Before the 2017 LCS season started, Echo Fox, the NA team owned by former NBA player Rick Fox, has been accused of trying to poach, meaning steal from another team, the new Phoenix1 Support, Adrian “Adrian” Ma. While Riot Games cleared them of all charges for the offense, stating that at the time that Echo Fox contacted Adrian, the player wasn’t officially part of Phoenix1 due to the Riot Contract Database not being updated to reflect the information yet. Echo Fox got away with it without even a slap on the wrist. The owners of the rest of the nine LCS teams, however, weren’t about to let this go unpunished.
We have speculated that it was about to happen before the 2017 season started, however, it has only been confirmed now, after Echo Fox’s cornerstone, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen confirmed this fact in an interview with Travis Gafford for Yahoo! eSports, saying, “We don’t really scrim LCS teams, because they don’t want to scrim us. We can’t really do too much about that… It’s definitely holding us back. If we can’t scrim the best competitions, it’s harder for us to improve.”
Another reason for the action might be the fact that Echo Fox was the only NA LCS team to not join in on the bandwagon pressuring Riot Games to improve financial conditions for teams. The whole thing eventually culminated in the creation of PEA and Riot capitulating on some of the teams’ requests. It’s rumored that Echo Fox’s poaching attempt was actually allowed by Riot, meant to serve as a warning to the teams pressuring the company. If it was, it doesn’t seem to have worked very well. The teams got some of what they wanted and Echo Fox is paying for it.
The situation sucks for Echo Fox. It is true that progress is slower when you are forced to practice against weaker Challenger Series opponents, however, it is by no means a death sentence for the team. In fact, there might even be some advantages to be salvaged from the situation. In general, LCS teams don’t scrim CS teams because they think that they are beneath them. While that is certainly true in many cases, this fact can be used to test various innovative strategies and picks without having to worry revealing too much. It’s possible that this is why Galen “Moon” Holgate came up with the idea of playing Evelynn. Similar to the sister team strategy that has been popular in South Korea several years ago, Echo Fox just need to use more of their time on strategy, communication and reflection by watching more film. This road is definitely harder, however, they CAN get better by traversing it. Without scrimming Echo Fox, the players and coaching staff of their opponents won’t know what EF can do, leading to an advantage ingame as well.