_TL:DR - Freaking loved the new talent among represented teams. Feels bad for LMS/VCS. Worries that the results will warp community perception again among all major regions._
Rift Rivals Asia was an impressive showing. Congrats to the LCK for **finally** taking the title...but that's not the reason it was impressive. I found it more exciting that the green and green enough talent that represented for both LPL and LCK got to showcase something on international stage, win or lose. That right there is something I can be humbled by more so than the Western counterpart. It wouldn't be right though if I didn't do a brief reaction. But what can I really say?
## Team Critique
I guess commiserations go out to the LMS/VCS representatives as they were completely outclassed by pride driven rivals without even a say in spoiler or exposure of weakness. Even going in, Flash Wolves weren't looking great - easily one of the worst performing teams among major regions over the summer split so far - and MAD Team were just as lofty. VCS counterparts in Dashing Buffalo and EVOS albeit performing fine domestically still live under the greener potential pool. Basically they were all humans in a saiyan fight. Makes me a little sad because I like my good parity in competition.
Meanwhile the LPL had its rocky road as well as playing 2 patches behind domestically: a lesser excuse. A returning Rookie to the IG lineup after absence from family reasons made for possible lack of readjustment. And of course the rest of the representatives weren't the absolute best the region had to offer: fresh talent with a few kinks of veteran experience to be more specific. It's easy to pardon however because it was made more competitive than a complete wash. But unlike the other losers, there's a big what if it were RNG, EDG, etc?
## The IEM Symptom
More into that power curve, the LMS reps plus JD Gaming of the LPL had that of an IEM representation in my book: good enough to earn the spot but entered the tournament at a less than desired spot since earning the opportunity. Long time League fanatics know what I'm talking about: it was like IEM Season 8 where Team WE qualified for the World Championship 8 months or something before the actual event only to go there and get knocked right out of the tournament from postseason and meta changes. It's not like this hasn't existed before (Phoenix 1 and Splyce off the top of my head) but it is these small things that make for subverted expectations and warped realities. Yeah, JDG got 2nd in Spring but they were still the 8th seed in that playoffs and are still fluttering around that 8th place realm domestically.
## The rest of Summer
Nonetheless, fresh talent is quite uplifting! And now it really draws the question: who should represent at Worlds?! Even before Rift Rivals, LCK had a good 4-5 teams capable of showing promise to represent surprisingly enough not even counting SKT. Hell they would have existed in the paragraph above but they actually had a fair showing unlike their summer so far. But still: Damwon, Griffin, FunPlus Phoenix, Top Esports, and the close to represent in Sandbox. LPL and LCK really have some teams that would be satisfying to see represent over the same old guard. But only time will play part to that.
## How to Power Ranking?
First of all I'll be one to say I hate ESPN's power rankings and something really tells me that with the LCK victory, numerous teams are going to be spiked in the ranking despite domestic strengths and weaknesses. Frankly that wouldn't feel fair in my opinion; power rankings to me are more than just solely A over B results. Plus the LCK reps were already in good standing barring SKT; I rather let it just show.
In past years I never used Rift Rivals as a gauge to power rank mostly because teams that didn't represent would have their ratings warped for nothing. This year however, I will let it play some influence; the teams that played (even in EU and NA) get a watch but no changes will be made _until_ return to domestic competition. Case in point: FPX, G2, and/or FNC aren't just going to plummet out of the Top 3 and KZ and DWG aren't going to spike to that replacement. I just want to see the legitimate aftermath first.
That's all I got on Rift Rivals. Regular season coverage continues over the upcoming week and I'm looking forward to it!