Immortals are one of the NA LCS’ top tier teams, dominating the regular splits throughout both spring and summer. Their perceived superiority now ultimately counts for nothing – as Counter Logic Gaming, Cloud9 and Team SoloMid train in Korea ahead of the World Championships – Immortals players and coaching staff will be sitting at home, reflecting on their disappointment.
Not reaching worlds is the biggest kick in the teeth Immortals could have suffered, losing out to Cloud9 twice in both the LCS Playoffs and now the Gauntlet run. It’s been a demoralising period for the team, four of whom attended Worlds last season, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Yeu-jin “Reignover” Kim even advancing to the semi-finals with Fnatic.
Though it may well be the most over-quoted statistic in League of Legends eSports right now, Huni and Reignover are 64-8 across four regular splits in EU and NA (13-5, 18-0, 17-1, 16-2)… yet they still won’t be in attendance for the World Championships this season.
Worryingly for their fans, Immortals appear to have stagnated, showing very little sign of improvement since their dominance in the spring split. IMT initially took the NA LCS by storm, the newly-formed roster gelled together almost instantaneously, each of their big name players excelling in their roles – Reignover was named as the Spring Split MVP for NA, whilst Huni was widely regarded as the best top laner in the region.
Immortals were not far from living up to their name, enjoying a huge amount of success with their unique style of play. Their style never seemed to evolve however – it wasn’t long before IMT’s rivals identified their strengths and formed strategies to counter it, moving up and beyond the LCS new boys.
Immortals have always played a high tempo, aggressive style which quickly dispatched their opponents once they got a hold on an early lead. Initially, even when IMT fell slightly behind during the spring split, the quality of their opposition simply wasn’t good enough to punish their mistakes and get back into the game.
Immortals are either extremely naive or extremely stubborn – with a star-packed team and a sizeable behind-the-scenes team – intuition leads rightfully leads fans and analysts towards the latter. Their strategy was undeniably successful in the spring, but nothing significant has changed since then.
IMT’s rivals had plenty of time to study and adapt to their aggressive style. Whilst everyone around Immortals continuously tweaked and improved their play, in contrast, Immortals were treading water. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best if you don’t keep improving – a truth that came back to haunt them at the end of the season. It’s no wonder Huni was visibly tilted.
Ironically, Immortals made North America a stronger region as a whole. The all-star roster now serve as a benchmark – consistent throughout both seasons, but now teams are beginning to rise above and fall below them. Immortals are the NA LCS’ standardised test.
They may be fun to watch, but their aggressive play style was always going to fizzle out. Immortal’s resistance to change and need to adapt, even when faced with an evolving meta has cost them what seemed like a guaranteed spot at the World Championship, they have no-one to blame but themselves.