Of all the candidates to be relegated to the Echo Fox substitute bench, star mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen is the last player fans would have expected. Omitted from both fixtures against Immortals and Team EnVyUs, Froggen’s future with the underperforming organisation has been cast into doubt.
From the team’s very inception, it was clear that the Echo Fox roster was going to be built around Froggen. Already a superstar in Europe, Froggen became the latest European mid laner to leave in an attempt to make his mark in NA.
Unlike his famous predecessor Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, Froggen was not able to find early success with Echo Fox; now in his fourth split, Froggen and Echo Fox have yet to make an appearance in the playoffs.
After a promising start to the 2017 Summer Split, Echo Fox has started their traditional mid-split slide down the standings, seemingly destined to miss out on playoffs once again.
Echo Fox’s management have attempted a number of radical strategies to shake-up the team’s seemingly never-ending malaise, experimenting with exclusively internal scrim practices and dropping jungler Matt “Akaadian” Higginbotham.
Froggen was to be the next test subject ahead of Week 6:
Here is your Echo Fox Frontline for today's match vs @TeamEnVyUs
— Echo Fox (@echofoxgg) July 16, 2017
Mid laner Tanner “Damonte” Damonte stepped into the Echo Fox ‘front line’ alongside Jonathan “Grig” Armao; inarguably Echo Fox’s two strongest performers, Froggen and Akaadian were asked to take a seat on the subs bench.
The Echo Fox organisation has long since preached the value of a ten man roster, and whilst fans were initially pleased to see the Echo Fox organisation following through on its ideals for a rotation system, subbing out both of the team’s star players in a single week seemed to cross the line.
Yeah I'm officially done. I hope to god Froggen's contract is up soon so he can get on a team that can get it's head out its own ass.
— Kuro (@Fenikkuro) July 16, 2017
These subs don't make much sense, why sit your two best players and not sub the out the carry? disappointing, Go back to EU Froggen
— Mitch Nikita (@Mitch_Nikita) July 16, 2017
Let me see if I understand. Your team is built around froggen, and you don't play with froggen. ?
— LiarFox 달콤한 소년 (@LiarFoxD) July 16, 2017
Though the decision ultimately resulted in back-to-back defeats and will therefore be scrutinised by the community, the Echo Fox organisation has neglected to provide the context to their decision once again.
Given the team’s reliance on Froggen, with a large amount of focus and resources funnelled into the mid lane, Echo Fox may have been looking to determine whether this play style was holding the team back. Counter Logic Gaming certainly benefitted after parting ways with the dominant personality of Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng.
Due to the lack of communication from Echo Fox, Froggen may have simply been absent due to personal issues. Regardless of the reasoning, Damonte failed to convince the team’s fanbase that he is ready to fill the Dane’s shoes.
Echo Fox’s ambitions of a top five finish are slipping away, with playoffs seeming unlikely given their current form. Regardless of their poor performances and curious strategies however, Echo Fox remain a favourite to be incorporated within the NA LCS franchise model for 2018.
Owner Rick Fox’s continued investment and professional approach has established a harmonious relationship with Riot Games. Though the team seem guaranteed to secure a spot in the NA lCS next year, Froggen’s future with the organisation is far from assured.
With or without Froggen at the helm, Echo Fox are a doomed vessel. Dropped from a starting roster for the first time in his professional career, it may soon be time for the mid laner to reassess his options and abandon ship.