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League of Legends fans in previous years have little to look forward to in the way of international tournaments where the isolated teams from different regions get the chance to wail on each other. The developers Riot Games have promised more for the esports scene in 2016, igniting talks about more ways to support your favorite professional LoL teams, and giving all of us more events to see the best teams go at it.
The Mid-Season Invitational is no longer the sole mid-season event per season of League of Legends, with the introduction of a brand new international event called Rift Rivals. Unlike the other tournaments, Rift Rivals are split into 5 different tournaments with 2 or 3 regions in a team battle format.
Trouble on the Rift
The NA versus EU event is clearly the most hyped leg of the 2017 Rift Rivals given the extensive history of the actual rivalry between the North American and European LCS. The most competitive group of regions however involves 3 of the strongest regions doing battle in one arena. The LCK, LMS, and LPL had their hands full as they face off against each other until only one team remains. SK Telecom T1 were expected to dominate the tournament and carry the LCK to the championship, and they were well on their way to lifting another trophy up until their unfortunate run-in during the Finals.
World Elite Indeed © Onivia YouTube
The LPL and LCK met at the finals with 4 teams each in a best-of-five series for the first ever Rift Rivals Championship. Samsung Galaxy get the LCK to a 0-1 start after falling to the LPL's EDward Gaming, with SKT setting up the stage for the 2nd game of the series against a well-known but underrated Chinese team Team WE. SKT entered the Playoffs with a clean 2-0 group stage record, even taking a win over WE, but the Final was an entirely different story.
WE absolutely man-handled the triple world champions SK Telecom T1 even with the Korean team's main roster playing the field. Faker kicked off the game with an early first blood, putting them on the path of a crushing 22-8 defeat at the hands of the World Elite.
Shades of 2015
SKT's Last International Loss © Epic Skill Shot VODs
SKT and Faker's last defeat in an international tournament was all the way back in 2015 where they lost in a hard-fought 5-game series against EDG. The SKT loss in the 2015 MSI catapulted the korean-based squad into a dominant run in international tournaments, winning two of the next Worlds championships. Certainly losing the Rift Rivals will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of SKT and their coach kkOma. One can only imagine what kind of ferocity the defending world champions will bring to the 2nd half of the 2017 LCK Summer Split on their way to the 2017 League of Legends World Championship.
The LPL representatives eventually beat out the LCK in a 3-1, only losing out one game to KT Rolster. This gives new hope to the chance that another China versus Korea finals will take place at Worlds which will take place on the LPL home court, China. We are about 2 months away from the biggest League of Legends tournament of the year and things are already beginning to heat up. Is this the return of the biggest region rivalry of the LoL Esports scene?