DWG KIA, Liquid impressive as group play opens at Worlds

1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM EST

DWG KIA and Team Liquid pulled off impressive victories Monday as group stage action got underway at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship Main Event.

The first match of the day saw what might have been a preview for the World Finals, as the League of Legends Champion Korea's top seed, DWG KIA (1-0) took down former world champion and LPL second-seed FunPlus Phoenix (0-1) in just 30 minutes.

DK drafted for pick potential and lane dominance, while FPX drafted a signature team fighting composition. DWG KIA snowballed the game early on, rendering FPX incapable of rallying. DK mid laner Heo "ShowMaker" Su of South Korea shined as LeBlanc, finishing with a 6-0-10 kills-deaths-assists ratio, good for an 89-percent kill participation.

In other Group A action, Europe's Rogue (1-0) took down North America's Cloud9 (0-1). The game was decided early on when Cloud9 jungler Robert "Blaber" Huang of the United States committed a costly mistake at Red Buff, giving over first blood and ensuring that Rogue would have early control of the game.

Rogue was quick to capitalize, punishing Cloud9's bottom lane and building up a massive gold lead on the way to a 33-minute win.

In an early upset, with the LCK No. 4 seed, Hanwha Life Esports (1-0) took down Europe's No. 2 seed, Fnatic (0-1) in 32 minutes.

Fnatic announced before the match that bot laner Elias "Upset" Lipp would be unable to compete at the tournament due to personal reasons. Fnatic activated bot laner Louis "Bean" Schmitz of Germany to face legendary bot laner Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu of South Korea in his Worlds debut.

Fnatic struggled, playing passively in lane and HLE pulled off the victory in 32 minutes. HLE support Oh "Vsta" Hyo-seong of South Korea was huge in the win as Thresh, picking up a 2-1-21 KDA for a 92 percent kill participation in the win.

In an even bigger upset, North America No. 2 seed, Team Liquid (1-0) took down Europe's top seed MAD Lions (0-1) in a mere 27 minutes. Liquid jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen of Denmark had a great game as Xin Zhao, outsmarting his MAD contemporary and giving Liquid's carries an early lead through the jungle.

Liquid played intelligently throughout the later stages, not giving MAD a chance to claw back and starving the Lions out of crucial resources.

In other matches, South Korea's T1 (1-0) tore through Japan's DetonatioN FocusMe (0-1) in a blazing fast 20 minutes. T1 were led by support Ryu "Keria" Min-seok's Yuumi of South Korea, who was instrumental in building the lanes' early leads through surprisingly effective roams. Jungler Moon "Oner" Hyeon-joon's Talon of South Korea dominated the later parts of the game with oppressive damage and unmatched mobility.

China's top seed, EDward Gaming (1-0) ran roughshod over North America's top seed, 100 Thieves (0-1) in 28 minutes. 100 Thieves drafted a strange composition with a couple of power picks to go along with an unimpressive Aatrox pick in the top lane.

While 100 Thieve's picks suggested they wanted to team fight, they chose a poke champion, Zoe, for their mid laner. As a result, once EDG dominated the early game, there was nothing 100 Thieves could do to reliably bounce back. EDG bullied 100 Thieves across the map, leading to a 29-minute win.

In another fast game, Korea's Gen.G Esports (1-0) demolished China's LNG Esports (0-1) in just 24 minutes. It was a low-kill game that was decided early on via Gen.G mid laner Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong's Zoe of South Korea.

Bdd roamed early to get his teammates ahead, put constant pressure on his lane opponent and even solo killed him early on, putting LNG behind from the jump. From there, Gen.G played smart and focused throughout.

Royal Never Give Up (1-0) took down the Pacific Champion Series' PSG Talon (0-1) in a 37-minute slugfest. Both teams had opportunities to take over, but RNG was the dominant force for most of the contest. RNG's double-mage setup ensured that they had plenty of wave clear, burst damage and team-fighting potential, neutralizing PSG's laning phase advantages.

In the 2021 Worlds Main Event, 16 teams are drawn into four groups based on seeding, where they compete in a double round-robin of best-of-one matches in the Group Stage. The top two teams from each group advance to the Knockout Stage, which is a single elimination bracket. Teams are randomly drawn so that 1st place teams place 2nd place teams, and that no two teams from the same group can be placed in the same half of the bracket. Matches in the Knockout Stage are best-of-fives.

2021 Worlds Main Event Groups & Standings:

Group A:
DWG KIA (1-0)
Rogue (1-0)
Cloud9 (0-1)
FunPlus Phoenix (0-1)

Group B:
Edward Gaming (1-0)
T1 (1-0)
100 Thieves (0-1)
DetonatioN FocusMe (0-1)

Group C:
Royal Never Give Up (1-0)
Hanwha Life Esports (1-0)
Fnatic (0-1)
PSG Talon (0-1)

Group D:
Team Liquid (1-0)
Gen.G Esports (1-0)
LNG Esports (0-1)
MAD Lions (0-1)

The Main Event continues Tuesday with eight matches:
T1 vs Edward Gaming
Rogue vs DWG KIA
PSG Talon vs Hanwha Life Esports
Fnatic vs Royal Never Give Up
Cloud9 vs FunPlus Phoenix
DetonatioN FocusMe vs 100 Thieves
MAD Lions vs Gen.G
Team Liquid vs LNG Esports

--By Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media

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