In the glorious challenge of the Rift Rivals Finals, many wondered: who will reign supreme and bring home the trophy for their region? The format for this final day of competition was interesting. Coined as a “relay race,” all six teams played, as opposed to having a typical finals. Because the European teams won the majority of games in the group stages, they received an advantage. They got to choose who each team would face in the first three games.
G2 Esports v Echo Fox
In the biggest upset of the entire tournament, Echo Fox (“FOX”) dominated G2 Esports (“G2”). Despite what many perceived as a huge gap between these teams, FOX looked amazing. They allowed G2 to draft their best funnel composition, and FOX looked wholly prepared. All three FOX lanes had pressure, and Dardoch was able to capitalize on this pressure. The double marksman, multi-threat composition was demonstrated to be effective against the funnel composition, even though it is the best funneling team in the West.
The lead came early for FOX. A dive on the bottom lane of G2, who were low from trades very early on, netted FOX two kills. Though Huni gave a kill over to G2, Jankos ended up taking it because of misplays by Perkz. FOX had pressure in all three of their lanes, most crucially in the middle lane. Fenix’s Lulu pick, with the help of Dardoch, was able to constantly push in the middle lane Minions to deny Perkz significant resources. After a terrible tower dive by Dardoch and Fenix, FOX regrouped and took a better hold of their lead.
Two fights were equal trades for both teams. The first one, a three-for-three in the top lane, was crucial in that Perkz was killed by a great Huni outplay. The second was a one-for-one fight in G2’s Jungle, but in it, Perkz was brought critically low. This gave FOX the chance to take the Baron buff, which they did at 21 minutes. When FOX began to push, Perkz, the core of the G2 team, went bottom with Wunder to kill Huni and Adrian. He accomplished this, but the rest of his team was cleanly wiped, with Dardoch’s Kindred securing three kills. Fenix ran bottom to kill the low health Wunder and Perkz, and with the entire G2 team dead, FOX took their Nexus at an incredible 23 minutes.
This was crucial to the competition, as what many considered the free win G2 had was now gone. NA had a lead of 1-0 in the best of five set.
100 Thieves v Fnatic
Fnatic (“FNC”) came out swinging in their match against 100 Thieves (“100T”) to secure a win. 100T neglected to ban some of the strongest European champions and suffered for it. The laning prowess of Aatrox, Heimerdinger and Lucian proved too strong for 100T to deal with. The motto for the EU representatives was win lane, win game. They certainly followed through with this.
Bwipo on Aatrox looked great and destroyed Brandnini from the early levels. Because he got First Blood in a one-versus-two, his became unstoppable, gaining a massive lead. Though Levi did gank the bottom lane to get a lead for Cody Sun, two deaths from Aphromoo negated it. In the early mid-game, two fights occurred simultaneously, and FNC won both. First, Caps killed two members in a middle lane tower dive. Next, A three-versus-three went two-for-one for FNC. The priority laners for FNC translated to skirmish wins and the ability to set up one-three-one lane assignments. At 20 minutes, FNC had a healthy gold lead of 4k.
At this point, they were unable to respond to the one-three-one. Caps and Bwipo had massive CS and level leads on their counterparts. This allowed them to easily take outer towers and set up for Baron. Their first attempt at the objective failed because of Ryu’s and Cody Sun’s poke. Their second attempt was much easier, and they got it for free. The gold lead doubled to 8k at 30 minutes, but 100T wasn’t out of it. They won a team fight two-for-one with great kiting from Cody Sun. Though they bought themselves some time, the last team fight sealed their fate. Bwipo’s Aatrox split the team up, while Caps picked off members. They won the fight three-for-zero, ran into the 100T’s base, and took their Nexus at 38 minutes.
As a result, Europe caught back up, tying the series 1-1.
Splyce v Team Liquid
The finals brought us not only one big upset, but two. Splyce (“SPY”) won a convincing game against Team Liquid (“TL”), redeeming themselves for EU. SPY’s first pick Zoe and the Heimerdinger-Pyke bottom lane were huge for them. Though SPY had three losses in the group stage, this game proved their worth, and why they deserve to play on this stage.
SPY started the early game by attempting a dive onto Impact. While this failed, it was the beginning of SPY’s proactivity. Kobbe picked up a kill onto Doublelift for First Blood, and seconds later Xerxe solo killed Xmithie. Doublelift and Olleh continued to die to the uber-aggressive SPY bottom lane, and advantages were gained all over the map. SPY had a long series of winning skirmishes during the mid game, and TL was always on the back foot. For example, TL dove and killed Odoamne’s Jarvan IV, but during that time they lost tier two towers in the middle and bottom lanes.
At 20 minutes, SPY had a 6k gold, seven kill, and four tower lead. They were in position to roll over the game, and they managed to do so. A couple small fights broke out around this time, but were lower impact and usually resulted in a single kill to SPY. This was until SPY went for Baron Nashor. After baiting a TL Teleport, they returned and secured the buff with the power of a two Mountain Dragon Heimerdinger. Though they lost Odoamne and a couple objectives, SPY wouldn’t be slowed down. They sieged the middle Inhibitor Tower, and a great KaSing hook onto Impact caused his death. SPY seized this opportunity to break both top and middle Inhibitors at 27 minutes. A team fight erupted, and SPY cleaned up. Since three TL members died, SPY took their Nexus a short 30 seconds after the Inhibitors, right before 28 minutes.
Due to this second major upset, the Europeans stood on the edge of the Rift Rivals victory. Their score was 2-1 going into the fourth game, and North American teams and fans alike were on the edge of their seats.
Fnatic v Echo Fox
FOX couldn’t turn the tide of the best of five series and fell to FNC. In one of the most action packed games of the tournament, FNC completely demolished FOX. The top, jungle, and middle synergy on FNC was too good for FOX to effectively combat. The game started great for them, with Caps outplaying a gank and Broxah securing First Blood off of FOX aggression. Furthermore, Bwipo landed a solo kill on Huni, who struggled the entire tournament.
Neither team let off the trigger in the early game, and it was bloody. Altec and Adrian actually gained a lead early on in their lane, though later they lost it to the power of sOAZ’s Swain. A dive against Huni led to a two-for-two trade, with Dardoch’s unique Evelynn grabbing two kills. He secured two more kills soon after, one against the fed Aatrox, but it didn’t matter. FNC were winning fights all over, and there was nothing Dardoch could do to stop the snowball.
Two terrible positioning errors on FOX lost them a ton of map pressure around 15 minutes. Another fight around mid, where again Huni was caught mis-positioning, led to three free kills for FNC. Hylissang’s Pyke was instrumental in this win with his engages and pick set up. FNC then out rotated FOX to take multiple towers with Rift Herald. FNC followed up on this by diving into the FOX base, killing two members, and taking the bottom Inhibitor. A questionable play by Dardoch and Fenix got them slaughtered, and it was over from there. FNC took the Baron buff, dove into the FOX base again and won another team fight. In the end, they killed three members and the Nexus at a quick 23 minutes.
With this, Europe won the Relay Race to take the Rift Rivals Championship. The European teams utterly dominated in the majority of the games, and made the gap between the two regions look quite far apart. Europeans deservedly earned the trophy and a year’s worth of bragging rights. Next year, North America will have a shot to take it back, but it’s a long way away. Until then, TGH offers a hearty congratulations to the European players for a well-deserved win at Rift Rivals!
For a recap of Day One, Day Two, more analytical information on the North American and European representatives, power rankings for the tournament, and more on all things LoL, stay tuned here at The Game Haus!
Featured image via LoL Esports Flickr.
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