As 2021 nears its close, the League of Legends (LoL) esports scene is leaving behind a historic season and looking ahead to what is already looking to be an exciting 2022.
Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia recently talked to LoL analyst and caster, Maurits "Chronicler" Jan Meeusen, about the game's 2021 season as well as its standout moments and breakout players.
Chronicler pointed to Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie, the jungler for 2021 World Champions EDward Gaming (EDG), as the standout player for the entire 2021 season.
In Chronicler's eyes, Jiejie was “absurdly good” throughout his team's run to claim this year's Summoner's Cup and even outclassed DAMWON Gaming KIA (DWG KIA) jungler, Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu, in the grand finals.
“I was extremely surprised by how good Jiejie was at the finals,” added Chronicler.
Looking back at the entirety of Worlds 2021, Chronicler believed that DWG KIA was the best team throughout the tournament, even though they ultimately failed to win a second-straight title.
As the 2020 world champions, the South Korean powerhouse came in as the heavy favourites for 2021 and had lost only two games to T1 on their way to a second-straight Worlds grand final.
However, DWG KIA lost to EDG in a historic 3-2 upset at the grand finals, which began with EDG stunning DWG KIA in a 35-minute game one.
However, the defending champions were able to bounce back and claimed comfortable wins in games two and three to take a commanding 2-1 series lead.
With their backs against the wall, EDG dominated DWG KIA in a 33-minute game four to force the finals to a deciding fifth game. Despite a valiant last stand by the defending champions, EDG dominated game five to secure the 3-2 upset and claim their first-ever Summoner's Cup.
While EDG pulled off some world-class plays to be crowned as world champions, Chronicler credited the team's "tenacity" as the fuel for their title run.
Before facing off against DWG KIA, EDG first had to outlast Royal Never Give Up (RNG) and Gen.G Esports in two-straight five-game slugfests.
“I think the main thing that’s impressive to me was the tenacity shown by EDG. Every single one of their series [in the Knockouts] went to five games… that experience helped them at the finals,” Chronicler said.
While Chronicler thinks Jiejie was the standout for EDG in their run to the championship, he also mentioned that he’s been a fan of Park "Viper" Do-hyeon for quite a while now.
After coming from a team that didn’t do well last year, Chronicler was delighted to see him take the World Championship in 2021 with his new team.
Aside from the players that ended up winning the Summoner's Cup, Chronicler also thinks Worlds 2021 gave quite a few players the chance to put on breakout performances.
“Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan, I think had a breakout year; he did extremely well. Likewise, Lee “Gumayusi” Min-Hyeong of T1 was way better than I expected at Worlds,” he added.
“I just hope that Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon and Choi “Doran” Heyon-joon will do the same thing next year, that would be lovely, please?”
When asked if there was a specific series memorable to him this season, Chronicler mentioned that there were quite a lot.
From a global perspective, he specifically remembered the match between Pentanet.GG and Cloud9 (C9) at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), where the underdog Oceanian team beat C9 in a 37-minute match.
Although they ultimately bowed in 5th-6th place, it was still a memorable run for Pentanet.GG as they still played the best they could to pick up a win at MSI.
Hong Kong-based PSG Talon also had a stellar performance at MSI going into the semi-finals. The LCK Caster believes that the MSI was one of PSG Talon’s strong moments, having ranked second in Group B at the group stage then placing third at the Rumble Stage.
That pushed the PCS hopefuls into the semi-finals, where their run ended with a 3-1 defeat to RNG.
With all that said, this year’s biggest highlight for Chronicler was the match between the two South Korean World Champions, DWG KIA and T1, at the semi-finals of Worlds 2021.
“It was better for me than the final because [South Korea] lost in the finals. I thought the level of League was incredible; it was super duper close… that was definitely my highest moment of the year,” said Chronicler.
Looking ahead to Preseason 2022
Given the changes in the Preseason 2022, Chronicler mentioned that the “Hextech Dragon” is one of the great new additions to the game, but described the Chemtech Drake as “not fun.”
Chronicler also suggested that it might be a good idea for Riot to allow teams to view the Dragons that will come up each game, so that teams can draft around it.
As for the bounties, “if given a few tweaks, like a time element to it can be quite cool”, because these elements ideally allow for comebacks in the game, which LoL didn’t have much from this season.
In terms of the actual meta, Chronicler admits no one really has any clue what the meta will be like but he thinks that “Vex is going to be good".
"So I wouldn’t be surprised to see that champion a high priority,” he said.
“I think the idea of having more comeback mechanics is good. I thought the meta (this season) was too ‘snowbally’. They (Riot) aren't there yet, but I hope that they keep tuning it to get there," he added.
Chronicler also believed that Chinese squads LNG and BLG will be powerful, bringing in star-studded rosters after the Free Agency. In addition, Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao is also coming back as a pro player in 2022.
Meanwhile, In South Korea, Chronicler believes that T1, Gen.G, and DWG KIA will continue to be strong.
“The gap between the LCK and the LPL (China) is very small… it keeps the LCK hungry and the LPL on guard, which creates a very cool dynamic.”
The League of Legends Season 12 (2022) starts in January 2022.
Chronicler has been playing LoL for over eight years and has been a fan of the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) region ever since. In 2018, he became a freelancer and started as a caster for the European Regional Leagues (ERL) before moving to South Korea in early 2021 to be an English Caster and Analyst for the LCK. He was also an analyst and caster for the League of Legends World Championship 2021.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.