Rift Rivals is right around the corner, so it’s important to look at the teams competing for bragging rights a few months before Worlds. This article will be focusing solely on the representatives from North America, looking at their current records, play styles, and how they might fare against the European representatives. The teams playing for North America were the teams that had placed first, second and third during the playoffs. For the full schedule for Rift Rivals 2018, check here.
Rift Rivals 2018 Format
The format for Rift Rivals 2018 will be different depending on the region. For the battle between NA and EU, the teams will be competing in a best-of-1 single round robin. The finals will be a best-of-5 relay race. The Relay race is where both region’s teams will be competing in the Best-of-5 working together. The stronger region will be able to counter pick the first three games, and the matchups will be determined on the day of the finals. Should there be a game four and five, regions will select their team at the same time with no chance of a counter pick.
Current record: 4-2
Coach: Jang “Cain” Nu-ri
TOP: Jeong “Impact” Eon-Young
JUNGLE: Jake “Xmithie” Puchero
MID: Eugene “Pobelter” Park
ADC: Peng “Doublelift” Yiliang
SUPPORT: Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung
Team Liquid won the Spring Split and traveled to EU for the Mid Season Invitational. After a somewhat lackluster performance and a fifth place finish in the group stage, TL cam back to NA to prepare for Worlds. With patch 8.12 hitting the rift, teams needed to analyze what the new meta would be. TL has opted for mostly conventional team compositions, with Doublelift on a marksman, Olleh and Xmithie to engage, and Impact and Pobelter to dive the enemy back line.
Doublelift only played Vladimir against Golden Guardians, and after the loss, it seemed that he would go back to marksmans. He has played two games of Kai’sa, two games of Xayah, and a game of Ezreal and Vladimir. The Ezreal and Vladimir games are also the only ones that TL has lost. Doublelift is also sporting a 7.4 KDA ((Kills+Assists)/Deaths), which is the highest on Team Liquid.
Pobelter has played quite a bit of Irelia this summer, playing her four times out of the six games played. Pobelter has also played Galio and Yasuo to pair with the other TL memebers. Pobleter has excelled on wave clearing mid laners and diving onto emeny carries. Where Pobelter shines is when he can flex his 2000 IQ and outplay the enemy. In week 3, day 1, Pobelter had an insane outplay onto Huni’s Rumble, where Pobelter’s Irelia fought Huni with less than half health and dodged around Rumble’s Flamespitter to nearly solo kill Echo Fox’s top laner.
Another point of power for TL is that Impact is able to affect games more than just playing a tank. Impact has played five different champions in the six games played so far, with the only repeat coming from Singed. Although Impact might not be having his famous “top die” performances, he is playing well enough to enable Doublelift and Pobelter.
Team Liquid lost two out of the three games they played against Fnatic at MSI, but without Rekkles starting, Doublelift might have an advantage against the EU champions. Against G2 Esports, TL might have the hardest time. The funnel strategy has been working for the undefeated team onto mid laner Perkz. It might come down to who can support their carry more. Playing against Splyce, TL should win. Splyce picked up their first two wins this past weekend, and one win was against another winless team, H2k. As long as Doublelift is protected well, Team Liquid have a good shot for NA.
Current record: 4-2
Coach: Neil “pr0lly” Hammad
TOP: Brandon “Brandini” Chen
JUNGLE: Đỗ Duy “Levi” Khánh
MID: Yoo “Ryu” Sangwook
ADC: Sun “Cody Sun” Li yu
SUPPORT: Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black
100 Thieves will be the biggest wildcard for NA. On June 27, 100 Thieves announced on Twitter that their starting lineup for Rift Rivals 2018 will include Academy players Brandini and Levi. Both players had been on 100 Thieves Academy roster in the spring as well, but it will be important to see how the team works together with the new players. 100 Thieves also announced that jungler Meteos will be traded to FlyQuest for AnDa earlier Monday. So even after Rift Rivals 2018, the roster will be shaken up even more.
What can be said is that 100 Theives have been putting more faith into Cody Sun. Cody Sun paired with Aphromoo and played a roaming marksman with Smite and support in both games week three. Ssumday was the real carry against Clutch, with a 12/0/3 scoreline, but Cody Sun has performed well so far this split. Having a 7.3 KDA is the third highest in NA, with only Doublelift and Zven ahead of him.
Ryu has played a unique champion each game so far, even bringing out a surprise Lissandra against FlyQuest. In terms of numbers, Ryu isn’t having the most stellar split, but that could also be because the team is putting more resources into Cody Sun and Ssumday due to their amazing performances during week three.
100 Thieves have been working on multiple strategies in the first three weeks. They experimented having Cody Sun on a mage bot lane, but what will most likely happen is that Cody Sun will play a marksman and Ryu will be playing mages, and the lane assignments will be decided with the rest of the composition.
Levi has been an exciting player to follow after his amazing plays during Worlds 2017 on the GIGABYTE Marines. 100T Academy finished the spring 7-11 and missed playoffs, but the main roster for 100T should give Levi more room to work.
100 Thieves will really be interesting to watch against the European competitors. Teams will have to worry less about the rising Ssumday, and more about shutting Cody Sun down. Brandini is probably going to get pushed around by the EU top laners and might struggle during the tournament. The hope for 100T is going to be playing multiple styles to keep their opponents guessing.
Current record: 4-2
Coach: Nick “Inero” Smith
TOP: Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon
JUNGLE: Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
MID: Kim “Fenix” Jae Hoon
ADC: Johnny “Altec” Ru
SUPPORT: Wang “Feng” Xiao-Feng
Echo Fox finished third in spring, after beating Clutch 3-0 in Miami. When Echo Fox came back after the break, they have leaned heavily into the new meta and have been experimenting almost every game. Huni now has played four of the five positions, leaving support to possible come later. Huni has mostly settled back into the top lane, but could end up in another lane if the meta shifts again.
Currently, Altec has been pairing up Dardoch in the same style of a marksman with Smite and support roaming together. Altec has the highest KDA for his team at 3.4, and has 35 percent of his team’s total kills. The Fox ADC also has played multiple types of champions. When Huni went bot, Altec played Dr. Mundo top, and Altec has also played Vladimir twice in the bot lane. Although Huni is generally considered the Echo Fox carry, Altec has been providing a lot of damage to keep Fox ahead in fights. Huni has died the most in NA this split, dying 22 times in six games.
Feng has been starting for Echo Fox for two weeks now, and with no specific announcement regarding Adrian, it’s assumed that Feng will be playing the lion’s share for now. A 3.1 KDA for Feng isn’t bad for the four games he’s played.
The problem for Echo Fox still remains that the team gives up too many kills and relies on late game teamfighting to win the game. In each of their roles, the Fox lineup has some of the highest deaths in the league. Altec has the second highest deaths, Dardoch the third highest, Fenix the highest, and Huni the highest. Feng is ranked sixth, but has also played two less games than the other Fox members.
Going against the European teams might give Echo Fox some scares. Against Fnatic, giving too much gold to Caps could throw control out of Fox’s hands. G2 Esports has been running funnel compositions, and Perkz will punish every death Echo Fox gives him. Splyce might not be able to bounce ahead, but Kobbe and company might make the miracle run back.
Featured photo from lol.gamepedia.com
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