The Echo Fox Team

Keeping the faith: Echo Fox, Dardoch and the case for second chances

The path of Echo Fox

When Echo Fox joined the NA LCS prior to the 2016 Spring Split, the expectations and excitement were high. Purchasing the spot from Gravity, former NBA Star and actor Rick Fox wasted no time. He invested quickly and heavily in foreign talent, but due to Visa issues among other things, Echo Fox ended their first split in 7th place. By the end of that year, they found themselves facing NRG Esports in a best of five series for the right to stay in the NA LCS. Though they avoided relegation, they ended both 2017 Splits in 8th place. By the start of 2018, they had a completely new roster. Now, sitting atop the NA LCS at 7-1, they have defied critics with a roster full of second chances.

 

Dardoch and Echo Fox

Courtesy of LoL Esports

 

Dardoch

The signing of Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett to yet another team was one of the most talked about stories this preseason. Since signing with AffNity in 2014, he played for no less than nine teams before finally landing with Echo Fox. The year he spent with Team Liquid was his longest stint in one place. During that time he bounced between being a starter, a substitute and a member of their Academy team.  

A mechanically talented player, the cause of his frequent moves was not because of poor performance. Instead, most were due to personal differences with other members of the organizations. Before long, this understandably earned him the reputation of being hard to work with. Other than Team Liquid, each team that signed him found a replacement within six months. He represented Immortals, Counter Logic Gaming and even found his way back into a Team Liquid uniform for a split before being signed by Echo Fox.

Now, it seems that he has figured out whatever issues he had with teams in the past. Dardoch has built a rapport with his team that is not just built on his talent, but also his presence as a teammate. Additionally, he has excelled on the rift with his current team, and is looking more dominant than ever. Adding improved decision-making and pathing to his already impressive mechanics, he leads both the NA and EU LCS junglers by a margin of over 20 assists after only four weeks of play.

 

A common theme

Though he may be the most well known example, Dardoch’s story isn’t exactly unique on the Echo Fox roster.  ADC Johnny “Altec” Ru has played for 11 different teams since 2014, including three stints as a substitute. Support Adrian “Adrian” Ma has worn six different jerseys in the NA LCS. Three of these came last season when he left Phoenix 1 due to internal issues, spent one month with Team Liquid, and then landed with Team Dignitas. Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun spent last year as the mid lane substitute for Gold Coin United. This NA Challenger Series team finished in second place, but failed to secure a promotion to the LCS. Even Top Laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, who has the most consistent history of the group, has been a member of four teams in three different leagues over the last four years. SKT T1 released Huni after they failed to win the World Championship last year.

Though all well known players, it’s safe to say that not many would pick this roster to lead the NA LCS. Despite their history, however, the team has come together to earn a top spot, tied for first with Cloud9. One possible reason for this is maturity. Dardoch bounced between all of those teams and earned this reputation for being difficult all before his 19th birthday. Fenix is the only member over 20 at the ripe old age of 22. One can hardly blame players for struggling to navigate relationships and team politics perfectly at such a young age. As these players have grown, the sport has grown as well, and each year the infrastructure is improved to help the athletes succeed. In an esport dominated by younger and younger players, there may be something to be said for those who have earned experience and the level head that comes with it.

Echo Fox

Courtesy of LoL Esports

 

Supporting success

Another factor that should not be overlooked is the organization itself. With Fox’s experience in the NBA, three time NBA Champion Jared Jeffries as the new President, and the recent investment by the New York Yankees, Echo Fox approaches player management from a more traditional manner than most epsorts teams. They create an infrastructure that focuses on the development of the members as people as well as players. Along with this, they have a broad range of experience with players of varying egos and personalities.

Though his background is in traditional sports, Rick Fox has jumped into the esports scene with both feet. He is one of the most vocal supporters of not only his team, but esports in general. After their recent victory against Team Liquid, Dardoch referenced this support in a post game interview with LoL Esports. “I mean, it obviously helps a lot just having people in general…just being there to support us every day.” he said, referencing Rick waving from the crowd. “Stratton comes out, Jared Jeffries comes out, our President. And also Rick Fox comes out very often, so, just seeing them at work every day, and also them to show up on the days that matter most helps us a lot.”

Whatever the key ingredient is, it’s clear that it’s working. They have lost only one game this split to the veterans of CLG. Despite many critics’ predictions, they bounced back the next game just as strong as before. If they can keep succeeding, the members of Echo Fox may have finally found a permanent home and lasting success.

 

If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @buttsy11.  For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports

Targon’s? More like TarGONE’s

Apollo – “Targon’s meta is dead… I think.”

 

First thing’s first, let’s breakdown the Double Targon’s meta.

