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With Worlds 2021 on the horizon, the first seed representatives from the League of Legends Pro League, Edward Gaming, 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.

As a member of the LPL  old guard, EDG are making their triumphant return to international play and heading to Reykjavík, Iceland as the LPL champions for the first time since 2018. Although EDG have had a painful history of not living up to expectations, this iteration is looking like the best version of EDG ever. With playmakers from top to bottom, EDG are the number one team entering Worlds 2021.

Edward Gaming (LPL) Worlds 2021 starting roster breakdown

Top: Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun | Signed in December 2020. Formerly a member of LNG Esports

Jungle: Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie | Joined in April 2019.

Mid: Lee “Scout” Ye-chan | Signed in March 2016. Formerly a member of T1.

Bot: Park “Viper” Do-hyeon | Signed in December 2020. Formerly a member of Hanwha Life

Support: Tian “Meiko” Ye | Joined in December 2014.

How they got here

After a mediocre 2020 season that saw them finish in 10th place, EDG decided it was time to shake things up. With the team desperately needing a veteran top laner and a playmaking bot laner, EDG looked toward the open market to see if they could accomplish those goals.

In the end, EDG picked up one of the longest-tenured players in the history of the LPL, Flandre, and Griffin’s former star bot laner, Viper. With two significant upgrades, EDG headed into 2021 as a team of interest on paper with a high upside but a rather low floor. But as the spring split kicked off, the high upside turned out to be their floor.

It didn’t take long for EDG’s new stars to mesh well as a team. In fact, EDG didn’t just look good, they looked unbeatable for a majority of the spring split. At the end of Week 5, EDG were undefeated with a 7-0 record. At one point, EDG had a 14 game win streak.

Although the team cooled off a bit toward the end of the split, EDG still managed to finish with a 13-3 record, which was good enough for the second seed heading into playoffs. Viper turned into a superstar and won both rookie of the split as well as MVP.

In the playoffs, EDG quickly dispatched Top Esports 3-0 to set up a banger of a series against the hot FunPlus Phoenix. After a five-game thriller, EDG were dropped to the losers bracket where they had to take on the first seed, Royal Never Give Up. That series also went the distance but the result was the same: EDG lost in five and had to settle for third place.

In the summer split, the roster stayed the same and EDG proved their spring split wasn’t a fluke. EDG marched to the top of the standings immediately and stayed there through Week 5, where they sat with a 9-1 record.

Things got a little bumpy in Week 6, though, as EDG were 2-0’d by the reigning MSI champs, RNG. And in their very next series in Week 7, they decided to bench their starting jungler, Jiejie, for EDG legend, Ming “Clearlove” Kai. The swap did not do them any good as they suffered another 2-0 sweep, this time at the hands of Team WE.

Things returned to normal for EDG in the following weeks, but the series against WE foreshadowed a result that would soon come to haunt EDG in the playoffs. Still, EDG finished the summer split once more as the second seed, this time with a 12-4 record.

With their three-round bye, EDG matched up against WE in the quarter-finals, a team who had just come off three consecutive best of five series wins. In Game 1, EDG looked in control until a series of unfortunate events transpired near the Baron and Elder Dragon buffs. Team WE stole both away from EDG due to poor management on Jiejie’s part.

After that, the team went on tilt in Game 2, which put them in a 2-0 deficit. EDG decided to bench Jiejie mid-series and bring in their third-string jungler, Yu “JunJia” Chun-Chia. Junjia deserves credit as the rookie thrust into a bad situation who helped EDG turn things around by forcing a Game 5, but in the end, WE got the best of a weakened EDG, just like they did in the regular season.

The defeat sent EDG into the losers bracket. With the wake-up call, EDG quickly got things together. With Jiejie’s return, EDG handled LNG 3-1 to set up a rematch against WE in the losers finals.

WE were not playing against a tilted team this time around, and EDG dismantled them 3-0 to set up a finals match against the first-seed FunPlus Phoenix.

