Looking to the Future: Echo Fox
In the Summer Split, Echo Fox was the laughing stock of the league due to finishing with an abyssmal 1-17 record. Despite this, they have a huge backing and a stong player on their roster that they can build around. To take these elements and turn them into a strong team, here's what I think Echo Fox sould do.
First, lets start with the positive, Henrik "Froggen" Hansen. Despite such a miserable season, Froggen still managed to do what he does best, which is put out damage at a very high level. At 622 Damage Per Minute (DPM), he ranked 4th among mid laners, only behind Team SoloMid's Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg, Team Liquid's Kim "Fenix" Jae-hoon and Immortals' Eugene "Pobelter" Park.
Now, fourth may not sound exciting, but if you factor in how poor Froggen's team was, the fact that he was still able to do his part and rank among the top five is astounding. Only winning one game, he was still able to outdamage mid laners for teams that won more then 50% of their games.
His laning was not particularly strong when looking at stats, as he ranked 6th in both CS Differential at 10 (CSD@10) as well as CS Per Minute (CSPM). But, I argue this with the fact that he simply was not receiving the help in lane that others were. The jungle and support position for Echo Fox were very weak this season which lead to Froggen often having to give up some CS in favor of playing safer due to lack of vision/pressure.
Essentially, Echo Fox was Froggen versus the world, and it showed in-game as well on the stat sheets. With the highest Percentage of Team's Gold (TG%), as well as highest Kill Participation (KP), nothing got done without the great Dane in the Midlane.
Normally, I would do a "bad" section, but for this team you have to skip straight to the ugly.
This is a long one, so saddle up.
Starting with the top lane, Park "kfo" Jeong-hun was a tragedy. As an import from Korea, many expected his mechanics to be strong, but limited in teamfights due to communication issues. Unfortunately for Echo Fox, he was unable to really do any of these things. Ranking in the bottom of every major statistic as well has having the worst KP in the whole league, he needs to be replaced. There is not much to add here as he really gave no reason to be optimistic about his talent outside of a weird Kayle pocketpick that really has no place in competitive league at the moment.
Jungle may have been the most disappointing position for this team due to the importance of the role. Anthony "Hard" Barkhovtsev never showed any ability to make anything happen for his team in both the early or late game. He managed to have the worst First Blood Percentage (FB%) and KP for all junglers. Naturally, the crutch for junglers who show a lack of ganking prowess is the fact that they ward well, but Hard faltered here also, ranking 7th in the league.
Yuri "KEITH" Jew was always labeled as a strong team fighter when playing for Liquid in the past, often putting out huge DPM numbers. This season however, he was lackluster. To be fair, playing ADC in a team that only wins one game would be insanely hard to do anything that warrants respect due to the nature of the position. When you combine KEITH, who is a weak laner, with a support who is also a weak laner, the chances of them doing well are low. Due to this, KEITH was rarely in a position where he was on even footing with the other team. For an ADC, this is an absolute travesty.
Terry "BIG" Chuong, along with Hard, was the butt of many jokes. Together, these two were labeled as the worst performers in LCS by many, often being made fun off on streams and shows. Big simply did not show a high enough level of support play both mechanically and mentally, to warrant him keeping his spot.
What Do I Change?
I think you have to replace all 4 roles, and with only one import slot available, my main focus would be scouting out new NA talent. For some info on who may be worth looking at in challenger, I read my colleague's article "Scouting the Scouting Grounds." This article, in combination with looking at the top challenger players at the moment, I see a couple names that interest me. As I am writing this, Silas Kroeger is rank 1 in NA, followed by the notorious Tarzaned. Both are junglers, but with Tarzaned's sketchy past/background and Kroeger's lack of champion pool (Plays Zac, Reksai and Hecarim almost exclusively), I worry a bit about them.
Going down the list a bit more I come across the two names that interest me more in Fallenbandit and Wiggily. Wiggily is a jungler who shows he wants to be able to play all viable junglers at a high level, never focusing soley on just one or two champions. If you look at his most recent games you will notice that he has even been practicing quite a bit of Lee Sin, and I love seeing this work ethic.
