Of all the teams in the NA LCS this year, Echo Fox has no doubt been one of the most disappointing. Despite having one of the most individually talented rosters and showing early promise, they were just never able to pull things together as a team.
One of the biggest difficulties for them during the offseason will be figuring out exactly what went wrong. There are a lot of avenues for them to better themselves in 2019 and we’ll have to wait and see which they choose.
Inero left part way through the summer split and his absence clearly took a toll on the team. The teamwork and synergy that Echo Fox looked like they were developing evaporated, and whether or not it was all due to Inero’s departure is neither here nor there. What matters is that Thinkcard and Vynarian weren’t working towards the end of the split.
Echo Fox wasn’t playing to their win conditions and they weren’t drafting for their personnel. Huni was too often put on tank duty on champions with abysmal win rates and Smoothie wasn’t given the mobile supports he thrives on. If Echo Fox plan on keeping their core team together, they need to rethink their coaching staff.
New Strategy or Focused Strategy
The Echo Fox strategy is aggression. Early ganks, engage champs and lots of damage is the Echo Fox way. And with Huni, Dardoch, Smoothie, Damonte and Lost, that’s actually a viable strategy. They proved several times this year that well executed aggression can be the key to victory.
The problems arose when that strategy was only partially executed or not supported by the draft. Echo Fox needs to draft for aggression and stick to it if they want it to work. And when the draft doesn’t go their way or if they’re just playing a different style temporarily, then they also need to be able to change gears and turn off that aggression.
Focus on Consistency
Regardless of the outcome of the spring and summer splits, there’s no denying that Echo Fox was one of the scariest teams in North America this year. They had more skill, talent and potential than just about anyone else. The problem was, they were horribly inconsistent. If they can’t be consistent, then they’ll never be able to live up to their potential. Consistency starts with the coaches and the strategy, and that’s why they need to address those two things first. After those are in place, then they can look at what needs to be done to become a more consistent team.
Smoothie and Lost joined the Echo Fox LCS team with only a few weeks to go in the summer split and it showed. The team chemistry just wasn’t there when it needed to be and it cost Echo Fox dearly. Still, Smoothie is one of the best supports in NA and Lost showed tremendous amounts of potential. There’s no reason to replace either of them. Instead, Echo Fox just needs to work hard at developing team synergy during the offseason.
Huni was once one of the best top laners in the world and we saw glimpses of that this year. But more often, we saw the other side of Huni. The one that had more isolated deaths than anyone else in the league. The one that appeared to be inting sometimes he was dying so much. That Huni was a drain on Echo Fox and likely cost them the quarterfinal match against TSM.
Maybe there’s still a place on Echo Fox for Huni. Maybe he just had a bad year. But the coaches and management need to take a hard look at whether or not he’s a good fit for the team. From an outside perspective, it’s impossible to say. What’s clear is that something needs to happen. Either Huni needs to better adapt his play style or Echo Fox needs to find a top laner who fits better with the team’s direction.