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We're back from Rift Rivals, and things are changing rapidly. Royal Never Give Up doesn't seem hurt from the loss of its star carry, G2 went 0-2 last week, and North America continues to keep things close within its rankings.
Nos. 1-10: World contenders
Nos. 11-20: Playoff contenders
Nos. 21-30: Middle of the pack
Nos. 31-40: Struggling
Nos. 41-52: Bottom of the barrel
1. Royal Never Give Up
Record: 7-1 | League: LPL | +/-: --
No Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao? No problem, for now at least. While the star AD carry has stepped down for a bit per doctor's orders for rest, top laner Liu "Zz1tai" Zhi-Hao has stepped into the bottom lane and back to his original role in mid for picks like Swain and Fiora. In Game 3 against EDward Gaming, RNG ran a super composition around Liu "Mlxg" Shi-Yu with the team's other jungler, Hung "Karsa" Hau-Hsuan, also starting. Uzi's absence has allowed RNG to experiment with some of the less standard compositions that the meta has to offer - the least standard champion pick for Uzi this split was a one-off Kennen bot, unless you want to count Vayne - and funnel resources into other players on the team's extremely talented lineup. We'll be glad when Uzi returns, but it doesn't seem like his absence will hurt RNG too much.
2. Invictus Gaming
Record: 6-1 | League: LPL | +/-: --
Invictus Gaming only had one match in this short Week 4, and it was a quick 2-0 for the team's first summer interconference series. Jungler Gao "Ning" Zhen-Ning's overly-aggressive tendencies were curbed a bit with a Galio to support him in Game 1, and the result was a perfect game, with Ning crushing FPX's Chen "Alex" Yu-Ming. Yet, Ning's decision-making in Game 2 was a bit shakier and against a stronger team, could have cost iG a lot more. We've harped on Ning's inconsistencies already this split, but they continue to stand out, especially when his jungle presence was more reliable in 2018 LPL Spring during iG's incredible run through the regular season.
3. EDward Gaming
Record: 5-2 | League: LPL | +/-: +3
We saw less of the LoL Pro League teams this past week - three days of eight total games as opposed to the LCK's ten games over five days - and EDward Gaming had the toughest matchup with a series against East Region powerhouse RNG. In Game 1, EDG also pulled out a Camille/Galio composition for jungler Chen "Haro" Wen-Lin and mid laner Lee "Scout" Ye-chan adding a Gangplank for Jeon Ji-won for extra global damage. Yet, even with an early lead in Game 2, EDG's teamfight decision-making cost them the game. EDG's players can become a bit too overconfident at times, especially with a lead, costing them early advantages. Game 3 was a bit of the same, with EDG trying to fight RNG's super composition when they couldn't hold their own in a 5-on-5. It was a close series, but RNG's creativity and coordination got the better of EDG in the end, which still need steadier calls in high-pressure moments.
Record: 8-1 | League: LCK | +/-: +6
Much has been made of Griffin's easy early schedule, which kept the team a bit lower than its record would have suggested until this week. As it turns out, that slow start was important, since it allowed Griffin to grow and improve significantly as a unit from a Week 1 messy near-loss against Hanwha Life Esports to the team that has beaten all of South Korea's supposed top teams outside of KT Rolster. Griffin isn't a peerless team, but anyone can carry and all members have been fairly flexible in the team's strong transition from scaling hypercarry compositions played in 2018 Challengers Korea Spring to bottom lane mages. A few cracks in the team's early game need work, but few teams in Korea will be able to exploit them, especially with Griffin's strong teamfighting, which can easily punish opponents' mistakes.
Record: 7-3 | League: LCK | +/-: --
The top of LoL Champions Korea is in flux, and this week Gen.G lost to Griffin but rebounded fairly well against Hanwha Life Esports. All of South Korea's top teams have exploitable weaknesses, and Griffin took full advantage of Gen.G stalling when the team had strong map pressure mid-to-early. This week also saw more of mid laner Lee "Crown" Min-ho and Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong in the starting rotation. While Song "Fly" Yong-jun will remain the more likely mid lane starter, Gen.G possibly could return to swapping between Ambition and jungler Kang "Haru" Min-seung now that jungle picks have shifted a bit on 8.13 -- or at least until the rest of Gen.G can play better around Haru's early game or draft him safer picks. Gen.G continue to stick to the team's gameplan of standard AD carries in the bottom lane for Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk and their teamfights in the Griffin series were fun to watch.
6. Rogue Warriors
Record: 6-1 | League: LPL | +/-: +2
It's been said before in these power rankings but it bears repeating: it's been fun to watch Rogue Warriors go from a one-note team in 2018 LPL Spring -- compositions focused almost solely on AD carry Han "Smlz" Jin on scaling carries -- to a team that's a bit more flexible. This week, Rogue Warriors had a bit of a return to the Smlz carry days, with the bot laner sometimes turning the tide of an entire game with an individual outplay and jungler Sung "Flawless" Yeon-jun's giving Smlz attention bot side. Mid laner Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang also defaulted to Lulu, with extra support for Flawless and Smlz. Rogue Warriors didn't look polished in the Suning series, but when push came to shove, the team returned more to its old spring style and won.
