Just when Europe thought they had the bragging rights over North America wrapped up until the 2017 World Championship, Riot Games announced a new addition to the competitive League of Legends calendar: Rift Rivals.
From July 3- 9, North America and Europe will battle in Berlin, whilst four other rivalries compete across the globe: Korea vs. China and Taiwan, Oceania vs. Japan and Southeast Asia, Latin America North vs. Latin America South and Brazil and Turkey vs. CIS Commonwealth of Independent States.
Though the EU vs NA matchup has understandably attracted the most attention within the western scene, each Rift Rivals will provide its own unique offering. For the clash between the NA LCS and EU LCS, the top three teams from each region’s Spring Split will fight for their honour. Importantly however, unlike the Mid-Season Invitational or the World Championship, the representatives will be playing for their home region as opposed to individual glory.
The NA versus EU rivalry has waned somewhat over the last few years, due in part to the lack of opportunities for clashes between the two regions. Riot has sought to add fuel to the fire by pitting Europe and North American directly against each other for the first time since the Battle of the Atlantic event back in 2013. North America’s representatives will be Team SoloMid, Cloud9 and Phoenix1, while the European participants will be G2 eSports, Unicorns of Love and Fnatic.
The tournament will follow a unique format for Riot’s international events, with the teams competing in a best of one, single round robin group stage that will seed teams for the “finals” round which will adopt a ‘last man standing’ style. In short, each regions’ teams will play the other in one game, where the loser is knocked out from contention starting with the lowest seeded teams. The region that eliminates all of its opponent’s participants will be crowned the victor of the event.
“Rift Rivals is really about teams going to rep their region.
“You have TSM, Cloud9 and P1 to represent North America. Now you’re not going to see them play against each other because you already see that in the domestic league, they’re there to beat Europe, basically.
“So essentially, we’re looking to see which region is going to win, rather than which team.”
Whalen Rozelle, Riot Games Director of eSports
Riot Games announced its overdue separation from the Intel Extreme Masters circuit in order to accommodate Rift Rivals into the League of Legends competitive calendar. The new tournament will aim to fill the void of the IEM World Championship in Katowice; once a treasured event for eSports fans, recent iterations of the tournament have been plagued with issues. The most recent IEM Katowice event saw top teams from China and North America withdrawing from the event, resulting in a muddling lineup.
Whilst the immediate feedback to Rift Rivals features grievances regarding the best-of-one format, the general consensus is that Riot have created a light-hearted tournament that will attract a wealth of viewers from around the world and provide an incentive for teams to represent their respective regions.