LCK defeats LPL to win first Rift Rivals title

Long live Korean League.

Faker MSI Day 3
Photo via Riot Games

The LCK has claimed its first Rift Rivals Asia title, taking down the LPL 3-1 today. It’s the region’s first Rift Rivals title, completing the international trophy cabinet for Korean League.

Game one saw Kingzone DragonX up against the reigning world champions, Invictus Gaming. Taking Karthus for Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan, Ezreal for Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, and Tahm Kench for Park “Tusin” Jong-ik, Kingzone had incredible cross-map potential. 

Invictus were able to get an early lead, but they couldn’t keep up with the pace of Kingzone’s one-button comp. Cuzz got a Mejai’s Soulstealer, stacked it, and decimated Invictus with just the press of his ultimate. 

Deft’s Trueshot Barrage ended up finishing the deal most of the time, with Invictus having no way of trading back. They were overwhelmed and eventually fell to the Koreans in 29 minutes.

SKT came out against Top Esports with a revitalized hunger compared to their game against Invictus yesterday, with Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok as the spearhead. Faker’s Neeko was key to SKT’s victory against the rising stars of the LPL, landing plenty of Pop Blossoms that allowed Park “Teddy” Jin-seong’s Kalista to sweep up the scraps.

But Kim “Clid” Tae-min took home the MVP award, giving SKT all of the tools needed to snowball the game away from Top. Clid put pressure on the Ezreal and Yuumi bot lane of Top to make sure that the Chinese squad had no avenues back into the game once they were ahead.

With the series on the ropes, it was up to Funplus Phoenix to keep the LPL alive. Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang picked up the feast-or-famine Pantheon mid to counter Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon’s Irelia in lane, and it worked well. Doinb was able to constantly roam bot to keep Griffin’s Viktor and Tahm Kench duo out of lane, only overextending once in a risky dive on top of Griffin’s inner bot tower, resulting in four kills for Griffin. 

The Pantheon also gave FPX permanent objective control. The threat of Pantheon dropping down on the carries was too high for Griffin to bother contesting and FPX took the first four dragons of the game. Griffin tried to slow the pace of the game down, but FPX were constantly pushing for fights and eventually broke the match open at 24 minutes by securing Baron. 

With the base open, Griffin put in one last fight at the second Baron at 31 minutes, but they were too far behind to contest FPX. Chovy landed a nice flank on the FPX backline, but Doinb just dropped in on Park “Viper” Do-hyeon and dashed the LCK’s hopes of a clean sweep.

But JD Gaming didn’t capitalize on the chance FPX gave the LPL. Damwon Gaming shut them down in convincing fashion in game four thanks to Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu’s Karthus. While JDG got an early teamfight win, it was all Damwon from the 20-minute mark. Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee put on an Alistar clinic, completely locking up JDG’s hard engage comp before they could find the fight they wanted.

The LCK had never won Rift Rivals before today. It was the only trophy absent from the Korean cabinet for international competition. Having won multiple World Championships and Mid-Season Invitationals, Korea has long been the most dominant region on the international stage.

Heading into Worlds, the LCK has shown its depth and will be looking to return to the top after disappointing results at Worlds 2018 and MSI 2019.