7. Hanwha Life
Record: 6-4 | League: LCK | +/-: +4
Hanwha Life Esports is still one of the more frustrating teams to watch in South Korea right now. This isn't because they're bad, but because the team's in-game mistakes are wholly fixable and often occur when they should have a game in hand due to a fairly efficient early game. Hanwha may not have the headlining roster names of a Kingzone DragonX or KT Rolster, but the team makes up for this through coordination and a strong understanding of individual champion pools and playstyles -- a continuation of this same roster's strength back when it was the ROX Tigers. In South Korea right now, Hanwha is part of a cluster of teams that are all hovering at about the same level, but all lack consistency or flexibility. Hanwha is placed above the rest in these power rankings for a close loss to Gen.G and two wins over KT Rolster and SK Telecom T1.
8. KT Rolster
Record: 6-4 | League: LCK | +/-: -1
When KT Rolster showed up strong at 2018 LCK-LPL-LMS Rift Rivals, South Korean fans were shocked that the team wasn't sent in as the LCK's final relay team over the Afreeca Freecs given KT's momentum. Yet, these same fans were scarily accurate in describing what would happen to KT upon returning to the LCK: lose against the team that on paper appears easier for KT to beat in Hanwha Life and beat the team that looks easier to lose to in the Freecs. At times, KT look like the best team in South Korea and at other times they give the opposing Nami a triple kill in an early-game slugfest. KT's highs and lows are now standard for the team, making the motto "They're only consistent in their inconsistency" scarily accurate. Where KT is typically strong is in the early game. This is how KT was able to beat Griffin in Week 3, through a strong early game and smart teamfighting. If only KT could transition into the mid and late game more effectively to secure consistent wins.
9. Afreeca Freecs
Record: 6-4 | League: LCK | +/-: -6
If the Rift Rivals hangover is real, then the Afreeca Freecs were one of the South Korean teams hardest hit (outside of Kingzone DragonX's loss to the Jin Air Green Wings) The Afreeca Freecs have all the tools to be the best team in South Korea but, much like other teams in this cluster including Gen.G, Hanwha Life, and KT Rolster, success depends on who they're playing, what compositions they choose, and the team's mental condition. Despite a strong early-game blueprint to beat Griffin from KT Rolster the week prior, Afreeca faltered and tested out other KT picks, like a Vel'Koz bot for Ha "Kramer" Jong-hun, that didn't work out nearly as well. The now-permanent ban of Rakan against Park "TusiN" Jong-ik has also stripped Afreeca of one of its primary initiators that made the team so strong in spring.
10. Flash Wolves
Record: 5-0 | League: LMS | +/-: +2
The king of Taiwan is back in the top-10 for the first time since 2017, and for good reason -- it just keeps beating elite teams. A strong performance at Rift Rivals solidifies Flash Wolves' current status as the king of the early game, despite a loss to SK Telecom T1 to end the event. The snowball-centric meta continues to play into the hands of Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Jie and Lu "Betty" Yu-Hung, as they continue to embrace the diversity of picks in the bot lane, whether it's Mordekaiser and Vladimir. Flash Wolves might very well be the best early-game team in the entire world, even if it can't keep it together for an entire best-of-five.
11. Kingzone DragonX
Record: 7-3 | League: LCK | +/-: -7
Gen.G through Afreeca Freecs is a cluster of South Korean teams in these rankings where each team have strong points and will beat up on each other, but also have clear weaknesses or inconsistencies. Kingzone has fallen below all of them, not only for the team's poor LCK-LPL-LMS Rift Rivals performance but for an unlikely loss to the Jin Air Green Wings. At this point, Kingzone needs to shore up its early game in order to make any serious run at another LCK title. It's also likely, due to circuit points, that Kingzone will be one of South Korea's representatives at this World Championship. If the team wants to have a chance at getting Kim "PraY" Jong-in or Kang "GorillA" Beom-hyeon a Worlds title, it will have to address it's misuse of early pressure and top laner Kim "Khan" Dong-ha's decline in performance come mid and late game.
12. JD Gaming
Record: 6-1 | League: LPL | +/-: -3
JD Gaming's one series this week was against a struggling Team WE, who is still trying to find footing with a larger roster. This week JDG showcased a few different styles, including a funnel composition in Game 1, and a split pressure composition around mid laner Zeng "YaGao" Qi's Smite Ekko. If you don't know about YaGao yet, you should. He's one of the LPL's most talented up-and-coming players, and is one of the reasons why JDG has continued to look strong and improve from spring to summer. The team has also grown together, showing more flexibility with compositions than one would have initially thought.
