EDward Gaming’s Worlds 2021 run will be remembered as one of the most hard-fought victories in League of Legends’ competitive history. After playing the maximum amount of games possible through quarter, semi, and grand finals, it can't be argued that EDG didn’t put their absolute all into taking the title.
This long and arduous path to their win also forced most of EDG’s players to pick a variety of champions. As a result, it was somewhat uncertain what Champions EDG’s players would choose to get a skin. Here are EDG’s picks for their Worlds skins, as well as the moment that they earned them.
Flandre's Graves: Thee triple kill and Nexus vs. RNG
This is the only skin that was set in stone. Out of EDG’s 21 games at Worlds, Li "Flandre" Xuan-Jun was on Graves for 11 of them with a 72.7% win rate. It’s hard to argue with results. While Flandre’s wins were more about him holding down the top lane and being the anchor his team needed, he had some pop-off moments on the champ.
Graves is all about spacing and pressure. What he lacks in consistent AoE damage and raw teamfighting potential, he makes up for with strong 1v1 damage up close and the ability to kite almost anyone. In this game-winning teamfight, Flandre positioned aggressively and got up close and personal with RNG’s backline without getting burst down. With the help of Tian "Meiko" Ye's Yuumi, Flandre closed out game 2 against RNG to even the score and helped EDG to their first of three 3-2 victories. EDG could have been knocked out in quarters if it weren’t for Flandre’s pop-off in that game.
Jiejie's Viego: The soul point steal vs. DK
In a region then defined by aggressive junglers, Zhao "Jiejie" Li-Jie found a way to stand outamong his peers, even when he was playing the exact same champions they were. From teamfighters like Jarvan IV to assassins like Talon, Jiejie always played a patient and calculated game. His ability to predict and out-path the enemy jungler always put him ahead on farm, while his superior objective control along with some frame-perfect Smites made it almost impossible to coinflip an objective against EDG.
Jiejie wasn’t a player defined by the champions he played but by how well he carried his role. EDG are a team that tends to be focused on finding a lead with map pressure and objectives. Winning fights is great and all, but they don’t put a ton of focus on forcing fights they don’t have to. Jiejie can be a great initiator but he also has no issue walking in, stealing an objective, and clearing the way for his team to walk right back out.
While Jiejie was particularly strong on Jarvan and Xin Zhao, the champion he wound up playing didn’t seem to hinder his ability to control the map. And, if there isn’t a particular champion that defines Jiejie’s playstyle, why not pick the one that can become any champion? In that way, Viego is the perfect pick for Jiejie.
Scout's Zoe: The triple kill outplay vs. Gen.G and Bdd
Lee "Scout" Ye-chan didn’t play a whole lot of Zoe this year. He mostly stuck to champions with high utility or mobility like Sylas, Leblanc, Twisted Fate, and Ryze: not especially strong when it came to lane pressure, but very effective when rotating. Zoe has some of that in her kit, but she’s more about doing damage from long-range and positioning in a way that makes her excruciatingly hard to deal with.
It was game 4 against Gen.G. Bwak "Bdd" Bo-seong’s Zoe was dominating the tournament, and his highlight reel on the champion was a hallmark of Worlds 2021. EDG were down 2-1 and needed to find a way to get two wins if they wanted to make the grand final. Flandre’s Graves got picked away, making it look like Gen.G won the draft by a landslide. Out of nowhere, Scout picked Zoe, tossing the gauntlet to Bdd and playing him in his own game.
Scout immediately adapted away from his typical playstyle and committed to the long-range sniper EDG needed. His ability to find picks and use that pressure to take objectives fit perfectly with EDG’s identity as an objective-focused team. What’s more, Gen.G were forced to ban out Zoe in Game 5 despite it being one of their own player’s premiere picks. This set was won in large part due to Scout’s breakout performance on Zoe, and it showed just how resilient EDG can be with their backs against the wall.
Viper's Aphelios: The forward flash & triple kill vs. DK
ADC is a fairly volatile role in League of Legends. Getting most marksmen out of the early game and into the mid/late game can be difficult. Some teams win or lose based on bot difference alone, and superstar bot laners like Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong and Chen “GALA” Wei put everything on the line to bring home games for their team.
Park “Viper” Do-hyeon has a different approach. His calm, cool, and calculated playstyle takes the volatility out of the role and makes him a scarier foe than his more aggressive peers. He is EDG’s win condition and he plays like it.
Viper is the sort of player who is good enough mechanically to flash over a Syndra stun combo, but he has the sense not to do it when there’s more CC waiting around the corner. A clean lane phase followed by strong teamfighting and dueling potential make Viper one of the best ADCs to ever touch League of Legends.
EDG is a team that doesn’t always need to force teamfights in order to create a lead. But, when they have to fight, Viper is the player that puts EDG ahead of the rest. Aphelios’ utility, high damage, and very narrow margins of error perfectly fit Viper’s strengths as a player.
Meiko's Yuumi: The clean ace vs. RNG
Meiko had been working toward a world championship for a very, very long time. EDG were an internationally cursed team up until 2021. Outside of a single MSI win, they had been doomed to do well in their region and poorly at international LANs. And Meiko had been with EDG for all of it. Seven long years.
With Meiko being a seasoned veteran, it’s no surprise he was able to quickly adapt to a meta where enchanters were worth picking; chief among them being Yuumi, who was a first pick/ban Champ that wasn’t seen much before Worlds 2021.
Yuumi isn’t typically thought of as a high-skill champion, but Meiko really pushed her to the limit. Between a well-placed ult to start the fight, jumping to the right teammate every time to keep his entire team alive, and body-blocking Lee Sin Q after the kick, Meiko showed that there’s more skill expression to Yuumi than you’d think.
With how close most of EDG’s games and sets were at Worlds, finding a small edge and utilizing every advantage to its fullest was an essential part of coming out on top. Meiko’s strength on Champs like Yuumi, Lulu, and Nami amidst the tumultuous and ever-changing Worlds meta was often the small advantage that led EDG to their monumental victories. Plus, he really loves his cat, Racoon, and wanted to immortalize him in-game.
It’s hard to blame Meiko for picking Yuumi over other enchanters like Nami and Lulu when he had the opportunity to put Racoon in the game.
EDG may have lost their way through the beginning of 2022, but there’s no taking away from their Worlds 2021 performance. Hopefully they can get back into peak form and put themselves in a spot to defend their title come the 2022 World Championship.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.