The Play-in stage of the League of Legends (LoL) World Championship in Mexico City, Mexico has just concluded, with Fnatic, DRX, Evil Geniuses (EG), and Royal Never Give Up (RNG) making it to the Group Stage.
The Play-ins format this year has changed, with the teams that come out on top after a single round robin automatically qualifying for groups, while each group's second and third place teams battled it out for the final two spots into the next stage of the competition.
We previously predicted that these four teams would make it out of Mexico, but some teams surprised the fans with what they got and kept the competition interesting.
Here’s how these four teams qualified for Groups:
South Korean fourth seed DRX dominated throughout the entire Play-ins, breezing through RNG, Saigon Buffalo, Istanbul Wildcats, and Isurus Gaming.
The team did struggle against European fourth seed MAD Lions in their final game of the first round of the Play-ins, with MAD Lions placing pressure on the South Korean team by dominating the map in the early to mid-game and taking most of the map objectives.
DRX, however, turned things around by winning team fights. Kim "Zeka" Geon-woo cleaned up the MAD Lions at the Baron pit, which allowed his team to end the game and finish the play-ins undefeated.
Both Zeka and Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu have been stellar throughout the competition, with both earning two of the highest KDAs of the stage, with 37 kills, 24 assists and four deaths on Zeka, and 23 kills, 40 assists and only six deaths for Deft.
The undefeated streak that DRX pulled off at the Play-ins may just be the momentum they need as they will be joining Group C, which includes LoL Professional League (LPL) second seed Top Esports, LoL European Championship (LEC) Summer Champions Rogue, and Vietnam Summer Champions GAM Esports.
It seemed as if all odds were against Fnatic before the competition started, with their team barely having any time for scrims and their star bot lane duo Elias “Upset” Lipp and Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov testing positive for COVID19.
Both Upset and Hylissang eventually tested negative right before the competition, with Hylissang arriving only one day late.
The LEC third seed started hot in the Play-ins, defeating North American third seed EG and Oceania’s Chief Esports Club. Substitute support Rúben "Rhuckz" Barbosa clocked in the highest KDA on the first day and opened up multiple opportunities for Upset to shine and get a Pentakill in their game against Chief Esports.
Fnatic continued this winning streak into day 2, defeating LoL Japanese League's DetonatioN FocusMe.
However, the Europeans were surprised by the aggressive playstyle of Brazilian champions LOUD, who took a game against them. But this did not stop the LEC powerhouse, as they went on to win against Pacific Championship Series (PCS) second seed Beyond Gaming to qualify for Groups.
It must feel good for Fnatic to take the first seed into Groups, but now with their entire roster complete, the team need to catch up and scrim as much as possible. The team are set to be part of Group A, one of the “Groups of Death”.
Group A is piled with some of the heaviest hitters in Lol Esports history, including North American Summer champions Cloud9, 2021 reigning World Champions EDward Gaming from the LPL, and T1.
North American third seed EG were the next team to make it out of Group A of the Play-ins.
The team had to fight hard to stay in the competition, after a day 1 defeat by Fnatic.
EG took two wins from LOUD and Beyond Gaming on day 2, then went on to win against Chief Esports Club on day 3, but were defeated by Japanese team DFM.
Tied with DFM and LOUD, in 2nd place after getting 3-2 in round 1 of the groups, the EG had to defeat both teams in the tiebreaker, guaranteeing them a spot in the Play-ins round 2 finals, where they swept MAD Lions 3-0 to make it to Groups.
EG will need to practice hard and dig deep, and perhaps, even pray for Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki’s return.
They will be facing Group B in the Group Stage, which like Group A was dubbed a “Group of Death”.
Their opponents in that group include the LPL Summer champions JD Gaming, the LEC’s G2 Esports and 2020 LoL World Champions DAMWON KIA Gaming (DWG KIA).
Royal Never Give Up
LPL fourth seed and reigning Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) champions RNG were the final team to make it into Groups.
RNG fell to DRX on day 1 of the Play-ins, but the team swept the MAD Lions, Isurus Gaming, Istanbul Wildcats, and Saigon Buffalo to get a sure spot in the Play-in round 2 Finals.
The team then went on to face Japanese Summer Champions DFM, who took them by surprise and stomped them in Game 1.
RNG, however, found their groove back and won the next three games, winning the series 3-1, to qualify for Groups.
RNG were slotted into Group D, alongside League of Legends Championship Korea (LCK) Summer Champions Gen.G, PCS Summer Champions CTBC Flying Oyster, and LCS 2nd seed 100 Thieves.
DRX, Fnatic, Evil Geniuses, and Royal Never Give Up will be flying to New York City for the Group Stage, which will commence on Saturday (8 October).
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.