Year 2021 was a rowdy one for League of Legends esports. From wholesome stories, to bitter controversies, there was hardly a dull week for LoL fans.
Today in the Inven Global Awards, we celebrate the former: the most wholesome stories, or the stories that benefited the LoL scene the most. Fans can also vote for the story which they think deserves it the most, and the winners will receive the IGA Community Award.
CoreJJ spearheads creation of NA Champions Queue
Bad solo queue experience has been a widely discussed topic in North American League of Legends. The training experience, especially for the professional and high ranked players, has long been painstaking: bad ping, small player base, long queue times, toxicity, constant game dodging, the whole nine.
This year, Team Liquid support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in went on a mission to change it. Raising it as an issue to the NA LCS Players Association, CoreJJ triggered a long conversation between Riot and the concerned parties, leading to the eventual creation of the NA Champions Queue: a place for the best NA talents to really (and we mean really) get a decent solo queue practice.
DFM make historic Worlds groups qualification
DetonatioN FocusMe's team history has been one of (mostly) sorrow. DFM have made three Worlds in the last four years, but coming from one of the weakest minor leagues in the world, their international adventures ended in Play-in. Sometimes, they'd make it through Play-in groups only to be smashed by big teams like EDG in Play-in Knockouts. Other times, they'd flop even in objectively weaker groups (like their 2019 outing with Splyce and Isurus Gaming).
But in 2021, DFM did the unbelievable: they made it through to the top 16, a record-best showing for the team and the region. And DFM didn't just make it on a fluke either. They topped a group that had Cloud9 and Beyond Gaming, off of a dramatic tiebreaker best-of-1 against the NA #3 seed. DFM might never repeat that feat again — or go further in the tournament — but their top 16 run at Worlds 2021 will remain as a badge of pride.
EDG fans' wild Worlds celebrations
Drinking toilet water. Running naked through the streets. Wild fan celebrations in underwear. EDward Gaming fans did all of that and more after their team's somewhat unexpected championship win at Worlds 2021.
Superfans in esports tend to be passionate, and sometimes do crazy stuff, but those ones were ones for the headlines. In a day that was already loud and cheerful with victory celebrations, EDG's outpouring joy on the streets (and toilets) of China are so heartwarming and bizarre that they deserve a "Best story" nomination.
EDG owner buys houses for Worlds-winning team
In an equally impressive and heartwarming celebration gift, EDward Gaming's founder Edward Zhu was feeling very generous towards the players who won his org its first ever LoL Worlds gold. So generous, in fact, that he awarded each player of the winning roster a property worth about $150,000, located in Zhujiang Future City.
On top of the Worlds winning prize money, their high salaries, and their $470,000 in bonuses, it was a good (no, great!) year to be a LoL player for EDG.
Riot pull off two international LANs despite COVID
Hosting a LAN event during COVID times has been a challenging task for all major esports. 2020 was a rough one for all, with most world championships cancelled or postponed and Worlds 2020 was one of the few LAN events that managed to actually happen (and even draw some crowd).
While things normalized somewhat in 2021, international travel remained an ordeal, but Riot Games were on point once again. After skipping a year in 2020, MSI returned in 2021 without delay to crown RNG as its champions. In October-November, Worlds 2021 took place — even after a last-minute location change — making it a two-for-two for Riot. While fans still couldn't see the VCS compete, Riot still get a tap on the shoulder for pulling off two international LANs in what was another year full of disruptions.
More from the Inven Global Awards
Best top laner
Best mid laner
Best minor region player
Player of the year
Best coaching staff
Best play-by-play caster
Best color caster
Best story of the year
Biggest controversy of the year (Dec. 18)
Best in-game moment (Dec. 19)
Best content piece or series (Dec. 20)
Off-season winner (Dec. 21)
Awards announcement: Player categories (Dec. 29)
Awards announcement: Caster and community categories (Dec. 30)
Inven Global Awards panelists:
Nick Geracie /// @NickGeracie
Daniel "Quest" Kwon /// @LoLQuestKR
David "Viion" Jang /// @David_Viion
John "OddBall" Popko /// @OddballCreator
Kim "Haao" Byung-ho /// @Inven_Haao
Jang "Irro" Min-young
Carver Fisher /// @Carver_Fisher
Josh Tyler /// @joshtyler
Andre Gonzalez Rodriguez /// @Vulv_
Tom Matthiesen /// @TomMatthiesen
Adel Chouadria /// @AdelChouadria
Yohan Markov /// @Esports_Person
All images via: Riot Games
Esports editor and journalist of 10+ years. Lives on black tea and corgi love.