The “Double Targon’s” factor was the scapegoat and catalyst of the prominent competitive meta for patch 8.1. It, along with other contributing factors, allowed weak laners to survive the early game and scale up for late game teamfights. The meta was not only made possible by both ADC and Support taking Targon’s Brace, but also by Fleet Footwork, Overheal, Perfect Timing (AKA Stopwatch), Kleptomancy Elixermancy (Ezreal only), etc. Because of all the defensive options, bot laners were extremely safe (definitely not the status quo). Strong early laners had no guarantee of being able to smash lane because the enemy laners could always count on healing and playing defensively.

This made engage supports, like Alistar, much stronger, the mindset being, “If you don’t lock the enemy down and kill them now, they will heal it all back!”. That, in turn, increased the value of more defensive supports like Braum and Taric too! If Ali engages, Braum throws up a shield and absorbs all the damage. And because Targon’s increased it’s heal by % missing health, it was insanely easy to heal up after any skirmishes that didn’t end up in a kill. If you chunk an enemy ADC down to 30% health, within a couple Fleet Footwork procs and a few clangs of the Relic Shield, they would be back at a comfortable 90%. They may lose pressure for one or two waves, but the danger factor was incredibly low.

To make matters worse, once the Targon’s quest is completed, you generate a hefty shield while out of combat. So this meant laners walked to lane with a passive shield, immediately generated an Overheal shield on top, added even more shield with Fleet Footwork (which also provides even more movement speed for running away), and had tons of Targon’s proc healing if the shield was ever broken.

Combine all that with 4 Stopwatches in the bot lane, and everyone became virtually unkillable. Viable ADCs were almost exclusively late game scalers and top tier team-fighters. Kog’Maw, Kalista, Ezreal, and Tristana topped the charts, with others like Varus and Sivir falling short behind. Lucian, sadly, was left unplayed – except by Huni; but that’s a whole different story for another time.

With all these cheap and effective ways of scaling for late, the bot lane became an extremely dangerous place to be a minion.

Image provided by Minion Champion Spotlight


But don’t just take my word for it. Take a pro’s words instead!

Doublelift explains that, “Targon’s is an extension of the support meta, because people become unkillable, and supports are stronger than ADs in lane. So [prior to this meta] you get in these weird situations where even when you hit a Tahm Kench twice, if he Qs you once, you actually lost the trade… So that’s why Targon’s came in. If I’m gonna be useless, I might as well be useless but generate gold for my support who is actually useful!” 

And what’s with all the festivities? Patch 8.1 is a…

“Farmfest,” – Apollo, Hakuho, Aphromoo, Adrian, Smoothie

“Snoozefest,” – Doublelift (said twice)

 

That equals 7 festivals for our minions! But don’t be fooled. It still is a crap place to be for those little descendants of Lari


Provided by TimeLordJikan

Changes to expect in 8.2?

As it turns out, this meta was pretty lame to watch, mostly due to the slowdown on botside. Therefore, the patch largely focuses bot side to address and influence that lane specifically. Even most of the Keystone changes were focused on the bot lane. Guardian and Aftershock both got a slight power shift to make them each a bit more unique and more specifically viable rather than generally fine.

Smoothie predicts that, “Next patch, the ranged supports are going to have a bigger impact in lane. But, blind picking melees may still be strong.” Aphromoo seemed to be on the same page, stating there is “probably gonna be a lot more ranged supports, [though] Ali and Braum will still be in there for counters.” He also predicts that “ardent is gonna come back a little bit,” though he claims to not really favor that meta either. 

Altec points out that 8.2 will bring back some spice to the lane again. “Now that the double Targon’s meta is gone, you will see more difference between the bot lanes. You’ll get to see who are the good bot lanes and the not so good bot lanes… If people make bad trades, it should be a lot easier to make plays.” 

If Altec is right, the Clutch Gaming duo in Apollo and Hakuho may be in luck! Apollo states, “We’re better when we’re fighting bot lane, rather than the farming, hyper carry [style] bot lane.” Although he later claims it’s all in Hakuho’s favor. “I just go with the flow,” he says. Hakuho agrees, stating “As a laner, I always wanna fight in bot lane.” And with palpable enthusiasm and anticipation for the upcoming matches, he claims he’s “hyped for next patch, because the bot lane meta is kinda boring right now… Bot lane is gonna be fun again!” 

However, even with all of this hope for change, Doublelift still finds time for some last second pessimism realism. “I have a feeling that games are still going to be going super long, and if Janna comes back into the meta, I might actually claw my eyeballs out.”


But Apollo, is it really, really dead?

