Grading the Worlds 2021 groups (with Professor Piratechnics): Week 2 edition


Welcome back, class! After a long second round robin, your final grades are in. Many of you impressed me in your second week — tiebreakers all around and an unprecedented four-way tie in Group D has made this Worlds a rare treat! A few of you sadly did not pass and I’ll be seeing you in the offseason for some remedial lessons on drafting, side lane control, and closing games. At any rate, the quarterfinals are upon us, so best of luck to those competing, and for the rest of you, I hope you’ve stocked up on popcorn. 


Class is officially DISMISSED!


Group A


Final score: 6-0

Grade: A+


A perfect 6-0 score, second-best K/D differential, 100% First Bloods and First Towers, best Dragon control and Baron control — there’s hardly an aspect of the game that you aren’t the best at. I have no notes to expand on, really. You all play League of Legends beautifully, but I do once again want to award special commendation to Heo “ShowMaker” Su. I fully believe you are the single best player at this year’s Worlds and with a stellar team at your back, I expect you to take the title once again. I look forward to each and every one of your upcoming matches, and best of luck in your quarterfinal bout against MAD Lions.

FunPlus Phoenix

Final score: 2-4

Grade: D-


What can I say, except “Yikes”? In all my years of instructing Worlds teams, I don’t think I’ve seen a collapse quite like this one. It seemed like you were making progress after a slow start. What happened on the final day? FPX end the tournament with the second-lowest kills per game. It almost seems like your heart wasn’t in the work. Jang "Nuguri" Ha-gwon in particular, you’ve been getting gapped in matchups, and the rest of the team hasn’t done much better. Even after dropping your three regular games, there was still a shot to progress into the quarterfinals, but in the rematch with Rogue, you faltered yet again. I know Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang was playing with hand injuries, but for the rest of you, I’m surprised to see such a “hands diff” out of a team that won the title just a few years ago. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to hold you back from graduating — in fact, I think it’s best if you repeat the class and come back next year, as you clearly didn’t learn the material.


Final score: 2-4

Grade: B


A solid second-week performance, even if you fell just short in the end. I know you’re disappointed with the results of that final match against Cloud9, but I want to note the positives of your run this year. Just about all of you have managed to shine in one game or another -- I want to highlight Steven "Hans Sama" Liv and Kacper "Inspired" Słoma in particular. Emil "Larssen" Larsson, you’ve had some shining moments too, although I wish you’d stick a little more to the assassins. Winning twice against FPX on your final day is incredible, even if they haven’t been at the top of their game! 


For next year, look to try and tip the scales a bit more in your favor for those high-pressure situations, so that next time you find yourselves in a 50-minute match, you pull out the win. 


Final score: 2-4

Grade: B


Wow, you really took that “NA looks to you to lead” talk to heart, didn’t you? I was worried about you after the first round-robin, but you managed to squeeze through into the quarterfinals after all. I don’t know how you pull this off just about every year, but the consistency is impressive. 


Don’t let the praise go to your head, though. You’re going to earn a solid “B” for the herculean effort in the second half of groups. And I don’t know what it is about when NA and EU teams clash, but you always manage to make it so dramatic! 54 minutes, an Infernal soul, and a close game right to the end — perhaps you and Rogue should consider joining the theater club next semester!

Group B


Final score: 5-1

Grade: A+


Alright, alright, I get it. You really wanted that “A”, didn’t you? Well, you earned it several times over in the second Round Robin. A solid win against EDG was beautiful to witness. Your average game time of 28.5 minutes is incredible — no other team has come close to accomplishing that. ee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong, you’ve proved that your Apehlios takes only a fraction of the time to get to “200 years” status. Add to that a first-rate K/D differential and a tower take/loss that is second only to DK, and you can see why the world has high hopes for you!

EDward Gaming

Final score: 4-2

Grade: A-


While still looking great going into the quarterfinals, it does seem like some of your other classmates have managed to surpass you in a few regards. The loss to T1 was always a possibility, but judging by how quickly it ended, I think you may have gotten a little bit complacent. hao "Jiejie" Li-Jie, you’ve had some good games, but please don’t get too reliant on the Talon — it’s quite a risky pick unless you can snowball every game, which is unlikely to happen in the top 8. 


As a team, you are still managing to have clean games for the most part — with the third-lowest deaths per game and second-fastest game time overall. Your final grade for the groups is still an “A”, but I do have to dock a few points for some surprising losses at the end.

100 Thieves

Final score: 3-3

Grade: B-


I’m glad our last talk clearly produced some results. Going from 1-2 to 3-3 by the end of groups is certainly a welcome improvement, and to take a game off EDG is very impressive. And all of you played well in that game, not just Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho and Victor "FBI" Huang. You also managed to improve on your previously abysmal kills per game, though your gold per minute (GPM) remains shockingly low. Nevertheless, I’m impressed by the improvement, and although you won’t be making it to the quarterfinals, putting in an even 3-3 is enough to raise your final grade to a “B-”.

