The results of the 'Red Rift' completely defied the expectations
On July 9th(KST), on the 'Red Rift' of the 'Rift Rivals', LPL reigned supreme over LCK and LMS. Objectively speaking, LCK teams were the more favored winners due to their past dominance on international events. But with a score of 3:1, the four teams of LPL: OMG, WE, RNG, and EDG defied the expectations and showed nothing less than stellar performances. As the players stood tall on stage, their facial expression showed pride and joy.
Many people predicted the results of the tournament to be a score of 3:0 or 3:1 in favor of LCK. But going against some of the strongest teams like SSG and SKT, WE and EDG showed spectacular macro management in their games and caught the LCK teams off guard. This made many fans reevaluate the LPL region as a whole.
What kind of mindset did the directors of each LPL team have before the finals? Through an interview done after the games, we were granted an opportunity to hear from the directors ourselves.
On the interview done yesterday, all of you guys looked really down. Were you guys worried about today's games?
Nofe: Of course we knew the finals of the 'Red Rift' was going to be difficult, especially considering LCK's previous dominance in international events. But when I met with my players yesterday, I knew we were strong enough to take down at least 'Samsung Galaxy'. I knew a score of 3:0 wouldn't happen in the finals, and if EDG was to take the first win, I knew the rest of the LPL team would do their parts.
Homme: LPL banded together as one - instead of seeing each other as competitors. I think that played a big part for us. The format of the tournament being BO1 also played in our favor. LPL teams also took many advantages from the 'Ban/Pick Phase'. Yesterday, the LCK directors said in an interview that they were fully expecting the LCK teams to win 3:0. I think they completely underestimated us. We also had a big morale boost when EDG took the 1st set.
MingZhe: I knew the LCK coaches would slack in their preparations for today's games when they stated that they expected a 3:0 in favor of LCK.
FireFox: Since the beginning of the event, every time we took down a Korean team, we collected confidence. When the four of us gathered together for a meeting, all of us agreed that we had to work as a "one big team". We also predicted that SKT would be playing in the 2nd set, and we believed WE to be a formidable opponent for them. And as a result, we won.
You guys allied with each other and worked as a team. What did you learn from the experience?
Nofe: I found out that we can share strategies and learn from each other. I think this event will motivate me and my team to go beyond our limits by trying even harder.
Homme: This event was definitely a great learning experience for all of the attending LPL teams. I'm fairly certain all the players will perform better once they get back to playing in LPL. I want their mindset of working together as a region to stay in them until the 'World Championships'.
Mingzhe: There were teams that had little international experience. But this event was definitely a great learning experience for them. We learned together as one, and I really want this momentum to carry on to the 'World Championships'.
FireFox: When the four of us gathered for a meeting, we discussed the meta and the current patch. We also shared our opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of each team attending the event. During this meeting, the other 3 directors pinpointed RNG's weaknesses; allowing us to fix it for the finals.
Which team did you have the most difficult time facing?
Nofe: I personally found out how strong LMS was as a region. And thanks to this event, we will definitely prepare for them in the 'World Championships'.
Homme: I agree with Nofe on LMS being strong. And as for the strongest team, I still think SKT is the best in the world. Although our team went against SKT twice to lose one and win one, I personally think we got lucky when we took the game off of them in the finals.
MingZhe: LMS's 'Flash Wolves' and LCK's 'SKT T1'.
FireFox: Although I think that the 'Flash Wolves' are the strongest in LMS, I definitely don't want to face 'J Team'. Their toplaner is very strong and they play in a similar fashion to KT. As for LCK, I believe SKT is the strongest.
The 'Ban/Pick Phases' were very odd during the finals, don't you think?
Homme: LCK teams prefer taking champions that are very strong in the early-game. And for some reason, I couldn't throw away the thought that LCK teams were just picking whatever they wanted instead of actually forming a decent strategy. But thanks to that, it was easy for me to establish a proper team composition; allowing us to win, even though we were lacking in skills.
What do you think of Ashe?
Homme: Ashe is a very good initiator with no mobility. And because there are so many supports and junglers with great engages - like Gragas - I personally think Ashe and Varus are dangerous picks.
Most of you considered the gap between LCK and LPL to be extreme. Have you reconsidered?
Nofe: LCK is definitely a strong league. The players have great communication, mechanical skills, and macro management. Even the coaches and directors are amazing. Basically, the overall balance of things is perfect in Korea. But from this event, I noticed that the individual skills of the LPL players are not too far off from the LCK ones. Given a few years, I think LPL can definitely develop into a strong league that can threaten Korea.
Homme: It's been almost 3 years since I've been working in China. I think the LPL I see now is closer to LCK than the LPL I saw 3 years back. But I still believe LPL is lacking compared to LCK. I still believe we can catch up to Korea if we practice without dropping our guards.
MingZhe: LCK is definitely a strong region. But I think the gap is definitely closing - not just the one between LCK and LPL, but the gap between every region as a whole.
FireFox: This victory today was definitely an outcome of the four teams working together as one. If the format of the tournament was BO5, we probably would have ended up with poor results. The gap between LCK and LPL truly exists, but it will definitely close if given time.
Over the 4 days you guys stayed here, what do you think the players have learned?
Nofe: There were players in my team that had little to no international experience. I think this event will definitely have an effect on them. The tournament was very difficult for my team, and I want to thank WE for saving us.
Homme: Starting since the beginning of this year, WE has been showing spectacular performances. I want the team to carry this momentum all the way to the 'World Championships' and show good results.
MingZhe: This is the very first international tournament for my team. We have learned to never underestimate a team just because you have defeated them in a previous game. This event was definitely a great learning experience for all my players, and I am thankful.
FireFox: RNG had bad stats before coming to this tournament. We sent the team last to let them experience anxiety and nervousness. This was definitely a great opportunity to train the mentality of the players.