Of course we won’t know until we see the meta unfold, but we can all sure hope so. Altec claims that while, “Technically you can still buy Targons, it’s just not as good as it was before.” I actually think that is extremely important! The potential to run double Targon’s provides the ability for Kog’Maw (and other crazy scalers) to stay relevant in a meta that is sub-optimal for hyper carries, while still providing room for those like Lucian to shine!

Doublelift agrees, stating “It definitely won’t be as strong, but it’ll still be viable. I don’t think it’ll be every game, but I think initially what’ll happen is everyone is gonna switch to dorans, and then someone is gonna find a way to make targons still viable and it’s gonna be finding its way back. Because yeah sure you don’t have the shield, but what you have is three wards. That’s not bad!” At least now when we see double Targon’s, it will change the entire botside game, because vision control will get a heck of a lot more lopsided. Dives onto the scaling carries will be hard because of vision, not 300+ health shields on the ADC!! 

 

I asked Doublelift if he would be the first to bring out the Yasuo ADC, to which he responded, “Yeah yeah. No. Idk Idk!” Unsatisfied, I challenged him, “Well, can you pull it off?” And with full confidence….

“Yeah, I can pull off Yasuo ADC. Easy!” – Doublelift 

Image Provided by Riot Games

 


And what’s the deal with Thresh? Wildturtle told me there would be buffs!!

Don’t expect to see Thresh much in competitive as long as we are in 8.2. After the Targon nerfs to ranged champions, I think even Nunu might have a higher play rate despite him potentially being perma-banned for a while. And although Aphromoo claimed that “Thresh is still viable, but it really depends on confidence,” Adrian disagreed. “I still think Thresh is pretty bad… He definitely needs more buffs… I don’t think there is any good situation to play him unless you’re really good at Thresh and there’s nothing else to play.” Either way, I hope to see a little love thrown towards everyone’s favorite chain warden so we can get back to watching even more big flays in the bot lane.


 

Image provided by Sunsero

Thanks for reading! For questions on the current meta, find some reliable source somewhere, or just watch the NA LCS every weekend! I’ll be there talking to your favorite pros. Tweet me some questions you want to ask @parkeso. Follow me on Insta @parqueso for some fun stories of pros and fan interactions, especially Saturday and Sunday! For all other inquiries, you can email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. Thanks! And email Riot asking for Thresh buffs!

Everyone else is trash

As the esport industry has been growing over the past few years, so has the debate about whether or not esports are even sports. And, while I am of the opinion that it doesn’t even matter, what actually makes a sport a sport? Athleticism? Mental fortitude? Competition? Trash talk!

 

Whether you are watching fancy celebrations or post game banter, trash talk is an integral part of the game. Hell, it’s sometimes hard to make it through a hockey match without players socking each other in the face. But all of that makes it fun! It adds to the drama of a big match; it gives players life and personality. Talking smack makes us more interested in the outcome of the game, regardless of what is being played – the same goes for League.


When Doublelift trash talked TSM this whole offseason, it made the TL – TSM season opener all the more interesting. Would he be able to back it all up, or would he make a fool of himself? The match was no longer just a player competing against his old team, there was pride on the line. You could feel tangible emotion in his quest for revenge. He did not want to win, he wanted to “absolutely demolish TSM’s legacy.” THAT is something worth watching.

 

So who cares if esports are sports or not, they are here to stay! And as long as they’re here, we might as well talk some smack. It’s not a game without some flame! Here are all the things our beloved pros are telling me about their Wood 5 opponents…


Week 2

  • Adrian – “TSM seems really passive as a team… MikeYeung is just another ward for them.”

 

  • Doublelift – “Febiven literally ints in every one of my solo queue games, so it’s funny that he went on stage and shit talked, but every game I’ve ever seen him he is just hard trolling my game… So I think he just got lucky vs CLG.”

 

  • Aphromoo – “C9? Who is on that team?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 


If you’d like to flame me, go ahead and tweet @parkeso. For pictures and stories, follow my Insta @parqueso. If you’re not big into social media, email me at parkesotwo@gmail.com. =)

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Coach Inero addresses Echo Fox’s off-season and Spring Split expectations

LCS fans and analysts are having difficulty placing Echo Fox in their power rankings following the off-season in North America. Many outlets hesitate to place FOX high on their list, citing reasons like “asking [these] players to work together…raises a lot of questions,” “we just don’t see them having good synergy,” “somebody needs to step up and keep the team together when the going gets tough,” and “negative feelings about this organization.” No one is denying the potential prowess of Huni, Dardoch, Fenix, Altec or Adrian. Everyone is unsure of their abilities to cooperate, or that Echo Fox is the organization to manage them.

