The Rift Rivals 2019 NA vs EU tournament took place in Los Angeles between the 27th and 29th of June and saw the top three teams from NA take on the top three teams from the EU. These teams were chosen based on Spring Playoff rankings, the teams initially being split up into two region-based groups facing off against teams from the opposing group & region once, Bo1.
This year’s event saw Team Liquid, Team SoloMid and Cloud9 representing the NA region in the Rift Rivals 2019 NA vs EU event. In the other group, representing the EU was Fnatic, G2 Esports and Origen. After the initial group stages come the Finals; matches are Bo5 and are completed in a ‘relay race’ style, the top region following the group stages getting the chance to counter-pick their participant teams for the first three games of the finals, with teams being blind-picked for the final 2 games. In the end, the League of Legends European Champions (LEC) out-muscled and out-classed their North American opposition in this year’s LoL Championship Series (LCS) convincingly winning 3 – 1 in the Finals of the Rift Rivals 2019 event.
The LEC showed excellent initial form winning the group stages 6 – 3 and earning their right to counter-pick the first three games of the Relay Race style Finals round. Coming into the competition, Europe was the big favourites Fnatic, Origen and G2 Esports showing some excellent form in recent months, G2 being considered the best team in the world during the regular season in 2019. Team Liquid felt differently however, putting together two very good performances in two games against the European superhouse and winning both times. We will now go through each of the Rift Rivals 2019 Finals round which saw Europe beating North America 3 – 1 overall.
Game 1: Fnatic vs Cloud9
Having earned the right to chose, the LEC selected Fnatic to take on Cloud9 in the opening match in the Rift Rival 2019 Finals. Cloud9 were missing jungler Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi due to illness with substitute Robert “Blaber” Huang taking his place in the starting line-up. This rematch of the 2018 World Championship Series Semi-Finals saw Fnatic dominating the game from early on; some impressive plays and ingenious tactics eventually saw Fnatic winning the opener 17 kills to 11 and the first match was over in only 26 minutes.
Game 2: Team SoloMid vs Origen
The LEC chose Origen to face TSM in game 2 of the Rift Rivals 2019 finals showing clear intent they were aiming to sweep the finals; had they selected G2 to face TSM, it would have left Origen facing Team Liquid in the third Finals match-up. TSM started well gaining the kill lead, despite Origen managing to win First Blood and getting an early gold lead through turret kills and CS leads. However some great counter engagements by Origen saw them turn the fight around. By keeping pace with TSM in the early stages Origen were able to cruise through the team fights and handily win the second game in the Finals round, 8 kills to 7 in about 29 minutes.
Game 3: Team Liquid vs G2 Esports
The LEC showed clear intent by both their choice to hold back G2 Esports for this particular match up from the first two games, as well as their choice of composition for the Finals round match-up. During the group stages G2 chose a four assassin composition which was easily overcome by TL. For the finals match up G2 chose a standard composition meaning TL would have to win this game on merit rather than with pocket picks or role swaps. TL did exactly that, Europe’s strategy did not pan out exactly as they hoped. TL showed some excellent strategy and skills, picking up solo kills, using combos and not being truly contested in team fights; eventually coming out of the game with 18 kills to 10 in a 34 minute match-up, giving NA their first win in the Finals rounds and giving them a slim ray of hope of survival in the Bo5 Finals rounds.
Game 4: Team SoloMid vs Fnatic
As Cloud9 were not at full strength the LCS selected TSM to represent them in game 4, saving Team Liquid’s potential for game 5. The LEC were out of counter-picks for this round and Fnatic were blind-picked for this match-up. However it turned out that there would be no game 5 with Fnatic dominating TSM in this group-stage rematch. Jonathan “Grig” Armao was as poor for TSM as Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen was good for Fnatic, Broxah eventually cementing his standing as best jungler at Rift Rivals 2019. The European team finished off game 4 and the Finals series with a 13 kill to 4 results in a speedy 25 minute game, sealing the win for the LEC in Los Angeles at this year’s Rift Rivals 2019 event.
Team Liquid were the only North American team to leave the tournament with many reasons to feel positive. Finishing with a 3 – 1 record overall, they beat G2 Esports twice, Origen once and lost to Fnatic, proving they have the skills to hang with any teams from the upper tier of the LEC. TSM and Cloud9 were not as successful unfortunately; Origen were the weakest team sent from the LEC to Rift Rivals this year and finished the event also with a 3 – 1 record having lost only to Team Liquid.
Fnatic finished the tournament with a 4 – 1 record, losing only one game to TSM in which they used a substitute jungler. C9 were without their star-player Sneaky for days 2 and 3 of the event, which regrettably had an obvious impact on their form at this year’s Rift Rivals. The depth of talent on display in the LEC after this event must be exciting for European fans; if Origen finished with a 3 – 3 record one can only wonder how TSM and C9 would perform if they found themselves playing in Europe. In any case the LEC has reasons to be positive with multiple threats giving them a great shot at the 2019 LOL World Championship coming up over October and November, matches taking place throughout Europe and the Finals taking place in Paris France.
For more League of Legends news check out this article about Snake Esports undergoing a rebrand, now known as LNG Esports. And keep an eye out here for more LOL Esports event news coming up.