In a battle of traditional sports investors looking to stay in the LCS, Rick Fox and his Echo Fox squad have emerged victorious. After a rough season saw the team on the brink of relegation, a remarkable 3-0 sweep over NRG Esports Sunday secured its spot in the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split. Meanwhile, NRG has been relegated to the Challenger Series.
Here are the ten teams currently slated for the Spring Split. Cloud9 will have to sell one of its two spots.
The 2017 #NALCS Spring Split Teams! pic.twitter.com/5i8j4UU6w6— lolesports (@lolesports) August 7, 2016
Echo Fox won in large part thanks to excellent play from star mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and top laner Jeong-hun “kfo” Park, who both consistently won their lanes in the series.
Echo Fox started Game 1 on a positive note with a timely gank from jungler Anthony “Hard” Barkhovtsev. He chained Rek’Sai’s knock-up with Froggen’s Malzahar ultimate to take down NRG mid laner Chang-seok “GBM” Lee for First Blood.
.@FroggenLoL gets first blood! #NALCS https://t.co/EX1m1Lk8VL— lolesports (@lolesports) August 7, 2016
At the time, that was the only lane NRG had an advantage in. Soon after, Echo Fox had leads in every lane, including large ones for Froggen and kfo.
NRG looked like it had a window back into the game by picking off Froggen and Hard in the jungle, but the team took too long to take down Baron after and Yuri “Keith” Jew was there to pick up the quadra kill.
.@NRGgg get the Baron, but @FOXKEITHMCBRIEF gets a quadrakill in the ensuing team fight! #NALCS https://t.co/tXpS6oECQC— lolesports (@lolesports) August 7, 2016
The next time Baron spawned, Echo Fox was able to take it down very quickly, using the buff to push into NRG’s base and take down an inhibitor tower. After that, the team backed off, took Elder Drake, and marched into the base to win. The final score was 9-6 in 41 minutes, with a 6/0/1 performance from Keith..
Game 2 saw both mid laners on their signature champions, as Froggen’s Anivia and GBM’s Xerath went unbanned.
It went very well for Froggen — he won his lane matchup handily and was able to set up picks for his team.
A fight starts in the mid lane and @FOXKEITHMCBRIEF picks up a double kill! #NALCS https://t.co/R6fDVhzvjA— lolesports (@lolesports) August 7, 2016
Soon, Echo Fox found itself with an 8-2 lead and Baron at 30 minutes. Eight minutes later, the game was done, with a 13-3 win for Echo Fox in the books and a 3/0/9 mark for Froggen’s Anivia.
Game 3 saw NRG ban Anivia immediately, but even that wasn’t enough to contain Froggen. After Echo Fox gained an early lead out of the lane swap, the team picked up two kills in the first skirmish of the game.
A fight starts in the mid lane and @echofoxgg turn it in their favor for two kills! #NALCS https://t.co/nk08tUSO0s— lolesports (@lolesports) August 7, 2016
By 25 minutes, Echo Fox’s lead was over 7k gold. By 30 minutes, it was over, with a final score of 12-2 and a 6/0/6 mark on Froggen’s Viktor.
NRG Esports was founded before the Spring 2016 Split by an ownership group that included co-owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Soon after, athletes from traditional sports such as Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins joined in as investors. The team barely made the playoffs in Spring before being knocked out in the quarterfinal round, and finished in ninth place in the Summer regular season after replacing 4/5ths of its starting roster.
In December 2015, former NBA champion Rick Fox purchased Gravity Gaming’s NA LCS spot for a reported $1 million, naming his new organization Echo Fox. After finishing in seventh in the Spring regular season, safe from the promotion tournament, the team went 1-17 with 16 consecutive losses in the Summer Split and finished in last place. The team beat Team Liquid Academy in five games in the first round of the promotion tournament before being swept by Phoenix1 in the second round.