It has been an intense year so far for professional League of Legends, and plenty of storylines have sprouted ahead of Upcomer’s first League of Legends global power rankings.
China’s League of Legends Pro League seems to be the deepest league, with Royal Never Give Up ending the regular season in first place ahead of many other contenders. Meanwhile, The Mid-Season Showdown is well underway in North America, DWG KIA lead the pack entering the League Champions Korea knockout stage and the League European Championship playoffs are in full swing.
Now it’s time to see how the best teams in each region stack up against each other, with the Mid-Season Invitational looming large in the distance.
1. DWG KIA
Record: 16-2 (33-10 game record)
Results this week: 2-1 against KT Rolster
DWG KIA have not lost a step since their League of Legends World Championship run in 2020.
Outside of a 2-1 loss against Gen.G in Week 9 and a 2-0 series against Fredit BRION in Week 2, the first-place squad has looked immaculate against LCK competition. DWG KIA went 2-1 in the final two weeks of competition and ended the regular season with a 33-10 game record.
Mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su and jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu continued to carry the team, as the Worlds MVP in particular has thrived in the jungle carry meta. This has helped his new top laner, Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, blend seamlessly into the team mostly playing weak-side.
– Declan McLaughlin
2. Royal Never Give Up
Record: 14-2 (29-8)
Results this week: 2-0 against LGD, 2-0 against Rare Atom
They may sport a bunch of new faces, but the same old RNG are dominating the League of Legends Pro League in stylistic fashion.
Only Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao and support Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming remain of RNG’s old franchise players, but Xiaohu has changed up the entire team’s dynamic with a role-swap from mid to top lane. RNG have gone 6-0 in the last couple of weeks, including their takedown of other LPL playoff teams Top Esports and Rare Atom.
Although RNG did recently fall 2-0 to JDG, they won the last six series before that as well, making them 9-1 in the second half of the split. One of RNG’s greatest strengths is their flexibility, with Xiaohu’s mid lane experience morphing his champion pool and creating difficult puzzles for his opponents to solve in the draft phase. The rest of the team is aggressive but controlled, so RNG always brings calculated tactics to the fight, forcing their opponent to respond quickly to keep up.
– Parkes Ousley
Photo via Twitter @RNGRoyal
3. EDward Gaming
Record: 13-3 (28-8)
Results this week: 2-0 against WE, 2-0 against Rare Atom
After a couple hiccups against top four League of Legends Pro League teams RNG and TES, EDward Gaming quickly bounced back to elite form with dominating wins against playoff teams WE and Rare Atom in the final week of the spring split.
All eyes have been on MVP candidate Park “Viper” Do-Hyeon, as he has proven during the spring split to not only be the best AD carry in the LPL, but arguably the best ADC in the world. However, EDG is deeper than just one superstar, with top lane shotcaller Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun and consistent mid laner Lee “Scout” Ye-chan contributing plenty to the team’s success.
This team has no clear weakness, especially since Zhao “JieJie” Li-Jie erased doubts from the jungle position with high-level play all split. Only a single game separates EDG from the first seed in the LPL, and they looked poised to take that spot back in the playoffs.
– Warren Younger
4. JD Gaming
Record: 12-4 (24-9)
Results: 2-0 against OMG
JD Gaming are winners of six straight series and haven’t dropped a game since the beginning of March. Although only two of those six series came against playoff teams, one of those series came against the current top League of Legends Pro League team, RNG, with JDG dismantling the frontrunners in a 2-0 series with an average game time around 30 minutes.
Throughout March, JDG have looked unstoppable, especially in their last series against OMG where they won both games in under 30 minutes. JDG had three players on the “Team of the Week” in Week 9 of the spring split, and deservedly so; top laner Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran, jungler Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok and mid laner Zeng “Yagao” Qi have looked like some of the best players in the entire region during their late season run up the standings.
5. Top Esports
Record: 12-4 (25-10)
Results: 2-0 against WE, 2-0 against TT
Since rolling out of the gate with back-to-back match losses at the start of 2021, TES have only dropped two other series, both of which were against teams that made this list.
Veteran jungler Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan continues to be a star performer on the team with his standout playmaking capabilities. The roster isn’t lacking for individual talent, but a recent 2-0 loss to LPL leader RNG hints that skill alone won’t be enough for TES to differentiate themselves from the other top teams.
With the tremendous Zhuo “knight” Ding on control mage duty in the mid lane for the majority of the split, TES’s other carry, Yu “JackeyLove” Wen-Bo, has pulled his own weight in the bot lane. JackeyLove currently holds the highest Creep Score Differential at 10 minutes and damage per minute out of all LPL players at 9.8 and 623 respectively, according to Oracle’s Elixir.
