Sources: Echo Fox tried to poach Adrian from Phoenix1

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Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Echo Fox

Update: Echo Fox tweeted a public statement in response to this story late Wednesday night. It reads: "We have always followed the operating guidelines published by Riot relative to inquiring about any player, as such we consult the Riot Contract Database before making contact. No further comment on this matter will be forthcoming."

Echo Fox attempted to poach ex-Immortals support Adrian “Adrian” Ma after he had already signed a contract with Phoenix1 last week, theScore esports has learned.

Multiple independent sources close to the player have claimed that Echo Fox made Adrian an offer after it was publicly announced that he had joined Phoenix1 on Nov. 22, without the knowledge of Phoenix1’s management. One source confidentially provided documents that supported the claim that the offer was sent to Adrian after Nov. 22.

Making an offer to a player signed with an LCS team violates Riot Games’ rules against poaching and tampering. Riot’s 2016 LCS ruleset states that team members or affiliates may not “solicit, lure, or make an offer of employment to any official coach or player who is signed to any LCS team.” Penalties for violating the rule are at the discretion of LCS officials, but may include a verbal warning, fine, suspension or disqualification.

Echo Fox declined a request for comment on this story.

The sources claim that Riot has been made aware of Echo Fox’s attempt to poach Adrian, but have so far taken no action against the team or its owner. They claim that teams in the NA LCS plan to collectively refuse to scrim with Echo Fox next season in reaction to the team’s actions and the lack of punitive measures taken by Riot.

Riot did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Echo Fox entered the league ahead of the 2016 season when former Lakers small forward Rick Fox bought out Gravity’s spot in the NA LCS. Early on in 2016, the team struggled with visa issues and were unable to field mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen for most of the spring season. However, even with their full roster, the team had a dismal summer season, finishing last in the region with a 1-17 match record.

Like other teams that performed poorly in 2016, Echo Fox was expected to make key roster moves in the offseason. The team was one of the first to acquire a new player, announcing even before the completion of the 2016 World Championship that they had brought on former Team Liquid jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett. However, because the trade was made outside of Riot’s approved transfer window, LCS officials did not approve it, and it is unlikely Dardoch will start for the team in 2017.

One source with ties to Phoenix1, Immortals and several other NA LCS teams claimed that Echo Fox’s attempt to poach Adrian was part of a larger effort to recruit a 2017 roster without regard to players’ contract status with other teams. theScore esports has not been able to confirm that other attempts at poaching took place, or identify which players (if any) were targeted.

As a member of Immortals since the team was founded in December 2015, Adrian has been a reliable element on the team as well as one of the region’s stronger support players. His signature Soraka helped Immortals conquer the NA LCS spring regular season, though the team were unable to make it to the finals in either the spring or summer playoffs. In early September, CEO Noah Whinston announced he was allowing all five of Immortals’ players to seek offers from other teams; Adrian was the first member to officially accept an offer from a new team.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

Jeff Fraser is a supervising editor at theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Jish joins Immortals as assistant coach

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Immortals

Former Chiefs Esports Club head coach Joshua “Jish” Carr-Hummerston has joined Immortals as an assistant coach, Immortals announced Wednesday.

Jish originally began his coaching career working with Oceanic team Dire Wolves before transitioning to the Chiefs. While on Chiefs, Jish helped coach the team to a first place finish in the 2016 OPL Split 2 Playoffs, before finishing sixth in the 2016 International Wildcard Invitational. They would go on to compete at IEM Oakland in November, but were ultimately eliminated by Longzhu Gaming in the quarterfinals.

Immortals will kick off their 2017 spring split against Echo Fox on Saturday, followed by a match against Team SoloMid on Sunday.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.

NA LCS Spring 2017 Preseason Power Rankings

by 6d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Jose Silva / theScore esports

Big money. Brand power. Korean superstars.

North American is seeing an influx of many things for the 2017 spring split. Multiple teams have received new investments or ownership changes, gaining funds and business expertise from organizations like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Milwaukee Bucks, the aXiomatic group, and Lionsgate. World-class players like Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok, Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun and more have come to bolster the talent pool.

