Rift Rivals 2018 was this year’s multi-day quasi-international League of Legends tournament for bragging rights on who is the better region. This year, Rift Rivals was held in California, home of the North American League Championship Series. This is a different type of tournament then MSI 2018 because it pits specific regions against each other; namely the regions that have the most rivalries. The long-running debate on the internet is if NA (North America) > EU (Europe) or EU > NA? Rift Rivals answers that question. Last year, NA succeeded in proving NA was greater than EU. Could they repeat and win again this year?
The answer was no.
For this year, Rift Rivals 2018 featured some fun show matches and gauntlets, as well as the single round-robin group stage to determine pick order for the regional best of five “Relay Race” finals. During the group stage, we say teams stick to comfort picks, funnel comps that succeeded and decimated, and funnel comps that were dismantled and shut down. With the meta in its current flux, it looked like EU has adapted the meta better than NA has.
Rift Rivals 2018 – The NA vs EU ARURF Game
I know that’s a lot of weird acronyms, but the very first day of Rift Rivals 2018 featured a show match of NA versus EU in everyone’s love to hate game mode, All Random Ultra Rapid Fire. In this game mode, your champion is randomly selected for you from the pool of champions, and there are just a couple changes that happen to make this game mode different from regular games. The champions have all ability costs removed; 80% cooldown reduction on abilites; increased attack speed, movement speed, tenacity, critical strike, gold income; and gain tons of damage.
We saw Pigeon’s Peeps (North America) against the Other Guys (Europe). Pigeon’s Peeps consisted of Huni from Echo Fox, Levi and Aphromoo from 100 Thieves, and Pobelter and Doublelift from Team Liquid. Other Guys had Odoamne and KaSing from Splyce Gaming, Jankos and Perkz from G2, and Rekkles from Fnatic. This was actually the only time we got to watch Rekkles play this tournament, which is funny because a lot of people associate everything Fnatic does with Rekkles.
With the champs and runes locked in and loaded onto the rift, the explosive ARURF began. A lot of one-versus-ones happened in this game, which ultimately boiled down to who could spam their ability buttons fast enough as their health bars were getting deleted. Ultimately, NA emerged victorious over EU, causing the losing region’s analyst caster to sit at the “trash desk”, which only lasted until the break before the group stage started. By the end of the day, the group stage ended with NA at two wins and EU at two wins, meaning each region was going to have to step up on day two to gain that finals advantage.
Rift Rivals 2018 – The Best in the West 2v2 Gauntlet
Day two of Rift Rivals 2018 started with the group stage, in which we watched NA get destroyed in some games by EU, with EU winning the group stage before the final game needed to be played. The group stage score once the dust settled was EU with five wins, and NA with four.
The end of day two had the Best in the West 2v2 Gauntlet to find who the best duo lane in professional League of Legends is between the regions, with the winners getting to take home victory belts to commemorate their achievement. Each team’s duos were represented by the bottom lane players who have played the most games in the bottom and support position in this season’s split. The bracket saw the EU teams facing EU teams and vice versa for NA, with the finals being the best duo from both regions. Win conditions were the first duo to take the first tower, get 100 minion kills, or get two player kills.
The first game, we watched G2’s duo face off against Splyce’s. After first blood was taken by G2, both teams came close to a victory by minion kills, but ultimately G2 got a second kill giving them the win. The next game was 100 Thieves against Echo Fox. Echo Fox’s Adrian thought he would be cheeky and pulled out the Blitzcrank, everyone’s favourite steam golem (as long as he is on your team and he can land his pulls). However, with 100 Thieves players dodging the skill shots, they grabbed the two player kills onto the Blitzcrank, ending Echo Fox’s chances. G2 went against Fnatic in the next match that ended in two player kills, but Fnatic put on a good show with Hylissang pulling out the brand new champion Pyke, and landed some great hooks. Next, Team Liquid took on 100 Thieves, and this match became a nailbiter. Team Liquid got one kill early on, but then the game slowed down as both farmed for the minion kills. Both teams ended at 99 minion kills, but Doublelift was not going to let a win go that way, as he flashed in to grab the second player kill, thus winning them the match.
The finals were G2 against Team Liquid, and the champion choices were interesting. Team Liquid went with a marksman and a support, while G2 took two mages. G2’s Waddid almost died from a tower shot, trying to grab a kill, but got lucky. The two mages put a lot of poke damage down onto Team Liquid’s Caitlyn and Morgana. Liquid went for an all-in attack onto G2, but the all-in got turned around as G2 grabbed the two kills and ultimately the title of Best in the West. Congratulations to Hjaran and Waddid of G2 for the win!
Rift Rivals 2018 – The Finals
For the finals, all three teams from each region were required to play at least once in the best of five. It sounds confusing, right? Okay, so it wasn’t just me. Basically, this best of five was a relay. Since EU won the group stages, they got an advantage. NA submitted who their teams were for games one to three, which means EU got to counter pick and put their best team against the perceived worst team in NA, if desired. If the games went to a game four and five, then both regions would submit their team blind, so they would not know the matchup until the time of the game.
First game up, NA put up Echo Fox, who hadn’t looked the greatest during groups, and EU countered by picking G2, the only team who went undefeated in the group stage, and are also undefeated in their home region. Seems like an easy win for EU.
G2 decided to go with a funnel comp, which had worked out really well for them in the past and they seemed to have a great grasp on how to run the funnel. Echo Fox chose to go with a standard team comp, which had been rare for them this split so far. The game sat at a fairly even state until a couple of fights broke out. These fights skewed the game more into the favour of Echo Fox. At about 23 minutes into the game, Echo Fox aced G2, pushed down mid lane, and took out the nexus, gaining NA the first win of the finals.
In the second gam,e Fnatic took on 100 Thieves. Fnatic looking to gain a point on the board for EU, while 100 Thieves hoped to extend the lead for NA. Both teams drafted fairly standard meta comps. Fnatic drafted a pushing bottom lane by selecting Heimerdinger. With his turrets and other scientific gadgets, Heimerdinger can push a minion wave so fast while still providing zone control. 100 Thieves had a tough couple days during groups, and Fnatic proved to be superior. Fans will chalk 100 Thieves’ performance up to the loss of the star jungler Meteos, and team cohesion might still not be there yet.
I hoped Team Liquid would get NA a win, since EU handed them Splyce, who had a fairly abysmal group stage. But what is NA without a CHOKE!!! Splyce chose to run a Heimerdinger in the bottom lane. Maybe that is the problem. NA did not pick Heimerdinger in any competitive play, so did they know how to play against it well? The final kill score was 16 kills for Splyce and only five kills for Liquid. Splyce’s win gave EU the 2-1 lead in the finals.
In game four, it was blind team pick time. NA chose to put Echo Fox back into the ring after their victory against G2 earlier in the day. Menawhile, EU sent Fnatic back in to try to close out the win. Both teams chose fairly standard team compositions, and some misplays did highlight the different styles of play between the two regions. Fnatic grabbed first blood by a clever play from their mid-laner Caps, with their top-laner Bwipo getting a solo kill on Echo Fox’s Huni. From the plays coming out of Fnatic, Echo Fox was getting outplayed and looked sort of out-classed against the reigning EULCS Spring Split champions. Fnatic picked up the win, meaning EU took the finals in four games.
While Rift Rivals 2018 was a tournament mostly for bragging rights of the best region, it can still speak volumes of how NA plays internationally. Teams will have to dust themselves off and get ready to get back into the summer split action as this will lead into who goes to Worlds this year.
Did you watch Rift Rivals 2018? Were you surprised by the outcome? Let us know in the comments!