As the conclusion of this year’s Rift Rivals, both regions competed in a relay race format finals. With Europe being the superior region in the first two days, they had the privilege of picking matchups. It’s not that it mattered, as it felt like any EU team could beat any NA team. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Instead, let’s take a look at how the games went.
In the first match of the Rift Rivals relay race, Fnatic took on the winless Cloud9. Fnatic once again went for an unusual pick, choosing Soraka as their support and Karma as the marksman. The game, unfortunately, had an asterisk next to it, as Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi still wasn’t able to play due to illness. Instead, Cloud9’s jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsenni played Gragas in the bottom lane.
The early game was all about Fnatic, who dominated with both great team and individual play. Cloud9 tried hard and executed some team plays of their own, but Fnatic was always a step ahead. In the mid game, Cloud9 caught Fnatic in the bottom side and secured a few important kills. However, Fnatic was far ahead in gold at this time.
Team fights were still quite difficult for both teams, as they lacked sustained damaged due to not having an ADC. Fnatic secured most neutral objectives, including a baron that allowed them to push into C9’s base. Cloud9 tried to fight back but simply weren’t strong enough. Fnatic wrapped the game up in 26 minutes to bring EU the first win of the finals.
Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez against his former team. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen against his former lane partner. This match had hype written all over it.
The action started with an early invade from TSM that failed miserably as Origen picked up first blood. In the bottom lane, both sides traded kills as both marksmen fell. The gold stayed even throughout the early game, but Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg’s map presence swung the momentum in TSM’s favor. However, Origen still led in towers taken, hence the gold lead they had. Origen also controlled every single neutral objective, completely outplaying TSM in the macro department.
With a scaling late game composition, Origen had nothing to fear if they fell behind, either. TSM used their ambush possibilities with teleports and Tahm Kench to get some picks, but Origen intelligently responded. They confidently finished the game, bringing Europe to match point in the Rift Rivals finals.
In another rematch of the MSI finals, G2 Esports was looking for revenge. They had, after all, lost to Team Liquid at Rift Rivals the previous day. Picking standard compositions, both sides wanted to secure a win for their regions. In typical G2 fashion, they played around the middle lane in the early game. However, Team Liquid countered most of their attempts, with their Yasuo swiftly evading the ganks.
Furthermore, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong showed us his world champion-caliber Gankplank as he picked up the solo kill on Martin “Wunder” Hansen. Team Liquid had a slight gold lead throughout the early game, thanks in large part to Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen’s massive lead in the middle lane. Jensen and Jake “Xmithie” Puchero roamed the map together, picking up many kills using the Gragas and Yasuo combo. G2 attempted to engage several times but usually weren’t successful.
Team Liquid’s wombo combo just proved too hard to counter, and any form of crowd control usually meant the death of a G2 member. However, G2 finally found an important initiation around the 28th minute, giving them a glimpse of hope for winning this game. But it was all in vain for G2. After Team Liquid secured baron, a team fight brought them into G2’s base. Team Liquid got their final revenge for the MSI loss as they secured NA’s first win in the relay race.
The next game saw a historic matchup of two legacy teams, with Fnatic facing Team SoloMid. This was Europe’s second match point and the first game where they couldn’t counterpick the matchup. Fnatic couldn’t hold themselves back as they once again went for unconventional picks, choosing the Veigar in the middle lane. It paid off tremendously, as Veigar picked up two early kills and was able to snowball his lead. Additionally, they had a scaling late game composition that would only get stronger as the game progressed.
However, Fnatic dominated the early game as well. An important player to mention in the early game is Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, who both managed to get a solo kill as well as secure a 1v2 kill after he got ganked. Transitioning his lead from top lane, Bwipo roamed down the map to impact other lanes as well. Fnatic grabbed an uncontested baron after that and pushed into TSM’s base. They effortlessly destroyed the enemy structures as they secured Europe’s second Rift Rivals title.
This concludes this year’s Rift Rivals: NA versus EU. I wanted to write a short conclusion to the event, but Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng’s tweet already summed it up perfectly.
now that RR is over I think we should give props to every team who competed, and TSM/C9 for participating 🙃
— Yiliang Peng (@TLDoublelift) June 29, 2019
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Vince Koyle is an esports writer, tech nerd and future CompSci student. He often likes to compare traditional sports to esports, showing his love for both kinds. Also tends to sometimes try too hard with explaining what esports is and how it isn’t any different than traditional sports. He mainly covers the League of Legends scene, with an emphasis on European and Asian leagues.