Immortals are currently a bad professional League of Legends team. An organization fractured by the premature departure of André “Guilhoto” Pereira Guilhoto in the 2021 offseason, seemingly nothing has helped steer the organization back on track. It has made them not only the butt of jokes from commentators, but it is also making previous ownership look like geniuses (despite having crippled their finances, dramatically exaggerated the profitability of esports and damaged the image of venture capitalist investors within the scene).

It is a shame given how the organization seemingly attempted to fix the issues they were witnessing in the 2021 season. They made the right steps. They would sign on reliable veterans to fill their mid lane and bottom lane roles.  But the team would lack cohesion, likely stemming from the best player on the roster in 2021, Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir, being brought in by Guilhoto. His and the team’s crumble in 2022 spring didn’t feel like just a coincidence.

Turns out the coach is important.

However, with Xerxe’s departure came a moment of opportunity. Shane Kenneth “Kenvi” Espinoza would get his first crack as a starting LCS jungler. A product of the 100 Thieves talent pipeline, his 2.5 years with the organization saw him become of the most discussed prospects in North America.

He was the sure thing jungler. 

But in a similar way to how top quarterback prospects often times struggle when drafted to terrible teams, Kenvi is getting beat up by better teams. He has contributed to the fewest amount of kills among junglers — 19 — which is somewhat depressing given that every jungle in the LCS has recorded more than 19 total assists.  He has managed to complete the near-impossible tasks of recording a sub-1.0 KDA ratio in his first seven games (0.7).

His first jungle clear of the game tells a tragic story.

Traditionally speaking, junglers will look to complete one of two jungle clears depending on their champion. The first, is a full clear of the jungle as quickly as possible. The second being a completion of all jungle camps except for Krugs and then contesting scuttle. In six out of seventh games, he has done just that. At 3:30 in the game, he ranks first among junglers in average creeps per game (24.7) and average creep score difference (+4).

But predictability can be problematic.

Spica and TSM completely read the early game situation. Thanks to an early ward, TSM spot out the start to Kenvi’s jungle clear while Spica completes his clear leash-less. Immortals incorrectly predict Spica is starting on the top of the map, pinging points of interest. Through an expert understanding of optimal clearing, Spica is able to match Kenvi’s jungle clear timing and is immediately able to recall and head to the bottom side of the map. Immortals are left scratching their heads as the top of TSM’s jungle is completely gone upon invading. It sets up a 4:27 first blood, where Kenvi is caught out by the lurking Spica.

Against Team Liquid, a late ward from Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg seemingly unrecorded by Immortals completely opens up the early game. Immortals are able to predict Santorin’s start however are unable to predict his early gank onto the bottom lane. It is the knowledge gap that separates respected players from players you dread to see on your favorite teams.

And then there is the “welcome to the league” moments.

Against FlyQuest, Kenvi looks to beat Brandon Joel “Josedeodo” Villegas for control over the bottom lane scuttle. However, a hesitation to gain extra vision allows for Josededo to slide in and take away the scuttle under his nose, setting up the opportunity for FlyQuest to take both scuttles.

Immortals do not do a lot right in the early game. They have the lowest first blood percentage in the LCS (14%) and despite participating in all of their first bloods, Kenvi is tied with three other junglers in lowest first blood participation (14%).  They average a stunning deficit of -1924 at fifteen minutes.

But in their lone win this season against FlyQuest, a game that was primarily won thanks to misplays from FlyQuest, there was hope. Despite the previously mentioned error, Kenvi played towards the top of the map — a strategy that was his bread and butter on 100 Thieves with Milan “Tenacity” Oleksij. The two’s chemistry made them the best tandem in Academy and often connected the two to transfer rumors. While not even close to that chemistry, he worked with Mohamed “Revenge” Kaddoura to bully Philip “Philip” Zeng in the early game, giving them a rare advantage.

But again, they won off of a tremendous throw. They weren’t unable to snowball this advantage at all. 

That’s the frustrating thing to this Immortals team.

Immortals haven’t necessarily put their rookie jungler in the best position to succeed. Returning to the rookie quarterback reference, he’s getting sacked — something that should be avoided and can be on the quarterback — but his offensive line is absolutely doing nothing to help him out.  His receivers are dropping passes and they have no running game to alleviate some of the pressure off of his shoulders. They’re expecting Kenvi to improve things outside of his general control.

His laners have looked out-classed against their opponents in laning — averaging deficits in gold, experience and creeps at ten minutes. Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage has seemingly been phoning in matches, losing some of the “team-first” plays that made him such a valuable member in previous lineups. He’s still managing to put up the second-highest damage per minute statistic among midlaners (624) despite only contributing to 19 total kills.

Kenvi likely will want to forget this season when it is over. And believers in his abilities will want to remove this experience from his resume.

It’s a self-inflicted wound for Kenvi to get involved with a bad situation however the damage continues to be increased by the lack of a suitable environment to heal or protect said wounds. Kenvi possesses the necessary talent to be a staple in professional League of Legends in North America but at this point, he is in a position where he needs to think about damage control.

Immortals’ biggest flaw isn’t the talent — although it appears some players are trending downwards from their previous peak. It also isn’t fair to pin the entirety of the blame onto the coaching staff either. It is the incomplete — or in Immortals’ case complete lack of – vision on how League of Legends should be played.

And for a rookie jungler, that is nearly impossible to overcome.

 

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