Play-In Day 2: LNG and C9 go undefeated; HLE and DFM secure their slots; GS stumble, and more!
Day two of the Play-In Stage at Worlds 2021 carries forward the momentum from yesterday, starting with LNG Esports and Hanwha Life Esports moving on in Group A whilst C9 kicks off Group B in some style alongside Detonation FocusMe schooling Galatasaray Esports.
The LCO champions did not start day one well, losing to LNG Esports meanwhile Hanwha Life Esports have one win and one loss chalked up. To kickstart day two, PEACE look to get their first win on the board before their match against Infinity Esports later in the day. As for HLE, they will want to carry on their streak after playing against PEACE when they go up against RED Canids at the end of the day.
PEACE currently sit in fourth place with a single loss on their belt with only RED below them with two losses. The Oceanic representatives were hoping to finally clinch their first win of the tournament but up against HLE, that is an arduous road to take. HLE had two convincing matches against both LNG and INF, losing the first and winning the second. However, they did perform well in both matches and it was only a matter of time before they hit their peak.
The LCK underdogs started the match well with Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon getting the solo kill as well as the first blood on the mid-lane. He already had a great day one and started his second day on the Worlds stage in spectacular fashion. For the most part, the Oceania squad had to settle for playing second fiddle in the game where HLE took total control. While PEACE did pick the right fights and skirmishes, it was just too much for them as the LCK team are too strong and too well-coordinated. Both Jeong-hyeon "Willer" Kim and HyeokGyu "Deft" Kim had a good showing on the Rift, working seamlessly with the rest of the team. However, it was Oh "Vsta" Hyo-seong who stole the show with 13 assists to end the game.
It was a very one-sided affair at the end as Hanwha Life Esports took out PEACE in under 30 minutes without breaking much of a sweat. With that win, it puts HLE into the second spot and they're hoping to solidify themselves by the end of the day. As for PEACE, they have already faced two of the toughest teams in the group and can't afford to drop any more games here on out.
In the day's second match of the day, RED goes up against the group leaders, LNG in a match where a win would put both teams in good stead for the final day of the Play-In Stage. RED will be hoping to build on their perfect performance after yesterday's win but in their path is LNG who went two-for-zero yesterday and hoping to make it three.
The LPL squad started the game on the wrong foot and RED took the advantage to capitalise. They gained first blood on the mid lane and almost simultaneously on the top lane as well. The Brazillian team came here to play and they did so with some style. Unfortunately, that was all they had to show for as that was the wake-up call LNG needed to put their best foot forward. From then on, they managed to slowly crawl their way back before dictating the pace and tempo of the match.
Because of their precise map movements as well as being able to pick off anyone from RED at will, this put LNG in a prime spot to secure themselves total domination over the map and RED. Their transition from the mid-to-late game proved vital with the right calls being made to put RED to bed. They ended the game with a score of 5-15, an absolute masterclass from the LPL hopefuls.
A crunch match between Infinity Esports and PCE as both teams were 0-2 heading into the match. It was a must-win for both teams to keep themselves in the competition. Both teams knew what they needed to do and we got arguably the match of the day. Both teams are known to be volatile and chaotic and that is exactly what we got: a show.
The game also stands as the highest-scoring match to date for Worlds 2021 with INF getting 17 kills and PCE with 21. INF did start the game out well and it looked like everything was going smoothly, especially for Mateo Alejandro "Buggax" Aroztegui Zamora who opened up his account with a triple kill 10 minutes in and went on to secure himself 10 more bodies. Unfortunately, it was a torrid time for everyone else as PCE tried to make their way back into the game. It was a roller coaster ride for the viewers with both teams trading kills back and forth for fun. The game was neck-to-neck heading into the late game but PCE had the upper advantage with their better team composition. Try as they could, INF had no answers for PCE and they eventually tapped out.
Leo "Babip" Romer deserves special recognition for his contribution to the match as he was instrumental in PCE's first-ever win. He had 15 kill contributions, taking eight kills and seven assists to end the night.
With that loss, INF is all but out of the tournament. Their only hope in salvaging a spot is that they win their last match against LNG tomorrow. The only hurdle is that LNG is on an upturn in form at the moment and trying to imagine INF handing them their first loss of the tournament seems unlikely. But if that does happen, they would also need PCE to lose their last match against RED.
In HLE's last game of the stage, they sat at 2-1 knowing that a win will all but secure second place. They face up against RED, who lost to LNG earlier today. HLE go into the game with great confidence after winning two of their previous games on the bounce. RED on the other hand couldn't afford to slack off as it will put them tied with PCE.
The game started at a quick pace with both RED and HLE trading kills back and forth. However, it was the LCK team that eventually took over the reins of the game and set the tempo. From there, they managed to usher RED into bad fights, often resulting in casualties. While RED did manage to trade kills here and there, it was often HLE at the driver's seat. Deft was instrumental once more, this time on Kai'Sa, just showing that she hasn't completely fallen off the meta. He encapsulated that performance with a triple kill in the game's final fight that sealed RED's fate.
With that loss, we end Group A with LNG all but confirmed to make it to the Group Stage slot. HLE will at least get themselves a slot in the finals of the Play-In Stage: Round 2 where they will face either one of RED, INF, or PCE. INF is only in the picture if they beat LNG. This will trigger a tie-breaker between INF and the loser between tomorrow's match between PCE and RED.
