Melany M. June 30, 2019
G2 Esports, Origen, and Fnatic are returning to the LEC as champions.
Europe has won Rift Rivals 2019. The LEC representatives dominated the LCS teams and made a case for themselves as the top contenders for the 2019 World Championship.
The three-day event was not fun to watch for North American fans. Throughout the group stage, the LEC destroyed the best teams from across the Atlantic and had firm control of the momentum heading into the relay race finals.
Team SoloMid, Cloud9, and Team Liquid might be the strongest teams in the region but proved to be nowhere close to their European counterparts as the grand finals ended in a convincing 3-1 win.
Fnatic vs. Cloud9
The finals kicked off inauspiciously as Cloud9 entered the relay race wounded after benching its bottom laner Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi due to illness. Starting jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen was forced into the support role while Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam assumed Sneaky’s position.
Across the map, C9 struggled to keep up in the laning phase. Top laner Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau shut down Eric “Licorice” Ritchie while jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang on Nidalee couldn’t impact the lanes in any way.
Fnatic took over the match and not even genius TP flanks from Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer could stop them which led to a 1-0 start for the LEC.
Origen vs. Team SoloMid
TSM was tasked with tying things up at the expense of Origen. Throughout the event, Origen was one of the biggest surprises. Considered one of the slowest teams in the LEC, Origen proved they can play an aggressive, high-tempo game.
In the bottom lane, longtime teammates Alfonso “Mithy” Rodríguez and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen found themselves laning together as rivals. The matchup was even in the early stages of the game but the top lane favored Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik on Jayce.
As the game progressed, the side lanes fell apart and jungler Jonathan “Grig” Armao had to put himself in harm’s way to protect his teammates. The only hope for TSM was Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, but the mid laner could only do so much to keep his team in the game.
At 26 minutes, Origen secured a baron buff and pushed for the win to advance the LEC to match point.
G2 Esports vs. Team Liquid
In another rematch of the Mid-Season Invitational grand finals, Team Liquid once again showed that it is capable of defeating G2 Esports.
The clash between both leagues’ spring champions came as the third round of the grand finals. The LEC was hoping for G2 to close the tournament with a sweep while Team Liquid carried the entirety of its region on its shoulders.
Though G2 used a cheeky composition for their first match against Liquid, the team used a more standard lineup this time around. Luka “Perkz” Perković broke his promise of not playing AD carries at the tournament and picked Xayah.
The early game was all about the mid laners. Rasmus “Caps” Winther dominated Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen in the one-on-one matchup which prompted Jake “Xmithie” Puchero to turn his attention towards helping Jensen recover.
The mid and jungle duo effectively neutralized Caps and tracked down Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski.
Support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in on Lux landed one crucial binding onto Perkz and Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle. Team Liquid turned those two kills into a baron and the mid lane inhibitor.
Team Liquid kept the pressure on. G2 forced team fights in an attempt to rebound but only lost players in the process. North America’s last hope closed the game with a baron buff and four kills inside the base.
Team SoloMid vs. Fnatic
North America avoided the sweep but it ran out of luck in the process. In the fourth round, Team SoloMid looked to rebound from its loss to Origen at the expense of Fnatic.
Fnatic’s Tim "Nemesis" Lipovšek surprised many with a Veigar pick. This champion made a brief appearance in the LCS as a support in week two. Bjergsen went with his signature Azir, counting on the late game scaling this champion offers.
Broken Blade took control of the top lane. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and Bwipo partnered up to no avail, which prompted Broxah to roam to other lanes. His presence proved to be a huge help for Nemesis and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
Broxah and Nemesis collapsed in the bottom lane, which forced rotations from TSM’s solo laners. Broken Blade attempted a disrespectful TP in front of Bwipo that was interrupted, which allowed Fnatic’s top laner to score a solo kill.
TSM opted to give up the bottom lane as a result and also retreated from the mid lane. Fnatic didn’t slow down though, as the team seemed determined to close the game as quickly as possible.
The European squad secured a baron uncontested and pushed into TSM’s base. One turret away from the Nexus, Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov rooted Smoothie and Bjergsen with a Yuumi ultimate. The crowd control was enough for Fnatic to eliminate TSM from the map, take the win, and close out the series 3-1.
With a second consecutive Rift Rivals championship in hand, the LEC teams return to Europe for a brief vacation. The league will return to action on July 12.
The LCS teams won’t be so lucky as they dust themselves off and return to action next week.