But the most exciting thing the NA LCS appears to have gained doesn’t come down to numbers or names. Instead, it’s the holy grail of every sports league: parity.

On paper, North America has seven teams who can legitimately challenge for a spot in the spring finals this April, but only two teams can actually get there, and one won’t even make the playoffs. We’re in for quite a race!

Below are my power rankings for the 10 rosters competing in the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split. These rankings are meant to project the final standings of the 2017 spring split, based on my expectations of how each roster will perform over the next few months. I’m using the following criteria:

  • The skill levels of the five players.
  • How well the players’ strengths, weaknesses and play styles fit together into a cohesive, well-rounded unit.
  • The players' expected ability to communicate and coordinate strategically, based on language, past team play performances, and quality of coaching staff.

10. FlyQuest

Key Player: Hai “Hai” Du Lam, Mid Lane

Hai is a great leader, and he looks much more comfortable now that he’s back in the mid lane, but he isn’t a miracle worker. At the end of the day, FlyQuest will have to steal every win by outsmarting their opponents, because they definitely aren’t going to out-skill anyone. They’ll definitely pick up their share of games, and they’ll do it cleverly enough that sometimes it won’t feel like they were underdogs at all, but creative tactics alone can’t carry you very far in today’s LCS. There just isn’t enough stable firepower here to make a reliable argument in FlyQuest’s favor.

9. Echo Fox

Key Player: Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, Mid Lane

Signing Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok was a good move. Re-signing Froggen was a good move. Unfortunately, the rest of this roster just isn’t on the same level. Against teams like FlyQuest and EnVyUs, the solo laners will be good enough to earn leads, and we know Yuri “Keith” Jew can pick up big multi-kills under the right circumstances. Overall, though, it seems that too much time and effort was put into the Looper pickup, without enough diligence in improving other positions.

8. EnVyUs

Key Player: Shin "Seraph" Wu-Yeong, Top Lane

We all remember how bad EnVyUs were in the final weeks of the summer split, and how they didn’t seem to deserve their playoff spot. Fewer of us seem to remember how good they were, relatively speaking, earlier that season. Their wins came from intentional, controlled macro; their losses came from sloppy, skirmishy play rife with individual mistakes. Adding Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo gives them more skill from the jungle, and hopefully more self-discipline, but LirA will need time to acclimate. There’s enough strength here to overpower some teams, but not enough to climb the standings.

7. Immortals

Key Player: Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, Jungle

Here’s where things get interesting, because every remaining team has a legitimate shot to reach the finals in April.

Immortals have lots of potential in their top/jungle duo of Lee “Flame” Ho-jang and Dardoch, with Eugene “Pobelter” Park reprising his role as the low-econ roaming mid laner. Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung intrigues me at support. He can be a skill shot machine, but some LMS analysts tell me he can have team play issues if he doesn’t think his teammates are carrying the load. Sound familiar? This team can’t afford more big personalities given the histories of Dardoch and Flame. Immortals feel like a lit fuse, and I’m not sure whether the impending explosion will be directed at their opponents or themselves.

6. Phoenix1

Key Player: Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, AD carry

With Adrian “Adrian” Ma, Rami “Inori” Charagh, and Derek “Zig” Shao, Phoenix1 have built a versatile, future-ready domestic core. Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook and Arrow are the hired-gun imports brought in to stand on the domestic players’ shoulders and carry the team. It’s a solid arrangement, but the outcome hinges heavily on how well Arrow can adapt himself into a primary carry, instead of benefiting from the pressure drawn by having multiple other superstars on his team, like he had with KT Rolster. This team’s future is wide open, but Zig, Inori, and Arrow will all need to grow a lot over the coming months if they want to reach their ceiling as a team.

5. Dignitas

Key Player: Lee "Chaser" Sang-hyun, Jungle

In earlier versions of my rankings, I placed Dignitas fourth. There’s so much skill in their top/jungle duo, and their domestic core is certainly serviceable. I still think they have the potential to climb much higher than fifth in the eventual standings, but the more I’ve pondered them, the more I’ve come to doubt their ability to stand up in the oh-so-crucial early game. None of their laners are better than average in the laning phase, which puts a lot of pressure on Chaser to be an instant success even though he’s just been freshly imported from Korea and is coming off a weak showing last summer. All things considered, there are a few too many soft spots for me to get really excited about Dignitas for now.