TES have found a style defined by aggressive jungle pressure, dominant sidelanes and a reliable mid lane star, and they’re still third place in the League of Legends Pro League. The region is just that strong.
– Nick Ray
Record: 11-7 (27-17)
Results: 2-0 against HLE
T1 have put up steady results in the LCK since finally deciding on a consistent lineup.
With AD carry Park “Teddy” Jin-seong, mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and jungler Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan starting since a 2-0 win against Gen.G in Week 8, T1 have been on a 4-0 series win streak and have only dropped one game. In a split that has seen multiple different lineup iterations for T1, with two debut rookies and multiple new starters in the lineup, a stable starting five may have been what the team needed in its final weeks of regular season competition.
T1 trounced the two teams below and the team above them in the standings during their late-season run, and they are the definitive dark horse in the LCK playoffs for Mid-Season Invitational qualification.
Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, middle, and his team are the favorites once again in the LEC playoffs. Photo by Michal Konkol/Provided by Riot Games
7. G2 Esports
Results: 3-2 against Schalke 04
The fact that G2 are the only Western team on this list speaks to their consistency in being the best League of Legends team Europe has ever produced.
The introduction of bot laner Martins “Rekkles” Larson to the team this offseason added an incredibly talented ADC to an already strong roster. Their first-place finish in the regular season showed that Rekkles wasted no time settling in, and the synergy many were worried about is stronger than ever.
After finishing the Spring Split as the No. 1 seed in the LEC once again, G2 kicked off their playoff run with a 3-2 win over Schalke 04 to advance to the winners bracket semifinals. Even though Schalke stretched G2 to a Game 5, it still felt like G2 were using the series as a warmup for best-of-fives to come and never really lost control of the series.
Mid laner Rasmus “Caps” Winther’s outstanding Lucian performance in the last game of that series was an interesting wrinkle G2 might bring to the table again. He dealt half of the team’s damage and had the highest kill participation on the squad. With an unlocked Caps in mid and Rekkles as ADC, it’s tough to imagine G2 not earning a ticket to Iceland for MSI after this postseason.
– Rashidat Jimoh
Results: 2-0 against DRX, 2-1 against KT Rolster
As one of the only teams to maintain their starting lineup from the 2020 world championship, Gen.G entered 2021 in a more comfortable position to contend for an LCK title. Their second-place standing reflects those expectations, and bot laners of Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk and Kim “Life” Jeong-min spent the better part of the year asserting themselves as one of the best duos in the league.
However, their over-reliance on the two stars may be holding them back from becoming a legitimate postseason threat.
Gen.G’s current spot in the standings and a recent 2-1 victory over DWG KIA prove their bot-centric style can work domestically, but they’ll need more tools in their arsenal to compete at MSI. Their topside struggles continue to stand out when compared to some of their international counterparts while the mid-jungle duo of Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong and Kim “Clid” Tae-min has looked particularly underwhelming.
With a surging T1 nipping at their heels, Gen.G’s fight to punch their ticket to Iceland is more of an uphill battle than ever before.
9. Team WE
Record: 11-5 (22-14)
Results: 0-2 against EDG, 0-2 against TES
Beyond their recent 0-4 streak against other league leaders TES and EDG, Team WE have been on fire, going 12-2 across their last 14 games. The team is mostly made up of players within their first few years of pro play, with their support, Lou “Missing” Yun-Feng, as the veteran of the squad with only four years of Tier 1 experience.
None of the Team WE players have competed in international events, either, further accentuating their inexperience and youth compared to their top-of-the-LPL counterparts. Nevertheless, the team has had a rather explosive split, outperforming other big-name teams full of veterans like Invictus Gaming, Suning Gaming and LGD. They would’ve been the sole team in second place if they had won their last two series, but their slump knocked them to sixth. If they turn it back around, Team WE could be one of the dark horse MSI contenders for the LPL. But if their two-series loss streak was rooted in something deeper, they could also flop out quickly.
10. FunPlus Phoenix
Record: 11-5 (24-11)
Results: 2-0 against BLG
It speaks to the overall strength of League’s largest and most popular region, China, that six of its teams find themselves in our inaugural global power rankings. China has continued to be not only big spenders in free agency (FPX’s Jang “Nuguri ” Ha-gwon is a prime example), but the region is also leading the pack in terms of development.
Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo was one of those leaders, spearheading the rookie class of 2021 as FPX hummed up the standings, but an alleged match-fixing scandal has resulted in a suspension for the young jungler. Since losing the momentum they had with Bo, FPX have had their ups and downs with fellow jungle rookie Yang “Beichuan” Ling while world champion Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang is sidelined with health issues.
The overall talent is there for FPX to make a run for the Mid-Season Invitational and return to Worlds in search of their second golden star. But be it Beichaun, Tian or someone else, they need consistency in the jungle to get there.
– Tyler Erzberger
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