Melany M. July 8, 2019
The LCK finally won a Rift Rivals.
After coming up short in the first two installments of the event, the third time proved to be the charm for Korea’s foremost League of Legends organizations. After four days of fierce competition, the Korean teams took home the top prize at the Jangchung Arena in Seoul, South Korea.
The series finished after four exciting matches with the LCK taking a 3-1 victory. The LCK teams dominated the competition along the way and are looking stronger than ever.
Invictus Gaming vs. Kingzone DragonX
Invictus Gaming and Kingzone DragonX opened the series.
On Kingzone’s side, jungler Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan locked in Karthus, a pick that was popular in the LEC during spring and is making its way to Korean servers. IG opted for a standard composition and slow early game.
The current world champion played a more measured style and waited for their opportunity to strike. Meanwhile, Kingzone was ambitious and bold. The LCK representatives played aggressively, going all-in on every engagement with bottom laner Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu posting a standout performance on Ezreal.
Kingzone rushed an early baron and turned it into two inhibitors. IG had no option but to adopt a defensive stance. At 29 minutes, Kingzone aced IG and claimed the first win for the LCK.
SK Telecom T1 vs. TOP Esports
SK Telecom T1 took over from there, facing TOP Esports. The game revolved around SKT star Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok who spearheaded his team’s new, aggressive style.
The team turned around every play TES attempted, matching the Chinese team’s rotations and getting the better of each skirmish. Playing as Neeko, Faker was everywhere on the map and the lack of pressure from lane opponent Zhuo “Knight9” Ding on Lucian allowed him to stay comfortable even when he wasn’t in lane.
Into the mid game, TES was lost on the map. The LPL team didn’t know how to get back in the game and couldn’t even react to SKT’s plays. Faker continued to terrorize the TES players with flanks that threw them off.
In the last play of the game, TES looked for a pickoff on Kim “Khan” Dong-ha. Faker found the perfect flank, converting it into multiple kills and the win.
Griffin vs. FunPlus Phoenix
At match point, Griffin was in charge of closing the series against FunPlus Phoenix.
The LPL would not go down without a fight, however, even if it meant locking in unexpected champions. Mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, always the innovator, picked Pantheon with Ignite.
Doinb and jungler Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang invested their time in the bottom lane. Four members of FunPlus were more than enough to neutralize Park “Viper” Do-hyeon and Son “Lehends” Si-woo.
FunPlus grouped as four and took over the map. Through the mid game, Griffin stabilized things and found a small window where they felt they could out-scale FunPlus.
Around the second baron, Griffin contested and FunPlus initiated on them. One after another, the Griffin members fell which gave FunPlus a clean ace and a victory for the LPL.
JD Gaming vs. Damwon Gaming
There was a glimmer of hope for the LPL but the region’s hopes were pinned to JD Gaming, who had to face Damwon Gaming.
JD Gaming kept the dream alive with a dominant early game. Damwon gave up the first blood at level one and it was an uphill battle from there. The laning phase was disastrous for bottom duo Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon and Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee. Enemy duo Gu “imp” Seung-bin and Zuo “LvMao” Ming-Hao kept them under the turret and were relentless in trades.
But after leaving the lane, BeryL became the hero of the match, producing a series of highlights playing on Alistar. Any champion in range for the Headbutt-Pulverize combo ended up dead. Damwon grouped around BeryL and jungler Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu to get objectives. Meanwhile, top laner Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon was unstoppable in the side lanes.
Damwon destroyed structures and went for the win. As a parting gift, BeryL caught two JD Gaming players for the ace and the win.
The win over the LPL gives the LCK a bit of respite after failing to convert their success in other international events into wins at Rift Rivals. It also sent a powerful message that Korea remains a force when it comes to the World Championship.
The eight teams will soon return to their regular schedules. Week five in the LCK kicks off on July 10 while the LPL starts on July 12.