With convincing wins over Flyquest and Clutch Gaming last week, Echo Fox has stormed out of the gate to an early 2-0 start to the 2018 season. Although their impressive showing in Week 1 earned them a share of 1st place, matchups against top tier squads this weekend might jeopardize the team’s perfect record. However, even though Echo Fox will face formidable foes in Cloud 9 and TSM this weekend, the chances of the Foxes keeping their undefeated streak intact might be higher than you think.
After skulking in the trenches of mediocrity for years, owner Rick Fox has put an incredibly coherent roster together, and Echo Fox looks like a legitimate contender. 2018’s iteration of the team is stacked to the brim with promising talent and tons of upside, and if Echo Fox can continue to mount momentum this weekend, it’s possible that they could make a deep playoff run come April. Even though Echo Fox are considered underdogs for both of their games this weekend, they might still be able to pull off two major upsets, solidifying their place atop the standings.
Of the two games this weekend, Echo Fox’s first challenge comes against fellow undefeated squad, Cloud 9, this Saturday. And although C9 came just one win away from a Semi-final appearance in last year’s World Championship, this year’s team features a brand new jungler in Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, as well as a rookie top laner, Eric “Licorice” Ritchie. Both players looked impressive in wins over Golden Guardians and Counter Logic Gaming, however, a meeting with Echo Fox might prove to be difficult for the two-time champs. The clear matchup to watch will be in the top lane, as Licorice will play only his 3rd professional game ever against Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, a storied meta-bender and lane dominator, who happens to be fresh off a trip to the World Finals with SK Telecom. In this obvious mismatch, Huni should be able to take advantage of Licorice’s professional inexperience, and if the rest of Echo Fox is able to hold steady in lane, the veteran top laner will have plenty of opportunities to control the pace of the game, whether Lucian is picked or not.
On Sunday, Echo Fox faces a TSM squad that looked lackluster and boring in Week 1, and if Echo Fox can keep up the momentum from last week, a win over the struggling TSM might be easier than expected for NA’s newest contender. In this game, the matchup to watch is in the middle lane, as two longtime veterans in Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg will face off for the first time since 2016. In a meta that favors longer games and scaling champions, including Fenix’s immaculate Azir, this one is sure to go down to the wire, and a matchup between two mid lane titans will be the centerpiece of the game. With all games of League of Legends revolving around the middle lane, the winner of this matchup will most likely control the entire tone of the game. And while Bjergsen is most definitely the better of the two players, the remainder of TSM showed plenty of signs of growing pains in both of their Week 1 losses. If Echo Fox can take advantage of TSM’s communication and decision-making issues, a win over NA’s preseason favorites should come naturally.
With all of this in mind, this weekend will prove to be an important landmark of Echo Fox’s season, as games against two difficult opponents will set the tone for the rest of the season. If Echo Fox can prove themselves as legitimate contenders against two of NA’s most talented teams this weekend, then the road to the playoffs becomes much clearer. And as North America’s lovable losers quickly transition into the region’s next big powerhouse, it would be foolish to underestimate a team with this much promise.