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All Korean teams fall on the same side of bracket for LoL World Championships

2020 LoL World Championship trophy is shown in Shanghai. (Riot Games)
2020 LoL World Championship trophy is shown in Shanghai. (Riot Games)

The chance of Korean teams facing each other in the finals of League of Legends World Championships went to ashes Sunday as the quarterfinals draw put all three Korean teams on the same side of the tournament bracket.

The eight teams that made the quarterfinals are: Damwon Gaming, DRX and Gen.G Esports of Korea; Top Esports, JD Gaming and Suning of China; and two European teams, G2 Esports and Fnatic. Damwon Gaming, Gen.G Esports, Top Esports and Suning topped their groups in the group stages while the other four teams took second.
Group stage results (Riot Games)
Group stage results (Riot Games)

North America’s LoL Championship Series was the only major region that had no team qualified for the quarterfinals. Team Solo Mid, the first-seed team of LCS, went 0-6 in the group stage, becoming the first top-seed team from a major region to fail to win a single game. The two other teams, Team Liquid and Fly Quest, both came out with a 3-3 record, but did not make it out of their groups.

The two strongest teams coming out of group stage were arguably Korea’s first seed Damwon Gaming and China’s first seed Top Esports, which both only dropped a single game.

The only major upset at the group stage this year, one marked by fewer upsets compared to previous years, was Top Esports dropping a game against North America’s Fly Quest.

After group stages ended on Sunday, Tian and Ning, the MVPs of previous World Championship Finals, each picked out teams from the first place team pool and second team pool to fill the tournament bracket. 
Bracket results for the quarterfinals starting Thursday (Riot Games)
Bracket results for the quarterfinals starting Thursday (Riot Games)

All three Chinese teams also fell on the same side of the bracket, giving only Europe a chance of dominating the final -- albeit a slim one -- as Europe G2 Esports joined the Chinese side of the bracket and Fnatic joined the Korean side. As such, there are both all-Korean and all-Chinese quarterfinal matchups.

The quarterfinals kick off with an inter-Korean match on Thursday evening between DRX and Damwon Gaming, a repeat of 2020 LoL Champions Korea Finals in which Damwon Gaming swept DRX 3-0. One match is played per day starting Thursday, ending with Korea’s Gen.G facing Europe’s G2 on Sunday. The inter-Chinese match of Suning against JD Gaming will be on Friday while Top Esports play Fnatic on Saturday.

“If you can’t avoid it, enjoy it,” said DRX player Pyosik on the team’s social media after his team was drawn against Damwon Gaming.

Other reactions flooded social media, including a trade of memes between Gen.G and G2 Esports on Twitter.
Logos of the three LCK teams with World’s slogan, “Take Over” (Riot Games)
Logos of the three LCK teams with World’s slogan, “Take Over” (Riot Games)

China has won the World Championship for two consecutive years, and Korea has failed to make even the finals for the last two years. Fans await to see if China will cement their position as the best region and continue their dynasty, or if Korea will regain its former glory. Whether Europe, which placed second in last two years’ finals, can pull off an upset and claim the trophy is also worth keeping an eye on.

All games since the Play-in stage have been held without audience. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in the same manner. However, Riot China announced Saturday on its Weibo account that the finals held on Oct. 31 at the Pudong Football Stadium will have 6,312 seats for live audience, who will be given the ticket for free through a lottery. Whether the two teams making it to the finals can perform with a live audience will be tested.

The winning team will receive 25 percent of the multi-million-dollar prize pool that is determined by in-game merchandise sales. The winning team members also get to release custom in-game merchandise and takes 25 percent of the profit from it.

Worlds is one of the most popular esports events in the world. Last year’s World’s finals reached at its peak 44 million concurrent viewers, and fans around the world watched more than 1 billion hours of the event, according to Riot Games.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)
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