Echo Fox have been on the hot seat for all of Season 8, with their beginning roster being slated by many analysts and community members as the perfect recipe to create a batch of C4 waiting to be triggered by even the slightest touch. The personality of the team wasn’t the outward cause for not making the finals of either Spring or Summer Split but was more heavily due to their inflexibility to create dynamic playstyles and a collapsing bot lane.
Now Echo Fox is back with a new lineup, but many fans have expressed their displeasure, saying that Echo Fox have seemingly built a budget roster due to financial issues with the organization laying off several players from their FGC sector as well as their Call of Duty and Gears of War teams
. Echo Fox’s last pickups of their roster has raised eyebrows and elevated levels of excitement, but there remains many question marks on how this team will perform in Season 9.
Solo didn’t make huge waves in the top lane during Season 8 on Clutch Gaming, with good performances in Spring Split but in the middle of Summer Split we saw CG fall apart as other teams got more accustomed to the meta. Solo has shown proficiency on tanks but hasn’t shown great aptitude on carries, but that can be added with a caveat that his jungler performed incredibly poor during the year, with the team’s only saving grace being Febiven in the mid lane, which at times could not even carry his team when put into fortunate positions.
Someone such as Solo shouldn’t have any problems fitting into the new Echo Fox squad, as he still has the familiar faces of Apollo and Hakuho, which he does work quite well with in terms of feeding off of their pressure in the bot lane as a lane dominant duo. The only worry when it comes to Solo will be his ability to pilot carry champions, as we’ve not seen him fully unleashed in that regard, but I’ll hold judgment until he’s fully ensconced in a team that has a good amount of cohesion and a meta which is carry oriented from the top lane.
The Kindest of Boys
Rush has returned to NA after a short stint with KT Rolsters in LCK where he acted as a sub and didn’t see much play in Season 8. The last we heard from him in NA was his journey to become a better pro player, opting to travel back to South Korea in order to practice in private without a stream in order to expand his champion pool.
Rush’s champion pool was of massive concern during his last moments in NA, where he would only be particularly memorable on Lee Sin and Nidalee, but now he’s come to Echo Fox in order to prove that he’s still world class. While he has been known to be a solo queue prodigy, achieving rank 1 in Korea in 2014, he still has much to prove to newer fans.
Any concerns over Rush’s English skills should be quelled because he’s proven to be incredibly proficient at the language, learning from the likes of Sneaky along with, of course, Twitch chat.
The largest question with Rush remains is his champion pool and if he will be hampered by a severe meta change along with being able to adapt to an aggressive bot lane. Back in Cloud9, Sneaky and LemonNation weren’t known as a lane which would push and have unrelenting pressure, but Apollo and Hakuho are exemplary in lane, which should change his jungle routes and overall game plan. The most exciting thing about Rush joining this team is if he has grown out of his aggressive tendencies and culpability to be hamstrung by the meta.
Playing the Long Con
The most concerning part of this roster seems to be the mid lane. Fenix isn’t a bad player, he would stomp most mid laners in NA when it comes to the laning phase. The problem comes from the former vitriol against the Echo Fox organization and how they had benched him and extended his requirements to gain NA residency by another split
. Any small disruption from the organization could spell doom to Fenix’s mentality and possibly have the mid lane come crashing down.
Fenix has always shown an ability to perform in the lane phase, but many would say that he’s only looked good on hyper carries such as Azir. Although that pick may still mesmerize many to this day, he’s actually been one of the best Ryze and Cassiopeia players in NA, along with picking up Zoe during Spring Split. I don’t have many concerns over Fenix’s champion pool, but it’s whether he will be triggered by the functionality of his team, which should be alleviated by the happy demeanor of Rush being another Korean to confide in without the burden of a language barrier.
Blood is Thicker than Water
At this point, Apollo and Hakuho are joined at the hip. They’ve been through the incredible struggles of Team EnVyUs and have barely tasted what it’s like to be among the greats. Now, in a world where duo bot laners are disbanding, we see them come to Echo Fox to prove that they belong in the discussion as one of the best bot duos to come out of NA.
Apollo is difficult to rate by himself due to playing with Hakuho for so long and the inherent nature of bot lane being dictated by the support, but probably the biggest criticism I can give Apollo is that he is among the best when it comes to lane bullies like Xayah or Varus, but lacks on hyper carries. You can expect the same this season as he’s never been the ADC to get in the thick of teamfights to deal significant damage, and I hope to see him change his playstyle to be a bit more risky when it comes to teamfights.
Hakuho has a heavy initiation style that is complimented well by Apollo’s aggressiveness in lane, but towards the later parts of the game, Hakuho has struggled to synergize with his jungler to produce a winning formula.
Power is in the Eye of the Beholder
This roster doesn’t have much star power and one could argue that Rush is seemingly the only one deserving that title, but he hasn’t played on a starting professional roster for more than two years. This team does have a strong voice in Apollo, which many don’t attribute to being a shotcaller, but he’s actually quite vocal in his LCS games.
The problems I see with this roster is coming into the mid game, where things get more complicated to organize team movements and almost every single part of this roster is known for their early game. I’ll wait with bated breath before I bet on this team, but if the meta stays early game oriented, I could see Echo Fox performing above expectations.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
Images courtesy of Riot Games.