On the 6th, at the Seoul Jang-Choong Stadium, the semifinal of the 2019 Rift Rivals: LCK/LPL/LMS/VCS went underway. In order, LPL's JDG, TES, and FPX played against and defeated LMS-VCS's FW, MAD, and DBL to advance to the Grand Final, where LCK awaits.
With only the Grand Final of the event remaining, the head coach of each finalist team was invited for a jointed interview.
LCK: GRF cvMax, DWG Micro, SKT kkOma, KZ Hirai
LPL: IG Karam, FPX Warhorse, JDG Homme, TES BSYY
What do you think your players learned from their experience here at Rift Rivals?
JDG: They gained stage experience. LCK is a powerful region. The fact that they held their own against the LCK teams is a feat in itself.
IG: We underperformed back in the LPL. Taking two victories here at Rift Rivals brightened up the team atmosphere.
GRF: 2019 Rift Rivals is my team's very first international event - everyone was very nervous coming in. After winning our two games, however, we regained confidence. We're feeling a lot more comfortable.
DWG: This is our team's first international event as well. It'll be a valuable experience for us. With what we're learning, I think we'll perform better once we return to the LCK.
SKT: We learned the meta of the other regions.
As head coaches, which opposing coach do you want to face at the Finals?
GRF: I'm just a mediator within the team. The players are the ones who form a strategy.
DWG: There isn't a particular team that comes to mind. However, I think playing against IG would be the most fun.
KZ: There isn't a specific coach that I want to face. Personally, I wanted to meet RNG. It's unfortunate that they aren't here. Hopefully, we'll meet them at a future event.
JDG: I want to face DAMWON. DWG's head coach, Micro, really helped our team out in the past. I want to play against his team.
IG: I want to meet each and every LCK team. There isn't any one particular team.
Please reveal which team will play first tomorrow at the Grand Final.
IG: Invictus Gaming will play first for the LPL.
KZ: Kingzone DragonX will play first for the LCK.
Explain your decisions.
KZ: All the LCK coaches gathered for a meeting. We made many predictions and discussed on what'll be the best for our region. I believe the decision that we made today is the most optimal one. We correctly predicted that IG will play first.
IG: The LPL coaches also had about an hour-long meeting after our semifinal match. I told the other LPL teams that we [IG] wanted to play first. They agreed and let us play.
Now that you know which team will play first at the Final, how will you prepare?
IG: There's a lot to think about now. We'll need to think this through.
KZ: We expected the LPL to send out IG first, as they probably predicted SKT to play first for the LCK. We wanted to throw them off, and that's why my team is playing first at the Finals. There is a behind story to this. During the meeting, kkOma told the other LCK coaches that SKT really wanted to play against IG. However, the other coaches thought it was a better idea to save SKT for later.
Which specific player do you think will the most threatening in the first round?
KZ: Each and every IG player is very talented. The entire team is threatening.
IG: I believe TusiN is a very talented player. He's the player that I feel is the most threatening from Kingzone.
Which side did you choose to play?
KZ: We chose blue side. It's more suitable for what we're planning.
IG: We weren't given an option to choose.
What have you felt or learned from your LCK vs. LPL battles here at Rift Rivals?
GRF: We only faced JDG, but I think the LPL is great at drafting the proper team composition for their battle-intense playstyle. Our team learned a lot from our game against JDG.
DWG: Overall, the LPL teams had a strong laning phase. They enjoy fighting - it's a type of playstyle that you don't often see in the LCK. When our team was in the challenger league, we often scrimmed against the LPL teams. As a result, from amongst the LCK teams, I think DWGWON's playstyle is closest to that of the LPL's. Our team worked on absorbing the strengths of both regions.
KZ: Our team has been watching a lot of the LPL matches. I felt that the LPL is playing a lot less aggressively here at RR. Maybe they're playing more carefully? Their laning phase and macro gameplay are still very strong.
SKT: The LPL is a region that is famous for its aggressive playstyle. However, they seem to be prioritizing macro here at RR.
JDG: In my opinion, I believe the LCK's strength comes from its players' ability to play the meta champions at a high level.
IG: LCK's macro and teamfighting seem to be in a good state right now. Their ability to turn around a losing game is also noticeably strong. It's something that our team needs to learn.
FPX: The LCK teams' playstyle is different from before. Back then, the LCK more or less played 'traditional League of Legends'. Now, each LCK team seems to have their own unique playstyle.
TES: Each LCK team has their own way of playing the game. They seem to really test their limits.
Tell us your resolution for the Grand Final.
TES: We're the fourth team that's competing on behalf of the LPL. Therefore, we'll try to play without feeling too much pressure.
FPS: We'll fix the issues that we had during the last 3 days [of Rift Rivals] and come back stronger at the Finals.
IG: I come to every tournament with the same mindset: we'll win all our matches. Our team will do their best as to not harm the LPL's reputation.
JDG: We'll also do our best to not harm the LPL's reputation.
SKT: No matter what happens tomorrow, we'll win and contribute to the LCK's victory. I can't wait to play tomorrow. I was in despair when our team lost against IG during the group stage. Tomorrow, we'll win no matter what it takes.
KZ: The other three LCK teams are all powerful teams. Our team will do their best to not drag the other three down.
DWG: There's nothing to lose for us. I'm confident that we'll win against whoever we face. I really want to see the LCK win Rift Rivals. DWG will prepare well.
GRF: This is our team's very first international event, so we're receiving a lot of help from the other LCK teams. We'll take what we've learned and perform well tomorrow.
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