On Tuesday, January 16, Echo Fox hosted a Roster Day “to familiarize professionals…with those involved in Echo Fox.” The organization invited journalists and other media to interview members of the FOX family, including players, coaches and executives. Many of these interviews involved asking questions about Dardoch’s past issues and public perception. However, every member interviewed downplayed any current negativity, and promoted him as reformed.

Strangely enough, no one has mentioned Echo Fox’s coach, Nick “Inero” Smith, who has been with the organization since May 2017. He coached the LCS team to an eighth place finish last Summer Split, and oversaw team construction in the off-season. It will be his responsibility to weave FOX’s team members together in 2018. Here are his thoughts on the off-season and Spring Split of NA LCS.

Inero is the head coach for Echo Fox in 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

the Off-season

Question: What was Echo Fox’s philosophy for building a roster in the off-season?

“Going into the off-season, our plan for the LCS was to create as competitive a roster as possible. Alongside this, we wanted that roster to be young and committed to us for the long-term. Making sure those players that were all committed to the same goal of being a top team was extremely important, and we believe we’ve acquired the best five possible for this. For academy, we took a similar approach but pulled players from our own scouting boot camps.”

Question: Echo Fox brought on an entirely new roster for 2018. How much of that change came from Echo Fox scrapping everything and starting fresh, versus the previous players deciding to find other options? 

“Our main objective was to have a roster that all were aligned towards the same goal, while also being as competitive as possible. We didn’t go into the off-season wanting to completely redo the entire roster, but when rosters begin moving it happens very quickly and we must be completely certain that all the players we sign are ready and willing to commit to those same goals.”

Inero is the head coach of Echo Fox for 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Coach Inero stressed that Echo Fox’s main objectives for roster-building in the off-season were competition and alignment. He wants players that will be able to play at the top level of League of Legends. He also wants players that can come together and build their synergy around wanting to succeed. Fans will look at Echo Fox’s roster for Spring Split and see all competitive players. None of them are talentless. And the big synergy question comes down to hunger for victory. Inero is betting that ferocity will bring these individuals together into a functional unit.

The Spring Split

Question: How do you plan on managing the dominant personalities joining Echo Fox, in-game and out-of-game?

“I don’t think the personalities on this roster are as dominating or conflicting as people make them out to be. Public perception of the players on our LCS roster is overall pretty negative, but it mainly comes from people who have never worked or interacted with them before. Having five players that all want the same thing makes everyone’s lives a lot easier, and everyone is extremely cooperative with one another. For the coaching staff, this means we can all focus on becoming NA LCS champions, rather than trying to motivate the players to want the same thing.”

Question: With that in mind, what are your expectations for your LCS and Academy rosters in Spring Split? 

“I have really high expectations for our LCS roster over the course of this year, but as a step-goal for the Spring Split, we’d like to bring the organization to the playoffs for the first time in their history. Every other team under Echo Fox is performing at the top of their league, and it’s time for us to do the same. I fully expect that we’ll go further than just reaching the playoffs, but also reaching playoffs is a decent start. For academy, it’s tough to say, with every academy team taking different approaches to the league, but I have full confidence in all five players and Peter to be in the top half of their league as well.”

Dardoch and Adrian join Echo Fox in 2018

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Just like Dardoch and other team members denied any clashing of personalities, Coach Inero assuages the community’s fears. This is powerful, coming from the coach who oversees everything. Inero describes FOX’s roster as “cooperative,” not something you will find in any power rankings. He believes Echo Fox can realistically make playoffs for the first time since its induction to the LCS. This would be a landmark win for the organization, and it would prove doubters wrong.

With the return of best-of-ones and new organizations entering the LCS, it is impossible to predict this split. But if Echo Fox is able to become a contender in the NA LCS, then Inero should be given credit. There has been so much dissent towards Echo Fox in the past, and towards the current roster in the off-season. If Inero is able to align these players, then he should earn massive props from the community.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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Is Echo Fox the biggest sleeper team?

It’s no doubt that when Echo Fox’s roster was announced, the biggest critique would be their clash of personalities. Echo Fox gutted their roster from last split in favor of bringing in young talented players among the scene. Just about every player was known as a rising young star at some point before failing to ever meet their potential.

With these questions being raised, many are ranking Echo Fox in the lower half of pre-season power rankings. The team seemed to have built off raw talent without regards to the problems that could arise.

Echo Fox has a lot of synergy questions to answer heading into the split. While this team on paper has a lot of talent, egos could clash if the team doesn’t perform well early.

New Year, New Dardoch?

Jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett alone is already on his fourth team in his young career. Fans were given an inside look into the life of Team Liquid in the HTC documentary, “Breaking Point,” where Dardoch was at the center of many clashes with teammates and coaching staff.

