The Worlds 2021 group stage is over, and now the knockout stage is about to begin.
After a four-way tiebreaker decided the two teams to advance out of group D, the Worlds 2021 knockout stage draw began. This decided the four matchups for that will kick off the knockout stage, and seeded the bracket for the remainder of the tournament.
The four matches include two intraregional tilts and a few matches that will be very difficult to call. Here are the Worlds 2021 knockout stage matches:
EDward Gaming entered Worlds 2021 as the favorite to win after taking first place in the LPL Summer Split. The Chinese squad still looked strong in the group stage, but wound up finishing as the second seed behind T1 after a rocky second week of games.
The team will kick off the knockout stage against LPL rivals Royal Never Give Up.
RNG has had a strange 2021, winning the Mid-Season Invitational and then bombing out of the LPL Summer Playoffs. The team took first in the regional finals to qualify for Worlds 2021 and stands as a dark horse for the event. If the team wants to take two international titles in a row, Royal Never Give Up will need to pick off another Chinese team early on.
Cloud9 was the biggest shock of the Worlds 2021 group stage. The LCS’ third seed underwhelmed in the play-in stage and struggled to an 0-3 start after being grouped with DAMWON Kia and FunPlus Phoenix, two of the favorites to win the championship. Instead, Cloud9 came out on top of a three-way tiebreaker for the second seed and sent both FunPlus Phoenix and the LEC’s Rogue home.
After surviving the group of death, Cloud9 got what is being viewed as a favorable draw in the form of Gen.G. The LCK’s second seed was inconsistent in the group stage, narrowly coming out on top of the four-way tiebreaker after compiling a 3-3 record.
Gen.G’s shaky group stage may open the door for Cloud9. But while C9 recovered nicely and performed well in its tiebraker, it still went 2-4 in its initial run through its group. That makes this one of the toughest matches to call in the Worlds 2021 playoffs.
There’s an LCK vs. LCK match in the other half of the bracket with T1 versus Hanwha Life Esports.
T1 looked strong in the group stage and went 5-1 in group B, which included going 1-1 against tournament favorite EDward Gaming. It’s impossible to ignore all the existing history behind T1 and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok at Worlds, given that he’s a three-time champion. But it has been a long time since either T1 or Faker have seen success at the World Championship.
Hanwha Life Esports will be looking to trump that history and get revenge on T1 for some of its own losses earlier this year. T1 has generally gotten the better of HLE, including T1 forcing HLE into a Worlds 2021 play-ins start with a 3-2 victory in the LCK Regional Finals.
Alongside Gen.G, MAD Lions advanced out of the four-way tiebreaker of group D. Unlike Gen.G, the team didn’t get a favorable draw for its Worlds knockout stage match.
DAMWON Kia is the only tournament favorite to really live up to its billing in the group stage, advancing forward with a perfect 6-0 record. The team is also proven under the Worlds spotlight, given that most of DAMWON Gaming’s 2020 championship roster returned for the 2021 season.
MAD Lions has a tough road ahead and will be fighting to keep the LEC’s place as one of the elite leagues in League of Legends esports. With Fnatic flopping in the group stage and Rogue being sent home by Cloud9, this ends up being a high-stakes matchup for the European region following a disappointing group stage performance.