Cloud9 has always been touted to breeze through Group B and they showed once again how dominant they can be. After winning their first game of the day, C9 head into their match against Beyond Gaming exuding confidence, knowing another win in their belt will put them in a prime position to qualify directly to the Group Stage. BYG looked lethargic yesterday and they went into today's game with renewed optimism, knowing they can cause an upset on their best day.
The boys in blue start the game off strong, securing key kills across the map early on in the game. However, that slim lead didn't last very long as BYG came back swinging, claiming kills of their own and making plays around the Rift. For the most part, both teams were evenly matched and trading blow for blow whenever possible. There were plenty of scuffles and skirmishes throughout the match with C9 just barely coming out on top in the kill trades with BYG.
Luka "Perkz" Perkovic showed just why you should never doubt him as he put on a show against BYG. His Sylas proved pivotal when it came to team fights, for which there were plenty. His highlight reel of the night would probably be in the 36th minute when he styled on BYG in a 1v2 situation and ended up with a double kill. With the numbers advantage, it was C9's time to push and end the game once and for all. Unfortunately for BYG, it just didn't work for them today, especially Wu "Kino" Hsin-Jung who had a game to forget.
With that win, C9 is now tied at the top of Group B and will be looking forward to their game later tonight against Galatasaray Esports. As for BYG, they will be hoping to turn their fortunes around when they play Unicorns of Love later in the day.
Galatasaray Esports had a good first day in the Play-In Stage, winning two games in a row and looking strong. Detonation FocusMe, on the other hand, had a mixed start to the tournament by winning and losing one game each. GS knew a win would allow them to claim the top spot after C9's win earlier. However, DFM had other plans to keep things interesting.
The Japanese squad started the game very well, executing their strategy to perfection to keep GS second-guessing. It wasn't the same DFM we saw yesterday that flopped against C9; this was a different DFM that showed why they deserved to be on the main stage. Both Shunsuke "Evi" Murase and Yuta "Yutapon" Sugiura had an excellent game, keeping the team ticking and working as an organised unit. You knew it was bad when DFM team wiped GS in a scattered skirmish in the top side jungle, out-manoeuvring the Turkish giants every step of the way.
To make matters worse, DFM kept GS to just two kills to their name in an otherwise humbling experience for the TCL winners. With that win, DFM ties themselves up with GS in the overall standings. It will be down to GS once more as they look to take on C9 later tonight in what looks to be an exciting game.
For our second-last match of the day, we got treated to an entertaining show from BYG and Unicorns of Love. The LCL champs already lost two games yesterday so a win here would help to alleviate some of the pressure. Sadly, they didn't get the memo as BYG took it upon themselves to secure the win, something they desperately needed as well. This was their first win of the tournament after losing to C9 earlier today.
Ezreal has been one of the top picks of the day and in the hands of Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan, he looked unstoppable. BYG started the game bright and strong, facing UOL at every challenge and overcoming it effortlessly. UOL looked lost and it showed even in the early game when they lost three after trying to contest the Rift Herald, which they also lost to BYG. It went from bad to worse as BYG eventually began to control the pace of the game, ensuring that all the lanes are pushed towards UOL's base at all times while applying pressure all across the map.
Doggo has been an absolute beast for BYG against UOL, securing himself a triple kill whilst they were contesting the Dragon in the 17th minute. After a few more skirmishes that never went UOL's way, they had nothing else to do but watch their Nexus fall helplessly. It wasn't their game from the start and they knew it; they looked sluggish and a shade of their former selves. With the third loss of the tournament, they're more or less out of contention for Worlds. The only way they can overcome this is by beating C9 tomorrow and hoping BYG drops their game against DFM.
Riot Games gave fans a treat in the last game of the day for day two, C9 vs GS. The TCL winners started yesterday in hot form but today has not been their day. They looked off-beat in their first game against DFM and many were wondering if they could keep up with C9, who were already in blistering form to start with. A win will see C9 qualify to the Group Stage directly and they did exactly that.
C9 already took a good start to the game claiming first blood as well as a host of kills in quick succession to assert dominance in the game. Try as they might, GS just could not find a way back into the game. They did manage to trade a few kills with C9 but it wasn't enough in the end. However, the mid-game posed a different story as GS began to grow into the game, not affording C9 the same space from earlier. Sadly, it all went downhill from there as GS got caught out in the jungle between the middle and bottom lane. This gave C9 the chance to catch them out of position and to hurt them.
From then on, the NA squad just began an onslaught towards GS' base and eventually ending the game without so much as a response from the TCL team. With that, C9 go undefeated at the end of day two. As for GS, their tournament lives are now at the hands of the other teams as they will not be playing tomorrow.
Looking Ahead to Day 3
At the end of day two, there are clear signs as to which team is the one to look out for. In Group A, LNG has already booked their slot to the Group Stage while HLE will head straight to the finals of the Play-In Stage: Round 2. Whoever wins between PCE and RED will set up a tiebreaker against INF, who are clinging on for dear life at the moment.
As for Group B, Cloud 9 takes the second slot to the Group Stage, avoiding the second round of the Play-In Stage and having to play more games. It's still very much open for the rest of the teams as tomorrow will prove crucial. If BYG loses and UOL wins, it will call for another tiebreaker between the two teams. But if BYG wins, this turns into a three-way tiebreaker between BYG, GS, and DFM.
Tomorrow will be the last and final day for the first round of the Play-In Stage and it already looks like a feisty encounter!