Phoenix1 might be the newest organization in the NA LCS, but they've already started courting some controversy. The org announced that they'd purchased Team Impulse's spot in the 2016 Summer Split weeks after the sale date, and immediately had to deal with the mess left by TiP's former owners.
TiP was accused of not paying their players on time and holding back the bonuses the organization promised them at he beginning of the season. Michael Moore, one of Phoenix1's co-owners says that his organization's first task was trying to right some of those mistakes.
"With Phoenix1, we are building a professional organization that players can thrive in," he told theScore esports. "Our first step was to give Gate, Mash and Pirean raises to their salary and to give them the unpaid salary that they were owed by Team Impulse. We felt that we had a moral obligation to do right by these players. On top of that, we've moved them into an improved training facility and built up an experienced support staff around them.
"Eric [Ma, the general manager] and I have been heavily involved in the operations of the team. We're helping with everything from buying furniture and food to helping the players move. Since we've had such a small amount of time to pull things together, our entire organization had to roll up our sleeves and get moving. But, we couldn’t be happier to do it. We're incredibly pleased with how fast things have come together.
Austin "Gate" Yu was among the players that alleged he was still owed money by TiP's owners, whom he also claimed never gave him a contract to sign. His claims were corroborated by Kenneth "Ken" Tang, one of TiP's former substitute players.
"Those players had next to no support last split," Moore said. "Now that they have the right infrastructure and support, we’re looking forward to them really showing what they can do."
But Phoenix1 isn't all ex-TiP players. The team added former Team 8 player Andrew "Slooshi" Pham and Challenger Series veterans Brandon "Brandini" Chen and Rami "Inori" Charagh.
"We believe both are very talented players. With practice in a team environment, they can become mature LCS players," Moore said. "They are both young players with room to grow, and they are both very coachable. After playing in Challener scene for years, they have earned their spot to play in the LCS."
"Unfortunately, Slooshi had to leave the LCS due to personal family issues. Now, he feels ready to get back into practice and start showing his skills on stage."
Despite some new blood, the specter of TiP's mistakes looms large over P1. TiP was considered one of the weaker teams in the field going into the Spring Split. Despite re-qualifying for the Summer Split, their 5-13 record and ninth place finish seemed to confirm that the roster wasn't as strong as the organization may have hoped.
But Moore says that P1 isn't deterred by the perceived flaws in his squad. He has hopes for the team beyond just this split.
"We will continue to give our players the support they need to grow through this split and into next year," Moore said. "We will also use the connections and know how of our diverse group of owners to bring Phoenix1 and these incredible players the mainstream attention and audience they deserve."
Phoenix1 play their first game in the NA LCS against Echo Fox on June 4.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.