Worlds Pick'em | Upcomer's picks for Worlds 2021 winner
Worlds 2021 winners trophy

Worlds Pick’em | Upcomer’s picks for Worlds 2021 winner

The Upcomer staff gives their pre-tournament opinions on who will take the Summoner's Cup

The 2021 League of Legends World Championship is about to begin, and Upcomer has you covered with daily interviews, analysis and coverage of the most-watched esports tournament of the year. Along with the event itself also comes the annual Worlds Pick’em game, where fans from across the world put down their predictions in hopes of becoming the ultimate League of Legends know-it-all.

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While Worlds Pick’em won’t officially begin until the Group Stage kicks off on Oct. 11, our staff is here to help every step of the way to make sure you’re prepared once you officially lock in your predictions. And what better way to start thinking about predictions than starting from the top — the team from the 22 combatants you believe will rise above the rest to hoist the Summoner’s Cup.

Here are our staff’s official predictions on who they’re backing as their winner pick at 2021 Worlds.

Tyler “Fionn” Erzberger: Edward Gaming

My winner pick hasn’t been as straightforward as previous years. Usually, once the teams are all locked and the groups are set, my heart and brain come to an agreement on my official pick. In 2020, I was confident that it was Damwon’s year and they’d lead the next generation of South Korean League of Legends. Previously, it was as simple as just circling “SKT” on my scorecard and waking up on finals day to boast about my genius.

This year, though, I believe there are a series of teams that could snatch the Summoner’s Cup in Iceland. Although I flip flopped between FunPlus Phoenix and DWG KIA for a few days, I recently had a dream that has pointed me to my ultimate pick. I dreamed of Park “Viper” Do-hyeon eclipsing the competition and Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun skewering his enemies in the top lane, leading to the coronation of one of League’s most storied franchises as our 2021 world champions. I picked EDG to win the LPL summer split over FPX, and with a roster built around equal parts mechanical skill and experience, EDG are my official pick to win the world championship.

Parkes “parqueso” Ousley: FunPlus Phoenix

FunPlus Phoenix at the 2019 World Championship.
FPX at the 2019 World Championship before they took on G2 Esports in the finals. | Provided by Riot Games

I’m going with the most obvious answer, but it’s a team I’ve been betting on for literal months: FunPlus Phoenix. Someone asked me in July who I thought would win Worlds this year and I had already slotted in the 2019 victors. I’m not changing my mind after just one playoff series loss. FPX hold the LPL Summer MVP — and Upcomer’s pick for #1 best player at Worlds — Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, after arguably the best split of his life.

They have an incredible group draw, with the weakest LEC team in Rogue, along with Cloud9 or an emerging region team slotting in from play-ins. Their only real competition in the Group Stage is DWG KIA, which guarantees FPX won’t face the 2020 champions in the quarters or semis, giving them an easier path to the finals.

The team is explosive, boasting the fastest game time of any team in a major region with a positive win rate, according to Games Of Legends. And they have the second highest win rate, only trailing behind MAD Lions by 1%, despite being in the most competitive region. They’re going to demolish pretty much anyone who stands in their way, and quickly.

Rashidat Jimoh: MAD Lions

Yes I know what you’re thinking: how can one possibly pick MAD Lions as winners in a sea of LPL and LCK favorites? Well, I just believe there is a universe where MAD wins. I mean, why not? Even though they had a terrible showing at their debut Worlds in 2020, they are a much different team now. Having been crowned back to back LEC Champions in 2021, they will be eager to continue proving doubters wrong.

Moreover, MAD’s late teamfighting spirit could come in handy in over extended series. They already showed they compete against the top teams after taking DWG KIA to a fifth game at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational. They also have a super rookie jungler in Javier “Elyoya” Prades, who always seems to adapt to the meta quickly enough to help his team in crucial stages. Although MAD Lions bot lane is not among the strongest in the competition, their unpredictability at times makes it difficult to actually count them out. When all is said and done, I believe this is the year of the Glad Lions.

And no, this writer inhales no European hopium.

E.G Kant: FunPlus Phoenix

100 Thieves are going to win Worlds. You all doubt them, you all meme them but let me tell y— ah, who am I kidding? If I had to pick one winner for 2021 Worlds, I’d pick FunPlus Phoenix, but only just. I believe Worlds 2021 has many championship candidates, provided they don’t collectively trip on the proverbial meta pebble.

The Summoner’s Cup will be hotly contested. I’m not going to go over their history, etc., because you probably already know they’re 2019 World Champions, lost to Edward Gaming this summer, have Ultra-Mega-Doinb carry and all the rest.

