Of the five new European import players coming to LCS in 2020, Immortals is starting two – and they are both French. sOAZ, one of the longest-playing League of Legends athletes of all time, and Eika, a rookie to the major leagues, will occupy IMT’s solo lanes. Keep in mind, IMT acquired its LCS slot from OpTic Gaming, so the head coach and assistant coach are also French.
This new IMT feels like the first LCS team with a real non-North American, non-Korean twist. North American organizations rarely employ coaches from outside of North America or Korea. Over the years, it has been much more common to see a team like 2020 Spring Counter Logic Gaming or 2019 Spring Echo Fox – two Korean import players with a Korean coach.
Even when LCS teams import non-Korean players, they tend to be Danish (Bjergsen, Jensen, Svenskeren, Zven), but they hardly ever employ a Danish, or even European, coach. Having two French players playing for a French head coach is unique to IMT in this way. Considering how often the esports community discusses “team culture” or “Eastern culture” versus “Western culture” within esports, studying if IMT team culture becomes noticeably different from the others in North America might be interesting.
The team Eika played for over the last three years, LDLC, is based in France. They won Spring, Summer and the LFL Finals last year, which included Misfits Premier and Vitality.Bee, LEC minor league teams, and included players like Hans sama, Sencux, Djoko and Steeelback. YellowStar was Eika’s coach. Having a direct connection into the European developmental scene could be valuable to IMT in the long run.
Why sOAZ and Eika?
In IMT’s 2020 roster rundown video, Zaboutine admits, “of course we’re going to have a French bias, because I know the French scene.” He goes on to say that sOAZ and Xmithie shared a vision of the game that aligned with the coaching staff, and that he is a good player who had a bad year. Concerning Eika at mid lane, Zaboutine remarked “we’ve been watching the Pro Views of Tanner [Damonte]. We’ve been watching the Pro Views of Eugene [Pobelter]. We’ve been watching the Pro Views of a lot of mid laners in the LEC. We work extensively on finding someone who fits into the system….the first player who responded to the philosophy of the game that we had to offer was Eika.”
Team Manager Keaton also mentions that sOAZ filled in for scrims with LDLC and gave positive feedback about Eika. The idea that IMT’s French coach sought out French players might be a generalization. However, Zaboutine’s French background probably influenced their interest in sOAZ. And his experience with Eika definitely improved the odds he would join the team. Regardless, this francocentric LCS team will be a fun experiment to watch unfold in 2020.