Last year Immortals granted Dardoch a three year contract, but Dardoch didn’t even last his entire first year before being transferred. In his departure video, it could be seen that Dardoch hadn’t changed much from his Team Liquid days. He was shown still clashing with teammates and coaching staff and Immortals traded him to Counter Logic Gaming after the Spring Split.

With CLG, not much was known to fans about why Dardoch would eventually be replaced. He felt betrayed when the team brought in Omar “Omargod” Amin to split scrims with him. After Omargod was brought in Dardoch felt the need to leave the team and would eventually be transferred back to Team Liquid.

Dardoch has a new chance with Echo Fox to prove that he has matured and can succeed in this league. This may be his last chance as many teams may not be willing to give him another chance if he can’t fix his attitude issues.

Adrian and Altec Stay Together

Photo by: Riot Esports

Echo Fox’s bot lane duo of Johnny “Altec” Ru and Adrian “Adrian” Ma come over after a brief stint on Dignitas. With Dignitas, they instantly made the team better as Dignitas was able to upset Cloud 9 in the first round of playoffs before losing to TSM in the next round. Altec and Adrian were a large part of Dignitas’ improvement.

On Echo Fox, they’ll have the benefit of having played together before. Adrian has had attitude issues on other teams as well. Most recently, on Phoenix1, he was quick to point out Inori’s flaws in an interview. This would eventually lead to Adrian being transferred off of Phoenix1.

Both Altec and Adrian were heralded as rising young stars early in their careers. Neither of them have been able to qualify for a world championship, despite being on some talented rosters. The added synergy from playing together will definitely help in developing Echo Fox’s synergy.

Huni’s Return

The biggest acquisition for this team might be in the top lane with former SKT top laner, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon. Huni had the experience of playing in the most competitive region in the world last year. He failed to win the World Championship with SKT, but his mechanical skill was still seen through his play.

When he played in EU and NA many critiqued his inability to play tank champions. With SKT, he showed the ability to play both tanks and carry champions. He’s always had a positive and fun attitude towards the game in interviews. He gives a bright and positive attitude to a roster that may need it.

Many will remember his great regular season performances in North America the last time he was here with Immortals. If he can duplicate that same success, Echo Fox could be surprise contenders at the end of the split.

With nobody really talking about them at the moment, Echo Fox has the chance to finally have a successful split in the LCS with this new roster.

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Cover Photo by Trends Map

Best available free agents from North America

With the offseason fully underway, many of the newer LCS teams will be looking to fill their rosters. While many will look towards imports to fill some slots, homegrown free agents will be very important in being contenders. With certain teams not making the cut for LCS franchising, there will definitely be some big names to choose from.

In this piece we’ll be taking a look at the best North American free agents available.

Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent (Support)

Photo by: Riot Esports

Hakuho is the former support of team EnVyus. EnVyus had their moments as a team but were never quite able to reach top-tier status. Hakuho was quietly one of the more underrated supports in the league. It’s his time to finally be surrounded by good teammates to show what he’s really capable of.

When he was paired with veteran ADC, Apollo “Apollo” Price, many analysts noted the improvement to Apollo’s play. Hakuho was substantial to his improvement as they were one of the better bot lane duos in the NALCS. On a team with a lower win rate Hakuho was able to maintain the 3rd highest KDA among supports which is rather impressive.

With Team EnVyus missing out on the NALCS, Hakuho will be a valuable support on the market. If surrounded by better talent, Hakuho can surely make a name for himself.

Jake “Xmithie” Puchero (jungler)

Xmithie was a standout player for Immortals in helping them qualify for their first ever World Championship. With Immortals rumored to be out of the NALCS, Xmithie brings loads of experience with three World Championship appearances.

Many people thought his career was on a decline after a struggling split with CLG. On Immortals he showed just how effective he could be if surrounded by the right teammates with smart pathing and aggression, helping turn Immortals from a seventh-place team to an LCS finals one.

Xmithie will be seen as a strong veteran presence on the market after a great Spring Split.

Adrian “Adrian” Ma and Johnny “Altec” Ru (Support and ADC)

Adrian and Altec both sat out for most of the Summer Split before becoming starters on Team Dignitas at the halfway point in the split. For a time it looked like the move was successful as Dignitas began to go on a tear through the NALCS.

Altec and Adrian looked to be one of the better bot lane duos shortly after coming into Dignitas. In a hyper carry ADC meta, Altec was 2nd in the league in DMG% for summer with 27.5%.

Adrian has long been known for his great play on healing/shielding supports such as Janna and Soraka. His attitude has been noted to be an issue from his previous teams such as Phoenix1 and Team Impulse.

