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Esports League of Legends

Phoenix One’s wild ride: A look at the past, present and Rift Rivals

Phoenix One has definitely seen better days. The summer split has not been kind to them. More specifically, the first half of the summer split. With Rift Rivals on the horizon, P1 and NA fans alike are disheartened with their performance. Phoenix One doesn’t have the most storied history, but it does have an exciting one. The organization has had a lot of ups and downs, but thus far has managed to overcome them.

Summer 2016

Photo Via Lolesports Flickr

When Phoenix One entered the LCS the expectations were not very high. There weren’t any big names on the roster. Most preseason speculation put the team at the bottom of the table. Deservedly so, there was very little chance that Phoenix One was going to break into the top half of the league. Making it to the playoffs would be considered a major achievement for the young org. However, P1 came out of the gate much slower than many had anticipated.

It took P1 until week five to win a series, starting the season 0-9 having lost to every other team. The second half of the season marked a change, and P1 almost looked like a different team. They beat Team Apex in their first game of the second half of the split and then Echo Fox in week six to pick up their first and second series wins. Week seven gave P1 their third series win, this time against NRG. This established P1 as the best of the worst, having toppled the three other teams in the bottom of the rankings.

Week eight is when the magic happened. TSM’s record at the time was an unprecedented 14-0. Talks of an undefeated season had started to arise. TSM’s match ups for week eight were Phoenix one and Team Envyus. Many had written off P1 as an automatic win, since they had only beaten teams that looked slated for relegations. The series started with an easy win for TSM and looked as if it would be entirely one sided. Up against the ropes, P1 drafted Rengar for their jungler Inori. Inori went 12-2-7 in the second game and completely controlled the rift. Inori locked in Rek’Sai in the third game and proceeded to have a deathless game, going 6-0-11. This isn’t to say that he was the sole reason for their win. The two solo laners, Pirean and Zig, played really well.

This seemed to ignite the team, and the org. Though they still finished 8th at the end of the split, they had managed to defeat the top team in the league and crush their way out of the relegation tournament. The squad transformed entirely from the team they had started out as.

Spring 2017

Photo Via Lolesports Flickr

During the off-season Phoenix One made some high profile roster swaps. They picked up a top NA support in Adrian as well as the South Korean midlaner, Ryu, formerly of H2k and KT Rolster. More notably they picked up Arrow, the South Korean ADC also formerly of KT Rolster. The team started off the season with a show of strength, destroying Echo Fox in a 2-0 win. They then struggled slightly, losing to DIG, TSM and Flyquest. By the end of the season however, they had established themselves as the clear third place team. P1 was not quite able to defeat the top tier teams like Cloud 9 and TSM, but there was a clear disparity between them and the teams below them such as CLG and Flyquest.

The Spring 2017 playoff demonstrated this disparity. Phoenix One played a dominant series against DIG taking the series 3-0. Their series against Cloud 9 the next week showed the other half of the disparity. P1 lost the series in a swift 3-0. They managed to win the 3rd place series against Flyquest 3-2. Flyquest’s Arrow won MVP for the split, and the team seemed to have established themselves as a top NA team.

They had achieved all this amid roster issues, having played with two different supports during their last few weeks and in the playoffs, as well as two different junglers. Meteos had subbed in for Inori due to Inori being unable to play. Adrian had left the team and they were trying out both Stunt and Shady. Arrow and Ryu were both rocks for the team to stand on, and Zig played consistently well. Meteos ended up being a big boon for the team, and Stunt seemed to find some synergy with Arrow.

Summer 2017

Photo Via Lolesports Flickr

Now though, the team is at the bottom of the standings heading into week five. The team shares 9th place and a record of 1-7 with Flyquest. The team started out the split with Inori in the jungle and Shady as support, but has since made roster swaps. Phoenix One brought in the rookie sensation MikeYeung and long standing LCS support Xpecial. The swaps lead them to their first and only victory.

This is the last week before the Rift Rivals tournament. Phoenix One isn’t up to the level of play from the previous split, but they are showing some improvement. Arrow doesn’t seem nearly as consistent, and the team is much worse off without his ability to crank out the constant damage. Their slow season is not all on his shoulders however, Ryu hasn’t had the same impact as he did last split, and the team’s synergy and shot calling has suffered from the roster swaps.

The new players have seemed to breathe life into the beleaguered squad. MikeYeung is proving to be every bit the prodigy that he has been touted as, but clearly needs some time to hone his abilities.

As for Rift Rivals, many expect the team to be a flop, and by current domestic performances, that expectation isn’t unwarranted. However, the history shows that P1 has the ability to outperform their expectations when they are down, and make mid split turnarounds. Hopefully the phoenix can truly rise from the ashes and the team can come together to find some wins at an international tournament.

Photos via Lolesports Flickr

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