We finally know who will be replacing Team Impulse in the North American LCS, some big news from collegiate eSports, and roster turmoil on an NA contender.
We’re here to get you all caught up on the latest news!
Phoenix1 replaces Team Impulse in the NA LCS
We’re just a few days from the start of the North American LCS and Riot has just announced the latest team to enter the fray. Two prominent members of Hollywood, Rob Moore and Jack Giarraputo, have joined together to purchase the LCS spot from Team Impulse and have named the team Phoenix1.
Jack Giarraputo is a famous film producer who has worked closely with Adam Sandler throughout the comedian’s career. Rob Moore is the vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, overseeing the studio’s worldwide marketing, distribution, home entertainment, digital, interactive, television, licensing, and business affairs divisions.
He joined Paramount in 2005 as president of worldwide marketing, distribution and operations and was named to his current position in 2008. Joining him will be his son, Michael Moore, who will oversee direct responsibility of the team.
In the team’s first public statement on ESPN, Michael Moore declared they’re excited to get the 2016 Summer Split underway:
“We’re such big fans of esports. We have been playing, watching and advocating LoL for some time now. We want to bring our expertise in Hollywood to highlight these incredible athletes. I speak for everyone involved when I say that we’re ecstatic to be part of this.”
The team has announced that it will field a seven-man roster, mixing veteran players with rookies.
Three Team Impulse players coming along
Three players will be moving from Team Impulse to Phoenix1. Brandon “Mash” Phan will return as the starting ADC. Mash was one of the more consistent players for TIP last split, posting a 4.0 KDA (Kill/Death/Assist ratio) and a 75 percent KP (Kill Participation). Rejoining Mash in the bottom lane will be Austin “Gate” Yu.
The third and final returning TIP member will be midlaner Choi “Pirean”Jun-Sik. Pirean is a Korean import who posted a 2.2 KDA in the 16 games he started last split.
He will have to compete against Andrew “Slooshi” Pham, a former Team 8 member. Slooshi left Team 8 in the middle of last summer’s campaign due to personal family reasons.
Two players will also compete against each other in the top lane. Derek “zig” Shao is a Canadian-born player who previously played for Team Liquid’s Challenger team, Academy, and is considered one of the up-and-coming players in the pro scene.
Zig was rumored to possibly take over the starting top lane position for Team Liquid from Samson “Lourlo” Jackson, but those were proven untrue. He then became a free agent and signed with Phoenix1.
Competing against Zig will be Brandon “Brandini” Chen. Brandini was a bench player for Apex Gaming before joining Phoenix1.
Rounding out the team will be Rami “Inori” Charagh in the jungle. Inori is an Iraqi native and a longtime amateur player who has bounced around various minor league teams and subbed for LCS squads.
Support staff also named
Phoenix1 has also announced members of its support staff.
Former Cloud9 head coach, Charlie Lipsie, will return to the NA LCS as Phoenix1’s head coach. Former Team 8 manager, Eric Ma, will be the team’s general manager.
Brendan “Saparino” Franco will manage the players and team itself. Management will report directly to Michael Moore.
This is a very serviceable roster, but not one that looks ready to compete for a spot at Worlds. There’s enough pieces here to avoid relegations in the first split, but I’m not sure the team can jump right into a top six finish.
The Pac-12 enters collegiate esports
The Pac-12, one of the big six collegiate conferences, is throwing tremendous support behind esports this year. During its annual board meeting, the Pac-12 CEO Group (a group composed of presidents and chancellors from Pac-12 universities) discussed esports within its conference.
Following an internal review of Pac-12 students that expressed interest in video game competitions, the Pac-12 CEO Group has approved the Pac-12 Network to stream esports competitions that involve Pac-12 universities.
Teams from campuses will participate based on a specific game, and the competitions will include head-to-head matchups in studios as well as a tournament in conjunction with a Pac-12 championship event. The game titles and event formats are still to be determined, but will be announced in the coming months.
“E-sports is a natural fit for many of our universities located in the technology and media hubs of the country,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Pac-12 Networks’ commitment to innovation as well as its natural tie to our universities and established media platform make it the perfect organization to develop the framework for e-sports intercollegiate competition.”
Pac-12 schools have found recent success in esports competitions. In early April, Arizona State University ran through the 64-team gauntlet at the Heroes of the Dorm tournament to secure its first championship.
The previous year, the University of California-Berkeley, another Pac-12 institution, beat out Arizona State University for the championship.
Team Liquid suspends its rookie star
In an extremely surprising and still-developing situation, Team Liquid has suspended its starting jungler, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, for two weeks. The team has stated the reason was due to “recent behavioral problems and team dynamics issues.”
Dardoch was one of the surprise players from last split, earning rookie of the year honors. Dardoch is one of Team Liquid’s homegrown talents, having come up through Team Liquid’s Academy team. He formed an immediate partnership with fellow Academy player and LCS rookie, Matt “Matt” Elento, when both were thrown into a starting position last split.
Co-owner and CEO, Steve “LiQuiD112” Arhancet, has released a public statement on the team’s website. Arhancet has stated the team will look to facilitate a trade if it cannot come to a mutual agreement with Dardoch.
Below is his statement in its entirety:
Effective since the 18th of May 2016, Josh has been placed under suspension from Team Liquid for behavioral issues—namely, insubordination. Faced with a difficult decision to keep his suspension active and prevent future competitive play for the remainder of his contract, I decided that it would be fair to facilitate a possible transfer for other teams.
I’m personally a big fan of Josh and think very highly of his mechanics and accomplishments. I’ve personally spent significant time, along with many of our support staff counseling and mentoring him. Most recently, we flew our sports psychologist, Summer, to our bootcamp in Korea to work closely with Dardoch and the team in hopes of finding solutions.
I understand this post does not provide a clear result, but I hope it does share that we are in the midst of working through this. We will share more details as they develop.
Dardoch has also released a statement on Team Liquid’s website:
From the very start, Team Liquid has been great to me, like when they moved me from Challenger to LCS so quickly. There’s been team dynamic issues that have made it hard for me to stay level headed.
Big Steve and Loco have coordinated the possibility of a transfer, which I appreciate—the future is not yet figured out but I’m still motivated and eager to play as ever.
This isn’t the first time that Team Liquid has suspended one of its main players before the start of a split for behavioral issues. Last split, Diego “Quas” Ruiz, was suspended indefinitely for unknown personal reasons. Quas was released from the team a few weeks ago and immediately signed with NRG eSports.
With Dardoch currently suspended, Team Liquid will turn to former NRG jungler, Galen “Moon” Holgate, as its starting jungler. Moon currently is on the Team Liquid Challenger team, Team Liquid Academy.
Australia recognizes LoL as a collegiate sport
The Australian University Games will now recognize League of Legends as a sport, allowing students to try and represent their university at their yearly event, which will be held in Perth, Western Australia in September.
Riot has been increasingly pushing efforts to expand League of Legends into the collegiate environment. This is a major step forward, as previously Riot has only been able to find success in North America. Riot has dedicated an entire website to commemorate Australia’s move.