It isn’t hard to see why Phoenix1 is sticking with the same roster they had last split. While a few weeks were turned upside down with Inori’s brief departure due to visa issues, the team was pretty obviously one of North America’s best.
The turnaround Phoenix1 made as an organization is nothing short of incredible. A relegation team after their first NA LCS split, Phoenix1 failed to win a game over their first five weeks of competition in the 2016 Summer Split. However, after bringing in Inori during week four, they managed to end the split 5-13 and sail through the relegation tournament, regaining their NA LCS spot.
Over the pre-Spring offseason, Phoenix1 made some of the biggest roster changes of anyone in the league, only keeping Zig and Inori while importing coach Fly, mid laner Ryu, and star Korean AD Carry Arrow, who were joined by former Immortals support Adrian. While the acquisition of Adrian didn’t quite work out and was dropped from the team back in March, everyone else, including his replacement Shady, seemed to be a perfect fit.
Phoenix1 had an impressive Spring Split, and despite a slight dip in performance in the middle, they finished the regular season in third place. Their first playoff series, against Team Dignitas, was a clean 3-0 that made clear just how far ahead of the sixth place team P1 really was. However, they found themselves on the losing end of a similar lesson when they faced Cloud9 in the semifinals and were 3-0’d themselves.
Finally Phoenix1 played their most interesting, and closest, series in the playoffs in Vancouver during the third place match against FlyQuest. P1 narrowly took the series in five games, making their 2017 Spring Split one of the most impressive turnarounds in NA LCS history.
With that level of success after just one split together, and an unfortunate split of time in the jungle between substitute Meteos and starter Inori, this roster also has a ton of room to grow. Just how high that growth can take them is likely going to be their story for the Summer Split.
Even better, the meta itself seems to be lining up in P1’s favor as well. Coming off an incredible first NA LCS split that included an MVP win, Arrow is going to be able to move from the first half of the year’s utility focused champions onto something a little more carry oriented like Xayah, Caitlyn or maybe even Lucian, where he originally made a name for himself in the LCK.
Meanwhile, Inori will have his champion pool opened up from the mostly carry oriented junglers that we saw in Spring Split to some tankier and more utility focused options. This should provide some more interesting options for the rest of the team as well, including opening Ryu up to the possibility of playing carries as well as giving Zig the option to split push.
The expanding options of the Summer Split can only mean good things for Phoenix1. One of North America’s strongest teams and only getting better, it seems, as the team continues to play together, Phoenix1 are likely to come back from the MSI break ready to make it to worlds.