LoL Worlds Play-Ins: LNG, DFM, Cloud9 and Hanwha to Group Stage

The first part of the 2021 World Championship has concluded, and out of the ten teams present in the... Fragster | 10. October 2021

The first part of the 2021 World Championship has concluded, and out of the ten teams present in the play-in stage, four remain to advance to the main event group stage. We take a look at the remarkable moments of play-ins in order to properly contextualize what’s to come for the rest of Worlds. 

DetonatioN FocusMe finally get into the main stage

After what can only be described as a slow and steady grind over the years, the LJL finally broke through the play-in stage. Even after a loss to C9, their lucky stars seem to have aligned: Russian representatives Unicorns of Love defeated Cloud9, granting the Japanese representatives a chance at a tiebreaker. DFM then took the win, and with sole possession of first place in their group, they were directly seeded into the main event group stage. 

With DetonatioN FocusMe reaching heights they have never experienced before, who knows what they’ll do next?

LNG Esports perform as expected


Following their historic playoff run leading to their qualification to the World Championship, experts and analysts were a bit skeptical about LNG Esports and how they would perform in their first international tournament. From their first match against Hanwha Life Esports, however, LNG just impressed fans and doubters alike, clearing play-ins with a 4-0 scoreline. This allowed them to advance to the main event, and they clearly have not revealed the depth of their strategies yet. 

LNG Esports will clearly do damage, and they must not be underestimated despite being the LPL’s fourth seed.

Cloud9 steadily find their form

North America’s usual hope in international tournaments find themselves in a rather familiar setting as they go through play-ins once again as their region’s third seed. After a dominant 3-0 in their first day, Cloud9 fumbled a bit by dropping their game against UOL and by losing their tiebreaker against DFM. Hype around the team quickly turned into doubt as fans became worried about their performance in their best of five to secure a groups berth, but they quickly proved that all was well. They dominated Oceanic representatives Peace with a clean 3-0 sweep, with Robert “Blaber” Huang showing a stellar performance on his signature Olaf pick. 

While they did do well to advance, the road ahead gets tougher and tougher for Cloud9. Will they prove to be NA’s best international performer once again?0

The tragedy of Beyond Gaming

Beyond Gaming was one of the favorites to get out of play-ins before the start of the tournament, as they did beat PCS favorites PSG Talon once before falling in their rematch in the final. In addition, the world already knew of rising star Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan in the bottom lane when he was loaned to PSG during the Mid-Season Invitational. Expectations of them were rather high, and they failed to deliver. They finished play-ins with a 1-3 scoreline, and then barely eked out a 3-2 victory against Turkish representatives Galatasaray Esports.

Right after the match against Galatasaray, a competitive ruling was released against Chien “Maoan” Mao-an. He was leaking information about his team’s pick and ban strategies for gambling purposes, and was suspended for the rest of the tournament. This meant that BYG no longer had a mid laner for their best of five against Hanwha Life Esports, and had to field Hsieh “PK” Yu-Ting in the mid lane. They were eliminated rather quickly, and one may wonder how much different their fate would have been if the entire roster was there.

The Church of Chovy lives on 

As the LCK fourth seed entered the tournament, experts were uncertain of how Hanwha Life Esports would perform given their up-and-down form throughout the year. With a rather close loss against LNG Esports, it seemed that the team was just ramping up, ending with a 3-1  scoreline, only behind the LPL fourth seed. 

In their best of five against the clearly disadvantaged Beyond Gaming, Hanwha Life Esports made quick work of the PCS representatives. Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon showed his class and versatility in the mid lane, even playing the Fiora once. 

While he did not have an actual mid laner as his opposition in this best of five, he performed rather well all throughout the play-in stage, consistently getting CS leads over his opponents regardless of the matchup.

It will be fun to see Chovy and his team get properly challenged by some of the elite teams later on in the tournament. 

The future is bright for Oceania

Good news to all of the fans of Oceanic League of Legends: even after the dissolution of OPL, and after a lot of its stars were brought over to North America, Oceania and its representative, Peace, was very competitive with the favorites in the play-in stage. Despite some problems with starting top laner Yao “Apii” Jian-Jing’s visa going into Worlds and having to suddenly replace him with Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamas, Peace continued to punch above its weight. Their laners were definitely competitive, and their team play was a sight to behold. They managed to get a 3-2 win over Brazilian team Red Canids, and even though they got cleanly swept 0-3 by Cloud9, their first game was rather close, and showed signs of life even though they were losing in games 2 and 3. 

After what is a successful year for OCE considering what the region has gone through, it will be exciting to see what they have to bring to the table for next year.


(Header image via @lolesports)