The good vibes built from a strong spring split finish lasted a month.
After a terrible start to the spring split of the North American League Championship Series, Renegades responded with six wins in its final seven matches. Renegades climbed from last place to eighth and later and won its match in the promotional tournament to retain its LCS spot for the summer split.
Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong said after being acquired in a trade that Renegades was the second best in North America. The players looked forward to the summer split and the attempt to prove Seraph correct if all remained intact.
It didn’t. At least not with that organization.
Riot Games dropped a hammer on Renegades on May 8 and ruled its owner, Chris Badawi, committed a host of infractions (while he was already banned for a year because of tampering). The team was forced to sell its LCS slot, which resulted in an uncertain future for players Riot ruled did nothing wrong.
Alberto “Crumbz” Rengifo retired from professional play. Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek went overseas to play for H2K. As it turned out, the other three players — Seraph, Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo and Nickolas “Hakuho” Sugent — would get the chance to continue what they started.
The sale of Renegades’ LCS spot first broke May 13 and was officially announced the following week. EnVyUs, a multi-title esports organization run by former Call of Duty player Mike “Hastr0” Rufail, is most famously known for its Counter-Strike team. It later announced a roster that included the three Renegades holdovers, Kim “Procxin” Se-Young and Challenger player Benjamin “LOD” deMunck. On top of that, Renegades manager Matt Akhavan would stay on with EnVyUs as general manager.
For the players, a sad situation suddenly turned into a new opportunity.
“I think there was a lot of room for growth,” Hakuho told Slingshot during Week 2 of the LCS. “Even now, I feel the current roster, I feel like there’s more growth than what was possible before. I know Freeze is doing really well on H2K, but I think the team right now is perfect for us.”
Through three weeks, the core of the former Renegades club has contributed to a good summer start. At 5-1, EnVyUs is in third place and coming off a win against spring champions Counter Logic Gaming.
Seraph’s proclamation might be on its way to being proven correct, even if the organization is different.
“So far, EnVyUs is really good,” Seraph said. “I really love our owner, Mike. Before choosing the team, I heard Hastr0 is an ex-gamer in Call of Duty. I thought he was going to understand the players well, and I was right.”
Seraph and Ninja, the top/mid lane duo many thought was responsible for Renegades’ spring turnaround, have continued to build on their strong relationship. They’re both close with new jungler Procxin, who went through some of his own troubles with Team Impulse during the spring. LOD doesn’t have Freeze’s resume at AD Carry, but it’s still a deep group of players that has excelled in EnVyUs’ inaugural League of Legends split.
It hasn’t all been perfect. EnVyUs is on its second coach, Lee “Miracle” Hyeon-beom. He doesn’t speak English, which adds another barrier of communication between the team with Ninja’s already limited English.
“For me, I’m usually with the players (and so is a translator), so it’s non-stop translating,” Miracle said through a translator. “What’s the Korean meta and strategy? What is each patch about? So we just play with that. Being with the players 24/7 is big.”
Seraph translates in-game while also shot-calling, which is a difficult task. Earlier in his career, Seraph might not have been up for the challenge, he said. But Seraph has felt more comfortable the longer he’s been in the North American LCS and is willing to be the team’s linchpin for in-game decisions and communication.
“Me, Procxin and Ninja have been together,” Seraph said. “I have played with Ninja for years. But us three, we played dynamic queue so much since the spring split. I think we are really good friends and have really good synergy. Also, me, Ninja and Hakuho played for Renegades, so I can play well with Hakuho and I can understand what he wanted. The link is really good.”
The team didn’t have much time to get ready for the split, with only two weeks to practice before the LCS started. Hakuho said the beginning was a struggle, and scrim results weren’t good, but the team managed to put it all together on stage when the games began to count.
The short time and fluctuation among the organization brings the team hope that the best is perhaps yet to come. EnVyUs’ summer split schedule has been light so far, and this week will be the biggest test with matches against Cloud9 (4-2) and first place Team SoloMid (6-0), the only undefeated team in the summer split.
“Right now, we’re a really new team,” Miracle said. “For us, we had only one or two weeks of practice before the LCS started, so there’s a lot of pressure in their form and how they used to play.”
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.