As an international tournament, Riot Games forthcoming Rift Rivals event lacks the legitimacy or the gravitas of a Mid-Season Invitational or a World Championship. It does however, possess the ability to distribute bragging rights, a cause for concern for North American fans who have been preparing their excuses in advance.
Upon the announcement of the Rift Rivals ahead of the start of the 2017 Summer Split, both EU and NA LCS fans were optimistic of their regions chances on the battlefield.
Team SoloMid, Cloud9 and Phoenix1, the top three finishers from the Spring Split would travel to Berlin’s EU LCS studios to compete with G2 eSports, Unicorns of Love and Fnatic in a conquest to restore regional pride.
Each of North America’s top three finishers from the spring have misfired since returning from the mid-season break, though Cloud9 and Team SoloMid now appear to be finding their footing.
Phoenix1’s disastrous start to the Summer Split saw the third seeded team drop to the very bottom of the NA LCS, though with the addition of new rookie Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung, P1 have mustered two wins to climb one place in the standings.
Given G2 eSports’ strong performance at the Mid-Season Invitational and both Fnatic and Unicorns of Love’s impressive starts to the Summer Split, the European representatives are heavily favoured to emerge victorious from Rift Rivals. Fnatic are the favourites to win the event outright for Europe, given G2 eSports somewhat inconsistent start in the Summer.
Keen to deflect another potential international embarrassment, NA fans have already started preparing their excuses in the likely scenario that it all goes wrong overseas once again:
Predicting North America’s Excuses For Failing At Rift Rivals…
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IMT finished seventh in the Spring Split, but currently boast a 7-3 record, tied with Team SoloMid. Though it would be a logistical nightmare, the Rift Rivals representatives should have been organised just a week prior to the event, allowing Immortals to take Phoenix1's place!
Counter Logic Gaming’s Non-Attendance
The same rule applies to Counter Logic Gaming! Currently top of the NA LCS standings, North America's best international performers will be watching the action from home. 'When America sends it's people [to rift rivals], they're not sending their best."
Which genius proposed that NA LCS teams should have to travel halfway across the world for a four-day tournament, without even so much as a pause for breath? Of course NA is going to lose at Rift Rivals, but it's not because they're inferior, it's because they're jet lagged.
Home Soil Advantage
Without even having to leave their gaming houses, for the EU teams, Rift Rivals will just be like another week of LCS. Their fans will be there supporting them vocally and they'll be fighting fresh. How can Team SoloMid be expected to perform without rows of fans bleating 'T-S-M'!?
Rigged Tournament Format
The original format for Rift Rivals was confusing, and even though they revised it, I'm pretty sure it still works in EU's favour.
Not A Serious Tournament Anyway
So what if NA loses? This isn't a serious tournament anyway, Riot are only doing this for fun and the NA LCS teams were gracious to attend, just wait for the real international events to see which region is better. 'EU performed better than NA at the past two tournaments?' - they don't count.
Look at Cloud9, these guys have just had to play Counter Logic Gaming and Team SoloMid back to back, their schedule is absolutely packed! G2 eSports had to play one game against Mysterious Monkeys...
Did I Mention Jet Lag?
I mean seriously, it's so unfair to host the tournament in Europe. Riot should've set up an oil rig LAN tournament in the middle of the Atlantic that was equidistant for both teams, that would've been fairer.
TSM Bjergsen Inevitable Illness
There must be something in the water/air in Berlin, because Bjergsen looks very under the weather. The Team SoloMid star is yet to play an international event in peak condition, if he did, the EU LCS - hell, not even Korea - would stand a chance.
Here in Los Angeles, our players are used to sunny weather and air-conditioning, which we can adjust. Even though it's the middle of their summer, Berlin is going to be a climate shock for NA pros. If their mechanics seem off, it'll be because their hands are too cold in the studio.