Rift Rivals 2019 is over and whether or not there will be a next edition, at least the LCK can come home, happy that they’ve won the trophy.
Among the four LCK teams, a lot of eyes were set on Griffin — the best team from the Spring regular season and the best one so far in Summer. However, when it came to the grand final face-off against LPL, Griffin fell as FunPlus Phoenix scooped them up. Despite Griffin’s loss, the combined forces of Kingzone, SKT, and DAMWON were enough to take down China and secure the trophy for Korea. Still, losing their match only to hoist the trophy 30 minutes later felt strange to Griffin.
“It does feel weird because we won the championship despite the fact that we lost,” Griffin’s jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong told InvenGlobal. “Thankfully, all the other teams did really well so we were able to win.”
Coach Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho attributes it to inexperience in international competition.
“We were nervous and excited at the same time as it was our first international competition. If we’re able to get to Worlds, I’d like to show a more organized and better performance.”
Still, the victory must feel nice, mostly because LPL was still considered the favorite coming into the tournament. Having won every single international competition in 2018 and being the better of the two regions at MSI 2019, China was expected to bring its third Rift Rivals home.
According to cvMax, though, the two regions are closer in skill than what it seems on first sight. Where a year ago the playstyles were largely different and LPL played the “correct” way, nowadays China and Korea have learned from each other, incorporating good practices from both playstyles.
“Before, the gap was big, but now, I think there’s not much difference between LPL and LCK,” cvMax said. “LPL started to lay more importance in macro and the LCK now fights well. The results will come from meta interpretation now.”
The LCK still has plenty of time to develop and grow before it enters Worlds 2019, which could be the most open world championship to date. With Europe also stepping up and North America developing strong sides like Team Liquid, the LCK has more competition than ever before.