10 players to watch at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship

by Xander Torres

The League of Legends World Championship is only one week out and teams are beginning to land in Reykjavik, Iceland, grinding the European solo queue and preparing for another lengthy international tournament. At League of Legends’ grandest stage, the best of the best will only work harder to push themselves to the top. More than the best players, though, the 10 players listed below have something to prove or a difference to make. These are the 10 players to look out for at the 2021 world championship.

Doinb (FunPlus Phoenix)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Mid laners are often heralded for their slick moves in the mid lane and ability to carry from arguably the strongest position in League of Legends. FunPlus Phoenix’s Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, though, broke the mold after winning Worlds in 2019 with a more supportive style that focused on creating openings for jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang. Doinb was a strong individual player, but he often made decisions that benefited his team over himself -- making his eventual championship skin choice of the tanky initiator Malphite all the more fitting.

In 2021, Doinb is still a mid laner who is prepared to make the best possible play for his team, but he displayed more individual carry performances than ever before in the LPL this year. The meta favors Doinb with key picks like Ryze being a powerhouse in the mid lane, but it became increasingly common to see Doinb tear his enemies apart through sheer laning prowess alone. FunPlus Phoenix are back near the top of the world and Doinb’s new groove will be one to follow at the world championship.

ShowMaker (DWG KIA)

Photo credit: Riot Games Korea

DWG KIA is a team filled with killers, but none more flashy than its star mid laner, Heo “ShowMaker” Su. DWG KIA faced its fair share of adversity this year -- including a loss to Royal Never Give Up in the Mid-Season Invitational final -- but ShowMaker continued to perform as the uncontested best mid laner in the world. Even when his team fails to operate at its championship potential, ShowMaker keeps his team in the game through sheer individual prowess.

ShowMaker & Co. come into the world championship as reigning champions and only one team has ever repeated with another title -- T1. DWG KIA are arguably one of the strongest League of Legends teams of all time and have a great chance to repeat while beating the likes of FunPlus Phoenix and EDward Gaming, but ShowMaker will have to be at the center of it all. ShowMaker is far from a one-man show on DWG KIA, but it’s hard to imagine a championship production without its brightest star.

Chovy (Hanwha Life Esports)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Hanwha Life Esports are one of the last teams anyone expected to see at Worlds, but no one is complaining with Chovy returning to the international stage. Chovy failed to reach the world championship last year but was an instrumental part of the Griffin roster that took South Korea and the world by storm in 2019. At times, he appeared raw and unpolished, but he was nothing short of a superstar at the top of his game.

With Hanwha Life Esports, Chovy is the captain steering his ship and crew out to sea. He can rely on his veteran teammate, Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu, but the team is largely untested on the world stage. HLE aren’t profiled as a heavy hitter, so any success will likely be a result of Chovy taking over the game and propelling his team to the finish line.

Tarzan (LNG Esports)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Much like Hanwha Life Esports, LNG Esports were one of the last teams to qualify for the world championship, riding a hot streak in the LPL summer playoffs to a strong finish in the LPL regional championship. At the center of that late-season rise was none other than jungler Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong, most known for his time on the upstart South Korean team, Griffin. Tarzan was generally excellent during LNG Esports' long season, but he truly unlocked both himself and his team once his synergy with mid laner Xie "icon" Tian-Yu improved.

Tarzan is set to face off against Chovy during the Worlds Play-In stage and the Griffin reunion will likely decide which team has the stronger seeding heading into the knockout stage. Similar to his former Griffin teammate, Chovy, Tarzan was the driving force of his team's late-season success, and despite being on the LPL's fourth-seeded team, he is arguably the best jungler in the world. LNG Esports are a dark horse at Worlds, but Tarzan will certainly push his team to its absolute limits.

Fudge (Cloud9)

Photo credit: Riot Games

At this point of the year, everyone knows about Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami. He started the year as one of Cloud9's newest players and initially struggled in the top lane but battled back to become one of the best top laners in the LCS. Fudge can make the subtle selfless play or the flashy solo kill to get his team back in the game, but you never know which way he'll swing, and that's what makes him so scary.