With Fallenbandit, he shows many of the same qualities that I like in Wiggily. He plays a lot of champions and has both a mix of carry top laners and tank top laners. Also, you will see in his match history that he has been brushing up on his Poppy, a champion that has seen some play at Worlds.
If both of these players show up well at the scouting grounds and have coachable attitudes, I would love to see them picked up by Echo Fox.
A player that I really want to see Echo Fox prioritize in the off season is Michael "Bunny FuFuu" Kurylo. With C9, he pulled out of their support role battle in favor of streaming. Admittedly, he was in a position where he knew the team wanted to move on with just one support so he took the noble route out, but if he looks to return to competitive, then he is a prize.
As a player, Bunny prefers his Thresh as well as other playmaking champions like Bard. This style I think fits what Echo Fox needs which is a playmaker, someone that will get them in advantageous positions. Bunny has always been thought of as a strong mechanical mid laner and roamer which could help facilitate Froggen's ability to take over games. If you can manage to pick up an AD Carry player that skill-wise matches what Bunny can bring, then you all of a sudden have a very serviceable bottom lane duo. Which leads me to Johnny "Altec" Ru, Bunny's former duo partner when on Gravity.
Altec as a player has always been labeled as a strong North American AD Carry, but simply was never able to fully put it together and get great results outside of his stint with Gravity. When on Gravity, Altec showed flashes of being an absolute beast, ranking 3rd in DPM out of all ADC's. But, when he transitioned over to NRG for 2016 spring, he fell all the way down to 6th which lead to him being replaced for the Summer season. Most recently, we saw Altec playing with Cloud9 Challenger in the promotion tournament, where he qualified. So the question really is, is he available to be picked up by another team, or would he even want to join a different team. With Hai "Hai" Du Lam announcing that he will not be playing with that squad next season, I imagine Altec may be open to greener pastures, but you never know.
Another very stong player that has already been linked with Echo Fox is Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett. After the end of the season it was announced prematurely that Dardoch would be joining Echo Fox, but then shortly after it came out that Dardoch did not think he was going to play with them after all, but that he would be in the LCS, somewhere. If Echo Fox is able to figure it out and lure Dardoch to their team, then this is good. If you have read any of my past work, I highly value Dardoch due to his NA tag and skill at a shallow position (jungle). Of course, with bringing in Dardoch, you bring in a kid with a huge ego and opinion on how the game should be played. If he and Froggen get along and be able to lead a team together, I don't know, but for the sake of winning, I hope they try.
Another very strong jungler that I think would work insanely well with Froggen is Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen. If you read my Liquid article, then you'll know I think Santorin showed a lot of promise last season, basically being the Froggen of the jungle position for NRG last split. He was able to escape his stereotype as being only a farming jungler as he improved his FB% and KP by a huge margin. Together, the two Danes should have quite a bit of synergy considering Santorin has played with two other mid laners that were quite talented in Bjergsen and Lee "GBM" Chang-seok, so he will know what resources Froggen will need to succeed.
Notable in the five I want to see, there is no Dardoch. This is simply due to the possible problems that Dardoch brings. With Dardoch they no doubt have the highest ceiling but in terms of who will have the highest percentage chance of winning, I like Santorin.
The key to this team would be how fallenbandit adjusts and performs. He would need to make a huge leap, but with stable players in every other role, I think this is a good fit for a rookie to develop. Also, he would not be thrown into a team where he has to carry from day one. This team has players in Mid and ADC that have proven they can carry in the past, so naturally he would be able to ease along as a more supportive player if neccessary.
Overall, I hope to see Echo Fox really push for a strong contender this season. As an organization, they have gained quite a big fan base in the community, so seeing them do well would be extraordinary.
Who do you think Echo Fox should pick up in the offseason, or what changes do you think they should make? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us on Twitter @GAMURScom.