Did Phoenix1 Throw In The Towel Early To Avoid A Playoff Round With Team SoloMid?

Heading into a conclusive final week of the NA LCS Spring Split, Phoenix1 were tasked with inarguably the hardest pair of fixtures of any team in the league. Faced with series against the region’s two top sides, Team SoloMid and Cloud9, P1 stood to earn themselves a potential second place finish and a precious bye in the first round of the playoffs.

Phoenix1’s rise towards the summit has been unprecedented, elegantly cruising past the NA LCS’ playoff contenders with a clinical edge unmatched by either TSM or C9. In the two weeks leading up to the team’s final showdown, Phoenix1 claimed series victories over FlyQuest, Echo Fox, Team Liquid, and Immortals, all without dropping a single game. A win in the series with Cloud9 would see P1 match the standings of their opponents, entertaining the possibilty of a path straight to the playoff semi-finals.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

As William “Meteos” Hartman took his seat in hope of a repeat performance against his former roster, all eyes were on the Phoenix1 roster to deliver. Unfortunately for Meteos, Cloud9’s Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen brought his Orianna ‘A game’ to the series, seizing control of the first game with an impressive 7/1/9 scoreline.

In a surprise move ahead of the second game, Phoenix1 subbed in previously unseen support, Jordan “Shady” Robison in place of the consistent William “Stunt” Chen. The decision drew harsh criticism for the P1 fanbase, who like many analysts, failed to understand why the team management had disrupted the synergy between the team’s primary carry, No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon and his support partner.

Whilst Shady’s performance was far from disastrous, his inclusion failed to have the desired impact, as Phoenix1 conceded any hope of a quarter-final bye. Cloud9 swept the series convincingly, then reliant on their defeated opponents to beat Team SoloMid in the remaining fixture to provide them with a first place finish.

Whilst a Phoenix1 victory over Team SoloMid would provide C9 with the idyllic top seed for the playoffs, whether it played to the P1’s ideal scenario was another matter. On the basis that Phoenix1 considered Team SoloMid to be a more challenging opponent, throwing the game against the league leaders would result in a more favourable playoff draw. 

Source: lolesports

Phoenix1 appeared to have thrown in the towel ahead of their match with Team SoloMid, keen to avoid TSM until a prospective playoff final.

In an otherwise unforced swap, Meteos, one of the team’s star performers since joining the roster, was omitted from the lineup in favour of the peripheral jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh. Similarly, Stunt was left on the bench for both games of the series as Arrow and Shady failed to provide a focal point in the bot lane for the P1 squad. Stunt was notably disappointed to have been excluded from the match up, seemingly under the impression that he would feature against Team SoloMid:

 

After two uncharacteristic performances from the Phoenix1 lineup, the team finished third in the league standings, set for a quarter final with Team Dignitas before they can face Cloud9 once more. Unable to secure themselves a first round bye, there’s certainly evidence to suggest that the P1 management strategically sandbagged the series with Team SoloMid to avoid meeting them until a potential playoff final.


The Playstyle Of Each Jungler In The NA LCS