It will be interesting to see if this duo attempts to stay together. They have the benefit of having a built-up synergy already and there’s no language barrier between them compared to importing.

Alex “Xpecial” Chu and William “Meteos” Hartman

Photo by: Riot Esports

Xpecial and Meteos are some big-time veterans that may or may not be returning. The money could be too good for them to pass up though and one could see them both getting some decent offers to stay in the scene.

Xpecial is more likely, as Meteos has a decent following for streaming on Twitch. Meteos has also noted his loyalty to Cloud9. It’s no doubt that both these players still have the talent to play at a competitive level. It didn’t take long for Meteos to get back in the groove of professional play that helped Phoenix1 to a third-place finish.

Xpecial will always be a long time favorite among the scenes as a smart aggressive support. Although he hasn’t seen too much success since his days with TSM and Team Liquid, Xpecial does have a veteran experience and game knowledge to still warrant being on a starting roster.

If we do see them on rosters next split, it will be interesting to see if they are still able to compete at a high level.


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Cover photo by Riot Esports

 

 

The resurgence of Dignitas

What a journey it’s been for team Dignitas. With high hopes and big name Korean imports Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho and Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun, the team looked lost. They had just bought their way back into LCS and on paper, looked like a top team. The coaching and team synergy was way off though and they were barely able to sneak into playoffs for Spring. They started off Summer hot but soon fizzled out back to their former selves. A few changes throughout the team have helped along the way. Let’s take a look:

Changing up the Coaching staff

Dignitas started spring with Korean coaches Kim Jeong-soo and Park Jae-seok. A surprise to many, their coaching really wasn’t helpful for Dignitas at all. As they were watching their spring split hopes wash away, they decided to bring in a familiar face in David “Cop” Roberson. Cop coached many of the former APEX squad during their first run at LCS. Dignitas was able to finish the second half of Spring strong enough to garner a playoff spot.

This split they brought in another familiar face in Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco. Saintvicious has been involved in pro League of Legends for awhile now and also worked with the team when they were APEX gaming.

It was obvious under the Korean coaches the team did not know how to communicate effectively. They could often get decent early leads, but had no idea how to snowball games. With the induction of Cop in spring the team looked revitalized and were taking wins off some of the better teams in the league. They began to struggle mid split of Summer, but a few roster changes turned their season around.

Roster changes

One of the big changes over summer was letting go of Chaser as the starting jungler in favor of Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon. Shrimp played with the team on APEX and just seemed to mesh better with the team stylistically. His Nunu play in their quarterfinals match against Cloud 9 was huge in helping them secure a semi-finals spot.

Shrimp is similar to Xmithie as he’s a selfless jungler who is good at tracking the enemy jungler and providing good vision for his laners. He has the second highest kill participation in the league for junglers which speaks volumes to how active he is for his team. In a meta of tanks, Shrimp is quite comfortable and can even pull out the Nunu to enable ADC Johnny “Altec” Ru to carry even harder.

Altec and Adrian

photo via riot esports

In the bot lane we had the induction of Altec and Adrian “Adrian” Ma into the starting lineup. With a history of issues on other teams, Adrian is stepping up huge for Dignitas this split. He’s shown that he can play more than just his signature Soraka, with he and Altec contending to be one of the better bot lanes this split. Many questioned Altec’s decision to leave Flyquest for Dignitas where he wouldn’t even be guaranteed a starting spot. After he and Adrian were subbed in the team hasn’t looked back.

Altec has looked like a complete monster on this team. He finished 3rd in CS diff@10 and 2nd in DMG%. He’s shown some great plays on meta picks such as Sivir and Tristana. Him and Adrian have developed into one of the best bot lanes in NALCS. TSM is next on their list of upsets.

Dignitas looked great in their 3-1 victory over Cloud 9 yesterday. This only makes their match with TSM more interesting as they’ve held a great record against them during the regular season. If they are able to pull off the upset, who’s to say they aren’t good enough to compete for a championship?

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Cover photo by Riot Esports

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Can a new team break into Worlds for North America?

Over the past two seasons we’ve seen North America represented by the same three teams at Worlds: Team SoloMid, Cloud 9 and Counter Logic Gaming. These organizations have become fan favorites for most, but some new challengers have risen this split to possibly take their shot on the World stage for North America. The North American scene seems to be looking better and better. TSM has continued their dominance, while CLG and C9 have had their share of inconsistencies. Cloud 9 have almost guaranteed their spot at Worlds as long as they do well enough in playoffs. Second place for Spring granted them a massive amount of circuit points. With 3rd/4th place teams Phoenix1 and Flyquest looking close out of the playoff race, CLG will need to play well to ensure their spot at Worlds.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the teams that could contend for a spot:

Immortals

Due to Immortals finishing 7th place last split, they have zero circuit points to help with contention. This almost guarantees that they’ll need to earn their spot either by winning Summer or qualifying through the gauntlet. The latter will be the most likely scenario.