Fudge more than pulled his weight at the Mid-Season Invitational, and he will have to do much of the same to assure Cloud9 advances from a relatively stacked play-in stage group and bracket. One wrong move and Cloud9 will likely face a best-of-five against either HLE or LNG to continue their world championship journey. Fudge has been Cloud9's rock all year, and he'll be a major part of any of the team's success.

Doggo (Beyond Gaming)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Most international fans met Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan for the first time this year at the Mid-Season Invitational, where he subbed in for PSG Talon AD carry, Unified, who was recovering from a collapsed lung injury. Substitutions have been common in esports for the last couple of years due to COVID-19, but Doggo left his mark as a "super sub," exceeding expectations and showing that the PCS has more than one top-tier AD carry talent. With Doggo aboard, PSG Talon became the first Taiwanese team to advance to the knockout stage of a major tournament since Flash Wolves at the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational.

At the world championship this year, though, Doggo will be playing for the PCS's second seed, Beyond Gaming. Doggo made sparks fly in his first international performance for PSG Talon, and whether or not Beyond Gaming performs well, fans will be watching Doggo for more of his electric play. It's a tall test for a young player's first Worlds appearance, but players who trust in their mechanics above all else tend to succeed at the highest level.

Viper (EDward Gaming)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Griffin may have disbanded, but Viper is yet another player ready to carry on the team's spirit. Unlike Chovy and Tarzan, though, Viper and EDward Gaming were primed to qualify for the world championship after thrashing the LPL for most of the summer season. EDward Gaming eventually claimed the summer LPL title in an upset win against FunPlus Phoenix, and Viper was a big part of the team's rise to the top.

Alongside legendary support Tian "Meiko" Ye, Viper has been able to solidify himself as one of the best AD carries in the world, if not the very best. Viper's flexibility as both a lane-dominant carry as well as a scaling, teamfight-focused carry makes him difficult to play around for opposing teams. Power picks in the bot lane are common, but Viper's champion pool will confound opposing teams in draft, especially since he can still pull out picks like Ziggs and Draven.

Humanoid (MAD Lions)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Marek “Humanoid” Brázda's name doesn't carry the same weight as Luka "Perkz" Perkovic or Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther, but he definitely deserves that level of praise after continual mid lane dominance and yet another LEC title for MAD Lions. In a mid lane meta defined by Ryze, Humanoid continues to be one of the best mid laners in the world when it comes to playing around side lanes and making proactive plays with Ryze's ultimate, Realm Warp.

MAD Lions became the first ever LEC team to be eliminated from the play-in stage of the world championship last year, but have since continued to push the "old guard" of G2 Esports and Fnatic as the very best Europe has to offer. Humanoid's last crack at Worlds wasn't the best, but this time, he is more than ready to etch both his and his team's names into global League of Legends history.

Huhi (100 Thieves)

Photo credit: Riot Games

Choi "Huhi" Jae-hyun is the first player to ever win the LCS in two different roles -- mid lane and support. His time on Counter Logic Gaming was often defined by supportive mid lane play, but Huhi's time on 100 Thieves singlehandedly defined his team as a decisive, aggressive unit. As one of the first and best adopters of melee support picks, Huhi stands out as the best support the region has to offer going into this world championship.

Ahead of Worlds, Huhi will have to prove that his role swap to support can make just as big of a splash on the international stage. Given his past international success with Counter Logic Gaming, though, it's hard to expect anything less from a player so well-defined by aggressive map play. Huhi always felt like a support or jungler stuck in the mid lane and now he has a chance to shine in a more natural role.

Gumayusi (T1)

Photo credit: Riot Games Korea

Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong is one of many players attending his first world championship and it comes at a bit of a surprise. Park “Teddy” Jin-seong has been the staple AD carry for T1 for several years now, but Gumayusi stepped up in the postseason to take over the role and give the team a different look. T1 weren’t able to overtake the beasts that are DWG KIA in the LCK finals, but a decisive series against Gen.G in the semifinals was certainly impressive.

International tournaments are often where young AD carry talents make their name known. The legendary Jian “Uzi” Zhi-Hao stunned fans at the 2012 world championship while Royal Never Give Up AD carry, Chen “GALA” Wei won the Mid-Season Invitational earlier this year. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s T1 has yet to see major success since last winning Worlds in 2016, but Gumayusi might just be the key to rebuilding the dynasty.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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