4. Team Liquid

Key Player: Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin, AD carry

If Team Liquid does as well as I’m projecting, it will be mostly due to their superstars, Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin and Piglet, both of whom are arguably the strongest players at their positions in North America. If Liquid fail, it will be due to disappointment from their mid lane. Others will rate this team lower than I do, but I’ve seen so much growth from Samson “Lourlo” Jackson and I remember how good Matthew “Matt” Elento looked when he was playing with confidence and had Piglet by his side. Liquid have excellent imports, underrated domestic players, and a coaching staff with lots of potential. I expect them to put all those pieces together effectively.

3. Counter Logic Gaming

Key Player: Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black, Support

Say what you want about the individual skill levels of Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun and Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya, but I don’t plan to bet against Aphromoo and Tony “Zikz” Gray. That tandem of in-game leadership and out-of-game strategic guidance has been generating consistent success for a while now, and their late summer derailment and resulting fourth-place finish were influenced by uncontrollable circumstances like Zikz’s health and Aurelion Sol bugs. Teamwork has always been superior to simple skill in League of Legends, and no team exemplifies that better than CLG, which is why they’ll be contenders yet again by the time playoffs arrive.

2. Team SoloMid

Key Player: Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg, Mid Lane

Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng is on hiatus for the spring split, but TSM are still good enough to reach the finals, thanks to the best player in Western League of Legends, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg. With Jason “WildTurtle” Tran returning to take over at AD carry, Bjergsen will once again have to play a more dominant style, either propping up WildTurtle’s early-game weakness or shouldering more of the carry load himself. He’s up to the challenge, but TSM have lost some flexibility overall, which will make it harder to repeat their summer success. Still, it’s never wise to bet against TSM: they’ve literally never missed an LCS final in the last four years.

1. Cloud9

Key Player: Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong, Top Lane

Cloud9 earn the top spot in my rankings, but not because they’ve improved themselves significantly beyond their second-place summer finish. Their one roster change, bringing in rookie Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia to replace William “Meteos” Hartman, may turn out to be a modest upgrade in skill but is a massive step down in experience, and the overall effects could go either way. It’s TSM’s backwards step that opens the door for Cloud9 to edge ahead. C9 can wield the strength of their solo lanes and the stability of their duo lane to make Contractz’s job easier, and they have great flexibility in their carry setups to adjust as the 10-ban meta gets figured out over time.

There are six teams who could conceivably become good enough to take Cloud9 out this split, but this is the team with the fewest obvious points of vulnerability. It only remains to be seen whether their opponents will expose any further weaknesses and develop enough strength to exploit them.

Tim "Magic" Sevenhuysen runs OraclesElixir.com, the premier source for League of Legends esports statistics. You can find him on Twitter, unless he’s busy giving one of his three sons a shoulder ride.

2017 NA LCS Spring Finals to be held in Vancouver

by 3d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Jose Silva / theScore esports

Get your raincoats, the 2017 NA LCS spring finals will be taking place at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC from April 22-23, according to an announcement on lolesports.com.

The third place match will take place on Apr. 22, followed by the Grand Final on Apr. 23. Both matches will be best-of-five. All four teams will receive a hefty share of championship points with the first place team automatically qualifying for the Mid-Season Invitational.

The Vancouver event will be the second consecutive NA LCS finals held in Canada, following the summer finals in Toronto in August. The event was a roaring success, with a sold-out crowd filling 15,000 seats in the Air Canada Center.

Team SoloMid defeated Cloud9 3-1 in the August finals to claim a spot at the 2016 World Championship. Meanwhile, Immortals edged out Counter Logic Gaming 3-2 to take third place.

According to the announcement, tickets will go on sale in mid-February but an exact date wasn’t specified.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter.

Offseason Report Cards: NA LCS

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games Brasil/lolesportsbr / 2016 World Championship / Riot Games Brasil

An influx of investment groups with deep pockets along with another wave of foreign talent flooded the North American scene last year. Accompanying the new organizations and players to the region was the transition from best-of-ones to best-of-threes, further testing the mettle of NA teams. Immortals became kings of the NA regular season, but it was the classic organizations of Team SoloMid, Cloud9 and Counter Logic Gaming who ended up with the region’s domestic titles and three World Championship berths.

