This article is part of our LoL Bios series.
When pressure is highest, League of Legends players rely on clarity, communication and timing. The first member of Phoenix1 to put these skills on display was not a player, but the team’s majority owner, Robert Moore. Given last minute approval to purchase Team Impulse’s 2016 NA LCS Summer Split slot, Moore needed to assemble a roster quickly. He relied on a strategy he had employed for many years as Vice Chairman at Paramount Pictures: Surround yourself with experts, listen to them, trust them.
Ex-Cloud9 Coach Charlie Lipsie, Moore’s son Michael, and team consultant Eric Ma were among the experts the new owner leaned on in trying to assemble a competitive team. The newly minted organization’s first goal was to build a roster that could keep P1 safe from relegation in the immediate, and developing new players into a playoff-contending team in the long-term. With only hours to spare, the team submitted their roster and Phoenix1 was ready to begin its NA LCS Journey.
The team’s inaugural split got off to a rough start, both on and off the Rift. Jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh ran into visa issues, which undoubtedly led to the team’s lackluster 0-9 start to the split. Despite the issues, Moore held true to his words and helped Inori sort out the paperwork and get back onto the Rift. All the while, the players never lost faith, which led to a bit of a turnaround in the second half of the split. P1 posted a winning record in that second half, which included a big win against the undefeated Team SoloMid during a stunning three-game series. When the promotion tournament came around, P1 was hitting its stride, having climbed from 10th place to 8th in the final few weeks of play. In the tournament, P1 swept Echo Fox 3-0 and completely shifted its focus to preparing for the 2017 Spring Split.
It did not take long for the team to prove its dedication to greatness as P1 began the offseason with a month-long bootcamp in Korea. The goals were to build camaraderie, practice against the best players in the world and lock up new team members in key positions. When Phoenix1 returned stateside, it had made spectacular acquisitions in Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook and No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon.
Building a team is much more than simply adding individual talents, however. Phoenix1 found this out the hard way when Inori was once again forced to the sideline due to external issues, which left the team in a tough spot after a 4-1 start to the 2017 Spring Split. Stepping up to the plate once again, P1’s management team rounded out the five-man roster by persuading William “Meteos” Hartmann to return to the professional scene after a brief retirement.
With a new jungler playing a different style than Inori, Phoenix1’s place in the table was once again in question. Despite the change in style, Meteos helped his new organization win both of P1’s matches, including a high intensity series versus his ex-team, a top of the standings Cloud9. Instead of seeing his new role as a negative, Inori used the challenge of losing his start spot to challenge himself, and his team, in the approach Phoenix1 take onto the Rift each game.
Phoenix1 wasn’t content, though, as the management team decided to make one final roster tweak in switching out support player Adrian “Adrian” Ma and replacing him with the two-man rotation of William “Stunt” Chen and Jordan “Shady” Robison. The move created a level of depth that few teams enjoy, while simultaneously creating a winning brand.
The new faces and roster turnover throughout Spring 2017 was a viable excuse for the team to stagnate, yet Phoenix1 were far and away the most improved team in the NA LCS. After finishing in the bottom three a few months prior, Phoenix1 secured a top three finish this Split to earn its first ever NA LCS playoff berth. The days of relegation talk are in the rear view mirror, and when it plays Team Dignitas this Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, the stakes will be the highest the team has ever experienced. There will be Championship Points on the line and with each victory, P1 will get closer to earning a spot at the 2017 World Championships.
Not bad for a team that was initially assembled in six and half days.
Surround yourself with experts. Listen to them. Trust them.