Entering finals as the underdogs, EDG turned heads since, not only did they defeat FPX, they destroyed them. The series was not particularly close, aside from a Game 4 whereViper helped EDG make a huge comeback after the team fell behind by 10k gold. That made up for EDG’s throw in Game 3 (which delayed the sweep) and ultimately took down FPX 3-1, capturing the LPL title and the first seed from the LPL entering Worlds 2021.

Players to watch

Although EDG have five world-class players, two stand above the others: mid laner Scout and bot laner Viper.

Scout has been with EDG for a long time, dating back to 2016. Scout was famously the backup mid laner for T1 before departing for the LPL. Many consider him the understudy of the legendary Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.

In his time with EDG, Scout has made strides to ensure that, one day, the student would surpass the master. And during the 2021 season, Scout has considerably closed that gap.

In the spring split, Scout was the first team LPL all-pro selection in the mid-lane. During that time, he placed in the top three in nearly all statistical categories among mid laners. In the summer split, Scout disappointingly took a step back in the regular season. But when everyone counted him out, he performed in the playoffs.

During EDG’s biggest test of the year, Scout was tasked with facing off with the summer split MVP, Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, in the LPL finals. Doinb, who had the best split of his career, was humbled by Scout.

In the four-game series, Scout amassed a crazy 26/4/26 Kill/Death/Assist ratio in the series, including a legendary 10/0/4 performance on Ryze in Game 2. Scout easily picked up MVP honors. And now the student vs the master narrative will reach its climax at Worlds, as EDG has Faker’s team in their group.

Viper is the other player of interest on EDG. Heading into 2021, people were familiar with him thanks to his performance while he was a member of Griffin, but Viper took the step into an elite category as a member of EDG.

His MVP campaign in the spring saw the “rookie” rack up ten player of the game awards, the most in the league. Although he didn’t win the MVP award in the summer season, Viper was still the pick for the first team LPL all-pro team for the second straight split.

In less than a year, Viper went from being a good bot laner into the arguable best. The EDG bot lane will get some very good competition in the group stage, however, as another contender for best bot lane in the World lies in the T1 duo of Ryu “Keria” Min-seok and Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong. The other confirmed bot lane in their group is no joke either. 100 Thieves bring their best-in-region bot lane of Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun and Victor “FBI” Huang to see if they, or anyone, can challenge the duo of Viper and Meiko as the best bot lane in the World.

How EDG can succeed at Worlds 2021

Lots of talk about EDG revolves around the all-pro members of Viper, Scout and Meiko, but the real key to success for EDG relies on their other two members.

Flandre and Jiejie are rarely brought up in conversation due to being overshadowed by the other monsters on their team. However, these two players should not be slept on in the slightest.

Although Jiejie was benched twice this year, he had a fantastic summer season that saw him pick up nine-player of the game awards, which was second-most among junglers and only behind first-team all-pro jungler, Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong. In the playoffs Jiejie was even better, leading all players in total player of the game awards with six.

Flandre, meanwhile, is making his first-ever Worlds appearance after missing out for the past seven years. Back on Snake esports and then LNG, Flandre has seen some of his former teammates make deep runs at Worlds, most recently Lê “SofM” Quang Duy of Suning last year. LPL caster Joseph “Munchables” Fenny said that SofM and Flandre are very good friends and that he thinks Flandre can do something special this year just like SofM last year..

“Sofm said in an interview, ‘Man, this one’s for Flandre, I hope to see you here next time.’ It was an ‘I’m gonna do it for us,’ kind of thing,” Munchables said. “Now SofM has not made it to Worlds and Flandre has made it instead. It’s Flandre’s turn.”

Flandre is the catalyst for this EDG squad. With being able to play weak side or strongside whenever the situation calls for it, if Flandre can play at his peak while Jiejie and the rest of EDG can continue to play at theirs, EDG will be the Worlds 2021 champions.