DetonatioN FocusMe

Final score: 0-6

Grade: B-


Well, here ends the road for the LJL, further than the region has made it before. As I mentioned in the midterm grades, I’ve enjoyed having you in class, even if going further was unlikely from the outset. Your grade will stay the same for the final, but I do want to call attention to a few things. I know that you enjoy being the class clown, but you don’t have to literally clown around on the rift — next time you pick Shaco, make sure it works. I am pleased, however, that you successfully completed the homework, staying away from Sett, Lillia, Talon, and Gnar. 

Group C

Royal Never Give Up

Final score: 4-2

Grade: B+


Kudos to making it out of Group C with the #1 seed, even if I didn’t foresee the tiebreaker. You’re still earning the most kills in the average game which is always fun to see, but you’re racking up even more deaths than before — careful with the fights you choose to take, the wrong one could be punishing. Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao, it’s starting to seem as though your champion pool is less suited to top lane than I thought, which could be a problem going forward.

PSG Talon

Final score: 3-3

Grade: C


[Professor Pira didn’t leave a note with PSG’s grade, and could not be reached for comment, as according to faculty he left shortly after grading for a “mental health vacation” in Hawaii.] 

Hanwha Life Esports

Final score: 4-2

Grade: A-


[This note was transcribed from the erratically-written original, which contained many crossed out phrases, such as “HOW??”, and “CHOVY FML ESPORTS”.]


Congratulations, you’ve managed to defy just about everyone’s expectations in the second round-robin, winning all three of your regular games in week two. I knew that Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon had incredible carry performances in him, but the rest of the team standing up was a… surprise. Kim "Willer" Jeong-hyeon, your Lee Sin and Viego were spectacular and no one ever saw you coming. Overall, you earn an “A-”, only because the first week was a bit messy and you couldn’t quite close the deal by beating RNG on tiebreakers. 


Final score: 1-5

Grade: C+


After the first round-robin, I’d have understood if you’d gone winless for the rest of the group. However, you fought on admirably, even managing an unlikely win over RNG. I know that may be cold comfort for you all as you leave Worlds with just that one game won, but I think under the circumstances it is quite impressive. ouis "Bean" Schmitz, you have some incredible skill, and you should be proud of your performance — I foresee a starting roster spot somewhere in EU in your future for next season. Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau, you continued your active pressure on the map and though it wasn’t enough to win, I’m glad you decided to stick it out and finish the semester of class, regardless of circumstances.

Group D


Final score: 3-3

Grade: A-


Your performance has been solid overall, though your process is messy and hard to follow. Your grade reflects your record, and I’m waiting to see how you complete the term project. Kim "Clid" Tae-min, you get full marks for an excellent Trundle Jungle performance, but I have to dock some points for the lackluster oh "Burdol" Tae-yoon substitution against Team Liquid. Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong and Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk, you both have been excellent, so I understand if this feels unfair, but League of Legends is a group project, after all. 


The second round-robin was hard to follow for everyone. I’ll be completely honest with you, I was completely unable to decipher the handwriting that you turned in for your final three regular games, although you managed to win one of them (good job on the Syndra performance). I was going to give you a “C” after all of that, but then you won everything on tiebreakers to secure the #1 seed in your group, so I’ll have to adjust expectations. Committing to Kim "Rascal" Kwang-hee in the top lane served you well there —  please just stop messing around with Burdol, I think he may be a bad influence on you. 

LNG Esports

Final score: 3-3

Grade: A-


Despite a rough finish to the group, I’ll be keeping your grade the same as last week. It was a chaotic finish, and unfortunately, you came up short to Gen.G and MAD Lions. But regardless, you’ve made quite the impression on the Worlds stage. Hu "Ale" Hia-Le, I’ve rarely seen a top laner pull so much pressure from an opposing team — well done! The rest of the squad all had shining moments in your final day as well and I think the only thing missing was it all coming together in each game. For now, take a well earned offseason rest, and get ready for next year.

Team Liquid

Final score: 3-3

Grade: B


So close to advancing out of groups. I know it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you can go home proud that you put in a consistent effort in a group that felt anything but. Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen, what an incredible performance on LeBlanc and Syndra — full marks for playing your role flawlessly. Even though you stumbled at the end, you’ve earned a solid B for your grit, determination, and fighting spirit. You’ve done NA proud.

MAD Lions

Final score: 3-3

Grade: B+


Now that’s what I’m talking about! See what happens when you put in the extra effort on your champs? I was very impressed by your week two performance. And even though you didn’t manage to beat Gen.G in your final game, you should be proud of the effort. İrfan "Armut" Tükek, you really stepped it up in those teamfights — keep it up, as you’ll need that against DK in the quarterfinals. I know you might be feeling a bit down about facing the tournament favorites in the next round, but regardless of the result, I have confidence that you’ll give them hell.


All images © 2021 Riot Games, Inc. Used With Permission

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