Talent development, or lack thereof, was a big 2016 talking point, one that now continues into 2017 with yet another flood of imported players, traditional sports-backed organizations, and a few up-and-coming native talents. As always, how these new lineups come together and actually perform on the Rift will be the true test of all NA organizations.

Cloud9

Top: Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, Jeon “Ray” Ji-won

Jungle: Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia, William “Meteos” Hartman

Mid: Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen

AD Carry: Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi

Support: Andy “Smoothie” Ta

In previous splits, C9 held onto their own legacy players for too long, using Hai “Hai” Du Lam as a team cure-all while the roster in question had a fairly definable ceiling. This changed last summer with the acquisitions of Impact from the now-defunct Team Impulse, and Smoothie, who landed the starting support position after swapping with Michael “BunnyFuuFu” Kurylo for half of a split. C9 was now a team that kept building towards their future in mind, even if it meant rough patches as the team adapted and grew together.

This past offseason, C9 didn’t make many roster changes but the ones they did make show a continued interest in retaining their key talents while grooming other players for the future. During his time on Apex Gaming, Ray showcased incredible carry potential. If C9’s coaching staff and Impact can harness that power, he’ll be a great successor to Impact when the veteran top laner either retires or possibly moves on to another organization. Contractz’s LCS debut has been highly-anticipated by those who have watched him grow throughout the NA CS, and he’s fresh off of a successful split with C9’s veteran challenger squad. His age, not lack of talent, kept him from playing in the LCS last year and an unintended benefit of this is that he comes to the LCS with a larger amount of experience than many former Challenger rookies have had under their belts.

Grade: A They retained the talent that they needed to retain while showing signs of continuing to build towards their future.

Team SoloMid

Top: Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell

Jungle: Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen

Mid: Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg

AD Carry: Jason “WildTurtle” Tran

Support: Vincent “Biofrost” Wang

The familiar, smiling face of WildTurtle has reunited with the Team SoloMid brand ahead of this split after a fairly successful year with Immortals. He is a downgrade from Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, who is taking the spring split off to rest and presumably return for the more heavily-weighted summer split.

TSM still have their star mid laner, Bjergsen. They also smartly retained jungler Svenskeren who, alongside Bjergsen, creates a one-two punch that keeps opposing junglers on their toes and gives TSM strong early-game map control. Even during their struggles and lowest finish for the franchise in regular season history last spring, TSM still made it to the NA LCS Spring Finals and nearly won. Barring a horrific internal collapse or a player injury, TSM will make playoffs and likely contend for the finals once more.

The question of how important the spring split is in the grand scheme of things has lingered over most regions for a few years now. With the season so neatly divided in two, and Worlds being the definitive major tournament despite the Mid-Season Invitational’s existence, it’s not surprising to see TSM playing it safe this split, just a bit disappointing. Perhaps the bulk of NA CS or rookie AD carries were just that raw this split, but WildTurtle has specific weaknesses in his play that aren’t always made up for with his strengths. That being said, in picking up WildTurtle, TSM knows exactly what they’re getting and how to play around it — although not with this specific roster iteration, which may be a bit of a concern.

Grade: C+ Although this roster will make playoffs and could possibly take the split, their actual roster changes include a downgrade at ADC.

Counter Logic Gaming

Top: Darshan “Darshan” Uphadhyaha, Kevin “Fallenbandit” Wu

Jungle: Jake “Xmithie” Puchero, Omar “OmarGod” Amin

Mid: Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun, Jean-Sébastien “Tuesday” Thery

AD Carry: Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes, Osama “Zag” Alkhalaileh

Support: Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black, Lee “Fill” Hyo-wan

Love their decisions or hate them, Counter Logic Gaming’s 2016-17 offseason roster moves reflect the organization’s recent attitude towards roster building and talent development. Their lineup doesn’t draw attention on paper — like larger, star acquisitions from their competitors often do — CLG just doggedly keep their heads down and focus on improving themselves as a unit.

