NA vs EU and EU vs NA — 2017 Rift Rivals has completed its 4-day schedule with a number of surprises to muse over. Contrary to many experts and fans predicting a favorable matchup for EU including NA players themselves as well, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth as NA seemingly outclassed EU time and time again throughout the event.
The bottom NA team turned out to be C9 with a 3W-3L record, whereas P1 and TSM finished Group Stage with 4W-2L and 5W-1L, respectively. In the grand finals, TSM swept UOL 3-0 to settle NA/EU rivalry for now. With a final score in groups like 12-6 in the NA’s favor, it was a wake-up call for EU teams and their fans alike.
Looking back on the first Rift Rivals, here are top 5 players in each position by their statistics.
▣ Hauntzer, the pillar of TSM
Top laners usually play to be the team’s tank or a frontline disruptor. Psychologically, though, they are the pillars that ground other players on the team. If an allied top laner can hold up his end against enemy advances, the mid laner and ADC will see momentum to their sides and have more faith in teamfights. On the other hand, if the top laner dies too early or plays too passively, carries will be limited in their abilities because then their first and foremost thought becomes survival, instead of winning.
In that sense, it’s not an exaggeration to call Hauntzer the best top laner in the tournament. His KDA during six games in Group Stage is 21/17/45. His death may seem a bit high at first glance, but top laners naturally incur more deaths to protect more vulnerable mid laners and ADCs. Characteristically bad teamfights often involve a live top laner and dead carries. Hauntzer performed in every teamfight, proving what it took to be an effective frontline initiator.
An honorable mention goes to P1’s Zig, but he fell behind Hauntzer on kill participation. With 50% KP, Zig looked strong in small skirmishes, but Hauntzer did one up on the P1’s top laner with 66%. All in all, Hauntzer show how far having an excellent top laner could elevate teamfighting.
▣ P1’s MikeYeung, the up-and-coming best jungler NA
It hasn’t even been a month since his debut, but MikeYeung is on everyone’s mind when considering who the best jungler in NA is. With a KDA of 19/13/59, he has the highest KDA ratio out of six junglers in the event, not to mention his 77% KP, which is the highest among junglers and the second highest among all players (the first place goes to P1’s Xpecial with 78%).
There are two things that set him apart from the pack. The first is his excellent positioning. Wherever there’s a teamfight, he seems to be there in the most optimal place, ready to strike. If there’s not an imminent teamfight, he will create one to strike fears into the enemies’ hearts. No matter how far it looked when an initial fight started, he’s always there to finish the job. Rift Rivals casters were also amazed by his impeccable map reads and responsiveness. Additionally, MikeYeung as a jungler yielded kills to other carries to further increase the team’s effectiveness as a whole.
His second strength comes from judgment calls and precision in teamfights. He repeatedly isolated and picked off enemy carries in the messiest of teamfights, and his Lee Sin was a treat to watch as his Dragon’s Rage rarely missed its mark in delivering key enemy targets to the middle of P1’s formation. It’s hard for P1 to do wrong after that.
▣ Jensen, C9’s key to victory
Despite C9’s relatively average results, Jensen outshined most mid laners in Rift Rivals. His KDA over six games is 19/5/33 with a KDA ratio of 10.4, which is the second highest out of all players in the tournament. It’s worth noting his number of deaths because one of the most common ways for teams to lose is by having carries unnecessarily die. On the highest level of plays like Rift Rivals, teams capitalize on the absence of main damage dealers, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out five players will likely beat out a team with four members standing.
Having died 5 times out of 6 games, his average death comes out to be 0.8. Being fully aware of the fact that the team’s glass cannon is ready to fire at any moment, C9 could comfortably look to continue fights, and Jensen brought the damage output without a fail. By combining the best of two worlds — being cautious and the ability to dish out burst damage — Jensen is among the top when it comes to focus and mechanical skills.
Perhaps the Danish mid laner’s performance redeemed the team’s last place standing in the event with 3W-3L. One nitpick is that his KP is quite lower than other mid laners like Ryu and Bjergsen. However, it’s not a huge difference, and I stand by my statement that Jensen was the best mid laner in Rift Rivals.
▣ P1 Arrow’s return to form
Arrow’s performance in the tournament was second to none. His KDA over six games is 27/6/46 with a KDA ratio of 12.2, and is the only player who is a step above Jensen. Arrow calmly dealt damage in any situation and played a pivotal role in the team, provided he wasn’t going to die in the process. There are many virtues that a good ADC should have, but one of them obviously is not dying. Not all deaths are created equal, and the death of an ADC especially in the late game spells a terrible news for the team because it effectively means that their damage output took a significant hit.
Arrow never overextended and showed the maximum performance he could without dying. His triumphant return to form may be partly attributed to the synergy with MikeYeung because the jungler ceaselessly harassed the opponent from top to mid lane, taking the enemy jungle pressure off of the P1’s bottom lane. It also helped that Arrow’s laning is quite good, evidenced by his keeping up alone in lane while Xpecial was frequently out and about roaming.
It was the moment when Arrow’s form in Spring Split came back alive. If MikeYeung opened in the early to mid game, Arrow was there to close all out against everyone’s expectations.
▣ Biofrost, TSM’s unsung hero
Though he didn’t stand out at first glance for his position having less flashy impact than other roles, Biofrost is one of the most impressive players in Rift Rivals. With a KDA ratio of 7.1 in Group Stage, he’s in 4th place while looking after the team’s carries. Technically speaking, his stats in the groups aren’t much more than average.
Yet, Biofrost was ready to show his true self when it mattered the most — the grand finals. In the 3-0 sweep over UOL, his KDA came out to be 2/6/47 with 80% KP. His KDA ratio was 8.2, or 3rd out of 12 players, whereas his KP being the second best. Looking at these numbers in comparison with Doublelift helps to put things into perspective.
In the same duration, Doublelift came out with KDA of 17/6/34 as well as 2nd highest KDA ratio and the highest KP. It goes to show how much of an influence the bottom lane duo had over the three games in the finals, not to mention TSM’s prominence in laning phase. With all things being equal, bottom lane matchup primarily relies on support. Considering UOL’s support Hylissang’s KDA was 1.1 in Game 3 of finals, you can have an idea of how well Biofrost did in comparison.