Every year, Rift Rivals have given the best Oceanic teams the opportunity to prove themselves internationally as they represent their region in a grand war against their rival regions of Southeast Asian and Japan. Oceania, Southeast Asia, and Japan are often categorised as ‘emerging regions’ due to a smaller scale of competition infrastructure and fanbase, but it is exactly the goal of breaking out of these chains which have injected these three regions with the burning passion and drive to do only one thing – win. Here, a dominant international win is not only just a crown to wear, but a statement to other major servers to keep an eye of for what’s behind them.
This year, Southeast Asia presented an intimidating line-up. Ascension Gaming is heralded as Thailand’s most dominant team, and Kuala Lumpur Hunters have continued their domestic streak by winning eight back-to-back major tournaments. Older league players may remember the prestige of Mineski’s name as participants in the Season 3 Worlds Championship.
Bringing the trophy from last year’s Rift Rivals is none other than Japan. PENTAGRAM may be an unfamiliar name, but are actually a rebranded Rampage (who participated in last year’s Rift Rivals). DetonatioN is an old guard of the Japanese League scene as its first full-time professional League team, and have continued to stay dominant.
And finally comes the boys. The homies. The squad. OCE’s finest. While Oceania may have come third in last year’s Rift Rivals, this year has seen the region have a tremendous growth. The Dire Wolves are bloodthirsty, and are ready to pounce any teams which fail to show respect. Even if they did closely miss out on MSI, the oldguard Chiefs have concisely proven that they are far from fading away. Legacy have proved their true grit and resilience as an organisation over and over again. Having to start in the first round of Split 1 playoffs, Legacy managed to win two series 3-2 to have a valiant semi-final run.
Day One of the group stage saw favourable results for OCE, with The Chiefs taking the first win of the tournament against DetonatioN. However, albeit a dominant early and mid-game, The Chiefs lost their second game of the day against Kuala Lumpur Hunters as they were unable to close the 45-minute game and rushed themselves to a poorly executed final teamfight. Fortunately, the Dire Wolves were able to regain OCE’s momentum with a clean and dominant 30 minute cleave against the Kuala Lumpur Hunters.
If there was to be a day where OCE was to be tested to it’s limit, then it would be Day Two of groups. OCE had to play four out of the 5 games of the day against unique teams. However, the boys made us proud and proved themselves as the frontrunners of the regional rivalry with a hard fought and well-deserved combined 4-0 result.
While OCE was unable to fully carry their unstoppable momentum in Day Three, they still had a strong showing and represented their region with pride. While The Chiefs and Dire Wolves took the win against Ascension Gaming and PENTAGRAM, Legacy was unable to push back against Mineski’s impressive earlygame (Mineski also finished with a perfect record in group stage).
In all, OCE displayed dominance in all aspects, with The Chiefs and Legacy only losing one game and Dire Wolves being undefeated. With OCE and SEA having respectively 8-2 and 4-6 records, these two regions advanced to the finals.
However, now came the real challenge – a best of five series against Southeast Asia. Would OCE finally win their first international tournament and make a statement as a region, or will they once again fall short from the glory?
With both teams looking to hit the ground running, OCE played the undefeated Dire Wolves against SEA’s also undefeated Mineski. With OCE’s first seed against Southeast Asia’s third seed, an easy Oceanic victory was expected. However, not all went to plan, with Mineski styling on Dire Wolves with vastly superior laning.
Game Two, Legacy vs Ascension, was a vital opportunity for OCE to regain momentum and establish control over the series. Legacy was able to dominate early and midgame with an unexpected Aatrox pick from Mimic in the toplane and a well-rounded from Claire’s Zoe in the midlane. However, as Aatrox started to fall off in the lategame, Legacy started to find difficulty in winning teamfights.
However, while it may have seemed that Legacy had finally lost control of the game, Claire’s ability to stay cool under pressure serves as testament to Legacy’s resilience as they bring to series to a relieving 1-1.
With the series being tied up 1-1, Game Three was a reset point for both regions. A well-executed Chiefs gank toplane allowed SwpierR to secure lane dominance on his Kled pocket-pick, which further allowed Big Swips to flex his global pressure to allow The Chiefs to have initiative throughout the whole game. It was only about time for Chiefs to win the final teamfight off a spicy flank from ry0ma coupled with a strong engage from SwpierR.
By the time Game Four arrived, it already felt too late Southeast Asia. The compelling win by the oldguard Chiefs against Mineski swayed the Oceanic crowd into waves of triumphant cheers.
GG! This marks the first time that Oceania has won an international tournament! OCE has been known deliver strong international performances albeit always falling just short, but this Rift Rivals may prove that the tides are starting to change direction…
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Written by Kenzo “Macint0sh Plus” Jeanson [2018 Marketing (Publications) Subcommittee]
All game footage taken from League of Legends Oceania YouTube Channel
All statistics taken from Leauguepedia