After two weeks of the North American League Championship Series, there is but one team who is yet to secure a single series win. Phoenix1 look disorganized and desperate in their matches. While there are multiple factors contributing to their current struggles, fans should question the decision to start Jordan “Shady” Robinson over the now departed William “Stunt” Chen.
Riding a late season surge, Phoenix1 were able to secure third place in the 2017 Spring Split after a hard fought match where they defeated FlyQuest. Behind the play of MVP AD carry No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, Phoenix1 brought a roster that consisted of strong laners, a steady jungler, and a bot lane able to carry Phoenix1 to victory.
As quickly as their run started, it began to fall apart late in the split, coincidentally around the same time Phoenix1 began to substitute in their new support Shady for the previously successful Stunt.
At the time, bringing in Shady seemed like a puzzling move considering Phoenix1’s history of success with Stunt as the starting support. Shady currently holds a match record of 5-15 with Phoenix1, whilst Stunt had successfully garnered an 11-2 record with the team.
Showing a flexible champion pool and immediate chemistry with ADC No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, Stunt had stormed onto the scene and appeared to be NA’s best up and coming young talent at the support position.
Shady was known before his time on Phoenix1 as an aggressive support player who thrived on support mages such as Brand and Vel’koz, yet shifts in the meta have moved the support pool away from these comfort picks and towards champions that Shady has never shown himself able to excel with.
The dominance that Stunt and Arrow showed in lane has been almost completely lost, and the play of Phoenix1’s bottom lane has fallen dramatically in the Summer Split. Arrow and Shady have looked disjointed and unable to correctly coordinate both 2v2 situations and their responses to ganks, costing them many lost opportunities that may have been capitalized upon late in the last split.
Still, Shady can not receive all the blame for Phoenix1’s recent downswing. Top laner Derek “Zig” Shao has been unable to find his footing in the first few series, and his desperation became evident with a recent pick of Urgot in the top lane.
Their jungle play has once again been inconsistent, and while Rami “Inori” Charagh seemed to have regained his starting position to begin the split he has since been replaced again by substitute William “Meteos’ Hartman.
For Phoenix1, letting Stunt walk away from the team may end up haunting them if their early struggles continue as the split progresses. With Rift Rivals fast approaching, the European squads must be salivating at the opportunity to flex their muscle against a disappointing Phoenix1 squad.
For a team expected to challenge the top teams in NA for the Summer Split title, even the playoffs are looking like an unrealistic prospect based on P1’s current form.