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After a hard fought five game loss to Cloud9 Challenger in the finals of the NACS, Team Liquid Academy is looking to defeat Echo Fox, who finished 10th in the NALCS with a 1-17 record. The loser of the game will be relegated to the NACS for the 2017 spring split, while the winner with face Phoenix1 and the rest of the promotion tournament for the chance to make it into the NALCS.
Team Liquid Academy brings to the match a strong group of players coming of recent success, led by ADC Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin. Before their match against C9C, they swept Nova in the semifinals of the NACS. Jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate led the NACS with an excellent 6.6 KDA in the playoffs and participated in three quarters of his team’s kills.
Facing off against them will be a team going in the opposite direction, Echo Fox. After stumbling to an almost winless record, Echo Fox faces a must win series in order to stay in the NALCS. Though their best player, mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, has performed respectably by placing 8th in the league in CS per minute with 8.7, his KDA is a mediocre 2.7. The rest of Echo Fox’s KDAs lag behind even this mark, with scores of 2.2 from support Terry “Big” Chuong and 2.1 from jungler Anthony “Hard” Barkhovtsev.
The series will hinge on whichever star can carry their team to victory. Piglet clearly has the stronger supporting cast behind him, and can expect early game leads, as Echo Fox’s strategy throughout the split has been to drag games out, resulting in large deficits that have proven difficult to come back from. Almost every won game this split for Echo Fox has involved a strong performance from Froggen, and every loss has been due to his team’s lack of initiative.
A loss by Echo Fox would almost certainly result in wholesale roster changes in order to get back to the NALCS after next year’s spring split. Due to the relationship between Team Liquid and its academy, a TLA loss would not be catastrophic for that organization. Even if TLA makes the NALCS, it would be sold due to Riot’s competition rules.
The battle between Echo Fox’s slow play and TLA’s recent victories lends itself to an interesting match. Look for Echo Fox to stall the game while TLA attempts to take early advantages and close out the game before 35 minutes.
The match will take place at 12 Pacific/3 Eastern on August 4th.