Following the announcement that Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng would join Team Liquid for the remainder of the Spring Split, TL continued to invest in their roster, bringing in Phoenix1 Support, Adrian “Adrian” Ma. Whilst the move is naturally of benefit to Team Liquid, it also marks the end of the sour internal conflict between Adrian and Phoenix1 Jungler, Rami “Inori” Charagh.
The previously unknown spat was brought to the attention of the community in the immediate aftermath of Phoenix1’s victory over Counter Logic Gaming in Week 6 of the NA LCS. Due to personal reasons, Inori had opted to take a short break from professional play to return home to Canada; former Cloud9 Jungler William “Meteos” Hartman was drafted in to take his place.
Following an impressive display from P1’s stand-in Jungler, Adrian took the opportunity to praise Meteos’ performance… whilst simultaneously disrespecting absent teammate Inori:
“When I play with Meteos I feel like I have a really experienced Jungler playing with me. He really understands the game, how to Jungle and how to path around the map.
“He takes every piece of information I give him and actually thinks about how he’s gonna play around the map.
“He’s using his brain, so it feels really good to play with a Jungler like that.”
Adrian “Adrian” Ma
The statements immediately sparked a response from Inori, who issued a (now-deleted) response on social media before speaking openly about the conflict in an interview with Blitz eSports. It is now understood the relationship between the two players became unsustainable, potentially resulting in Adrian’s rapid exit:
“Right now, I kinda feel like I’m being rejected from my team because there’s a certain player that doesn’t want to play with me, which is kinda silly.
“I could have been a better teammate to them, and I want to be the best teammate I can be going forward.”
Rami “Inori” Charagh
Inori’s interview solidified that there were some hidden issues behind the scenes at Phoenix1, providing explanation as to why Phoenix1 traded Adrian without having a strong replacement at the ready. Whilst it is often ill-advised to make roster swaps halfway through the split, due to the lack of talent available, P1 have been fortunate enough to find an LCS replacement in Dignitas Sub Support William “Stunt” Chen.
Unclear of the extent of the issues between Adrian and Inori makes it difficult to know how much was on the line for these players, though it is clear that they have issues with each other that lie beyond the rift. Whether Adrian was eager to leave the team or was pushed out of the door by his organisation is yet to be officially confirmed, though the timing of the trade is certainly suggestive of the later. Inori will almost certainly return to the starting lineup for Phoenix1, cementing their LCS status ahead of a grudge match with Team Liquid in the summer.
Assessing The Strength Of Each Jungler In The NA LCS
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North America’s Junglers
Each unique, each with a story. North America's jungle pool may be the regions's strongest position. We take a deeper look:
Mr. Steal Yo’ Jungle
There are few players that understand how to jungle better than Team Liquid’s Reignover. He is easily the best jungler in NA at pathing and is able to consistently create small advantages for himself. While not a hard carry style player, his cerebral play makes him one of NA’s best.
Just when we think we’ve heard the last of Meteos, he triumphantly returns to the NA LCS. Now a part of Phoenix1, there are few players as consistent or smooth in their play as Meteos. His game understanding and strong teamplay put him at a significant advantage over many of the younger NA junglers
Team Dignitas’s Chaser is a player often greeted with much fanfare and promise, but that consistently fails to deliver. Once heralded as one of Korea’s best jungler’s, he has failed to make the impact expected or necessary for Team Dignitas to be a top team in the NA LCS.
First Blood King
There is one player who has surprised more than any other this season, and that is Echo Fox jungler Akaadian who may be their best performer so far this season. With smart early aggression he has consistently gained his team early leads and has proven himself a top carry jungler in NA.
Svenskeren is a player who is excellent at getting the rest of his team ahead and understanding where to apply pressure. Although he can make plenty of flashy plays on picks such as Lee Sin, his presence enables his teammates to shine and players such as Bjergsen have greatly benefited from his presence
There are few players who have arrived to the NA LCS with the hype of Cloud9’s jungler Contractz. An obvious talent, Contractz could be one of NA’s best junglers if he is able to overcome the youthful mistakes that still occur far too often.
Phoenix1 wouldn’t be where it is today without the play of Inori who completely turned around their season and announced himself as a force in the jungle. One of NA’s best jungle talents, Inori can carry a game on a variety of champions including his signature Rengar.
Fed or Feeding
Possibly the most aggressive jungler in the NA LCS, Immortal’s Dardoch is known for his highlight plays and just as amusing fails. A player without an off switch, Dardoch is one of the few junglers who has shown time and time again they can single-handedly carry a game.
After a year of disappointment, FlyQuest’s Moon has found unexpected new life this season behind the leadership of Hai where he has developed into one of NA’s top junglers. A player with a wide and unexpected champion pool, you can never be sure what might be locked in for Moon in the jungle.
One of the off-season’s least talked about acquisitions, EnVyUs’s Lira is a player with the potential to be the star of the team. Already showing his ability to carry games, expect Lira’s play to only grow stronger as he continues to tap into his potential and transition to his new environment and teammates.
From the beginning of his career, people have often overlooked Xmithie and underappreciated the consistent play he has brought to CLG. While he may not carry many games, he is rarely out-jungled by his opponents, placing his team in a position to succeed through superior macro play.