Rift Rivals: NA and EU Grow Stronger Through Struggle
The smoke clears and we now have the first western Rift Rival champions, Team Solo Mid. After a big statement from NA teams, it begs to show the magnified strengths and weaknesses of both NA and EU as they look to put in overtime with the upcoming Summer Split approaching its epilogue.
There are many teams which can say they’re proud of the accomplishments they’ve gained throughout the Rift Rivals tournament, but as there is success in a competitive environment, there must be failures. Both EU and NA will have their homework cut out for them as they delve into the glaring holes within their strategies and gameplay, because we all can be assured that the eastern regions will look to exploit these to the highest echelon.
So let’s take a gander at the strengths and weaknesses of both NA and EU teams.
Team Solo Mid:
(+) TSM have shown the capability to play multiple styles. Bjergsen was able to showcase supportive, scaling and burst champions. Svenskaren pulled out something besides Lee Sin, proving his champion pool hasn’t vanished into thin air. Doublelift demonstrated he can be clutch in the most crucial of moments and he is still the high-caliber ADC that he was known for in Spring Split.
(-) Many moments of disrespect towards their opponents were displayed throughout their gameplay. With Hauntzer being solo-killed multiple times and often having a lapse of awareness for his surroundings and TSM giving up leads when the game is all but won, we can see that their level of play in this tournament needs some work in order to pull out cleaner wins.
(+) The cooperativeness between Svenskaren and Biofrost was refreshing to see. They often went around the map, warding and taking control of vision as a unit, which is a marked improvement from previous showings between this duo.
(+) Doublelift has learned to give up resources and lane dominance in order for the map to be more widespread in terms of advantages. TSM is no longer afraid to apply jungle pressure to multiple different lanes with the goal of maximizing their entire map influence.
(+) Mike Yeung is a jungle monstrosity. P1 have been able to fully integrate this jungler into their lineup with little or no hiccups. It seems that this rookie has always been in the pro scene, with his calm demeanor and cocksure plays which rely heavily on his stellar mechanics to carry himself through to the outcome. Mike Yeung puts an exclamation point on the fact that he can handle the pressure and he has no qualms with being given the task to carry P1 to a victory.
(+) Xpecial and Ryu should be adorned with accolades for the amount of times they were able to show up in instances throughout the tournament. Both veterans are able to point towards this event and give credence to their abilities and perseverance as top-tier players. Just when you think their tank is out of gas, they push out the high octane to reignite faith.
(-) P1 are all out of surprises. NA teams will have plenty of examples as to how P1 play as a team and if they can take advantage of their rookie jungler. Mike Yeung eludes to his days of solo queue where he abandons his losing lane in order to win the game through other means. If teams are able to circumvent this tactic, the sinking ship might not be repairable if P1 lose the early game. Along with this, P1 have hinted at faults through their team fight capabilities and difficulty closing out games and minimizing deficits.
(=) This team should be the most satisfied with their showing, as they’ve gone through multiple roster changes and a recent soul-searching for their identity as a new cohesive unit.
(+) Jensen shows once again why he’s a savant in the mid lane. He had a lot to prove once returning to EU, as he was able to show other EU teams that he was indeed worth taking a risk upon signing and that he’s been able to build himself into a hallmark for C9. This is very much a story of redemption and justification for Jensen, with the dastard mark upon his record of the NA LCS finals against TSM and his shortcomings when climbing the ranks of EU solo queue. Jensen gives breath to his legend as a lane-dominant god slayer.
(-) Both Impact and Ray can be disappointed in their play. The top lane duo have had shaky showings and were clear weaknesses within the roster during Rift Rivals. What makes it worse is that C9 don’t seem to be able to make up for an inadequate game from their top laners, which shows a heavy reliance in the top lane being self-sufficient, despite the lack of resources being given to them.
Unicorns of Love:
(-) Let’s not sugarcoat it, Exileh had clear difficulties in his champion pool. Piloting mostly scaling mids seemed to be both his bane and boon, as he had success with them during the regular splits, but faltered when it came to Rift Rivals. He hasn’t seemed to adapt to the new meta and that is punishing him when top tier teams will use the most modicum of advantages when it comes to champion buffs in order to abuse their opposition.
(+) UOL can still tout their talented team fighting prowess to transfer their rugged early game trepidation into a game-winning outcome. UOL’s ability to single-out targets and peel for the backline during a chaotic team fight is what gives them an edge against other teams.
(-) UOL must learn patience if they want to play the scaling game. We’ve seen too often during this tournament that they've gone for plays which have high-risk and yet their whole composition has great reward by dragging the game on, if only they could get to that point. Their old “chaos style” still seems to linger on, even with different roster iterations. Erratic early games throwing a wrench within their plans is what this team suffers from and they could take their play to new heights if only this lesson could be learned.
(-) Fnatic are one-dimensional. Get Rekkles on a split pusher, Caps on a burst mage and hopefully Rekless can create enough pressure in the side lanes that he is too much to ignore; brought to adversity, Fnatic crumble if the plan goes awry. Fnatic need to rethink their strategies and develop a deeper arsenal when the time comes for another international tournament. One can see similar growing pangs back to the days of early TSM being reliant through Bjergsen.
(-) Vision control for objectives is lacking from Fnatic. This beckons major objectives being lost and hardships maintaining their lead throughout the game. It seems this team doesn’t put priority on vision outside the line of scrimmage. Jesiz and Broxah haven’t had great synergy in getting deep vision into the enemy jungle, and that may be preventing proactive plays from propelling this team forward.
(+) It turns out that Soaz is really good at League of Legends and he is still the escape artist AKA Houdini. He is given little attention and is able to make the best plays possible with limited help. He allows for resources to be allocated to other members and has developed his play to suit the needs of his team.
(+) G2 display a willingness to contest and make major objectives like dragon control and rift herald a priority. They lead EU as a shining example for how to control the map for objectives and it lets us in to believe that all is not lost from the G2 powerhouse of Spring Split.
(+) Never say die. G2 are able to mitigate early disadvantages and stabilize the game to a point of a possible comeback. Their early game is actually quite decent and it’s only after 15 minutes that the team cascades into oblivion, trying to crawl back through the mid game and extend it to late game gambles.
(-) G2 are very reliant upon Zven to carry them in the late game. While this is a job of an ADC, G2 put themselves into this position after a multitude of mistakes. Zven is their last bastion of hope when things get tough, but it’s an arduous task when called upon with such frequency.
(-) G2 have many problems with their team play, from poor jungle control to glaring team fight mistakes, the list continues but it’s not the end of the world for this team. There is still hope remaining for them to take information from this tournament so they can grow.
You have a very strong game plan when it comes to overtaking the enemy jungle and having a very aggressive early game. The cleanliness in wins are what separate the good teams from the great and any chance that is given for a comeback will be gladly taken by better teams.
You haven’t lost touch in how well you’re able to do individually as laners. You still have many strong players within your region, but it’s the cohesion that you lack. There’s gaping weaknesses, from the unwillingness to prioritize objectives such as dragons and rift herald, to being predictable in jungle pressure and overall game strategy. An absence of change will be your demise if complacency settles in and the World stage creeps up on you by surprise.
Izento is a freelance League of Legends content creator. He is most known for his poorly built car and videos on the NA LCS.