Last year, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people excited for Phoenix1 games. The team struggled throughout the 2016 Summer Split and barely managed to avoid relegation. But times have changed.
Going from an 8th place finish to a top-3 team in a single Split—Phoenix1 are the definition of a Cinderella story.
How did they get here? And can they keep it up?
The Burning Resolve
It was clear that things needed to change. During the offseason, Phoenix1 announced that they would be participating in the Spring Split with a brand new roster of zig, Inori, Ryu, Arrow, and Adrian. It looked good on paper. But a team like this could crumble under the burden of communication difficulties and synergy issues.
Yet with their very first win against Echo Fox, Phoenix1 had announced that this team wasn’t content with a repeat of last Split’s performance. They were here to stay.
Rise from the Ashes
With a 9-5 win/loss record, Phoenix1 are 3rd in the NA LCS. Their biggest strength is the lack of clear-cut weaknesses. Their individual talent is strong, their macro is solid, and their team fighting is on point. Previously Phoenix1 were known for their inconsistency during the laning phase. But the addition of Meteos and Stunt to jungle and support positions plugged a lot of holes in their play and made their early game more stable.
Most importantly, Phoenix1 are the type of team that knows how—and when—to pull the trigger. Almost every member of this lineup is a playmaker that has a knack for setting up picks and taking over the skirmishes. And if you try to slow down the pace of the game and wait out their aggression, Phoenix1 are quick to take over the map and make those game-winning calls.
But if they’re so amazing, how is it that they’re not the #1 team in the league? Well, even if their potential is immense, this lineup needs a lot of refinement. Sometimes their plays get too reckless and end up backfiring, and some members of the team still need to work on their synergy. And their macro—while strong—doesn’t measure up to that of the top-2 NA LCS teams.
The Deadly Arrow
While there are many outstanding players on the Phoenix1 lineup, there’s one that draws everyone’s attention. The team’s AD carry, Arrow, has been on fire this season.
With a 5.7 KDA, 8.4 CS per minute, and an exceptional 598 DPM, Arrow is the prime candidate for the title of the best AD Carry in NA LCS. But even these numbers don’t do him justice. Arrow is a mechanical god that hits every skill shot and single-handedly crushes team fights. Not only that, but he’s one of the most consistent players, and so far we’ve yet to see a bad game from him.
This week will be relatively lax for Phoenix1, as they will be playing against Team Liquid and Immortals. But it’s Week 9 that will show what this lineup is capable of in their back-to-back matches against Cloud9 and TSM. Whether they can pull through or not remains to be seen.
But it’s clear that Phoenix1 have already made their mark on the NA LCS.