‘This is our club and you can’t come in.’ After an off-season in which Echo Fox were framed as an outsider, the team’s Mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen has revealed that none of the other teams in the North American League of Legends Championship Series are willing to scrim with last season’s relegation survivors. The underlying tensions between LCS team owners is beginning to have a direct effect on the professional relationships between their North American eSports organisations.
The disharmony between Echo Fox and the other major NA eSports organisations has been suspected for months, with Froggen’s revelation seemingly confirming the bad blood between FOX team owner Rick Fox and the team owners for some of the NA LCS’ heavyweight organisations.
The unwillingness to scrim with Echo Fox is undoubtedly a form of backlash from the series of off-season events embroiling Echo Fox’s management. Amidst the tussle for Franchising, LCS team owners seemingly formed a united front in drafting a letter to Riot Games regarding their untenable positions. Nine out of the 10 owners signed the letter, Rick Fox’s signature was notably absent from the document.
This trend continued away from League of Legends, where Echo Fox stepped back from the group of North American organisations who attempted to form a Counter-Strike league to rival ESL in North America – furthering the divide between owner Rick Fox and fellow North American team owners.
Echo Fox’s position as the black sheep of the group came to a head in November, when reports were released claiming that Riot Games had announced all North American LCS teams would be allowed to poach players from rival teams without punishment, should the teams continue with their refusal to sign the 2017 LCS team agreement. Suspiciously, Riot later defended Echo Fox against accusations that they had attempted to poach Adrian “Adrian” Ma from Phoenix1.
In fairness to Echo Fox, the player database was never updated on the official Riot Games eSports website when Echofox tried to get Adrian under contract, so technically it wasn’t poaching… not that the other NA LCS team owners appear to have seen it that way.
It should be noted that I don’t know if EF actually attempted to poach or not, but it only matters that other people think it happened.
— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) 2 February 2017
In an interview with Travis Gafford, Froggen claimed that fellow LCS players have told him their owners have banned them from scrimming against Echo Fox – something Froggen believes has directly affected the team’s ability to improve:
“We don’t really scrim LCS teams because they don’t want to scrim us,
“We can’t really do too much about it, we just try to improve as much as we can… it’s definitely holding us back.
“All I know is that they’re just saying ‘no, we can’t scrim you sorry, our owner said no.’ So can’t do much about that.”
Henrik “Froggen” Hansen
The Danish mid laner’s revelations ignited a frenzied response from many Echo Fox and LCS fans, condemning the other LCS teams for their spiteful actions and voicing their concerns over the impact this would have on FOX’s development. Kyle Fox, the son of owner Rick Fox, quickly released a statement in a failed attempt to dampen the flames:
“For those who think we’re owed scrims, or are worried: don’t be. It’s better this way.”
Kyle Fox, Son of Team Owner Rick Fox
As most professional sports organisations can attest, practice is truly where you develop as a player and as a team. Practice is the invaluable environment in which you enhance your techniques, communication, strategies and synergy with your teammates.
Irrespective of the new practice techniques Echo Fox are preaching, not being able to scrim against the most talented teams in your league is a definite disadvantage compared to the rest of the league. The insight into trending picks and strategies is immediately lost, and by not being able to practice against the best players you are limiting the worth of the practice itself.
Whilst unable to scrim LCS teams, Froggen still believes that Echo Fox can have effective practice through focusing on improvement in areas such as communication and team synergy. He underplayed the importance of working on mechanics, claiming that FOX “don’t really have mechanical issues right now…”
For a team that has had a promising start to the season, the inability to scrim top competitors will only hurt them in the long run. Whether for political reasons or a perceived weakness of the Echo Fox lineup, Echo Fox needs to find a harmonious solution soon if they hope to maintain their current momentum and challenge for a playoff spot.