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With Worlds 2021 on the horizon, the League of Legends Continental League’s representatives, Unicorns of Love, are one of 22 teams from across the globe that are gearing up for their biggest and most important event of the year. The 2021 League of Legends World Championship will feature each region’s best players, all fighting for the same goal: to stand atop the mountain and hoist the Season 11 Summoner’s Cup.
Ever since the Unicorns of Love have entered the LCL, they’ve obliterated their competition. Entering 2021, they had won every split they’d participated in and had never posted more than two losses in a single regular season. But 2021 brought adversity that UoL had never faced. In spite of being tested, UoL always managed to rise to the occasion and once again head to Reykjavík, Iceland with hype, hope and momentum.
Unicorns of Love (LCL) Worlds 2021 starting roster breakdown
- Top: Vladislav “BOSS” Fomin | Signed in May 2019. Formerly a member of Vega Squadron.
- Jungle: Kirill “AHaHaCiK” Skvortsov | Signed in May 2019. Formerly a member of Vega Squadron.
- Mid: Lev “Nomanz” Yakshin | Signed in May 2019. Formerly a member of Vega Squadron.
- Bot: Andrey “Argonavt” Yakovlev | Signed in June 2021. Formerly a member of Dragon Army.
- Support: Aleksandr “SaNTaS” Lifashin | Signed in November 2019. Formerly a member of Vega Squadron.
How they got here
Perhaps the most well-known team from an emerging region, the Unicorns of Love came into the 2021 season with something to be proud of: They had just recently become one of the few emerging region teams to ever reach the Worlds group stage, at Worlds 2020. With four of their five starters coming back for the LCL 2021 spring split, they were the favorites to head back to international play.
To begin the spring split, the team brought in Antonio “Frappii” Botezatu as their new starting bot laner. With Frappii at the helm, UoL got off to a strong start to the split. They swept both games in each of their first three weeks of play and went into Week 4 with a 6-0 record that gave them sole possession of first place in the league standings. But from there, the road became a little bumpier.
The Unicorns of Love, a team that was not used to defeat, began losing. They split both their Week 4 and Week 5 games 1-1 each. While almost any team in any region would gladly take an 8-2 record after five weeks of play, the two defeats already tied the most losses that UoL had ever seen in an LCL season. (They had finished with regular season records of 12-2, 13-1 and 14-0 in their first three splits.) Despite bouncing back with a 2-0 performance in Week 6, UoL could not shake their communication issues with their new bot laner; Frappii was a French player while the rest of his team was Russian, and this presented an issue for the other players on the team.
In an attempt to remedy the situation, the team dropped Frappii to a substitute position and brought in veteran Russian bot laner Stanislav “Lodik” Kornelyuk. The move required an adjustment period; UoL lost both of their remaining regular season games as well as the third place tie-break. They entered the playoffs in fourth place with a 10-4 record, both their worst-ever regular season record and their lowest-ever playoffs seeding since joining the LCL. But in true Unicorns of Love fashion, they put it together when it mattered. They won back-to-back 3-1 series in the playoffs and secured their fourth straight LCL split as well as a trip to the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational.
At MSI 2021, UoL were seen as one of the favorites to make it into the Rumble stage but they struggled immensely. They were eventually upset by the Oceanic underdog squad of Pentanet.GG and were sent home early.
Heading into the 2021 summer split, the team made yet another change in the bot lane. They replaced Lodik with Dragon Army bot laner Argonavt, who remained a starting player with UoL for the whole season. The roster swap paid dividends and UoL got back to their winning ways. They went through the split with a 12-2 record and finished the season in first place.
After a strong regular season, the Unicorns of Love looked poised to run through yet another playoff bracket. But, for the first time since joining the LCL, the team suffered serious adversity in the playoffs. They were ambushed in the quarterfinals by CrowCrowd, who defeated them 3-1 in the series and dropped them to the lower bracket. There, they met the second-seeded One Breath Gaming, who also showed that Unicorns could bleed. One Breath took a swift 2-0 series lead before UoL managed to get back in it and pull off the reverse-sweep.
The 2021 summer finals were a quarterfinals rematch between Unicorns of Love and CrowCrowd, where UoL were pushed to the brink once again. Toughing it out over yet another five game series, UoL ultimately showed that they were the better team. The Unicorns of Love won their fifth straight split since joining the LCL and punched their ticket to their third straight international tournament in Worlds 2021.
Players to watch
The star of UoL’s run at Worlds 2020 was their mid laner, Nomanz. This year, he’s coming back for an encore and is in peak form. Nomanz was not only the best mid laner in the region during the summer split, he was also far and away the best player overall. He won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in a landslide and lead all players with a monster 8.2 KDA (Kills/Deaths/Assists).
According to data from Oracle’s Elixir, Nomanz crushed the LCL, and opposing mid laners, in virtually every statistical category. He carried first-in-the-league numbers with a +11.8 CS differential at 10 minutes, a +487 gold differential at 10 and a +353 experience differential at 10. He also lead all players in the league for kill share (36.2%), damage per minute (709) and average earned gold per minute (344).
UoL’s mid laner actually had a higher kill participation percentage, at 70.9%, than his own jungler AHaHaCiK (63.8%) and support SaNTaS (62.2%). Nomanz is a one-man army and the king of the LCL is looking even better this year than he did last year, when he won MVP of the Worlds 2020 play-in stage.
How Unicorns of Love can succeed at Worlds 2021
The Unicorns of Love bring a lot of experience to Worlds 2021, with four of the five players on the starting roster having been to both Worlds 2020 and MSI 2021. It’s hard to think that this team won’t be able to play under the pressure of the Worlds stage, so that is one thing they have going for them. The other is that their team is full of stars from the CIS region. Three members of this team were on the All Pro first-team during the 2021 LCL summer split, with jungler AHaHaCiK picking up second-team honors.
The big question mark on this team is their new bot laner, Argonavt. In the summer split Argonavt was all over the place when it came to statistics. He led all bot laners in CS per minute but he also led all bot laners in death share percentage. But with a carry like Nomanz on the team, Argonavt doesn’t need to do the heavy lifting for Unicorns; he simply needs to be serviceable. If he can hold his own against international level bot lanes, UoL can easily contest for a group stage spot at Worlds 2021. If the bot lane falters, UoL might have a lot of trouble trying to pick up the slack.
This article is part of an ongoing preview series of all 22 teams competing at Worlds 2021. For our complete release schedule and more information on the other 21 teams attending Worlds, check out Upcomer’s Worlds 2021 Outlook Series hub.
ASU alum with a B.A in Sports Journalism, Warren is one of the premier TFT Journalists in the scene and is a decent TFT player as well who has peaked Challenger and has had multiple accounts in Master+ over all sets. Warren also specializes in other esports content including League of Legends, Valorant, Smash Bros, and more.