Soo-hwan "Jopssal" Hyun, a.k.a JSS, is a Korean caster & commentator that has been garnering a lot of attention from the Korean League of Legends community. He's been commentating on LEC and LCS leagues' games for 3 years... and with the recent rise of EU, his analysis on the game and each major league became a hot topic within the community.
As an analyst, Hyun enjoys making predictions as to what'll happen during an ongoing game and who'll eventually win. Even though making predictions like that isn't a good image for a commentator such as himself, and It's quite easy to mispredict the outcome of a game, He likes to predict based on his analysis. Because he is a passionate LoL commentator who has not missed a single LCK, LPL, LCS, and LEC game.
The following is a report about The Legacy Left Behind By 2019 Rift Rivals.
Rift Rivals Blue: NA vs. EULiquid: The only LCS team that reacted properly, The clue of Worlds 2019 meta
The games were very entertaining. The best RR I've seen so far. The MSI only invites one team per region, so the previous MSI wasn't accurate nor fair for anyone to compare the regions through those teams alone. The 2019 Rift Rivals, on the other hand, really showed how different the two regions are. LCS has a similar playstyle to that of the LCK, and the LEC has a similar playstyle to that of the LPL. It was like I was getting an early look of the Asian Rift Rivals.
Aside from Team Liquid, every other NA team struggled against the EU teams. Liquid was the only LCS team that reacted properly to EU's playstyle, especially prominent on the match where they defeated G2. They showed the fans that Europe's fast tempo playstyle isn't undefeatable. When the enemy team bundled together trying to lure out advantageous fights, CoreJJ immediately joined the topside to match the number. It was also very impressive how Liquid engaged without hesitation when an opportunity arose.
Another thing that left a big impression on me during this Rift Rivals was the picks & bans strategy utilized by the two regions. I feel like what we saw will become the 2019 Worlds meta.
Last year, one of the reasons as to how IG won Worlds was in picks & bans strategy. IG would begin by picking an 'OP' champion that can either go top or mid lane. When the enemy team picked a champion to counter that 'OP' champ, IG picked a counter to that champion and sent their 'OP' pick into another lane to maintain their lane advantages. This tactic eventually led IG to win the tournament.
Fnatic who fell to IG's lane swap last year at the Worlds Finals, began swapping not only the mid and top lane, but the bot lane as well. Fnatic is not only swapping champions around, but they're swapping their laners as well.
The core of this strategy is to reinforce a team comp's weakness through swapping champions and lanes. For example, let's say there is a team composition that shares massive synergy. This comp works unbelievably well together in the mid-to-late game but is weak during the early game. So what Fnatic is basically doing is shortening that 'period of weakness' as much as possible.
A team composition that has three late game carry champions is another good example. It's common sense for people to think that in order for that type of composition to work, the carries need to be able to survive the early game and scale. But in truth, if two sides are evenly skilled, it's nearly impossible for that kind of composition to work. It's only a strategy that'd work against the bottom tier teams. However, if you can endure or even win that early game through swapping lanes, you're basically removing the comp's weakness and amplifying its strength.
When G2 picked top lane Pyke during the Rift Rivals, the enemy team picked Camille to counter him. In response, G2 sent their Pyke to the jungle and sent Olaf, a pick that was meant to be the jungler, to the top lane to counter the Fiora. With this strategy, Pyke was able to fully utilize his strength while removing Fiora's. They successfully maintained their comp's synergy while making the laning phase easier to deal with. It's a very smart and creative way to play the game.
Rift Rivals Red: KR vs. CNThe region which will face EU at the Worlds Finals
At first, I honestly thought that the LPL held a solid advantage over the LCK. I thought that because of how different the two regions approach teamfights. LPL is a league that often makes bold engages, whereas the LCK is a league that prefers countering the enemy's engages. In the current meta, it's very important to keep an aggressive tempo over your opponent, so it's a huge handicap for a team to give its opposition the option to engage first.
But the results were completely opposite to what I predicted. LCK was able to easily negate the LPL's attacks. The LCK took a very one-sided victory. The games were quite interesting, too. During the Rift Rivals, there were many instances where the LCK teams simply swatted away the LPL whenever they engaged.
Whenever that happened, the LCK won. It was a type of teamfight that the LPL teams haven't experienced before. They didn't know about the risk that can come with chasing too deep. There were many cases where the LCK followed up with a counter-attack whenever the LPL dove too deep during RR. The LPL was the one making all the engages, but the LCK made those engages meaningless.
I think the match between FunPlus Phoenix and Kingzone was the most meaningful one. Kingzone gave FPX the option to engage first. It could've gone really badly for KZ, but they still managed to win through proper positioning and juggling the enemy's attacks.
LCK that needed to improve on their teamfight initiations, and the LPL that needed to be clear of whether to continue chasing or to back off after engaging - the strengths and weaknesses of both regions were highly visible throughout the tournament. The quality of the gameplay was also at a very high level.
Chovy's fastpaced playstyle on Talon, Faker's Neeko roams that the fans were wanting to see, DAMWON proving that their S-class top laner can hold his own on the international stage, and Kingzone that proved just how capable they are.
IG who is still as threatening as ever, FPX that proved their strength on the international stage, JD Gaming that needs to work on consistency, and Top Esports that, though quite solid, needs to stay on the offense.
It'll be important for both regions to quickly increase the level of completion of their playstyle and find a way to deal with the other region's playstyle. This year's Rift Rivals: KR/CN/LMS/VN gave us a good idea in which region is more competitive than the others. It seems very likely that the winner of this tournament will face Europe at the World Championship with the Summoner's Cup on the line.
Photo Credit: Riot Games