Billed as NA’s great hope at the start of the spring split, Immortals emerged defiantly in their first competitive season. But as the summer split draws to a close, the playoffs have thrown up a reoccurring theme for Immortals: dominant in the regular season, but set to choke and miss out on the grand prize when the games start to matter.
Assembling a powerful roster of top professionals, IMT have defied the norm for LCS newcomers and gelled successfully – marching towards the top of the NA standings – only a cheesy Counter Logic Gaming strategy stood between them and a flawless spring split. Yet when playoffs arrived, Immortals got it badly wrong, losing 3-0 to TSM who were badly underperforming at the time. The loss was chalked up as misreading the meta… Lucian Top? The meta was in a literally in a foreign language for Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon.
tfw enemy team flanks with maokai tp and ur team flanks with lucian
— Michael Santana (@Imaqtpielol) 10 April 2016
Immortals were forced to step aside from their spot on the NA LCS pedestal during the NA LCS as a resurgent Team SoloMid swept aside everything in their path… apart from Phoenix1 (never forget). Despite playing second fiddle to TSM, Immortals advanced comfortably into playoffs, favourites to meet TSM again in the final and secure their seed for the World Championship.
Faced with Cloud9 in their first tie, Immortals found a way to orchestrate their own downfall once again – painful viewing for their fanbase who had expected a smooth transition into the final. As it stands, IMT could have a 33-3 regular season combined record across both splits… and miss Worlds entirely.
It’s difficult to moan as an Immortals fan, particularly after winning 16-17 matches in the regular season, but it is heartbreaking to consider that a team that has performed so consistently throughout the season could miss out because they are so consistently poor in the pivotal playoff matches. The loss to Cloud9 came as a shock to many, none more so than Noah Whinston, Immortals CEO, who was recently asked during a Q&A:
How do you feel the team is going to fare against the best teams in the world?
“Difficult to say. Currently, I expect us to make it out of groups, maybe make semis. But there’s a long time between now and Worlds.”
Noah Whinston, Immortals CEO
Understandably, the majority of the blame is falling heavily on Huni, who’s subpar performance combined with Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong’s proactive playmaking abilities. Slightly smug Fnatic fans, still reeling after their loss to H2K Gaming, have been quick to re-emerge from the woodwork and bleat to IMT fans that they told you this would happen.
Respectively, Huni does seem to bring out some rash picks when the games matter most. His champion pool simply doesn’t include tanks and as such he picks champions he thinks he can comfortably carry on – against an arguably superior opponent in Impact, that was never going to work.
It will be a tragedy for Immortals if they were to concede their opportunity to represent North America in their home World Championships. The squad now have to win The Gauntlet in order to secure their seed, meaning more pressure for Huni and the rest of the squad.
With very little time to prepare for their next match, IMT need to eliminate their fragility in big matches, or else risk fulfilling the prophecy outlined by Riot shoutcaster David “Phreak” Turley as a ‘slightly better version of Team Liquid… 3rd place every time’.