Record: 8-0 | League: EU LCS | +/-: +1
Misfits is 8-0 and shows no signs of slowing down. This last week, Misfits decisively smacked down G2 Esports and Vitality, remaining as the sole undefeated team in Europe. Misfits continue to embrace strong marksman picks in this meta, securing a damage advantage later in the game by cautiously playing around mid lane in the early game. This week featured less fireworks from Misfits overall, but one can imagine just how much worse North America would have lost Rift Rivals, had it been present at the event.
13. G2 Esports
Record: 6-2 | League: EU LCS | +/-: -1
G2 might have been undefeated before the last week of EU LCS, but after a loss at Rift Rivals, two more losses back home don't feel so good. G2 dropped a game to the respectable Misfits, but being outpaced by Giants Gaming's Nocturne and Galio comp is a kick to its current standing. Funnel comps have consistently worked for G2 up to this point and perhaps, that's what it needs to really get back on track before it loses too much steam.
14. Snake Esports
Record: 5-3 | League: LPL | +/-: +5
At the start of the split, we praised Snake Esports for the team's wherewithal in recognizing that the team could play without an AD carry. Snake started both support players and devised compositions around jungler Lê "SofM" Quang Duy and top laner Li "Flandre" Xuan-Jun as the team's two primary focal points or carries. Unfortunately, the duo bot supports also pigeonholed Snake into a more top-side-focused style that opponents began to figure out. Alongside Snake's general inconsistencies, the team fell a bit in the standings. Against LGD, Snake returned to a more traditional style, starting AD carry Wang "Light" Guang-Yu on Ashe and Lucian. More recently in the team's series against BiliBili Gaming, Snake showed off a funnel composition around SofM's Kai'Sa with Light on Varus. If starting Light brings more flexibility to Snake, we're all for it. Now Snake's in-game execution just needs to catch up to the team's creativity.
16. Suning Gaming
Record: 3-4 | League: LPL | +/-: -1
This week's match against Rogue Warriors was a test for Suning Gaming. As one of the middle-of-the-pack teams in the East Region, interleague play offers a chance to grab a few wins on West Region opponents. Unfortunately for Suning, the team's first matchup was against Rogue Warriors. Suning had strong early pressure but the difference-maker was Rogue Warriors' superior teamfighting, and a few individual outplays. That being said, it was a close 2-1 that included a Game 2 stomp against Smlz's Caitlyn and Doinb's Smite Talon. Suning also tried out mid laner Xiang "Angel" Tao over Huang "fenfen" Chen in the team's search for a mid comparable to the missing, and extremely talented, Zhuo "Knight" Ding. Angel performed well in the series, making his own case for a starting spot.
17. Team Liquid
Record: 5-3 | League: NA LCS | +/-: -1
So, Team Liquid got blown out 19-1 against FlyQuest, a team that began the season 0-3 and was looked upon as by far the weakest team in the league. Now FlyQuest is 4-4, there are eight North American teams bunched together at the top of the standings, and Liquid sits in the awkward position of being the king of the trash heap. Usually, NA builds up momentum going into Worlds to only disappoint its fans in the second week of group stage play.
Not this year. NA got beat up at Rift Rivals, Liquid failed to make it to the semifinals of the Mid-Season Invitational, and we're at the point where the best team in North America is a squad who got slapped around by a team not many expect to even make the playoffs. Welcome to North America.
Record: 5-3 | League: EU LCS | +/-: +2
Fnatic continues to see mixed success with Martin "Rekkles" Larsson benched in favor of two top laners, Gabriel "Bwipo" Rau and Paul "sOAZ" Boyer. The team was comprehensively routed by Splyce in an effective early-game snowball executed around the 2-on-2 potential of Camille and Zoe, but it felt more like an "oopsie" than a call for panic. The kings of Europe still bounced back against lower-table Roccat with a dominant Kindred pick to counter the herbivorous nature of Sejuani as a jungler.
19. MAD Team
Record: 5-0 | League: LMS | +/-: -1
MAD stays in the top-20 despite a poor showing at Rift Rivals against KT Rolster and Invictus Gaming, largely due its 5-0 record back home that is only matched by Flash Wolves. MAD was exposed for its poor macro game internationally and the team's general lack of experience showed, but the talent brimming on the roster is obvious. Assuming the team can continue to improve, MAD should be an interesting factor when it comes to the LMS playoffs this Summer and perhaps even -- the World Championship.
Record: 5-3 | League: EU LCS | +/-: +3
Vitality is the top European team looking in when it comes to the playoff scheme, but that doesn't mean it's incompetent. Vitality's roster is more based on potential, but its steady improvements in mid-game transitions will make the team more dangerous. A close affair with Misfits might have resulted in a loss, but that is certainly a step forward for this squad as it moves into the top-20.