Video Credit: LoL Esports
Rift Rivals, the League of Legends tournament in which regions battle for bragging rights, just recently concluded this past weekend. Today’s focus is going to be on the much anticipated NA x EU matchup, in which EU teams G2 Esports, Fnatic, and Splyce faced off against NA teams 100 Thieves, Echo Fox, and Team Liquid.
Though NA defeated EU last year in Rift Rivals, throughout the past several seasons, EU seems to be the better region, showing up at major tournaments like Worlds and MSI. And while there wasn’t really anything on the line (prize winnings were essentially just a trophy and bragging rights), both regions still went at it, each vying to be claimed the better region.
Things started off with the Group Stage, where NA and EU teams would battle it out in a round robin format. The overall score was 5-3 in favor of EU, with some of the notable wins being G2’s win over Team Liquid (best EU team defeating best NA team) and Fnatic’s win over Echo Fox.
Then came the BO5 Knockout Relay Stage. Game 1 pitted G2 Esports and Echo Fox against one another, a game G2 was heavily favored to win. However, Echo Fox surprised everyone by defeating Europe’s best team in merely 24 minutes, giving NA fans hope for further upsets. G2 stuck to their standard funnel strategy, but Echo Fox countered with a four-man dive down bot, getting themselves two kills and a gold lead. Set back, G2 continued to struggle, and Echo Fox continued to push their lead, winning in convincing fashion.
Fnatic and 100 Thieves faced off in Game 2. 100T as a team underperformed, and though Marksman Cody Sun’s Ezreal got fed early-game, his lane partner Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black didn’t capitalize, eventually getting caught numerous times. Moreover, mid laner “Ryu” Sang-wook’s Zoe failed to make any significant impact, causing the ADC to be without much help. Ultimately, 100T’s lackluster performance led them to a loss, allowing EU to tie up the finals score, 1-1.
Game 3 proved to be one of the biggest upsets in Rift Rivals, completely shifting the momentum towards EU. Despite losing every single game in the group stage, Splyce came out on fire, winning matchups in the jungle and mid lane. Liquid’s strategy of snowballing their side lanes failed miserably, as their marksman Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng died while recalling, causing Liquid to lose all bot side control. It was a huge win for Splyce, and it set EU up for a chance to win it all.
With NA on the ropes, EU finished off strong, with the Game 4 Fnatic vs Echo Fox matchup being a one-sided one. Though Echo Fox jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Harnett kept Echo Fox in the game briefly, Fnatic completely dominated for the rest of the game. By the end, Fnatic had over three times the amount of kills Echo Fox had, as well as better stats in almost every other category.
Fnatic’s victory over Echo Fox gave EU the 3-1 tournament win over NA, establishing that EU has indeed surpassed NA in recent months, and that NA has a lot to work on if they want to compete at Worlds this year.