There are only three things certain in life: Death, taxes, and a constant rivalry between North America and Europe in League of Legends. Both regions have been at war on the Summoner’s Rift since the beginning of the competitive scene and that just makes Rift Rivals 2019 all the more exciting.
Starting tomorrow, June 27, three of North America’s best teams will clash in a best-of-one group stage where each EU team will face off against each NA team once. The winner of the Group Stage will get to choose counter pick teams for the first three matches of the Relay Race, with each team playing once in a best-of-five series.
Team Liquid, Cloud9, and TSM are the representatives of North America this time around, while G2 Esports, Fnatic, and Origen will represent Europe. These teams are the best each region has to offer, but only one side can stand tall when the dust has settled. Who will gain the ultimate bragging rights from the biggest grudge match of the year?
North America: An underdog story
In almost every international competition, North American teams have been underdogs and nothing has really changed at Rift Rivals. To many fans and analysts alike, Europe’s collection of teams are far superior to their counterparts across the Rift—Team Liquid just lost to G2 in pretty embarrassing fashion at MSI 2019, Cloud9 was taken down by Fnatic at Worlds 2018, and TSM hasn’t made it out of a international group stage since Worlds 2014.
There is, however, a chip on many of these NA players’ shoulders, and they should come in with a ton of momentum. Having the home crowd on their side isn’t bad, either. Additionally, many of North America’s teams have been looking much better over the past year.
How North America can win Rift Rivals
Although they were destroyed in the finals, Team Liquid made it to NA’s first international finals ever at MSI 2019. They were also able to take down the 2018 World Champions, Invictus Gaming, the round before as well. Team Liquid is a powerhouse in their own right and must have adapted from the last time they faced off against a European team. Watch out for some hidden cards to come out when they square off against Europe.
Meanwhile, none of Europe’s teams have faced off against this new-look TSM squad before. Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik has been a standout performer for TSM this season and very well could be the team’s X-factor at Rift Rivals, depending on how he matches up against the various top laners of Europe. Look for TSM to match the fast-paced tempo of teams like G2 and Fnatic, right from the get-go.
Cloud9 has always been consistent for North America in international tournaments—they are always the last hope for NA at Worlds and they are always able to surprise their opponents with some great strategy. Unfortunately, they haven’t impressed anyone yet with their performances this season. A surprising loss against 100 Thieves in week four has plenty of NA fans worried, and those fans are desperately hoping that the lapse is only temporary as Rift Rivals approaches.
Europe: a juggernaut in the making?
It isn’t surprising that Europe is favored in this matchup against North America—G2 Esports is coming off of one of the most dominant showings at an MSI finals, Fnatic is undefeated this split with a win over G2, and Origen is close behind with a plethora of veteran talent.
This region is looking more and more like a contender for the World Championship, which is actually being held in Europe this year. Their varying styles of play have put the world on notice as they populate many analysts’ world ranking top 10s. Could this be the year that Europe takes over the League of Legends scene?
How Europe can win Rift Rivals
G2 Esports is one of the scariest teams to face in a best-of-five series right now and for good reason. First off, their ability to flex almost any champion in any role can make drafting a nightmare for any opposing team. They can play whatever they want, wherever they want. Also, the firepower they have at every role is only punctuated by their great decision making and teamfighting skills. They aren’t scared to take chances and they play at such a rapid pace, that not many teams in the world can catch up.
With a dominant win over them in week three of the 2019 Summer Split, Fnatic proved they are one of the only teams able to stand up to G2 Esports. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen has also become arguably the best jungler in Europe and is a huge reason why this team excels in the early game. They also have some of the most mechanically gifted players in Europe on the team, with the best European late game AD carry in Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
Lastly, Origen is an incredibly smart, calculated team that plays around their macro play around the mid to late game. Unfortunately, the roster hasn’t looked as strong as it could be by week three. The team doesn’t look too cohesive as a unit, especially when you compare their play to that of last season. They need to harness the same strengths that made them a powerhouse last split, or they could be the weight that holds back Europe from a Rift Rivals trophy.