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Before the season roster lock on 24 July, eight out of ten NA LCS teams made no changes to their squads. The two teams that altered their rosters before the roster lock deadline were last-placed Cloud 9 and Echo Fox, who are currently tied for first.
The changes were as follows:
In a last-minute flurry that is rumoured to have happened six hours before the roster lock, Echo Fox have let go of three former starters from their roster. They left North American resident Tanner Damonte as the sole mid-laner of the team, freeing up an import slot to be taken up by New Zealand citizen Lost (Lawrence Hui) as the new starting bot-laner. Lost will now be playing with 2017 Spring All-Pro Support Smoothie (Adny Ta).
Echo Fox seems to have finally addressed their ongoing issue in the bot-lane and specifically with the support role.
Adrian Ma was named as their starting support after the final post-franchising teams were finalised. Adrian never found the consistency and solid playmaking he was able to find on the first Immortals line-up with Wildturtle.
Underperforming, the veteran support fell out of favour, and Echo Fox moved their academy support, Papa Chau (John Le) into the main roster. Papa Chau was promoted to the main roster after phenomenal games with academy, but on the big stage Le often looked overwhelmed and was an obvious weak spot in the line-up that enemy teams exploited.
The 2018 Spring Split concluded and Echo Fox finished third, playing Adrian in the play-offs for his veteran IQ and big stage experience. In the 2018 Summer Split neither Adrian nor Papa Chau would cement their spot in the Echo Fox line-up.
A new addition to the team, Feng (Wang Xiao-Feng), took the contested spot and looked serviceable with the champions the Season 8 metagame had demanded players now pick in the bot lane.
Feng had experience in the LCS, playing top lane for Team Impulse in 2016, but the bottom half of the map was still a weakness in Echo Fox’s game.
Smoothie has had a hard split being caught in the tumultuous Cloud 9 benching saga, and for reasons that are still unclear to outsiders, the team has decided to let Smoothie go and keep Zeyzal.
Smoothie made a name for himself being a monster playmaker and setting up ganks in the bot lane, helping his carry come out of the laning phase on top. Can job security and a new winning team environment help lift Smoothie back to career-best form?
The promotion of Lost is nothing to sleep on either. The week before Papa Chau replaced Adrian in the 2018 Spring Split, Lost and Papa Chau went 16/0/36 over two games, Lost carrying the Academy side to victory in one of those games after getting himself a Quadra Kill.
Lost has also proved himself on Season 8 bot lane picks, playing Swain, Heimerdinger and even Mordekaiser in Academy.
The Echo Fox coaching staff obviously hold Lost in very high regard as it seems they have been trying to push him into the starting line-up by playing Damonte over Fenix to free up an import slot for him.
If Lost is the dominant bot-laner Echo Fox believes him to be and if Smoothie and Dardoch can connect their play like Dardoch has been able to with Huni, who knows how far this new-look Echo Fox side can go.