We love to root for the underdogs.
There’s just something about seeing scrappy up-and-comers come out on top of the undisputed champions that resonates with our hearts and makes for great storylines. But these storylines always seem to fade away when talking about the ultimate underdog situation: the worst team in the league squaring off against a superior lineup. After all, there’s not much mystery left when one team is clearly going to win.
Yet somehow, some way this mystery is always present in Team EnVyUs games. So what makes them so special?
Early Game Enigma
There are many places where EnVyUs fall short. But if there’s one thing you can’t take away from them, it’s that they’re the ultimate early game specialists.
The team has the highest First Tower and the 2nd highest First Blood rates in the league of 72% and 54% respectively. Not only that, but EnVyUs consistently manage to get early leads even against top-tier competition, resulting in an average 434 gold difference at 15 minutes per game. Just to put things into perspective, TSM has a 99 GD@15 and the only team that overtakes EnVy by a large margin is Echo Fox with its 815 GD@15.
Even teams like TSM and C9 made the mistake of underestimating Envy’s explosive early game—and paid dearly for it. Whatever the opponent, EnVy have this almost instinctual ability to break open the game and secure commanding advantages. But that’s not all that they’ve got going for them.
Whenever you talk about EnVy, the name LirA always seems to come up. Even on the last place team, EnVy’s jungler somehow manages to come out with one exceptional performance after another. His stats speak for themselves: 3.2 KDA, 5.7 CS per minute, 70.2% kill participation, and 49% first blood rate. LirA is the man behind EnVy’s early game leads, and he’s already made a name for himself with his smart pathing and well-timed ganks as one of the best junglers in the NA LCS.
While LirA is the shining star of the roster, it’s easy to miss EnVy’s other standout players. In particular, their bot duo of Apollo and Hakuho has been incredibly solid, and you can count on them to come out ahead or go even in lane.
But if EnVyUs are so good, then why are they so far down the standings? Well, that brings us to…
It’s easy to single out Ninja and Seraph as the main culprits behind the team’s losses. And while it’s true that both solo laners have been unimpressive throughout the season, EnVy’s problems lie a lot deeper than that. The most prominent issue—an almost frustrating inability to transfer their early game success into a smooth mid game. The lineup routinely gets outrotated in objective trades and unless they already have a massive gold lead, EnVy crumble in team fights and mid-game skirmishes.
A part of it could be attributed to the lack of a strong voice on the lineup. Ninja and Seraph have never stood out as great shot callers and EnVy’s bot lane has always been its own standalone entity in-game. With LirA being new to North America and still having trouble communicating in English, there’s no one there to guide this explosive team to victory.
Kings of Outcasts
But how does EnVyUs match up with other last place teams throughout the history?
Even though their 3-13 series win/loss record doesn’t look good on paper, their game wins show a different picture. Team EnVy’s 30% win rate is almost unparalleled when it comes to last place teams, and only compLexity Gaming has ever beaten these numbers with a 35% win rate of its own. But compLexity comes from different times when there were only 8 teams in the league.
Starting from 2015, few last place teams could even breach the 20% barrier, let alone come close to EnVy’s numbers. In a way, EnVyUs are the victim of the most cutthroat NA LCS Split to date and in most other seasons, their 30% win rate would be more than enough to save them from relegation.
End of an Era
The sands of time are shifting in North America. Gone are the days when losing teams were nothing more than punching bags for the top of the NA LCS ladder. Now—just like in Game of Thrones—no one is safe and even bottom tier teams have to show a certain level of play to survive. So does this mean that NA LCS got more competitive as a whole? Well, yes and no. It’s true that some teams have seen massive improvements, but there’s also no one that comes close to the domestic dominance of last year’s TSM.
But even if NA LCS isn’t the most competitive league, it’s definitely one of the most exciting ones to follow. And Team EnVyUs is a large part of it.
What do you think of Team EnVyUs and its 2017 Spring Split? Let us know in the comments!