To this end, they’ve not only retained their entire 2016 roster, but included all five members of their amateur team, CLG Black, as backups for every position. Not-so-coincidentally, all five of these members were at NA Scouting Grounds, and four of them were on the CLG-backed Team Cloud, which made it to the finals of the event. Only mid laner Tuesday was on a different team.

In the new era of 10 total bans, CLG have already drawn community ire for sticking with Huhi over acquiring a new mid laner. CLG opted to keep their successful 2016 lineup, which includes coach Tony “Zikzlol” Gray, possibly the most important re-signing decision that CLG made these past few months.

Grade: B- How well CLG do this split will not only depend on themselves, but whether presumably better rosters on paper come together well enough to overwhelm CLG’s superior synergy as five.

Team Dignitas

Top: Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, Cristian “Cris” Rosales

Jungle: Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun

Mid: Jang “Keane” Lae-young

AD Carry: Benjamin “LOD” deMunck

Support: Alex “Xpecial” Chu, William “Stunt” Chen

If this roster comes together, it could be one of the best in North America. However, that’s a big “if,” especially with similar unknowns like Phoenix1, Immortals and Team Liquid alongside more experienced rosters like CLG.

Chaser is undoubtedly talented but, as we learned during his time on Longzhu, fairly directionless when left to his own devices. The instructions he received from Yeo “TrAce” Chang-dong while on the Jin Air Green Wings in 2015 may have been boring to watch at times, leading to lengthy games centered around poke compositions, but he had a direction — something he never appeared to have throughout this past year with Longzhu. He should have this on Dignitas thanks to Xpecial, who is the most likely in-game leader for this lineup. Chaser’s success will depend on how well he communicates with the veteran support along with Keane and Ssumday.

Although Apex were a middling team for most of the NA LCS Summer split, Keane improved significantly, becoming a more versatile player and shrugging off the weird, oddball label given to him during his time on Gravity. This should allow room for Ssumday, LOD or sometimes Chaser to take over carry duties more easily. Ssumday is a monster on tanks with proven carry prowess and LOD should do well alongside veteran support Xpecial.

Grade: B+ This roster is really interesting and shows thought behind its construction. Dignitas is another “wait and see how they gel” team, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Phoenix1

Top: Derek “zig” Shao

Jungle: Rami “Inori” Charagh

Mid: Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook

AD Carry: Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon

Support: Adrian “Adrian” Ma

Phoenix1 have another roster that, on paper, could turn out to be one of the best in the region. Their two imports show thought and care behind who they want on their team, and this roster looks to be fairly flexible when it comes to resource distribution.

Arrow was a much-maligned weak link on KT Rolster prior to the start of 2016 LCK Spring — in an interview during the 2015 summer playoffs, he joked that his team would be fine if he managed to hit his minions — but by the end of LCK Summer he was a monster. He has not only increased his mechanical prowess but his flexibility across the past year and is a strong pickup for Phoenix1. Alongside Ryu, this gives the team pliable carries in at least two — likely three depending on how zig develops — lanes.

Throughout all of last year, Adrian was constantly at WildTurtle’s side, keeping the AD carry out of harm’s way as best he could. He also drew no small amount of criticism for his champion pool, relying on Karma, Soraka and Janna even when no other supports were playing them regularly in the current meta. Arrow makes fewer positional errors than WildTurtle and this will hopefully free up Adrian to prove his doubters wrong.

Grade: B+

Team EnVyUs

Top: Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong

Jungle: Nam “LirA” Tae-woo

Mid: Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo

AD Carry: Apollo “Apollo” Price

Support: Nikolas “Hakuho” Surgent

Last year’s Team EnVyUs was an odd Korean-American hybrid roster where the top half of the map didn’t coordinate well with the bottom half — who were often left to their own devices. nV had one of the best starts in the summer split of any team, going 5-1 in their first three weeks, and appeared to have a strong understanding of the meta at the time. They fell off come mid-season and barely scraped their way into playoffs thanks to a winning head-to-head record against Apex Gaming, despite Apex having a superior overall win rate. Nv relied on outplays from Seraph, Ninja and occasionally jungler Kim “Procxin” Se-young to carry them through late-game teamfighting.

