With the semifinal matchups set for this weekend, Worlds 2021’s field of competition has been whittled down to Korean 1st seed DWG Kia vs. Korean 3rd seed T1, who play on Saturday, and Chinese 1st seed Edward Gaming vs. Korean 2nd seed Gen.G. While some of the organization names and many of the faces have changed, each of these organizations has won at least one international title, many of which they had to beat a few of the others along the way for. To put it plainly, these teams have history.
T1 vs. DK – Saturday, Oct. 30, 8 a.m. EST:
This matchup has a much more direct precedent than the Sunday one, as it is a rematch of the 2021 League Champions Korea Summer Final. Back in August, DWG Kia took a decisive 3-1 victory over T1 to qualify as the first seed for Worlds from Korea. Since then, both teams have had an easy time navigating the tournament, with DWG going into Saturday completely undefeated and T1 having only lost a single game in the group stage. It is clear that this semifinal is packed with heavy hitters, but more than just Worlds is on the line here; the chance to set a record that would be extremely hard to break is also up for grabs. On T1, star mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, whom most consider the greatest professional League of Legends play of all time, is gunning for his 4th World Championship title. On DWG is Kim “Kkoma” Jeong-hyun, the coach that was with Faker for all three of his previous titles. Only one can progress to the finals and have a chance at sole possession of the record, but before that happens, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s a third horse in this race: Gen.G.
Gen.G vs. EDG – Sunday Oct. 31, 8 a.m. EST:
Unlike how T1 and DWG faced off mere months ago, to find the last time EDG and Gen.G played each other, you have to go back to when Gen.G was playing under the umbrella of the Samsung organization. In fact, you’d have to return to 2014, a year that Samsung managed to get two teams into the semifinals of Worlds (since then, sister teams have been banned, so this could not physically happen again). EDG was placed in a group with eventual World Champion Samsung White (Samsung Blue was the sister team they beat in the semis), and lost both games to the Korean juggernaut. However, times have certainly changed since when Azir was the newest champion in the game (since 2014 Worlds, League of Legends has added 36 playable characters to the game). At this Worlds, neither EDG nor Gen.G is as unscathed as the two matched up on Saturday, but they were both able to overcome their quarterfinals opponents. EDG bested RNG in a match that went the full five games, while Gen.G dominated Cloud9 in only three.
I don’t want to make predictions, because I genuinely think both of these matchups are very close, but the intriguing part of this semifinal is that each possible final matchup has a very compelling narrative.
In the case of T1 taking on EDG, it’s a rematch of the first Mid-Season Invitational in 2015, where EDG bested Faker and then SKT T1 to win China’s first-ever international title. It’s also a mid-lane matchup between Faker and Lee “Scout” Ye-chan, who used to be Faker’s substitute on T1 before joining EDG in 2016.
For T1 vs. Gen.G, it’s a battle for the Worlds titles record. Gen.G’s continuing of the Samsung legacy means they have two championships to their name, while T1 has three. While the Kkoma vs. Faker semifinal grants one of them the chance to go for a fourth, Gen.G has a chance to tie the record and keep it at three apiece.
If DWG and EDG both make it, this will simply be the battle of the No. 1 seeds. Korea’s best vs. China’s best, in a scene that has been dominated by those two regions since 2013. For context, since SKT and Faker took their first title at Season 3 Worlds, G2 Esports from Europe has the only international trophy that didn’t go to a Chinese or Korean team.
Last but not least, if DWG and Gen.G play in finals, the records game will be back on. Gen.G will be fighting to tie T1 at three Worlds titles, but DWG would also be looking to tie T1 as the second team ever to win in back-to-back years.
No matter what happens, this weekend is a must-watch when it comes to League of Legends esports.