL some extra resolve in the high-pressure situations these teams are likely to face at the 2021 World Championship, while Galatasaray will be less familiar with playing from behind.
This match could go either way and it will be hard to predict based on the regions’ respective strengths. By looking at previous years and the players on paper, UoL should be the ones with the experience to pull this game out.
Unicorns of Love roster:
Galatasaray Esports roster:
Looking at the bookmakers, this match will be one of the absolute closest in the play-in stage. The odds on the two teams are almost even, with a small advantage given to Galatasaray. Choosing a winner when betting on this match may seem difficult. With that said, looking at overall international experience, UoL should have an edge after attending Worlds and MSI before. Galatasaray as a team will be more new to the stage and could use its first games to shake off nerves and get comfortable in this spotlight. If this is the case, then there will definitely be some value to playing for a win from UoL.
A win for Galatasaray will give the lower odds of the two at 1.71, while a win for UoL will give odds at 2. Such close odds indicate that this match could be tight, with both teams having a fair shot at making it out with a win.
The match between Unicorns of Love and Galatasaray Esports takes place on Tuesday, October 5.