Immortals have become known for having great regular seasons, aside from last spring. This split came as a bit of a surprise to most. People expected the jungle swap of Dardoch and Xmithie to favor CLG, but both teams have benefited greatly. Not only the jungle swap, but the hiring of former ROX tiger coach, Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo, has given them the knowledge to properly out-macro opponents.

Every lane seems to have come into their own. Young rookie, Li “Cody Sun” Yu Sun has developed into a top tier ADC this split along with support Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung. Cody Sun is near the top for DPM and DMG percentage among ADC’s. Olleh has shown great performances on playmaking champions such as Thresh.

Immortals is currently tied for first with TSM and CLG. They’ll need to prove that they can finally perform when it matters, not just the regular season if they want to make it to Worlds.

Dignitas

Worlds

Photo via Riot Games

Dignitas stormed out the gates this split, contending for first place for a few weeks before going on a losing streak. They still have their inconsistencies at times. Last week against CLG they flashed the potential to be able to dominate some of the best teams in the league. Other times, they play to the level of their inferior opponents and drop matches.

With jungler Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon taking the reigns as the full time starter now, Dignitas can maybe gain some consistency for a Worlds run. Shrimp has the second highest kill participation percentage among junglers. In the bot lane, they’ve added two veterans of the LCS in Altec and Adrian. It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes the full time bot lane for the team moving forward.

What’s worrisome is how average of a mid laner Lae-Young “Keane” Jang can be. Keane has middle of the pack stats in comparison to the rest of the NA mids. If he can play up to the likes of Bjergsen, Jensen, Pobelter and Huhi, then maybe Dignitas can make it.

Dignitas has 10 championship points from last split which likely means they’ll be battling in the gauntlet for a Worlds spot. If the team can find some consistency, don’t be surprised to see them as real contenders for a Worlds spot.

Phoenix1

Despite Phoenix1 not being far from the playoff race at the moment, and tied for last place, they still have a ton of circuit points that can help them qualify. A third place finish from Spring granted them 50 circuit points, more than a lot of the teams outside of C9/TSM. Even if they don’t qualify for playoffs they still have a shot in the gauntlet based on circuit points.

Rift Rivals was seen as a stepping stone for the team after a rough start to summer split. They had a good performance and were looking to carry that momentum into the second half of the split. That hasn’t been the case as they’ve stumbled coming back. Star rookie jungler Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung hasn’t looked as dominant since he’s returned. The tank jungler meta hasn’t allowed him to show the same carry performances we saw at Rift Rivals.

Mid laner, Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook, stepping down certainly doesn’t help their cause either. Ryu was an integral part of the team, and it’s hard to say that Pirean can come in and perform up to veteran Ryu standards. If Ryu does return after a needed break, Phoenix1 can definitely make a C9 Cinderella run in the gauntlet.

Worlds

Photo via Riot Games

With only two and a half weeks left in the split, any team can make a late run for Worlds. Will it be CLG, Cloud 9 and TSM at Worlds once again for North America? Or will a new team emerge from the ashes?

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Cover photo by Riot Games

 

 

Possible Roster Moves For EnVyUs and Team Liquid

Relegations are over, and EnVyUs and Team Liquid have earned their way back into the LCS. It wasn’t a domination by any means though. Both of these teams will need to make some changes for next split if they don’t want to finish bottom two again. Here are some possible roster moves I could see for both teams going into next split:

EnvYus

Courtesy: Riot Esports

EnVyUs began to pick up its play towards the end of the split. Their jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo developed into one of the best junglers in NALCS. Team EnVyUs will need to build around their star jungler going forward. Where they can look to improve is in their solo laners. Top laner Shin “Seraph” Wu-Yeong and mid laner Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo looked close to mediocre in their roles last split. It’s questionable how Ninja is still worth an import slot at this point.

Envy’s bot lane was heavily underrated last split. Apollo “Apollo” Price and Nikolas “Hakuho” Surgent held their own against some of the best, and have shown they can compete at an LCS level. They also serve as valuable assets as they don’t take import slots.

Possible Roster Moves:

Looking at possible imports and challenger players available, they may look to the team that they had to defeat to get back into LCS. Gold Coin United’s solo laners may be adequate replacements. Mid laner Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun has has also proven to be a mechanically skilled mid laner that’s able to compete with some of the best in North America.

