Just as everyone is enjoying/disliking the chaos that is Patch 8.11 in all regions, Rift Rivals have unknowingly crept close. In just over a week, teams all over the globe will travel to their designated locations and duke it out for regional pride. In today’s article, I will attempt to break down Rift Rivals Red and give you a better insight before going into the matches.

Rift Rivals – LCK / LPL / LMS (Dalian, China) July 5, 2018
It goes without saying that the Rift Rivals with the most competitive regions will also be the most competitive. Reigning Champions, the LPL, will compete to retain that title against the LCK and the LMS.

LCK
The LCK faltered hard in the last Rift Rivals. While they looked good in the Group Stages, they eventually fell to LPL with a score of 1-3 in the finals. Naturally, this caused a lot of controversy; fans and casters alike were questioning LCK’s dedication to the exhibition tournament. This year, LCK will have something to prove as this has become the tournament that LCK has yet to grab a championship trophy in.

[Source: Dotesports]

Questions of consistency will be thrown towards Kingzone DragonX as they seek redemption from their run at MSI 2018. Domestically, they are still doing well, only dropping a series to the resurgent Gen.G (formerly KSV) thus far. However, they have looked far from the clean and crisp team that we saw in the Spring Split; they have dropped 4 games out of 13 games and 1 of which is against Jin Air Greenwings. KZ will continue to look towards Khan and Pray to carry them through this rough and unpredictable meta, while Flash Wolves and Royal Never Give Up will look to pounce at any moment.

The Spring Runner-Ups Afreeca Freecs have also faltered, dropping 2 series against KZ and Hanwha Life Esports (formerly Rox Tigers). AFS relied quite a bit on Banner of Command to get their lanes pushed so that they could execute their strategies across the map. With Banner potentially out of the picture in 8.12 and some growing pains in their Picks and Bans, there are gaps that EDG and G-Rex will look to punish.

KT Rolster sit at 4th with Afreeca Freecs at the moment. However, their only notable win was against Gen.G with a 2-0 when they played Score in their lineup instead of Rush. Viewers will have to wonder which jungler KT will play at Rift Rivals against Rogue Warriors or MAD Team as they have definitely looked better playing with Score on the lineup.

It is odd to say that SK Telecom T1 is the weakest team fielded in the LCK roster. Their recent and only win against Jin Air Greenwings will serve as a morale booster for the team that has suffered a total of 8 game defeats. Faker and friends will have a tall task taking on Invictus Gaming. However, it is the SKT trend to turn a slump around after an international tournament. Will this be the one that gives SKT the boost they need?

LPL
Returning as Champions and also the region that won the recent MSI, LPL have a lot of weight on their shoulders to perform in their home country. Last year, all the coaches worked closely together to devise strategies and lineups that would be most advantageous. It was due to such cooperation that allowed them to beat the LCK convincingly. A win in this competition will probably reaffirm the LPL as the strongest region in the world. The current representatives of the LPL are all at the top of the leaderboard as of now and will prove to be the best that LPL have to offer at Rift Rivals as compared to the other regions.

[Source: lolesports]

Royal Never Give Up‘s win streak was briefly stumped by a loss to JDG, in part due to the 8.11 patch. However, after they have cleaned up nicely after that loss to take 3 consecutive and convincing series wins. 8.11 does not seem to have hit Uzi as hard as people thought as he has been successful on Kai’sa, Ezreal, Ashe, Kennen, Vayne and Xayah. Expect RNG to continue what they’re good at and funnel all the gold to Uzi. Given RNG’s performance, we expect them to be competitive against KZ and FW.

Edward Gaming has a 3-0 score at the time of writing. The most notable win was against FunPlus Phoenix with a 2-1 scoreline. Other wins were against the bottom tier teams Oh My God and Team WE. It is hard to determine EDG’s competitive strength with only these stats and thus throws a huge enigma into the tournament. EDG only won a single game last year and will look to correct that this year.

Rogue Warriors are on a 4-series win streak and have demonstrated that they are more than willing to try unconventional strategies and executing them surgically. Unique picks such as Kled-Mid and Karthus-Bot will keep their opponents guessing. They have weathered storms such as Funnel Kai’sa and Taric-Yi from Snake Esports with little trouble. Opponents KT and MAD Team will have a hard time figuring out what their next strategy would be.

As compared to SKT, Invictus Gaming is far from the weakest team the LPL has to offer. They are still in the process of rebuilding since the mishap of TheShy. However, with TheShy back in the practice room, expect IG to be the strongest 4th seed all 3 regions have to offer.

LMS
Often sidelined as the weakest of the 3 regions, the LMS did perform above expectations last year. They obtained a 4-4 record and was 2nd place in Groups. They also forced the LPL to all 5 games, something even the LCK could not do. Led by veteran team the Flash Wolves, who exhibit exemplary performances at MSI 2018, the LMS come into Rift Rivals strong contenders to the title as well.

As of writing this article, LMS only played 2 BO3s and there isn’t much to go on in terms of their current strengths. The absence of ahq e-Sports Club will be felt. Last year, said club came in crucial as they pulled off wins against EDG and KT Rolster to give LMS a fighting chance in the tournament.

[Source: 4gamers]

The Flash Wolves come in hot from their excellent, albeit surprising performance at MSI 2018. One could say they were even playing with their food against AHQ in their opening series of the LMS. Betty continues his trend of being the aggressive Bot lane and will be a fun player to watch as he strives to further cement himself as one of the best players in the world.

G-Rex is a tough team to evaluate. I would describe them as the team that would drag opponents down to the mud to get down and dirty with. While the 8.11 patch seems to be perfect for such play, without Candy, they did lose 0-2 against a newly reformed Hong Kong Attitude. I would look towards Pk as the player to watch. If there is anyone who could carry G-Rex out of a mess, it is him.

MAD Team (formerly ahq Fighter), seem to have stepped out of AHQ’s shadow and are performing admirably well in the LMS. They seem to have adopted AHQ’s ability to teamfight, which is their main avenue of obtaining leads and snowballs. There are, however, gaps in their macro that can be exploited by a better team. Expect crazy team fights to explode whenever MAD Team are on the rift.

The last time Machi Esports (M17) were at Rift Rivals, nobody expected them to be able to accomplish anything. They did, however, beat OMG and give MVP a run for their money. This year, M17 continues the trend of being the weakest team in the tournament. Whether or not M17 will prove themselves wrong again this year remains to be seen.

Rift Rivals Asia begins July 5, 2018