Your guide to 2016 LPL: EDG's Pilotless Plane
Picture this. You're flying on a plane to whatever your destination is. You've taken this trip dozens of times and you don't even consider anything could go wrong. Suddenly, your pilot walks out of the cockpit with a parachute and jumps out of the plane. The co-pilot sits dazed at what just happened and decides to follow suit. At this point, you're not sure what to do. Anyone capable of piloting the plane is now gone. But a man who had his first flight class yesterday stands up and announces he will try to land the plane in the pilot's absence.
Welcome to EDG's first week of 2016 LPL Spring. Even though legendary coach Aaron and Clearlove gave notice ahead of time that they would be stepping back for an unknown period of time, it's a scary thought that the brains of EDG's quarterfinals run are not in control for now.
EDG the movie: Starring Rapidstar
But what about that man who stepped up to try to land the plane? Rapidstar from Azubu Frost's 2nd place finish in season 2 is now behind the reigns of EDG until coach Aaron returns. Rapidstar has no formal coaching experience, but he was a shot caller throughout his time on the many re-namings of CJ Entus.
This may seem like not such a bad thing. Ex-players know a lot about the game so naturally they would make a good coach? Right? Not always. A similar case of this is former UnlimitedPotential support, Heart, is now controlling LGD's strategy. So far that isn't going so well as LGD surprisingly sits at the bottom of Group A, which is the weaker of the two groups anyway. The problem with bringing back players as coaches is that you can be really good at doing something, and have no idea how to express your thought process. To make sure i'm not putting Rapidstar on the hot seat just yet, he hasn't even been in the EDG house until after their loss to Royal. Coaching takes an immense amount of social expertise. You have to understand each individual player and how they learn best; then tailor your coaching in a way that everyone learns to their full potential after each discussion. Shotcallers like Rapidstar have some of these qualities. They are vocal, expressive, and quick witted. However, a lot of coaching qualities are learned over time, so it's only natural with a sudden change in coaching staff from someone like Aaron to a new coach like Rapidstar that there will be fluxes in the team's overall performance. Can Rapidstar capably coach EDG? Probably. Will it be at the same level as Coach Aaron? No. But the shifting in management isn't all to blame for EDG's lackluster season opener.
Clearlove passes the torch to Fireloli:
While Clearlove hasn't retired or even stepped down permanantly, for now he's taken time to try to nurture Fireloli's talent, perhaps in preparation to retire to a coaching position, or from the pro scene as a whole. Whatever the reason is, it's been detrimental thus far for EDG's in-game planning. If Aaron was the mind of EDG, then Clearlove was the brainstem. All pre-planning goes out the window if there's not someone to know the in's and out's of the plan. The ingame shot caller has a unique talent of being able to change plans on the fly, while still having the new plan have the identity of their team's style.
As far as we've seen, Fireloli doesn't hold that same prowess that Clearlove did. Fireloli has been on EDG his whole career, starting back in 2014. If you've been on a team that long, even as a substitute you'd learn the tendencies of your teammates. Being a shotcaller isn't something that can just be given as if it's a title, and not everyone has the skills to be one. We've seen people forced into a shotcalling position and it severely decreased their skill. After Hai's departure from C9, Meteos was given the title of shotcaller and it forced him into multitasking and worrying about other people at all times. This is the exact opposite of Meteos' carry play style and C9 faltered because of it. Meteos has been on C9 since Quantic so it's not like there was a lack of synergy, he just didn't posses the skills or frame of mind to shotcall. Clearlove is Hai and Fireloli is Meteos in this scenario. Not being able to shotcall is a problem that can be worked around, but when you go 1/9 Grave jungle and then get spanked by it the next game, there's issues spanning more than one level of the game.
Is EDG donezo™?:
No. The first week doesn't mean too much, it's only a quick glance at the team's play after a break. That quick glance can be skewed when the first thing you see is one bad game. Fireloli has a ton of work to do, involving map pressure, individual mechanics, warding, and shotcalling, but that doesn't mean it's not possible for him to improve. It could be rust from not playing, it could be lan jitters for a new season, it could just be a bad game. Additionally, Rapidstar hasn't even been in the house yet to coach, so their entire game plan could change next week and they could be back to top form. It's much too early to count out a team as historically successful as EDG, but with the sudden changes in roster and staffing, things could actually be even worse than now. Within the next two weeks, we'll see if it truly is a rut for EDG this season, or if Week one was the outlier in another victorious season.
Personally, I find it hard to believe that a team with such a seasoned management system will falter, even after a drastic change like this. The first few weeks will be a rough transition to find their identity under new shotcalling and coaching, but EDG have been known to adapt quickly.
Will EDG's interim pilot and co-pilot safely fly this plane?