The Worlds 2021 group stage is over. Now it’s time for the playoffs and the Pick’Ems that go with them.
Week two of groups brought plenty of close games and even some unexpected results. With two LPL teams, four LCK teams, and the lonesome western teams of MAD Lions and Cloud9 making up the competitive field, the matches have been drawn and it’s time for fans to lock in their Worlds 2021 Pick’Ems.
WIN.gg is here to help you navigate the Worlds 2021 playoffs stage Pick’Ems with updated power evaluations. We’ll even help with some Fandex picks that could overperform expectations.
DAMWON KIA silenced any doubts about whether the team would be ready to defend its championship title by leaving group A undefeated. While top seeding may have been expected, the second team qualifying certainly wasn’t.
After FunPlus Phoenix, with five world champions on its active roster, plummeted from the heights of a 2-1 record to the depths of a three-way tiebreaker at 2-4, Rogue and Cloud9 both had a chance at advancing. After 54 grueling minutes of play, it was the LCS’s Cloud9 that won out. Despite some early mistakes, Luka “Perkz” Perkovic’s stellar flanks on Leblanc won Cloud9 a spot in the Playoffs stage.
While DAMWON KIA seemed untouchable throughout groups, Cloud9’s strength is harder to judge. Turning a winless start into a playoffs qualification is quite the feat, and besting Rogue and FunPlus Phoenix even more so. Cloud9 might be able to contest some of the fellow second seeds, but we foresee them having issues against teams like EDward Gaming or T1. Gen.G is as favorable a matchup as the NA representative could have drawn as a second seed.
Group B ended up much closer to fan expectations, with T1 advancing over EDward Gaming as the first seed thanks to an unexpected upset by 100 Thieves to stop a tiebreaker between the two western organizations.
Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is back on the Worlds stage and he’s made it clear that as long as he’s in the tournament, T1 is a contender for the title. Both T1 and EDG showed signs of weakness during the group stage, but it was T1 that rallied and EDG that lost unnecessary matches in the second week of Group Stage play. It’s safe to expect strong performances from both these teams, with each standing as a contender for the title in their own right.
This will ultimately go down as a huge Worlds 2021 Pick’Em breaker for anyone that was hoping for 100% success. Still, it’s always exciting to see Faker and T1 making noise at Worlds.
Group C was a tight battle between the LCK’s Hanwha Life Esports and the LPL’s Royal Never Give Up. Fnatic and PSG Talon seemed more collateral damage than contenders, though Fnatic’s performance is understandable given the circumstances.
Top seeding came down to a nail-biting tiebreaker between HLE and RNG where it seemed like the LCK underdogs would triumph after making it into the group stage from the play-ins. In the end, after a particularly poor pick attempt around the enemy blue buff by HLE, RNG took the first seed slot home.
Group D was a historic slugfest, with the first four-way tie in Worlds history. Mad Lions and Gen.G emerged from the tiebreaker bracket as the top seeds, leaving LNG and Team Liquid in the dust. The entire group proved they could take any given game off of each other, but it was the LEC and LCK that edged out the victory at the end of 9 games of play. Gen.G took the game for first place from Mad Lions with excellent performances from Rascal on Kennen and Bdd on Syndra.
Officially, WIN.gg’s Pick’Ems for the Worlds 2021 playoffs quarterfinals are:
The upper half of the bracket is being dubbed the side of life, and the lower bracket is the side of death.
First, we have Edward Gaming advancing over Royal Never Give Up. While EDG may have dropped an extra game to 100 Thieves at the end of the second week of play, we still rate EDG highly and think the defending LPL champions have the edge here.
EDG has been playing Royal Never Give Up throughout the year and came out looking like the better team in summer. We expect that to happen again here.
Next, we have North America’s sole hope, Cloud9, against the first seed from group D of Gen.G. Cloud9 turned around a winless beginning into a second week where the only loss came to the killer roster of Damwon Kia. Both of these teams showed weaknesses in their groups, with C9 having some close calls with Perkz getting caught out, and Gen.G stalling a 4,000 gold lead for ages, unable to push MAD out until Elder spawned.
Cloud9 however, was proactive in finding picks and plays to catch opponents out. It’s a close matchup, but we have Cloud9 advancing to the semifinals.
Hanwha Life Esports faces down Faker’s T1 in the third matchup. With T1 looking better than Hanwha Life throughout LCK Summer playoffs in addition to group stage at Worlds, this matchup should be a clean win for T1.
With T1 looking to be in peak form, Hanwha Life Esports’ struggle in the group stage presents a clear power disparity when evaluating the matchup. With T1 able to take games from EDG, we foresee them advancing to meet their fellow Koreans in the semifinals.
Last up is the most one-sided matchup of the playoffs, LEC’s Mad Lions against the undefeated Damwon Kia. MAD Lions are facing a David vs. Goliath situation, with them scraping through group D’s tiebreakers only to face the untouched Korean champions.
Damwon Kia outclasses Mad Lions on paper in every position and is unlikely to give them the time and space that Gen.G allowed MAD Lions in the final match of the group stage. Damwon Kia has a clear road to the semifinals ahead, and MAD will need to work miracles to get through this one.
For fans looking to take their expertise to Fandex‘s market, there are some excellent opportunities for upsets and some huge favorites to work with.
Cloud9 seems to be the most obvious team with upside, having the potential to leave North America’s mark on the international stage. Perkz’s performance in week two brought back many fans’ hopes for a competitive showing for North America. The rest of the matchups are safe picks, with Edward Gaming, T1, and Damwon Kia all likely to advance forward.
But as the last week has proved, anything can happen at Worlds 2021 and you could reap serious bragging rights for predicting the next upset or miracle run. Our picks for the quarterfinals are all solid pickups, but RNG and Gen.G stand the best chances of taking underdog victories. With FPX hitting rock bottom, LNG flopping in tiebreakers, and more, there’s been plenty of opportunities to prove your clairvoyant abilities to this point in Worlds 2021.
Playoffs begin on October 22, 2021.