After losing their first two matches of Rift Rivals, TSM came into their final match of the day hoping to regain their confidence with a win at the tournament they’d convincingly won two years prior.
TSM found more than just a win, though, handing the previously undefeated Fnatic their first loss in summer in an impressive 36-minute victory.
“Beating Fnatic is nothing new to me, you know,” TSM AD carry Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen said in his post-game interview. Zven was actually still feeling disappointed after “getting smashed” by G2 and Origen earlier in the tournament.
In those losses, Zven’s performance was questionable. He died multiple times in lane, both to ganks and two-versus-two fights. But against Fnatic, Zven looked back to his old dominant self, dashing around as Lucian as he continuously dished out damage throughout the game.
But Zven wasn’t the only member of TSM who had an outstanding performance in their win against Fnatic. Mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, and more importantly jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham, completely outshined their Fnatic counterparts. Beginning summer with underwhelming performances in the LCS, Akaadian looked back to his spring form on the jungle Elise, creating leads for TSM through the aggressive playstyle he has become known for.
With North America down by three games to Europe in Rift Rivals after TSM’s win, the gap between the regions is not only apparent, but actually appeared last year, according to Zven.
“I think the European teams adapted much better to the changes last year after [Riot Games] removed the double Sightstone meta,” Zven said. “I think they play much more fast paced, they fight aggressively, and they really push their limits to the max. I think NA teams are more cautious and don’t really take risks.
Despite NA’s poor performance in Rift Rivals thus far, Zven doesn’t find it all bad, calling the tournament, “a learning experience for everyone.”
“It’s good that we get smashed like this since it’s an eye-opener for NA that as a region we’re just bad,” Zven said. “We can laugh, but we are really bad, and in the games that TL and C9 are winning, their opponents are just trolling. Overall, EU came into this tournament trolling in draft, not even trying to win half [of the time].”
Although it feels bad to lose, Zven hopes this experience will help NA’s chances at Worlds later in the year.