Echo Fox’s Decision To Bench Akaadian Backfires As Grig Fails To Deliver

Perhaps Echo Fox felt uncomfortable, rather unfamiliar with their position at the summit of the NA LCS? There are very few reasonable explanations that account for the organisation’s decision to drop star jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham in favour of unproven rookie Jonathan “Grig” Armao.

Echo Fox announced that they would be lining up without their usual starting jungler ahead of a tough weekend of fixtures, with back to back series against Counter Logic Gaming and Cloud9.

The organisation were initially cagey to provide any clarity on the decision, with team owner owner Rick Rox simply pointing towards the team’s incentive to utilise the entirety of their ten man roster:

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Akaadian has defined his role as one of Echo Fox’s two primary carries alongside mid laner, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen. The duo were instrumental in the team’s impressive start to the NA LCS Summer Split campaign, utilising their mid/jungle synergy to defeat both FlyQuest eSports and Team Liquid in Week 1.

By contrast, Grig (formerly known as “Grigne”, but changed to comply with Riot Games’ offensive names policy) had, until very recently, been a part of Echo Fox’s challenger team, Delta Fox.

Grig and Delta Fox finished fifth overall in the NA Challenger Series Spring Split, competing in the NA summer open qualifiers to regain their place in the NA CS.

Grig formed part of a ten man Echo Fox roster after Delta Fox signed a roster of high profile streamers to play under the team banner.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

To his credit, Grig produced a promising display for his first LCS appearance against Counter Logic Gaming. A worthy adversary for Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, Echo Fox’s debutant was decisive in his movements across the rift, even able to lead the FOX roster to victory with some clutch Lee Sin moments in Game 2.

Critically however, Grig was unable to contain Dardoch’s Rengar in the opening game of the series and lost out in a smite battle in Game 3 to cement Echo Fox’s fate.

The Cloud9 series presented far fewer positives. Conducive to some rash shot calling, Echo Fox proceeded to throw a seemingly insurmountable lead in both Game 1 and 2, first opting for a solo-queue style approach to ending Game 1 and in turn leaving their base exposed, before yet another disastrous baron play handed victory to C9 for the series’ conclusion.

Akaadian was quick to support the team’s decision to start Grig, with many fans suggesting that the jungler was keen to spend some time on the sidelines:

Though the reasoning behind Grig’s involvement ahead of Akaadian remains unclear, the decision has split opinion within the Echo Fox fanbase.

Whilst fans are pleased to see the Echo Fox organisation following through on its ideals for a ten-man roster, Grig did not offer the team anything strategically different to Akaadian, nor did he appear to be mechanically superior. As Echo Fox suffer a drop in the NA LCS standings, all eyes will be on Akaadian for his expected return ahead the team’s next set of fixtures.

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