If Seraph doesn’t play next split, they could look to either Colin “Solo” Earnest or Eric “Licorice” Ritchie. Solo has been bouncing around the challenger scene for awhile now, but looked to hold his own during the promotion tournament. Licorice also had some impressive games during the promotion tournament that could see him being looked at for an LCS team soon.

Another notable import could be EU Giants’ Na “NighT” Gun-woo. NighT made quite the impact during his rookie split last season. He was a lone star on a struggling Giants roster this split. He has shown the ability to be able to play against some of the best mids in Europe.

Team Liquid

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Team Liquid has quite the dilemma going forward. With Yiliang “Doubelift” going back to TSM, they’ll need to decide whether they keep Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin at Mid or move him back to his former role. Piglet has quite a while to prepare to become a better mid laner for Summer, but whether he’ll want to come back is the question. Piglet may have reached his breaking point, having failed to bring Team Liquid to Worlds in multiple consecutive splits now.

Support Matt “Matt” Elento has struggled since his phenomenal rookie split. Matt said in interviews that the pressure was beginning to affect his play. With the announcement of Adrian “Adrian” Ma’s departure from the team, Matt will be the support going forward.

The only sure roster locks that I see Team Liquid keeping are top laner Samson “Lourlo” Jackson and jungler Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin. Lourlo was still inconsistent last split, but I don’t think he did bad enough to be benched, and still showed glimpses of a star top laner. Reignover certainly struggled last split, but he returned to star form near the end of the split.

The mid and ADC positions have the biggest question marks heading into Summer.

Possible Roster Moves:

Like team Envy, NighT is a definite option for them. Piglet wasn’t the worst mid laner, but you could tell he didn’t know his lane matchups quite well enough yet. NighT is an adequate option as he has experience communicating in English. Team Liquid has experience integrating Korean Imports into their lineup as well. NighT has shown that he can be a force in the mid lane. Bringing Piglet back to the ADC role would also not be the worst thing with recent patches making them much more powerful than before.

Looking at the ADC role, Eunited’s ADC Matthew “Deftly” Chen showed some good games in the promotion tournament. He had a tremendous score line in game one against TL. He’s an up and coming NA talent to watch after having a feature on his Scouting Grounds experience.

 

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Loaning Players: Good or Bad for the Scene?

Courtesy: Riot Esports

This split, we’ve gotten the chance to see the first instances of “loaning” players in the NALCS. Phoenix1 with jungler William “Meteos” Hartman, and Team Liquid with Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. It sparks the discussion, is “loaning” players good or bad for the scene? If a top tier organization is able to acquire a big name like Doublelift when they’re sinking fast, what does it mean for the newer organizations who may not have those types of connections?

Mainly looking at Doublelift’s loan for the rest of the split. It feels like team owners who have been there since the beginning may be willing to help each other more than most. I doubt TSM’s owner, Andy “Reginald” Dinh, would loan Doublelift to Envy or Immortals had they asked. The owners of Team Liquid, CLG, TSM, and C9 seem to have a special connection, having been there in the early birth of NALCS.

The Good

The real winners in each deal here are the players. Doublelift has stated that his break made him realize that competitive play was where he wanted to be. Getting the chance to get back into the swing of things in a few weeks with Team Liquid allows him to ready himself to be in prime form for a summer return with TSM. Doublelift made it clear that he would only be with Liquid until the end of the split.

Team Liquid gets a great deal in this as well. Doublelift is the best non-import slot that you could attain. If their only goal at this point is to avoid relegations, Doublelift gives them the chance to do so.

TSM are also winners in this deal. Unless Team Liquid has a miracle run and some luck, it’s unlikely they’d meet in playoffs down the road. TSM earns big bucks for loaning out a sub who is in need of LCS time before returning.

The Bad

Courtesy:Riot Esports

It becomes an interesting discussion of whether this is fair to the rest of the league. Team Liquid could even bail TSM out of a bad situation in the future through offering a sub. It can only really benefit the two teams involved.

It becomes a problem when the rest of the bottom tier teams may not have that same luxury. In all honesty, it’s not an even playing field if a move like this can occur whenever one of the top organizations is having a rough split. This may be temporary though as most organizations are desperate to stay in LCS with the rumors of franchising the NALCS.

Moves like this ensure the original LCS teams don’t go away anytime soon. Team Curse was one of the first LCS teams in its young career, and it’s unlikely we’ll see them be relegated anytime soon. Should Riot continue to allow teams to loan their subs?

Team Liquid’s case may be extremely rare, but could be totally possible in the future. With more veteran players, it may become intriguing to rest star players in the Spring. Burnout is a serious issue among pros, and if more stars decide to take breaks in the Spring, a situation like this could occur in the future.

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