Phoenix1 entered the 2017 Season as the ultimate wildcard for the North American League Championship Series. After a late season surge that hinted at future promise, P1 replaced three of their starting five members. On paper, the dark horses boast a line-up that, on paper, is filled with talent. As the season unfolds, the credentials of Phoenix1’s new lineup will be put to the test where it really counts – can the revamped roster deliver?
Something has ignited within Phoenix1 this season. On the heels of a week where they cruised to four straight victories, Phoenix1 has shown a polish and cohesiveness that has thrust the team into the spotlight as a playoffs contender in NA. Such an ascension was not supposed to happen this quickly… if at all.
Phoenix1 finished last season in a disappointing 8th place. A team that struggled to find victories through most of the season, they finally began to find their rhythm near the end of the season and cruised to a 3-0 against Echo Fox in the Promotion Tournament. As the off-season arrived however, the decision was made to burn their roster to ashes and start anew.
Phoenix1 may have made the biggest offseason moves of any NA team. They brought in one of the LCK’s best ADCs with former KT Rolster star No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon to anchor a bot lane with former Immortals support Adrain “Adrian” Ma. If Arrow is able to adjust to his new teammates, they could challenge for NA’s best bot lane by the end of the season.
From the EU LCS’s H2K-Gaming, P1 acquired mid laner Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook. While Ryu had played well in his time in Europe, he was never quite able to live up to the massive amount of expectation placed upon him when he left the LCK, widely considered a top 3 mid laner in the World. A move to Phoenix1 offers a chance for Ryu to reclaim some of the glory that he had lost in Europe.
The two players that have remained from last season’s roster are top laner Derek “Zig” Shao and jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh. On a team loaded with talent, Zig does not have to be a strength for Phoenix1, but they cannot afford for him to be a weakness. Zig had an unimpressive rookie split, but has already shown growth this season and has played well on the meta champions.
The spark for Phoenix1’s ignition, as it was last season, has been the stellar play of their jungler, Inori. The contender for Summer 2016’s Rookie of the Split was the primary factor for Phoenix1’s turnaround towards the end of last year, and his strong play has soared in to the new year. He will have to continue to fan the flames in order for Phoenix1 to not only be successful, but to challenge for a top spot in the NA LCS.
As the season progresses, Phoenix1 will continue to rise on the back of Inori. Early season worries about team chemistry and communication have been washed away, and through stellar drafts and a rapidly improving level of play, Phoenix1 will threaten the established kings of the NA LCS. The fire has been lit, and out of the ashes, Phoenix1 has risen.
The season is still young, but Phoenix1 are already a threat. No longer can they be considered an underdog, and victories against TSM, Cloud9, or FlyQuest in the coming weeks should not come as a surprise moving forwards. How far Phoenix1 can go is yet to be seen, but an NA LCS Championship is no longer out of reach, it is now their burning ambition.