My justification is based on what I’ve heard might happen at Worlds 2021, and I’m just going off that. The jungle will have a lot of weird picks and the like, so Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang and Doinb’s jungle-mid synergy should shine. Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon is Nuguri, as long as he doesn’t revert to his early season form, plus a lot of carry picks are in meta now. For bot, I think if Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song can make the odd support choices work and Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang doesn’t randomly face tank skill shots, they should be fine.

As Parkes already mentioned, FPX are an explosive team. As long as their plans don’t explode in their faces, I’m backing FPX to take the title. Plus, the Worlds song is called “Burn it All Down” and phoenixes are firebirds, so, you know.

Declan McLaughlin: DWG KIA

DWG KIA at Worlds 2020. The team comes in as one of the favorites to win 2021 Worlds
DWG KIA at 2020 Worlds in Shanghai. | Provided by Riot Games

The reigning World Champions, DWG KIA, are still one of the top teams in League of Legends one year removed from their original title run. While some may think they have fallen off of a cliff after losing at the Mid-Season Invitational multiple times and dropping the final series to Royal Never Give Up, the team is still as strong as ever.

They might get jokes thrown their way about mid-season role swaps, but the team still beat a majority of the LCK with little to no issue. While the LCK has lost some of its luster to the LPL, the league is still one of the main pillars of League of Legends and it certainly leveled up in the summer as more teams rose to the occasion.

All of this is in defense of a team that has arguably the best jungler at the tournament and the mind of three-time World Champion coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun. I get the LPL is good or whatever, but let’s put some respect on the team that’s climbed the mountain recently and came close to claiming an MSI title just a few months earlier.

Danny Appleford: DWG KIA

South Korea has been at the height of League of Legends for years now, and DWG KIA are no exception. They won Worlds in 2020 and I believe they will be able to do it again in 2021.

On paper, DK have one of the strongest teams at Worlds, especially with top-tier talent like Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu and Heo “Showmaker” Su. There is no telling what this roster has the potential to do (other than winning back-to-back championships, of course).

That being said, I wouldn’t mind seeing another team rise from the ashes and make history. We know the LCK and LPL are some of the strongest regions in the world, but we also know that LEC and even some LCS teams are also climbing that ladder of excellence. However, it would be foolish to bet on a team like Team Liquid or 100 Thieves winning Worlds when you have teams like T1, EDG and DWG to take down.

Warren Younger: Edward Gaming

EDG at Worlds 2018. They come into 2021 Worlds as the winners favorites.
EDG Scout at the 2018 World Championships in Busan, South Korea. | Provided by Riot Games

The LPL champs are supposed to be the safe pick as the winner of 2021 Worlds, and at the very least, they look like a top three team heading into Worlds. But they are low-key underdogs due to others favoring the second-seeded FunPlus Phoenix and the reigning World champs, DWG KIA.

Others think that, despite EDG winning the LPL summer split and being at the top of the standings for almost the entire year, their peak isn’t as high as other teams. But the thing they have that other teams don’t have is consistency. This EDG roster that people saw in the summer finals will be the same EDG people see at Worlds, historical curses be damned.

This team is stacked from top to bottom with no clear weaknesses, and they have legit superstars in the mid and bot lanes. Lee “Scout” Ye-chan and Viper are not only contenders for the best players in their role at Worlds, but in the world at large. That fact, combined with their three unsung heroes in the top, jungle and support positions, means this team can individually compete with anyone. As a collective unit, they have shown their peak is winning the LPL.

Simply put, if the team people see is the same team that dumpstered FPX in the summer finals, there is no reason to believe they couldn’t repeat the process again, this time for the Summoner’s Cup.

Kenny “Kungpaokenny” Utama: FunPlus Phoenix

FunPlus Phoenix got robbed of a Mid-Season Invitational title when they lost by the narrowest of margins in the LPL Spring Split playoffs. While others might tout the stability of Showmaker with DWG KIA, or even the overall might of Edward Gaming, FPX have an X factor that other teams do not.

Due to the way Doinb plays, FunPlus Phoenix are always unpredictable, active and able to catch any team in the world off guard. While their playstyle might seem like a gimmick to some, their previous World championship win and consistency throughout the year have shown they can stand, and even outplay, the best teams in the world.

Just like Parkes said, FunPlus Phoenix are more than likely to make it out of their group. Not having to face another prospective favorite in DWG KIA in the quarters or semis helps their chances a lot in terms of a tournament winning run. Finally, and on more of a personal note, the way that Tian and Doinb play around one another is truly the definition of good League of Legends to me. To see that mid-jungle duo hoist another Summoner’s Cup will be a moment for the ages.

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