Calling a newly promoted LCS team a 'rookie squad' isn't always accurate. Origen, the kings of the European Challenger scene in this past spring, are technically considered a rookie team despite the fact that they have players who've won world championships and competed at the highest levels in League of Legends. They kicked off their inaugural EU LCS campaign with a 2-0 week, their veteran players shining alongside OG's only true rookie, their AD Carry Niels.
Enemy eSports are a true, authentic rookie squad. They only have a single player with starting experience in a premiere league before, as Innox, a former top laner turned mid laner, played with Evil Geniuses during the NA LCS 2013 season. Outside of Innox, the team is filled with players who've meandered around the NA and EU Challenger scenes before ultimately getting their break with Enemy at the start of 2015. Their five starters have combined to play for 31 different teams in their pro-gaming histories, all of them chipping away in the unglamorous online scene waiting for the day they would either make it into the LCS or be forced to find new career paths.
After rolling through the NA Challenger scene in the Spring NACS season, they were the primary benefactor to the LCS' new promotion/relegation rule — the bottom team in LCS gets auto-relegated to the Challenger circuit while the NACS playoff champions are auto-promoted to the premier league. This was the road Enemy took to get into the LCS, breezing through the NACS regular season and winning the playoffs with a 3-1 victory against Team Dragon Knights. With players who bounced around as substitutes on LCS teams and were one or two plays away from competing in the LCS, Enemy entered their first weekend as a premiere league team with the confidence that they could finish the season as a Top 6 team.
Before Week 1 kicked off, Enemy were tormented with an issue that has plagued various new LCS teams in the past: the unpredictable and frightening visa. While not a Korean like the usual visa issues that bedevil rookie teams, Trashy was close to not being able to participate in the first week of the season considering his move from Denmark to the United States. Luckily they were able to fix the issue and get him to Los Angeles before turning to a substitute jungler for their first two games, but they had no scrimmage time with their starting five and went into the opening game of the season out of practice atop of the usual nerves that come with being rookies in the LCS.
The first two games saw Enemy split the results, as the newly promoted team opened up the summer campaign with a win against a reconstructed Gravity team before losing the reigning champions, Team SoloMid. Albeit a small sample size, the biggest takeaway from Enemy's opening weekend is that they're not afraid to slug it out with the top teams in the region. Enemy played two teams that made the playoffs last season, and unlike we've seen in the past with newer teams, they didn't retract back into their shell and play overly safe in the hopes that their opponent would make a mistake. The NACS champions played with a free-flowing, devil-may-care style that harked back to Impulse's first few LCS games, with the Korean-infused squad mechanically stronger from the start but Enemy showing a better cohesion through communication and synergy that comes along with playing together for a long period of time.
Although losing a game at the end the week to TSM, Enemy proved they have triple threats in the top, mid, and bottom lanes. Otter starred in their first game against Gravity, going 10/1/6 on Vayne and outdueling new Gravity member Altec in a match-up of AD Carries. Even with the loss to TSM, where their inexperience and lack of preparation was evident against the back-to-back champs, Flaresz's Hecarim was the bright spot for the team. He punished Dyrus and any member of TSM that was left alone throughout the game, galloping in on the ghoulish horse before deleting them off the map. His early game was superb and helped his team stay even with TSM, but his effectiveness dipped as the game went along, leaving him to over commit in the late-game and get picked apart by Bjergsen's Viktor. The final of the carry trio, Innox, proved his worth on the Kassadin that terrorized the NACS in the first half of 2015. It didn't work as well against TSM as it did versus Gravity, but he held strong during the laning phase and kept the CS close in a mismatch against the long-range poke of Bjergsen's Viktor.
Altogether, the first weekend can be considered a success for Enemy. Trashy, a usually potent aggressive jungler, tried something new with Evelynn in their game against TSM on Sunday. He wanted to get his lanes rolling early and snowball that lead into a win, but the composition was ineffective for the most part as his Evelynn did little throughout the game and became irrelevant by the time TSM started to widen their late-game lead. With an actual week of practice under their belts and the pressure of their first professional games finished, Enemy should come into the second week with a better all-around game that swarmed amateur teams in the NACS last season.
Analyzing the landscape of the NA LCS, it's open season for Enemy. The loss to TSM was facing reality that being the kings of the Challenger scene won't be enough to take down the kings of the LCS, but they weren't outmatched or outpowered by the more experienced, prepared team. Cloud9 are going through the growing pains of adding an amateur player of their own to the lineup and conforming to new shot-calling. Team Liquid, CLG, and Team Impulse appear to be the next in line when picking out contenders for the title, but on paper, Enemy can contend with the firepower that the others bring. It will come down to the development of the team, and if they'll be able to figure out which of their three main carries will need to take a step back to play more of a utility role. Flaresz, Innox, and Otter have all shown the ability this weekend to play as a carry on the team, and it'll be interesting to see the dynamic as the weeks work along with Trashy getting acclimating to the United States and Bodydrop getting used to be a starting support in the NA LCS.
The antithesis to Europe's Challenger champions who start four veterans and one LCS rookie, Enemy are a mostly rookie team, with four rookies and a lone veteran in Innox at an entirely new position from his EG days. The talk of winning the NA LCS or making a run at Worlds might be too soon for Enemy, but this isn't a team that is only hoping to barely hang into the league and avoid auto-relegation. They want to make the playoffs, and they'll scrap and brawl with any team in the league that wants to challenge them. Champion, bottom table team, Golden Age, whatever.
The members of Enemy have waited years to play in the big leagues and they aren't about to back down without a fight now that they've made it.
Tyler "Fionn" Erzberger is a staff writer for The Score eSports who covers the North American LCS and Korea's Champions. You can follow him on Twitter.