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.