Third Time Lucky: Immortals Set Sights On A First Playoff Final Appearance

After an almost complete overhaul of their roster, Immortals once again find themselves with an opportunity to reach the North American League Championship Series Summer Split Playoff Final. With a balanced approach and the coach of the split, Kim “Ssong” Sang-soo, this could be the roster to break Immortals playoff curse. 

For the first year of Immortals’ existence, the core of the team was fabricated around the two former Fnatic members who had propelled Fnatic to the top of the EU LCS, jungler Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin and top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon.

The combination would find immediate success in the NA LCS, compiling a record of 33-3 in the regular season. Reignover would also be crowned the Spring Split MVP in his first split on the team.

Despite their regular season dominance, Immortals failed to deliver in the Playoffs. Needing only to defeat Cloud9 in the Summer Split Semifinals to secure a spot to Worlds based upon points, IMT would be upset 3-2.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

After failing to reach the Playoff Final in either split, Immortals had to settle for a third place finish in both splits and would be forced to enter the gauntlet to try to secure NA’s final World Championship slot.

As the highest seeded team in the gauntlet, Immortals would only need to win one series to claim the final spot at Worlds. Unfortunately, they would face a familiar opponent in Cloud9. Similar to their previous meeting, Cloud9 would once again emerge victorious.

After a year filled with highs and lows, Immortals would make the tough decision to almost completely rehaul their roster. Reignover would sign a contract with Team Liquid, and Huni would leave to join the reigning World Champion SK Telecom T1. As the dust settled, the only member of the roster to remain would be mid laner Eugene “Pobelter” Park.

In their first split with a revamped roster, Immortals struggled to find their footing with a rookie ADC and two imports in the top lane and support positions. The star player on their new roster was supposed to be jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, but his hyper-aggressive playstyle could not carry IMT into a playoff position.

Although the talent was obvious, it was clear the team would need time to adjust, not only to their new teammates but the life and culture of Los Angeles. With no clear leader, the team failed to rise above mediocrity.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

In an unexpected twist, Immortals would trade Dardoch for the oft-undervalued Counter Logic Gaming jungle Jake “Xmithie” Puchero. Once considered a top tier jungler in NA, Xmithie’s reputation had slowly deteriorated to the point where many would have placed him amongst the lower percentile of junglers in the league.

While the trade left many questioning the sanity of Immortals’ management, the trade had an immediate effect on their results on the Rift. IMT thrived under the leadership of Xmithie, with his presence unlocking the talents of both his top laner Lee “Flame” Ho-jong and what has become one of NA’s best bot lane combinations in support Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung and AD Carry Cody “Cody Sun” Sun.

Although their roster has few apparent weaknesses, their greatest strength may come from the coaching staff led by Ssong. While questionable drafting and stubborn strategizing have severely limited Immortals in the past, Ssong’s approach may make this the most complete roster Immortals has ever fielded.

After compiling a 14-4 record that would secure them second place, Immortals need only to beat Counter Logic Gaming to earn their first Finals appearance, a feat that eluded them twice last season. WIth Ssong at the reigns, coupled with CLG’s struggles against Team EnVyUs, Immortals should enter the series as the favorites to advance.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

In their third opportunity to reach a Playoff Final, Immortals should finally pull through. Although CLG and Immortals’ rosters appear equal in strength on paper, Xmithie and Ssong may be the difference makers that allow them to advance.