Soon after the news that a chunk of the Phoenix1 roster is now looking for new opportunities in the scene as free agents, ESPN’s Tyler Erzberger broke the news that the team has signed a new Support, former Immortals’ player Adrian “Adrian” Ma. On paper, the new team is a big step down for the Soraka virtuoso, who has spent the past NA LCS season dominating the regular season together with Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, Eugene “Pobelter” Park, Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin, and Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon.
Besides Adrian, the current Phoenix1 roster includes Top Laner Derek “zig” Shao, Jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh, and Mid Choi “Pirean” Jun-Sik. Left to recruit is a Bot Lane partner for Adrian. With zig, Inori, and Adrian considered to be domestic players for roster approval purposes, the team is currently holding AD Carry tryouts in South Korea. Hopefully, they can find someone who could help the three players from the 8th best NA team in the 2016 Summer Split and Adrian go higher in the upcoming season.
Speaking about the move from Immortals to ESPN, Adrian said, “I appreciated my year on Immortals and the opportunities that they provided me. During the off season I carefully considered some of the many options I had and how I wanted to move forward for the next year. After talking with Phoenix1, I realized that they had two components that made my decision easier; strong domestic players in Zig and Inori that I would want to work with, and a fresh team that has a legitimate chance at making a successful run at playoffs. While talking to the owner, Michael Moore, it was very apparent that he took all of my concerns and ideas for the team into consideration. I feel playing for Phoenix 1 will help me grow, both as a player and as a person.”
While it might be true that Phoenix1 may help Adrian grow as a player and a person, it is an undisputed fact that he would have achieved better results playing another season on Immortals. Of course, that would only be the case if Adrian’s former roster managed to keep their lineup from Season 6. That is extremely unlikely, because the team’s management allowed their players to seek other options. This permission was taken to heart by WildTurtle, who stood in as ADC for TSM in IEM XI Oakland and is trying out for Team Dignitas, according to reports. The loss of their AD Carry wouldn’t be an insurmountable obstacle, but it is quite likely, that both Huni and Reignover are going to change teams as well, which would put Immortals’ future in doubt.
With that in mind, moving to Phoenix1 is a smart, if not optimal, move. Hopefully, in Phoenix1, Adrian can show that he can play more Supports than the usual Soraka which was his most played champion last season. Hopefully, he can prove my scepticism about Phoenix1’s chances to be unfounded and get to Worlds next year. Is it going to happen? We will have to wait and see.