Immortals still in control of their own destiny as they prepare for playoff push
Before the 2017 Spring Split, expectations were high for Immortals. The team’s new roster debuted at IEM Gyeonggi, defeating J Team twice and putting up a fight in losses to Korea’s Samsung Galaxy and Kongdoo Monster. With many teams in the NA LCS changing up their rosters, the new-look Immortals seemed poised to be contenders for the crown.
The team had moderate success in the first week of the LCS, and every player had at least one good game. It quickly became clear, however, that Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett was the key to the team’s success. If he failed, the team failed. If the team won, you could bet that he was almost always the driving force.
Sometimes, his play wasn’t enough. Sometimes, his attitude got the better of him, and it was up to Cody Sun and Kim "Olleh" Joo-sung, the team’s duo lane, to share the burden and silently become top performers. The end result usually still relied on Dardoch performing well, but Immortals fans could always count on Cody and Olleh. The unsung heroes and likely the two most underrated players in the league, they kept Immortals from sinking while Lee "Flame" Ho-jong and Eugene "Pobelter" Park were struggling.
This team hit its lowest point three weeks ago, losing to Team Liquid and Team EnVyUs, the two worst teams in the league. Fighting for a playoff spot and facing a strong schedule to close out the split, the future looked bleak.
Then, Flame and Pobelter finally got in form and the team’s skill skyrocketed.
The odds have still been against them, however, as Immortals has had one of the toughest schedules in the league over the past two weeks. FlyQuest, TSM, Cloud9, and Phoenix1 all blocked their road to the playoffs. With two wins and two admirable defeats, Immortals are still in control of its own destiny. They can still make the playoffs, but CLG and Team Dignitas stand in the way. Technically, in a crazy situation, Immortals can go 0-2 this weekend and still make the playoffs. But here’s what you should realistically expect.
Immortals vs. CLG
This series is technically not a must-win. But Immortals should treat it as one if they want to be in control of their own destiny—and not rely on other teams losing.
CLG has had an inconsistent split, but they’re getting hot at the right time. This team is on a three-series winning streak, taking down Cloud9, Echo Fox, and FlyQuest. While they haven’t secured their spot in the playoffs, it would be quite the upset if they managed to fall out. CLG will be a tough task, but one Immortals can handle if they play their cards right.
Known for playing to the level of their opponents, CLG looked good but not great in their latest 2-0 week. Echo Fox and FlyQuest are two of the lower tier teams in the NA LCS right now, and CLG noticeably struggled in games against each. When Echo Fox played scrappy, CLG played scrappy, but that’s not CLG’s style, and they aren’t particularly good at it. Because of this, Echo Fox actually took leads in both games that lasted over 20 minutes. Laughable calls from both teams and slightly superior fighting from CLG brought them back into the game and gave them the victory.
Echo Fox and Immortals may both be scrappy, early-game teams, but Immortals will not make the same mistakes as Echo Fox. Even if they do in game one, they proved in the series against Phoenix1 that they can bring it back with a stronger game two. That game may have been a loss, but CLG is a much weaker opponent than Phoenix1.
While Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham was revered for his jungle prowess early on in the split, his form has suffered tremendously and Jake "Xmithie" Puchero was given almost no trouble. Dardoch is as good as ever. He is going to be pressuring lanes, counter-jungling, and giving Xmithie a very hard time. The CLG jungler is in for a fight. In his current form, this is not a fight that Xmithie will win. In the duo lane, CLG likely has its best performer in Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes at ADC. It’s too bad for him that Cody and Olleh are no pushovers. This pair just went up against arguably the best duo in the league when Immortals took on Phoenix1, and they did very well despite the loss.
CLG is favored to take the series because of their teamfighting skills, but Immortals’ scrappy style and recent surge of form could pull out a win.
Immortals vs. Team Dignitas
Now, this series is a true must-win.
Dignitas is one of Immortals’ direct competitors for the final playoff spots, so Dardoch and company are in for a fight. Like CLG, Dignitas has had an odd split and is getting hot at the right time. They’ve won seven of their last nine series, and the two losses were only to Phoenix1 and TSM, arguably the two best teams in the league. Dignitas has stayed under the radar because their wins were against opponents on the lower end of the league, but they were convincing. The NA LCS is full of parity this year; anyone can beat anyone. Dignitas has proven that they are only going to lose to the best.
Benjamin "LOD" deMunck and Alex "Xpecial" Chu are good, but Cody and Olleh are better, so Immortals should have the upper hand in the duo lane. Flame and Pobelter may have some trouble against Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho and Jang "Keane" Lae-young, but as long as Dardoch can keep track of Lee "Chaser" Sang-hyun and provide good vision, he should be able to keep his laners safe. If Chaser is allowed to roam free and create plays, even if he isn’t a primary damage-dealer, Dignitas will have the advantage.
Immortals may not be favored in this series either, as Dignitas’ early game has been explosive lately. If Immortals can’t win the early game, the team usually doesn’t look great as the game progresses. If Immortals wants to win this series, they will need to match Dignitas’ early skill, and Dardoch will always need to know where Chaser is.
Immortals is finally getting it together, but the squad faces two of the hottest teams in the league. This week could easily end in disaster, two losses, and shattered hopes. If every player on this team steps up to the plate, however, Immortals will be on its way to the playoffs in incredible form.