This year looks to be much of the same, with an all-Korean top half of the map that still includes Seraph and Ninja, this time with former Afreeca Freecs jungler LirA. LirA was a large part of the Freecs’ success last year. Although he flies under the radar compared to other jungle talent in Korea, he’s certainly a step up from Procxin when it comes to knowing and understanding the map. Apollo is either a slight downgrade or a sidegrade depending on how strongly you feel about LOD, and Hakuho returns as the team’s starting support.

A lot of nV’s struggles last year were more due to poor drafting and a lack of communication rather than talent, and this team looks to be on par if not better on paper than their lineup last split simply due to the LirA pickup.

Grade: C+ I’m not as down on nV’s roster as others although they seem oddly stuck on ensuring that the team has two separate halves of the map. Apollo and Hakuho should be perfectly serviceable to this end and LirA is an upgrade over Procxin.

Immortals

Top: Lee “Flame” Ho-jong

Jungle: Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett

Mid: Eugene “Pobelter” Park

AD Carry: Cody “Cody Sun” Sun

Support: Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung

With Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Kim “Reignover" Yeu-jin, Immortals became the strongest regular season team in North America. They also failed to make it to the finals twice and ultimately found themselves on the outside looking in at the 2016 World Championship. For a new organization, their success is quite impressive, but to Immortals themselves, it was likely a disappointment simply due to their own lofty expectations.

On paper, this Immortals lineup still has a good amount of talent, especially on the top side of the map with Flame and Dardoch. Pobelter should shore up the mid lane, allowing Dardoch ample freedom to help his lanes or power-farm. The primary question of talent lies in the relatively untested Cody Sun and how well he and Olleh develop their synergy in the bot lane. Cody Sun had an inauspicious start at IEM Gyeonggi and while it would be unfair to evaluate him based on that one performance, it does raise questions as to just how raw of a talent he is.

The first Immortals roster was known for their innate synergy from day one. Before the season even started, rumors of Immortals’ scrim prowess dominated preseason speculation. In addition to the loss of the pre-existing synergy between Huni and Reignover, Flame won’t arrive in North America until this week, cutting down on their practice time prior to Week 1. This roster can work and be one of the best, but don’t expect a repeat of the 2016 Immortals.

Grade: B+ This grade is likely lower than most expect and it’s due more to what the Immortals roster was in comparison to who they have now than their individual talent out of context. The Huni/Reignover combination is a tough hole to fill, and it’s uncertain as to whether Flame and Dardoch can find the same synergy.

Team Liquid

Top: Samson “Lourlo” Jackson

Jungle: Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin

Mid: Gilmer “Goldenglue” Grayson, Austin “Link” Shin

AD Carry: Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin

Support: Matthew “Matt” Elento

Along with Immortals, Team Liquid is the other lineup that has seen preseason play prior to their LCS debut. Also like Immortals, TL looked like they had some good pieces in place and little practice time to fit them together. Both organizations can make a run for the top.

With the return of Piglet, TL should play around the bottom lane a lot more. Piglet and Matt have already proven that they can work well together, now it’s a matter of fitting them into this new team. Lourlo will have his work cut out for him with the strong top lane talent entering the North American scene, but has improved his teamfighting since his debut last year. Reignover was the best jungler in NA last year, and he’s a welcome, experienced addition to this team who should be able to communicate with Piglet, although expect a bit of a grace period initially as the entire team works out the kinks in their new communication system.

While previous mid laner Kim “FeniX” Jae-hoon took a lot of resources, he was also a strong laner, able to keep mid pushing in most cases and giving prior jungler Dardoch ample room to breathe. Goldenglue did not impress at IEM Gyeonggi, and the late addition of Link is likely to accompany a period of time where TL will swap between both Goldenglue and Link in order to find the mid laner that is right for this new team. The burden of TL’s early game could fall to Reignover while the team sorts out their mid lane situation.

Of all retired players on the periphery of the NA competitive scene, Link was always mentioned in conversation as one of the best, should he make his return. His intelligence and natural ability are consistently brought up by his former NA opponents and teammates. He now gets the chance to prove them right.

