2021 LoL Worlds | Western Players to Keep an Eye On
2021 Worlds is right around the corner which means it’s the perfect moment for us to go over some of the most prominent players who’ll compete on its stage in just a couple of days! For this piece, specifically, we’ll focus on Western representatives — on players both young and “old” who’ll try to upset the long-established status quo and make their regions proud.
These 2021 Worlds players will try their hardest regardless of community-wide expectations and the fact that so many of their forerunners failed to deliver. This especially holds true for the three LCS teams that are scheduled to compete, none of which are expected to accomplish much in the grand scheme of things.
Who Are We Covering
We won’t be focusing on many of the LPL and LCK 2021 Worlds players who’ll take the stage and blow our minds with their immaculate play and awe-inspiring mechanics — focusing on the perennial underdogs and players who’ll face an uphill battle over the coming weeks is a lot more interesting than talking about the many Chinese and Korean titans who are almost guaranteed to dominate beyond measure.
We know that EDward Gaming, FunPlus Phoenix, Royal Never Give Up, and DWG KIA have the most momentum behind their backs. We know they’re better than most (if not all) of the other 2021 Worlds players, so there’s very little use in giving them “airtime.”
Instead, we’ll focus on the dark horses and the many Western players who are yet to leave their mark on the biggest of stages. And, well, they know for a fact that — should they fail to deliver — they might not get another chance further down the line. So, in many ways, this is “do or die.” Some of them will thrive under this immense amount of pressure and play their best League yet; others will crumble and retrogress, underwhelmed and outclassed by their more capable peers.
Either way, there’s definitely a reason to tune in!
Marek “Humanoid” Brázda — MAD Lions, Mid Lane
Humanoid was, at first, quite rough around the edges. We saw glimpses of greatness but, in all fairness, no one could’ve foreseen that he would one day grow into an absolute mid lane powerhouse. He’s still prone to taking risks a bit too often and engaging at moments no one in their right mind would step towards danger, but that’s arguably what makes him so great.
He also has that “X factor,” the ability to execute in a split second and get his team the win — especially on picks like Zoe, Qiyana, and the like. And whenever his team needs a more stable presence in the mid lane, he’s more than willing to go for his staple Ryze or Orianna. His champion pool is as varied as possible, and he’s exceptional on most, if not all of his picks. As such, he’s been at the forefront of MAD’s success and has quickly grown in both popularity and reverence.
We also know for a fact that he’s well-equipped to tackle the best mid laners the world of competitive League has to offer. So, one simply has to wonder: is this the year when Humanoid leaves a mark on the international stage or will he need a few more splits before doing what Rasmus “Caps” Winther and Luka “Perkz” Perković had accomplished before him?
We’re dying to find out and, fortunately, we won’t have to wait long to have this oh-so-interesting question answered.
Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser — MAD Lions, Support
Kaiser, much like his mid laner, was at first quite unassuming. He had great plays and moments of brilliance, but you’d never expect him to become one of the best and most impactful supports in LEC history. Soon enough, though, Kaiser made his presence felt and has not skipped a beat since.
Still, there’s no shortage of spectacular support players at 2021 Worlds. Far from it, in fact. Kaiser will definitely have his hands full, but we’re confident he’ll be able to deliver, much like he did at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational.
He’s creative, absurdly aggressive in lane, and has some of the best flanks you’ll ever see — so definitely make sure to tune in!
Javier “Elyoya” Prades — MAD Lions, Jungle
Last but certainly not least, we have Elyoya — a player who can rightfully be considered as a “breakout star.” In just a single year he had not only won Rookie of the Split but an LEC title, too. And, frankly, there’s not a whole lot you can fault him for. He’s not the perfect player by any means but is wholly consistent, impactful on a wide range of picks and, perhaps most importantly: clutch.
We’ve also seen him deliver on the international stage which, in all fairness, is where most of his predecessors failed. The fact that he managed to rub shoulders with a slew of exceptional players despite being nowhere near their age or experience bodes extremely well for his future and legacy.
And now he’ll get a chance at truly testing his might against the who’s who of competitive League. Keep an eye on this immensely talented Spaniard, as he’s bound to deliver.
Can “Closer” Çelik — 100 Thieves, Jungle
Three splits was all it took for Closer to go from being the TCL MVP to challenging for a spot near the very top of the LCS. The fourth and most recent split was the one when he really sealed the deal and etched his name in history.
And, frankly, his growth was always on full display; we saw it all, including the many fumbles and mistakes he had made along the way. But our faith in his potential never wavered. Him joining 100 Thieves was the moment when things finally coalesced and, well, the rest is history and need not be highlighted.
Closer hasn’t been perfect — a fact that warrants a mention. But he’s a diamond in the rough compared to the rest of the 2021 Worlds players and can hardcarry like nobody’s business. Give him a pick he’s confident on and he’ll do the rest. Whether he’ll put his best foot forward at 2021 Worlds still remains to be seen, but we’re optimistic about his chances, that’s for sure!
Felix “Abbedagge” Braun (100 Thieves)
Abbedagge went from being a mid-tier gatekeeper (with immense highs and moments of brilliance) in the LEC, to hoisting the LCS trophy, to being slotted in the same group as the League of Legends deity himself: Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.
