For Immortals, another disappointing loss leads to questions about future

Immortals roster. Credit:
Immortals roster. Credit: /

How will Immortals respond to its season-ending loss?

As Immortals suffered its second straight season-ending loss to C9 in the Regional Qualifiers, one can only wonder; will this current roster of players ever be able to compete with the best in crunch time?

A year that saw a thoroughly dominant Immortals finish a combined 33-3 in the Spring and Summer Splits concluded with Immortals ultimately failing to qualify for the World Championship, and that must be considered a substantial setback given the high hopes and elite talent that the team has garnered.

For much of the year, Immortals prominently featured strong solo lanes with the presence of the Spring Split MVP, Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin, to brute force their way to victory.

During Immortals’ impressive 17-1 run during the Spring Split, it was often Seong “Huni” Hoon Heo and his signature top lane carry style, assisted heavily by Reignover, that granted the team significant advantages through the early and mid-game, enabling them to snowball the remainder of the game . Flashing unorthodox champions such as Graves, Quinn, AP Ekko and Riven, Huni was seemingly the only top laner able to pull off such bold picks, and often to great success.

Top laner for Immortals: Huni. Credit: /

However, when it came to adapting to the meta and playing from behind, Immortals has demonstrated some of its most glaring weaknesses.  Perhaps the most notorious example of this may be Immortals’ shocking 0-3 defeat in the Spring Split semifinals at the hands of Team SoloMid, the sixth seed coming into the playoffs. Seemingly adamant — with a possible tinge of hubris — against picking well-rounded team compositions, Huni played champions like Lucian and Graves whenever he should have been playing tanks. That sunk any chance for Immortals to mount late-game comebacks.

The blame for Immortals’ struggles to live up to expectations, however, cannot be solely put on Huni’s shoulders.  When faced with the prospect of having to play from behind or recover from early-game fumbles, the team has often stumbled.  As evidenced by their most recent series versus Cloud9, Immortals never truly recovered from deficits in any of their losses.  Reignover has often appeared to be out of sync with teammates when trying to make plays, as demonstrated by his abysmal Game 1 performance on Rek’Sai. Mid-game team fights, usually an Immortals trademark, all but went wrong in their series against Cloud9.  Overall, in their high-profile losses, seemingly nothing goes accordingly to plan; typically strong solo lanes and overpowering mid-game presence fall to the wayside, revealing a much more vulnerable Immortals squad.

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Where does Immortals go from here?  Despite their regular season success, it is hard to imagine that some changes won’t happen to the roster during the long offseason for the nascent organization. Huni and Reignover have more or less been advertised as a package, having been together from their Fnatic days, so if one has his foot out the door, expect the other to follow. Eugene “Pobelter” Park, Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and Adrian “Adrian” Ma have performed consistently, but each has shown signs of vulnerability and an inability to step up in the games that matter.  It’s difficult to name possible replacements of the same pedigree at their respective positions, but for the sake of team synergy, Immortals could elect to go with a fresher face to change the team dynamic.

Or Immortals management may decide that no shakeup is necessary at all; the case is certainly there to keep the core of the team in place.  Potential changes like a slight adjustment in team strategy for a best-of-five, a willingness to play to the current meta, or learning better how to play from behind could all be catalysts that would finally put Immortals over the top.  In any case, it will interesting to see what adaptations Immortals has in store for next year.

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