Group D of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship Group Stage ended in chaos with Gen.G Esports and MAD Lions taking the final spots in the upcoming Knockout Stage.
For the first time in Worlds history, a group in the Main Event Group Stage ended completely tied up. Europe's MAD Lions (3-3, 2nd) and North America's Team Liquid (3-3, 3rd/4th) came back from 1-2 records to make the entire group draw even at 3-3.
Liquid started the day with a win over Korea's Gen.G (3-3, 1st) in 34 minutes. Led by midlaner Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen, who had a phenomenal day, Liquid took control early on and built a considerable gold lead. With Jensen's Syndra doing massive damage and stunning key targets with Scatter the Weak, Liquid rolled into the win to guarantee Gen.G and Liquid would go to tiebreakers.
Gen.G would go on to drop their match against China's LNG Esports (3-3, 3rd-4th place) before saving themselves from a standings free-fall by taking a win against MAD Lions in 39 minutes. Gen.G held a modest early gold lead that lasted well into the game, but MAD Lions played the mid game well, making Gen.G hesitant to try anything risky to grow the lead. Eventually, MAD Lions overextended after taking control of the game, letting Gen.G escape with the win.
After the initial six games, all four teams were tied at with a 3-3 record -- the first time that's happened in Worlds history -- so the teams squared off in a tiebreaker bracket.
The first of those saw Gen.G take down Team Liquid in 36 minutes. Gen.G mid laner Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong dominated as Zoe in a do-or-die situation, taking over the mid game with long range snipes with Sleepy Trouble Bubbles and Paddlestars. With Liquid unable to meaningfully respond to Bdd's poke, Gen.G had no problems in taking objective control and grinding out the win in 36 minutes.
With this win, Gen.G punched their ticket to the quarterfinals while eliminating Team Liquid from the tournament.
In the second tiebreaker, MAD Lions outlasted LNG Esports in 46 minutes to stay alive as Europe's sole representative in the Knockout Stage.
Both teams traded control of the match back and forth throughout the game, leading to a frenetic game pace. LNG bot laner Wang "Light" Guang-Yu had a strong showing as Miss Fortune, finishing with a game-high 40,100 damage dealt, but he couldn't survive MAD mid laner Marek "Humanoid" Brazda's LeBlanc, who posted a 7-2-11 KDA (Kills-Deaths-Assists) by one-shotting squishy LNG members. With Humanoid leading the charge, MAD Lions turned around a late gold deficit and took down LNG's Nexus, eliminating them from Worlds.
In the final tiebreaker of the day, Gen.G didn't look clean by any means but picked up the 48-minute win over MAD Lions to take the first seed from Group D. Several early mistakes from MAD Lions, ranging from rune choices to in-game decisions, gave Gen.G a considerable gold lead of over 4,000 gold at 20 minutes. Once again, though, Gen.G's apprehension to grow their lead caused this game to stretch longer than perhaps necessary. While MAD Lions couldn't capitalize on it, Gen.G looked shaky despite playing the entire match with a lead, eventually eking out a win.
In the 2021 Worlds Main Event, 16 teams are competing in four groups based on seeding, contesting a double round-robin of best-of-one matches in the Group Stage. The top two teams from each group advance to the Knockout Stage, which consists of a single-elimination bracket.
Teams will be randomly drawn for the Knockout Stage so that first-place teams will oppose second-place teams, and no two teams from the same group will be placed in the same half of the bracket.
Matches in the Knockout Stage will be best-of-five all the way through the Nov. 6 grand final. The championship team will receive 22 percent of the total prize pool, which would equate to $489,500 based on the minimum guaranteed payout of $2,225,000.
The Quarterfinal matchups are as follows:
Royal Never Give Up vs EDward Gaming
Gen.G Esports vs Cloud9
T1 vs Hanwha Life Esports
DWG KIA vs MAD Lions
The quarterfinals begin on Friday with one best-of-five series:
Royal Never Give Up vs EDward Gaming
League of Legends World Championship Group Stage standings
DWG KIA (6-0)
FunPlus Phoenix (2-4)
EDward Gaming (4-2)
100 Thieves (3-3)
DetonatioN FocusMe (0-6)
Royal Never Give Up (4-2)
Hanwha Life Esports (4-2)
PSG Talon (3-3)
Gen.G Esports (3-3)
MAD Lions (3-3)
Team Liquid (3-3)
LNG Esports (3-3)
--Noah Waltzer, Field Level Media