Every young and aspiring League of Legends professional dreams of reaching the top; Echo Fox’s Matt “Akaadian” Higginbotham is no exception. Worn down by yet another disappointing split with the organisation, the jungler is now considering his options elsewhere.
One of the breakthrough stars of 2017, Akaadian has now defined his role as one of Echo Fox’s two primary carries alongside veteran mid laner, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen.
Promoting a refreshing aggressive playstyle in the jungle, Akaadian was amongst the frontrunners to be crowned the NA LCS Rookie of the Split in the Spring of 2017, narrowly missing out to Cloud9’s own jungle prodigy, Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia.
At the Spring Split’s mid-way point, Akaadian looked to be poised on the spring board that would launch his career to new heights.
The jungler’s impressive KDA and solo-carry performances had captured the attention of his NA LCS rivals, Echo Fox simply needed to follow through on their potential in order for the rookie to make a telling statement.
Akaadian would have won the Rookie of the Split accolade had Echo Fox not collapsed at the end of the split.
The ‘destructively innovative’ organisation missed out on playoffs once again as the team’s strategy and in-game coordination fell apart at the seams.
Echo Fox’s Summer Split followed a frustratingly familiar script. After a promising start, Echo Fox started their traditional mid-split slide down the standings, destined to miss out on playoffs once again.
The team’s management attempted a number of radical strategies to shake-up the team’s seemingly never-ending malaise, experimenting with exclusively internal scrim practices and notably, rotating out each individual member of the roster in turn.
Akaadian enjoyed his fair share of time on the subs bench during the 2017 Summer Split, allowing for his understudy, Jonathan “Grig” Armao, to experience his share of stage time.
We are a ten man roster, I'm really glad grig is getting a chance to play he's been trying hard for a while give him a chance guys https://t.co/ngPe0f8ynF
— Matt Higginbotham (@Akaadian) June 10, 2017
Echo Fox ended the season in 8th place, short of the team’s target for the split and short of Akaadian’s personal aspirations.
Speaking with Caliber eSports, Akaadian discussed his future with the Echo Fox organisation:
“My personal goal right now is to just be on a top team in my region, whether that’s with Echo Fox or with any other team.
“Honestly, if I don’t think the team that I join or am playing on will be a top team I probably just won’t play anymore.
“There’s no point just going through a year just thinking ‘I’m here for the money’, that’s not really the way I work, I’m too competitive for that and I get really frustrated.
“By top team, I mean top four or five.”
Matt “Akaadian” Higginbotham
Don't think I've ever felt as useless as I did in today's games. Sorry guys
— Matt Higginbotham (@Akaadian) August 6, 2017
Echo Fox’s sustained ambitions of becoming one of the top five finishers (that Akaadian strives to represent), is no closer today than it was at the beginning of the year.
The team’s internal innovations have done little to improve the team’s standing. Echo Fox continue to miss the mark both strategically and in their roster decisions.
Regardless of their poor performances and curious strategies, Echo Fox remain a favourite to be incorporated within the NA LCS franchise model for 2018. Though the team seem guaranteed to secure a spot in the NA LCS next year, Akaadian’s future with the organisation is far from assured.
It is difficult to gauge whether Akaadian has the talent to represent a top tier North American organisation, but if the jungler doesn’t find the opportunity to do so, the NA LCS could see one of its brightest homegrown talents disappear altogether.