Blue Rift rivals 2017: A mid-split interlude

Jess Carruthers Roar Guru

By Jess Carruthers, Jess Carruthers is a Roar Guru


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    It's going to be a massive 2018 for Australian eSports. (Image: Riot Games)

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    The first League of Legends Rift Rivals tournaments are in full swing, and they are showing up to be a hell of a lot of fun.

    The tournament for Australia, South-East Asia and Japan will have already wrapped up by the time this goes live – you can read all about it in Alex Manisier’s latest article. The other four regional tournaments are just beginning; we’ve only had one day of games between North America and Europe, but here are the standings so far.

    1. Team SoloMid (TSM): 2-0
    2. G2 eSports (G2): 1-1
    2. Fnatic (FNC): 1-1
    2. Cloud9 (C9): 1-1
    2. Phoenix1 (P1): 1-1
    6. Unicorns of Love (UOL): 0-2

    Not exactly definitive, hey? With so few games, we can’t really make any calls about where the teams stand, and when there is so much variance in best of one series I don’t see why you would want to.

    We can make a few observations though. For this week’s somewhat shorter post, let’s look at what each game has taught us about the six teams at the NA vs EU Rift Rivals tournament

    TSM 1-0 G2 : TSM still have tricks up their sleeves

    The opening game for Rift Rivals was an absolute ripper for any NA LCS fan. TSM ran away with the game from the outset, holding a 4k gold lead at 20 minutes. It still took them some time to close the game out, but in the end they won pretty convincingly..

    TSM won this with a team comp that they’ve really struggled to master in the past. Their only win with Bjergsen on Galio so far in the regular split has been against Team Liquid, which isn’t exactly a high bar to set. Everyone played well, and Biofrost’s Tahm Kench made clutch plays throughout the game.

    Amazing made a really good point on the analyst desk, that G2’s team comp only had a very small window in which to take a win, while TSM had the upper hand for most of the game. TSM probably won’t get a similar comp through the rest of the tournament, but they also probably don’t need it; they’re in a great spot, at least draft-wise, going into day two. Who knows what other team comps they’ve been practising?

    FNC 1-0 P1: FNC are back on form

    Prior to the tournament G2’s Mithy had asserted that FNC would stomp all three NA teams. Although that’s not quite been the way it played out, FNC are still looking really very strong, and all of their opponents need to be prepared for it

    FNC’s team comp meant that this was a tough game for them in the beginning. Even still, they stayed within close gold range while they ramped up, and when their team did start to come online, they were able to run with it to take the victory over P1.

    In this game, FNC really outclassed P1 mechanically, especially later in the game, although as we see later in the day FNC is absolutely beatable, and P1 are looking stronger than ever. FNC are looking so much better right now than they have in recent splits, and their opponents cannot afford to underestimate them.

    G2 1-0 C9: G2 may not have confidence in themselves, but we can believe in them

    This was a rough, back-and-forth game which lasted some 50 minutes. In the end, it was a win for G2, but they fell prey to C9’s classic mid-game rebound which nearly cost them the game. Mithy’s hook onto Sneaky was the turning point, and without it they may not have had another chance to get back in the game.

    Mithy was clearly not happy with his team’s performance, which is totally understandable given how close they were to losing this game. The thing is… they didn’t lose it. That on its own should be heartening for any fan.

    They definitely have things to work on, but they’ve shown that they can play from ahead or behind. With a 1-1 record coming out of day one, they are in a reasonable position for their upcoming games. They’re wobbly, and they are struggling with game pace, but they still know how to play the game based on the situation. They just need the confidence in themselves to pull it off.

    UOL 0-1 P1: P1’s roster changes have changed this team

    P1 mid-split is a completely different team to P1 at the start of the split. This game has put me firmly on the hype train; they challenged FNC (despite not winning), and they completely took down UOL in this swift stomp.

    League of Legends Worlds

    (Photo: Twitter)

    UOL absolutely underestimated MikeYeung; like several others, they seemed to think he was a Nidalee one-trick. His 2/1/15 Lee Sin this game was absolutely pivotal, and Xpecial’s 3/1/16 on Thresh (that’s 86% kill participation) makes him look like a world-class support again.

    It’s hard to believe that this team is currently in 8th place back in NA. P1 was undeniably the underdog coming into this tournament, and to be tearing into the first day with great performances across the team should strike fear into their opponents at Rift Rivals and back in the LCS alike.

    C9 1-0 FNC: C9’s early game doesn’t have to be terrible

    In the NA LCS, C9 are known for having a bad-to-average early game, but a much stronger mid and late game, which is where they take their wins. Now, in fairness to them, they have gotten much better this split, but there is still a hangover, and their early game often leaves something to be desired.

    This game however, they broke those rules. Between Contractz and Smoothie, Jensen had some fantastic support, and completely shut out one of EU’s best midlaners. Hard targeting Caps worked out really well for them, and it goes to show once again that if C9, and in particular Contractz, play aggressively then they can have dominant games.

    The caveat here is that FNC really didn’t manage the pick/ban phase terribly well. While champs like LeBlanc and Caitlyn aren’t considered as strong in EU as they would be in NA, this really highlights the need to keep opponents off their comfort champions. Jensen’s LeBlanc has always been a terror, and I would be very surprised if he gets his hands on it again for the rest of the tournament.

    TSM 1-0 UOL: UOL can’t live up to their trash talk

    In the shortest game of the day, UOL just weren’t able to challenge TSM. On the way into the tournament, Exileh made an offhand comment; EU players’ “brains are superior [to NA players’] and able to to do more difficult calculations. NA is trash.”

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for trash talk. But if it’s not done carefully, it just makes the trash talker look ridiculous. Back before MSI, one of the Dire Wolves’ players said that they weren’t worried about any of their opponents aside from SKT; they didn’t end up making it past the group stage of play-ins. They were ridiculed far and wide for that comment, and a quick look at reddit says the same is happening to Exileh.

    Between two games, Exileh went 0/13/6, which is an atrocious scoreline for a midlaner. Again, I enjoy some good trash talk as much as the next fan, but there is a line between good fun or issuing a challenge, and making ridiculous comments that make you look like a bit of a fool. Social media is widely calling for Exile to be benched; I hope for his sake that he either shows some humility, or picks up his game going into day two.

    I’m ready and raring for some more great League of Legends as the week goes on. We have six games a day on Friday and Saturday, starting from 1am AEST, then a BO5 final at 2am on Sunday. Whose games are you enjoying most? Are there other important takeaways that I’ve missed?

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