League of Legends is one of, if not the biggest e-sport on the planet, so naturally you would expect something grand from its yearly world championship tournament as well. This has indeed been the case for many years now, as Riot Games has been turning the event into a small festival with way more to see than just 10 people sitting at their computers and playing a video game. This year was a bit different, however, due to the global that-which-shall-not-be-named, so the whole thing went digital. No live shows, no live audience, and everything happens in a studio. Sounds awkward on paper, but despite all these challenges, Worlds 2021 did not disappoint.
Make or Break – this years’ tagline
There are two main things to really talk about in the finals stream: the show open and the final match itself. The mostly music-based opening was only 14 minutes long (and is watchable in its entirety on Riot’s YouTube channel) but made sure to hype you up for the games, while also heavily promoting the new Netflix series Arcane that takes place in the LoL universe. The clip is essentially a long music video with high quality animations and sets for the music acts and some small story related clips about Arcane. The show stealer is easily the semi-animated segment for Imagine Dragons, a band that Riot Games has worked with in the past when they made the official 2014 championship song Warriors. This time they were responsible for Enemy, the theme song of Arcane. Other acts included Bea Miller with more music for Arcane, and PVRIS, an American alt-rock band that performed this year’s official Worlds song Burn It All Down.
Then there’s the reason everyone’s there: the final best-of-five match between the reigning Korean world champions Damnwon Gaming and the Chinese powerhouse EDward Gaming, who’s never even made it as far as the semi-finals before. Leaving aside the technicalities only other LoL-players would understand a word of, this was a real thriller of a final, as it’s only the second time in the 11-year history of LoL as an e-sport that we’ve seen a final match last the maximum amount of five games. EDG took the first game in the series and tensions were already high as the underdog started strong, but DK instantly came back and took two matches in a row. After the 4th match was taken by EDG, the 2-2 situation had our entire watch party at the edge of our sofa. Though DK put up a fight, the finals were finally won by challenger, and EDward Gaming took home the gold, meaning we’ll likely be seeing next year’s finals in China.
After EDG won this crucial teamfight, the rest of the fifth match was pretty much settled.
As someone who has stopped playing League some years ago, it’s still nice to come back once a year to feel like I’m part of a larger community, and even though my skills and knowledge of the game are rusty, a general game sense has remained and I’m still able to recognize a huge play or a critical mistake, so the excitement can still be grasped. I don’t think I’ll ever return to the game, but this year once again reminded me that there’s still something in it for me.
Pictures taken from lolesports.com promotional articles (https://lolesports.com/article/worlds-2021-location-and-format-announcement/blt52ec273a991d3261 & https://lolesports.com/article/worlds-2021-primer/blt62509b20849344d4) and the official Worlds livestream.
The matches: https://lolesports.com/vods/worlds/worlds_2021