The 2021 League of Legends World Championship is the most important event of the season for any professional player, but those attending their first ever Worlds face even more pressure. Many of these first-timers are young, exciting talent looking to prove themselves as the next stars of the scene, but amongst them are strong veterans who've never had the stars align in terms of qualifying for Worlds until this year. Let's take a look at the 10 best first-time players competing at Worlds 2021.
10. Adrian "Trymbi" Trybus — Rogue [SUP]
Rogue's rookie support is the only first-time Worlds player on the team, and while it may be easy to get down on Rogue after a poor performance throughout the 2021 League of Legends European Championship Summer Playoffs, but Trymbi's regular season was quite impressive, especially for a rookie. In the Summer Split, Trymbi led all LEC supports in KDA (3.6), First Blood rate (44%), and was in top 5 in kill participation.
Rogue is certainly facing an uphill battle in Group A against the likes FunPlus Phoenix and DWG KIA, but win or loss, it will give Trymbi the chance to play against top tier supports like FPX's Liu "Crisp" Qing-Song, Cho "BeryL" Geon-hee, which should be great experience for a rookie at his first international tournament.
9. Felix "Abbedagge" Braun — 100 Thieves [MID]
Abbedagge has been open about joining 100 Thieves this summer to ensure a trip to Worlds 2021, and he and the rest of his squad did so by winning the 2021 League Championship Series Championship. In securing 100's first ever LCS title, the team also became the LCS' #1 representative for Worlds 2021.
Abbedagge has impressed individually since FC Schalke 04 Esports' miracle run two summers ago, but the level of play of his teammates on 100 Thieves, combined with the organization's robust infrastructure, has allowed the mid laner to reach new career heights. With matches in Group B against T1's Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok and EDward Gaming's Lee "Scout" Ye-chan, Abbedagge will be tested by his opponents than any other time in his career.
8. Adam "Adam" Maanane — Fnatic [TOP]
Adam joined Fnatic before the start of the LEC Summer Split and won the Rookie of the Split award due to an outstanding performance and seamless transition to the largest stage in European League of Legends. Adam led the league with 15 solo kills, and his pocket Darius was instrumental in Fnatic triumphing over G2 Esports for the final LEC seed at Worlds 2021.
Adam's laning shouldn't be a problem at Worlds 2021, but his lack of experience is a factor that must be considered. In addition, what has separated many top laners from the pack at Worlds' past has been how one can affect the map, not just one's own lane. Adam's laning is solid, but his ability to translate whatever leads he can get to the rest of the map will be crucial for Fnatic's success in Group B.
7. Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan — Beyond Gaming [ADC]
Doggo went to the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational as a substitute for PSG Talon due to health issues affecting Wong "Unified" Chun Kig, but this time around, the young marksman has qualified with his own squad, Beyond Gaming, as the #2 seed representing the Pacific Championship Series.
Doggo has not been the player he was at MSI 2021, but has retained his prowess as a top AD carry in his region and spent the majority of the season as the primary carry for his squad. BYG plays a methoidcal style, but Doggo is the sole exception, looking to push any advantage he can get in his lane. With his signature Draven being predicted as a pivotal pick at Worlds 2021, Doggo is poised to not just return to his MSI level after a slightly tepid summer — but surpass it.
6. Elias "Upset" Lipp — Fnatic [ADC]
Despite performimg excellently throughout the majority of his career since his LEC debut in 2017, Upset has never qualified for a World Championship — until now. After coming close more than once, Upset will get a chance to prove that his domestic excellence will translate internationally.
Upset and support Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov have been phenomenal all summer, establishing themselves as not just the best bot lane in Europe, but arguably one of the strongest duos in the world. The pair is not Fnatic's only point of strength, but against the quality of bot lanes like that of PSG Talon and Royal Never Give Up, only the top form from Upset will be enough to ensure the old kings of Europe escape Group B.
5. Kim "Canna" Chang-dong — T1 [TOP]
Canna was a much-needed pillar of stability for T1 this season, especially considering the constant role swaps for every other position on the roster and the subsequent firing of the coaching staff. None of this seemed to phase Canna on Summoner's Rift — amongst top laners in the 2021 League of Legends Champions Korea Summer Split, he tied for the league lead in kills and kill participation, placed 2nd in KDA and First Blood rate, and was top 5 in damage per minute and CS per minute.
Canna's not always the hard carry of every T1 game, but ensuring he is not exposed or heavily put behind is vital for the star-studded squad's success.
4. Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla — MAD Lions [JG]
Elyoya has an incredible rookie season. In his first two LEC splits, he won both the spring and summer championships and was awarded Rookie of the Split in the Spring Split. MAD Lions finished top 4 at MSI 2021 after a narrow 2-3 loss at the hands of DWG KIA, exceeding expectations throughout the event due in large part to Elyoya's seemingly steel nerves.
Elyoya has already proven he won't choke on the international stage, and with MAD back in top form following its summer title, expect the jungler to continue to solidify himself as one of Europe's brightest young stars.
3. Li "Flandre" Xuan-Jun — EDward Gaming [TOP]
If one was to find tragedy in Upset's career trajectory up until this point, looking at the career arc of Flandre would bring them to tears. Flandre has been playing competitively since 2014, but finds himself at his first Worlds in seven years despite performing at an above average level for the entirety of his career.
Unlike his previous rosters that didn't make it to Worlds, Flandre is not the best player on EDward Gaming, and will have to ensure he isn't exposed as EDG's immediate weak point. In the 2021 LPL Summer Playoffs, Flandre finished in the top 3 for almost every statistic amongst all top laners in the post-season, but on the Worlds 2021 stage, he will have to prove that his success is more than just a byproduct of the elite carries the League of Legends Professional League champion's squad.
2. Chen "GALA" Wei — Royal Never Give Up [ADC]
GALA had a fantastic performance at MSI 2021 on the way to RNG's second MSI title, impressing particularly on his signature Kai'Sa and looking every bit the heir to the legendary Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao. Even in RNG's up and down summer, GALA was still excellent individually. In the 2021 LPL Summer Split, GALA finished tied for 2nd in CS differential at 10 minutes (8.8), and was able to adjust to new bot lane meta picks throughout the summer like Ziggs.
AD carry, while a position of power, isn't always one with the most agency. GALA can certainly put on a show, but for him to do so, Royal Never Give Up will have to make sure he's put in a position to succeed.
1. Yan "Wei" Yang-Wei — Royal Never Give Up [JG]
All eyes should be on Wei for Worlds 2021. At his first international event, he led RNG to a title by out-jungling the likes of DWG KIA's Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu and established himself as one of the best junglers in the world. Wei has only continued to improve since MSI despite RNG's slump to start the 2021 LPL Summer Split and surprisingly early elimination from the post-season.
Wei's strengths are not that of your typical LPL jungler. His mechanics are perfectly fine, but his greatest strengths lie in his vision control and neutral objective focus. Wei had the second most wards per minute of any jungler in the LPL Summer Split, and EDG's second-highest dragon control and third-highest Baron control are indicative of Wei's strengths.
Wei won't ever be the bloodiest jungler, but if he facilitates his teammates properly, RNG is, more often than not, the team left standing after the dust has settled.
All statistics courtesy of: Oracle's Elixir