PapaSmithy on LCK’s performance at Rift Rivals: “I hope (Rift Rivals) is the final bit of encouragement for the Korean teams to double down on improving”

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Is the gap between LCK and the rest of the world finally closing? LCK finished Rift Rivals group stage with a score of 4 wins and 4 losses, behind LPL’s 6 wins and 2 losses. Kingzone DragonX suffered defeats against both Flash Wolves and Royal Never Give Up, while Afreeca Freecs and SKT also lost to their respective LPL teams, EDG and iG. LPL’s strong performance sends them directly to the finals. The LMS and LCK must now fight in a best of 5 match in order to decide which region goes against LPL in the finals.

On the subject of LCK’s performance at Rift Rivals and whether LPL has now caught up to or has even overtaken LCK, Chris “PapaSmithy” Smith said: “It’s not lost on me that the only international tournament China has failed to win since the last Rift Rivals is Worlds – I hope this tournament is the final bit of encouragement for the Koreans teams to double down on improving together.” He added, “The power of teams like RNG, EDG and the LMS’ Flash Wolves is undeniable.”


What are your thoughts on the performance of Kingzone DragonX? They always seem to struggle in international stages. In Kingzone’s match against RNG, it seemed that Kingzone had issues in both drafts and execution.

It can’t be ignored that Kingzone’s international performances haven’t echoed their domestic performances from Worlds 2017 onwards – to me it looks like the decision making and shotcalling that is clean in Sangam Estadium and Nexon Arena (The venues for LCK matches) gets muddied and falls apart during international events, leading to Kingzone looking much less decisive.

It also looked like KZ had issues with their drafts, especially in their match against RNG.

I can understand that on paper it looks like KZ were outdrafted, but I think KZ had a lot of tools to win that game but their execution failure on the bot lane dive was much more pivotal to the result than leaving Nocturne and Zoe available.

What are your thoughts on KT and SKT’s performances in Rift Rivals so far?

I think KT have been immaculate – smart drafts, good execution, minimizing mistakes. I thought Deft/Mata laned insanely well in their match vs RW, Deft won the game with his smart item purchase timing and being very unselfish delaying his tear item purchase for so long to keep lane control.

SKT should be very proud of their group stage performance – comfortable victory over their LMS opponent and a strong controlled performance over iG before one teamfight let them down is a good return for a team that only in the past 3-4 series has found their groove – they came into this tournament with 0 wins playing with Wolf.

Is the gap finally closing? Have the tables turned and is LCK now in the position of chasing LPL, not the other way around?

I don’t think Rift Rivals group stage is the time to decide this topic. This tournament is multiple different metas feeling themselves out, so the experience is the important part, but it’s not lost on me that the only international tournament China has failed to win since the last Rift Rivals is Worlds – I hope this tournament is the final bit of encouragement for the Koreans teams to double down on improving together, because the power of teams like RNG, EDG and the LMS’ Flash Wolves is undeniable

 

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