Grade: B+ With Team Liquid, it’s not usually about the names on the paper, but how they come together, or fall apart, over the course of the season. This new roster has strong pickups in Reignover, the return of Piglet, and an interesting last-minute signing of Link. Regardless of what happens, I’m curious to see how it unfolds.

FlyQuest

Top: An “Balls” Le

Jungle: Galen “Moon” Holgate

Mid: Hai “Hai” Du Lam

AD Carry: Johnny “Altec” Ru

Support: Daerek “LemonNation” Hart

Bolstered by the core of three legacy Cloud9 players in Balls, Hai and LemonNation, FlyQuest is the former Cloud9 Challenger team that qualified for the 2017 NA LCS Spring split minus promising young jungler Contractz, who was moved to the starting spot on C9’s LCS team prior to the sale of C9C.

This roster has received a lot of flak from the community and it is a rather underwhelming lineup on paper. Moon is presumably a downgrade from Contractz, although that’s purely based on Contractz’s NA CS performances against Moon’s disappointing LCS showings, which is a bit unfair, if only due to the strength of LCS teams over their NA CS brethren. FlyQuest are counting on this team’s pre-existing synergy and that’s not a bad bet, albeit a safe one. They’re a team that could get off to an alright start while other rosters are still getting it together. However, this is also a lineup that can only go so far, and even if they somehow manage to make it to playoffs, the sheer amount of raw talent on the rosters of their opponents should overpower them quickly.

Grade: D+ You would think that with the amount of money this team has, they could get a more promising lineup for the future. It’s not that their current lineup is horrible, they have talent that’s proven themselves in previous seasons, but that it’s a lineup that can only go so far.

Echo Fox

Top: Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok

Jungle: Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham

Mid: Henrik “Froggen” Hansen

AD Carry: Yuri “KEITH” Jew

Support: Austin “Gate” Yu

Unlike the rosters of Phoenix1 and Team Dignitas, this Echo Fox roster doesn’t seem to have the same care in creating a five-man unit. There are a few formidable names here — Froggen and Looper — along with challenger jungle talent Akaadian, but on the whole it’s underwhelming in comparison.

Looper was likely picked up for his Teleporting prowess, something that has been synonymous with his name since his days on Samsung Galaxy Ozone. Yet, Looper with support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong and Looper without Mata are two completely different players. Looper looked like a shadow of his former self without the legendary support while on Masters3 in 2015 — lost and directionless. That being said, Looper will probably do just fine in lane.

Their previous top laner, Park “kfo” Jeong-hun, had only one mode, split-pushing. It’s understandable that the team would want a top laner to Teleport into teamfights successfully. What Looper can bring to this Echo Fox squad will depend on how well he communicates with the rest of his team and if someone takes up the shotcalling mantle. The most likely person for the job is Akaadian, although Gate has also been cited by former teammates as an agreeable in-game leader.

Just as Phoenix1 and Team Dignitas could come together, Echo Fox could gel as a team and perform well. It just doesn’t seem as likely as these other rosters hitting their stride.

Grade: C- Echo Fox received an upgrade in Looper and retained Froggen, yet they lack the firepower of other rosters on paper, and Looper’s performance could heavily depend on team communication.

Emily Rand is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.

Crumbzz will not be part of the NA LCS broadcast 'until further notice'

by 16h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Steve Cachero / theScore esports

Alberto "Crumbzz" Rengifo will not be part of the official NA LCS broadcast team, the analyst announced Friday.

On both Twitter and his Facebook page, Crumbzz stated that he would not participate in the upcoming NA LCS broadcasts.

In a response to the Reddit thread discussing his Facebook post, Crumbzz said that he "wanted to clarify that this has nothing to do with either party wanting to discontinue the relationship and it is in fact quite the opposite. There are other factors in play that are causing this and will have to be waited out."

The former Renegades jungler was a guest analyst for the 2015 World Championship and then, after Renegades was forced to sell their LCS seed by Riot in May 2016, he became an assistant coach of Apex Gaming while also appearing on Riot's NA LCS broadcasts during the summer season.

Crumbzz's post did not specify why he would be absent from NA LCS broadcasts.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.

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