What a rollercoaster, a series of events that no one in their right mind could have predicted. And, well, Abbedagge has earned it all. His growth, in particular, has been mind-blowing, and is undoubtedly the result of hard work and good coaching — a testament to Dylan Falco and the folks over at Schalke 04. It just so happens that 100 Thieves were the ones who bore the fruit of Schalke’s “labor.”
Abbedagge has been dominating on home soil for quite a while now, but he’s yet to go up against the LoL crème de la crème. Now, though, he’ll get to face off against some of the best and most accomplished players in the world — a good number of which just so happen to be in his group. He’s obviously not favored to accomplish much against the likes of EDward Gaming and T1, but if 100 Thieves draft as well as they did back in North America and team fight with the same fervor and zest, they might be able to do some damage!
Victor “FBI” Huang & Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun (100 Thieves)
FBI and Huhi are the most feared and lane dominant duo in North America. Just writing such a sentence makes one feel… strange. Back when FBI first started playing on the LCS stage, there wasn’t anything overly impressive about him and the same goes for Huhi after his role swap — he just didn’t play that well and was quickly deemed as “washed up” by a very vocal (and arguably quite toxic) part of the community.
But lo and behold; with enough time and guidance, this peculiar pair grew into an absolute powerhouse. The ease with which they ran circles around their opposition was staggering and one could argue that their best days are yet to come. So, naturally, we cannot help but wonder: how will they fare against the very best teams and bottom lane duos in the world? Huhi is no stranger to competing on the international stage, but those Counter Logic Gaming days happened so long ago that they might as well be fiction.
In any case, we hope they step foot on stage in Reykjavik with the same bravado for which they’re known for in North America, ‘cause if that happens they’ll definitely stand a chance at pulling off an upset.
The Entire Team Liquid Bunch
The former four-time LCS champions have a lot to prove, but we’re not all too sure whether they’ll be able to deliver — you never really know with Team Liquid these days. Sometimes they come out the gates swinging for the fences, with some immaculate individual play, spectacular macro, and spotless teamfighting. Other times, however, they’re nowhere to be found — they fumble and fail in a myriad of ways; at those moments nothing seems to work, and it’s hard to understand why.
We saw both shades of Team Liquid this year. When they were at their best, there wasn’t a team in North America that could trade blows and live to tell the tale. When they failed to impose their playstyle and execute to the best of their ability, they were a pretty “puzzle” to solve.
So there’s quite a big question mark this time around. If the clean and commanding Team Liquid makes an appearance, they’ll definitely stand a chance at reaching the Knockout Stage. If, however, that fails to be the case, North American fans would be wise to avert their gaze.
Luka “Perkz” Perković & The Rest of Cloud9
For Perkz and Zven, 2021 has been quite tumultuous, albeit still successful. On the one hand, they had won the LCS back in Spring. On the other, their play had deteriorated beyond measure throughout the second half of 2021 and right now no one’s all too sure what to expect from the boys in black and blue.
They’re still talented beyond measure and equipped with all the right tools to compete on even footing with the best teams at Worlds, but that alone doesn’t necessarily have to translate into performance. They had the right tools back at MSI as well and we all know how that turned out. That’s sort of been the leitmotif with North American teams over the years, and we hope that Cloud9 will shake off such a disheartening trend, even though our hope isn’t exactly rooted in reality.
Perkz, in particular, has a lot to prove after signing one of the most expensive contracts in competitive LoL history. He’s been… serviceable, which isn’t the kind of adjective you’d want associated with your — admittedly quite legendary — IGN. He’s accomplished wonders on the World Championship stage in the past, so there’s no reason to doubt him now, but it’s nonetheless hard to shake off that lingering doubt.
Robert “Blaber” Huang (Cloud9)
Much of the same can be applied to Perkz’ jungler as well, the two-time MVP recipient Blaber — undoubtedly one of the most dominant and mechanically gifted junglers North America has ever fostered. He’s still quite young for a player with such a staggering resume, but after his many blunders at this year’s MSI, a lot of people are worried about what’ll happen next and, well, with good reason.
Blaber, at his best, can easily trade blows with the best junglers out there. At his worst, however, he’s not only unimpactful but downright dreadful. We’ll give Blaber the benefit of the doubt on that one and pretend like MSI never happened — he’s earned as much after so many impeccable performances back on home soil.
Now, though, would be a good time for him to step up and push his team over the finish line — and in doing so earn a bit of much needed redemption.
Elias “Upset” Lipp & Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov (Fnatic)
Keep an eye on Fnatic’s potent bottom lane players because they’ll definitely wreak havoc at 2021 Worlds from the very moment they step foot on stage. That holds for Fnatic as a whole, too — they’re unhinged in the best possible sense, although it doesn’t always work out in their favor.
Hylissang, in particular, has garnered a metric ton of praise for his immaculate play; he’s only gotten better and better with age, and if he can once again harness his well-known, patented craziness (and a slew of spectacular pocket picks), there’s no telling how high he and Fnatic will be able to soar!