One of the more anticipated relegation matches in recent history has come to a familiar finish. Echo Fox, behind the ridiculous play of Henrik “Froggen” Hansen edged one step closer to reclaiming their LCS spot after defeating Team Liquid Academy’s roster of young promising stars in a grueling five game set.
The matches, contrary to recent style, featured countless individual outplays. Whether it was the duels in the toplane calculated to the last health point, smite battles between Anthony “Hard” Barkhovtsev and Galen “Moon” Holgate, or a tense midlane altercation, the outcomes actually mattered. In each of the matches, the winning team was able to piggyback off of scattered advantages in their matchups.
Of all the lane matchups, middle became considerably one-sided. The Danish superstar midlaner definitely performed up to standard, even if his team looked to falter at times. As the series progressed, even the pregame strategy illustrated just how dominant Hansen was. Liquid consistently utilized all three of their bans towards Froggen. In fact, he never even had a chance to pull out his renowned Anivia. That didn’t stop him though, from dominating the second and third game with a disgusting Vladimir. Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer was unable to keep up, especially once Froggen got early magic resist. The constant manaless pressure from the blood lord led to an eventual ban from TLA.
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But even that couldn’t stop the international veteran. In a deciding game five, Lux was picked for Echo Fox’s midlaner, a champion that had rarely seen play all year – even for the entirety of competitive League of Legends. Finishing with a clean 6-1-6, Froggen utilized her long range and ridiculous burst to land some crucial picks onto the enemy Soraka. TLA’s lack of crowd control in the final game helped to demonstrate Froggen’s mage prowess even more.
Settling the Beef
This match had a tumultuous backstory going in. With respective top laners Colin “Solo” Earnest and Park “kfo” Jeong-hun flaunting their egos in ranked games, one was bound to be left in the dust. For Echo Fox, kfo was able to come out on top this time.
But despite brash comments previously, Solo was quick to show his humility in defeat on social media. His comments indicate his own maturity, crucial on a team loaded with potential, but not necessarily hardened experience. The punches thrown back and forth are no doubt a welcome sight for viewers. With Riot’s increasing censorship of its players, trash-talk is few and far in between.
Sucks to get burned after trash talkin but it's always worth for the hype
— Colin Earnest (@LiquidSolo) August 5, 2016
A Familiar Story – For Liquid Academy and Goldenglue
Just as their sister team in the LCS has a reputation for finishing 4th, Team Liquid Academy can’t seem to break the second place spot in the Challenger scene. Split after split, they are left on the brink of qualification. This iteration of the team came about as close as you can get too. A 38 minute do-or-die game is nothing to scoff at, especially against an LCS team which showed some flashes of brilliance with it’s mechanically talented roster.
Goldenglue might not share the same optimism though. For nearly 3 years now, the young star has been a fringe LCS player – good enough to dominate in the Challenger scene, but consistently outplayed by the top 5 or so midlaners. Perhaps he shares a similar role to Cristian “Cris” Rosales as a gatekeeper, but seeing as his colleague has ascended with Apex, I’m sure Gilmer is disinterested in playing that part. His rather non-volatile playstyle allows him to be easily predicted and out-maneuvered by more experience players. Despite the consistent improvements in mechanical skill through the years, Goldenglue fails to add additional dimensions to his game, which may be the final factor preventing TLA from reaching the LCS.
What’s Ahead for Echo Fox?
After breathing a short sigh of relief, Echo Fox looks forward to more difficult matches ahead. The competitive atmosphere that Rick Fox is likely to be bringing from his Lakers days doesn’t have room for mediocrity.
It’s definitely not a question of skill, as each of Echo Fox’s players consistently rides the very top of solo queue, in 3/4 major regions. Perhaps this battle through adversity and stress will bring the team together. Their fate is once again in their own hands though, something to cherish as they attempt to take back what was once theirs.