While North America did take home the trophy last year, its home will always be in Europe and to Europe the trophy will return. Don’t feel all-aboard the EU hype train? Here’s why you should:
1. The Harsher EU Weather has Made Us Stronger Than Those Sun Kissed North Americans
Though the sun may rise and set in the same direction for both continents, it’s undeniable that the weather in Berlin will never earn accolades like the weather in sunny California. Cloudless skies nearly every day means great tanning weather, but not great practice. North American players get caught up in something called “going outdoors,” and are too busy baking in the sun to notice they’re being eclipsed by greater talent: the Europeans.
Germany’s cooler climates and unpredictable weather has hardened EU players to the trials of this world. It’s caused them to bunker down in their team houses in the dead of Winter, focused solely on improving their micro play. Team meetings are held gathered around overheating, crypto-farming computers to keep warm. Strategy sessions are protected by tents to keep out the downpour of rain as the teams finetune their macro adjustments.
It’s not an easy life, living in Berlin, but it makes for an intense and rewarding training experience. None of this sunshine and dandelion nonsense for Europe – No, EU teams are prepared for the mild summer weather in California because they’ve seen everything mother nature’s got. No amount of perfectly warm sun rays can phase these hardened players. Sweet summer children of North America, we're coming for you.
2. 100 Thieves Can’t be Trusted to Steal a Baron, Let Alone a Win for NA
Let’s get real for a second. If you were looking to hire someone for a heist, who would you go to? A group of seasoned teammates who are dedicated to keeping one another supported, or 100 Thieves?
For starters, they’re terrible at theft. They’ve literally gone to jail, and any thief that gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar is no true thief. In fact, it might be necessary to reassess the team as a whole with results like that.
100 Thieves was formed from the scraps of former glory. After hijacking their entire roster from nearly half the teams in the NA LCS, 100 Thieves have proven that they can’t even steal a win from their top tier competition in NA. They’ve already gotten blasted to pieces by fellow NA Rift Rivals competitors Team Liquid in their first match of the Summer Split. And this is all after their fall from grace in the Spring Split, where they were obliterated by Team Liquid in a Finals clean sweep -- sad, really.
While Đỗ "Levi" Duy Khánh is a veteran Jungler coming up from Academy that can help provide a spark, his consistent trouble with trolls (by this, we definitely mean Trundle in the post-8.11 meta) may cause a problem. If his smite key continues to give him trouble, we suggest linking up with Gilius to find a replacement keyboard.
Now, take that team and place them in Europe, home of some of the best players in the world (Hey there, Caps and Perkz!), and 100 Thieves don’t stand a chance against the well-oiled machines produced in EU. Their heist game won’t get any better at Rift Rivals, because it’s barely even working on the big names in NA.
3. Horses Are Easily Spooked by Snakes
This undeniable fact of life gives Splyce a natural advantage over Team Liquid. Like their animal insignias, the North American team may be easily spooked by the prospect of facing stronger European teams and that is precisely what will happen during Rift Rivals.
We’ve already seen what happened when Team Liquid faced down Europeans at the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). Though they looked evenly matched, when push came to shove it was Fnatic who took advantage of the blinders around Team Liquid’s eyes. The NA squad thought they could one-up their European counterpart by beating down their rookie, Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau, but that just left room for Fnatic’s carries to, well, carry.
Splyce has two newer additions to their roster: support player Raymond "kaSing" Tsang and mid laner Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer. Team Liquid will look to exploit them and topple them over -- but it will not work. Even in some of the roughest matches this split, it’s still Nisqy that holds down one of the top KDAs on their roster.
Now there’s another layer of fear in Team Liquid’s eyes, one that wasn’t there before. Europe is the threat they weren’t counting on at MSI, and it was the region that knocked them out. With Fnatic present to bolster the fear snaking its way into their minds, could even the likes of Splyce take down these so-called workhorses?
4. NA Merely Adopted Rift Rivals, Europe was Born in It
Only one North American player from Phoenix1 has attended Rift Rivals and returned to fight again: Yoo "Ryu" Sang-wook, now of 100 Thieves. He brings with him a harrowing tale of Fnatic, the team that weighed them down like an anchor to their second place Group Stage finish. While yes, North America did dominate Rift Rivals 2017, even going so far as to 3-0 Unicorns of Love in the Finals to take home the trophy, Fnatic was still there to blow a hole in Ryu’s sails.
Everyone besides Ryu from Phoenix1 is gone. All but Ryu, Yiliang "Peter" "Doublelift" Peng and Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong are brand new to Rift Rivals and its unique competitive environment. G2 Esports competed last year and they had a, let’s call it, unimpressive performance. They managed to beat out Cloud9, but fell to the rest of their competition one by one. The rust is out of their gears this year though, and their performance has never looked better. G2 stands tall at the top of the EU LCS Summer Split heading into Rift Rivals and they’re aiming to outfight their NA foes this time around.
Despite Splyce not playing in last year’s Rift Rivals event, they were present in Berlin to witness the anarchy and action. None of the North American teams have had that luxury. Finding comfort in their cozy Split format and familiar game dynamics, they haven’t given the Rift Rivals trophy the anarchy it deserves. They’ve borrowed it, sure, but they’ve let it tarnish in the consistent California sun. With a new 8.13 meta and unfamiliar tournament formatting coming their way, it’s time for the EU kings of chaos to take the trophy back home, out of the grubby hands of NA.
5. NA’s Over-Hyped, Aging Players Are No Match for EU’s Young Talent
Out with the old, in with the new. North America is playing with the same old talent, while also booking their stays in the senior center after scrims. Put simply, NA is bleeding out talent while Europe has had the forethought to armour up before a wound can be inflicted. We’ve already seen two greats: Martin "Rekkles" Larsson and Paul "sOAZ" Boyer, rely on the dependable nature of their Spring Split rookie, Bwipo, to pull Fnatic through rough patches. In fact, they did just that to place higher at MSI than Rift Rivals opponents Team Liquid.
With mid lane being so highly contested and integral to the current post-8.11 meta, it’s important to keep an eye on the ones competing at Rift Rivals. By far the newest mid laner at Rift Rivals, Nisqy of Splyce, will be a player to watch. Even in games that Splyce have lost handily, he’s maintained a positive KDA.
The newest addition to NA’s Rift Rivals mid lane roster, in contrast, is Eugene "Pobelter" Park who joined top tier competitive play in 2015. Let that sink in for a minute. Are we good? Okay. He’s a one-trick Irelia player in the new meta, playing her for the majority of Team Liquid’s games this split. How can he compete against the likes of Perkz, Caps, and our fresh blood talent Nisqy while sporting a champion pool shallow enough for a toddler to splash in?
And what about 100 Thieves? They’re relying on Academy player Brandon "Brandini" Chen to step up in a major way at Rift Rivals. Perhaps this is due to his main roster counterparts, Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho, needing a break to catch his breath. Getting tired, old vet?