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Why Team EnVyUs Can't Be Counted Out

As we head into the showdown of the summer playoffs, everyone is watching the big names: TSM, Cloud9, Counter Logic Gaming and the Immortals are on most fans' lips. There’s one team that has escaped most fans’ notice, falling into a comfortable mid-tier team identity.

Team EnVyUs are going to be looking to escape that underdog identity come the playoffs, and trying to making a statement that they can keep up with NA's big dogs. Are they up to the task?

It’s important to understand the brief history of EnVyUs in League before we move onto the playoffs analysis. EnVyUs was in talks with the Renegades before the infamous banhammer came down, and they finished acquiring the spot in the aftermath, along with three of the Renegades’ previous roster: Shin "Seraph" Woo-yeong, Noh "Ninja" Geon-woo and Nickolas "Hakuho" Surgent. They filled out the roster with some more familiar names: Benjamin "LOD" deMunck (who had previously played on Ember), Kim "Procxin" Se-Young (who had impressed on the doomed Team Impulse) and Zachary "Nien" Malhas. The six-man roster entered the Summer Split, and enjoyed a strong showing, but they’ve faltered since then.

In many ways, EnVyUs appears to be a solidly "middle of the road" team. Their score so far during summer is 7-7, and they generally succeed against lower tier teams like Apex Gaming, NRG and Echo Fox while stumbling against Team SoloMid or the Immortals — and none of their players are "big names." Seraph is their biggest veteran, but most of his history in the NA LCS has been centered around finding his feet on CLG and Team Dragon Knights.

It’s easy to understand how this squad has slipped under the radar for many fans — they don’t have the star power of NRG, the recognizable names of Apex, the big personalities of Echo Fox or the recent successes of CLG. However, if you underestimate this team, you may be in for a rude surprise.

EnVyUs’s initial split isn’t their peak — it holds all the hallmarks of a team building a foundation to grow and improve. In early June, the team swapped their head coach out for David "Hermes" Tu to Lee "Miracle" Hyeon-beom. It’s also important to note that EnVyUs is a multi-eSport organization, with a long history of managing organizations. As they settle in League, it’s likely that they’ll continue to become more deadly and adapt to League.

As for the present, you can look at EnVyUs’s 7-7 record and shrug them off as mid-tier, but that doesn’t contain the entire story. Their losses say as much about the team as their wins do. While the NA LCS is no stranger to one-sided games, EnVyUs has been working hard to avoid those kind of stomps, and largely succeeding. While they’ve lost plenty of games, they’ve never rolled over and showed their bellies. Even when they’re behind, they’re an interesting team to watch, because they’re able to maintain aggressive plays without hurling themselves into the jaws of a better opponent.

Their priority must remain the playoffs. Over and over, we’ve seen teams fall into complacency during this critical time, and risk losing their slot in the playoffs or getting knocked out of the series early on. Realistically, EnVyUs cannot hope to take the entire Split (although some fans out there are cheering for the impossible). Instead, they need to work on building the foundation of their team. Many narratives around teams center on the now: TSM, the spring underdogs, pulling it together and surging to second last split, for instance; or CLG’s stumbles in the face of summer. EnVyUs are an organization with their eyes on the future, and it’s likely that the playoffs will continue to hone them and help them prepare.

Here’s the worst-case scenario for the green-eyed monster in the weeks ahead: Remember NRG’s first Split? They made it to the playoffs, went up against Team Liquid ... and then got tossed around, with Dardoch in particular styling on them hard with the Lee Sin pick. It was a painful series to watch, even if it was an entertaining one, and one that defined NRG’s storyline for a long time to come.

The layout is not yet clear, but if EnVyUs can eliminate a team like Counter Logic Gaming or Liquid from the playoffs and advance past the early rounds, they will have proven that they’re here to stay, and continue to build off that success with future growths. There is a very real chance that they might surprise us all — their members have all shown moments of brilliance on the Rift, and underestimating them could prove deadly.

The Riot competitive ruling that led to EnVyUs’s ensuing purchase of the Renegades spot dominated most of the early talk about the team, but they’ve managed to adapt and hold their own in a way that speaks volumes as to their internal infrastructure and mindset. Other new teams (Phoenix1 and NRG spring to mind as examples) have entered the LCS and immediately stumbled. Of course, EnVyUs has some notable advantages — they had more time to prepare, being in talks before the competitive ruling. They have a solid roster with pre-existing chemistry from the Renegades. They have infrastructure and sponsors from the organization’s long history. However, they have managed to translate this into being a mid-tier team.

Don’t be fooled, though — this is just their first split, and everything suggests they will continue to grow and improve. The playoffs will be one of the first chances they have to control their destiny. If they stumble in the last weeks of the Split, and lose their playoffs spot entirely, or end up getting knocked out of the first games, they’ll be struggling to recover from that blow. The team has yet to lay down and die, however. Even their name demands respect: envy us. Let’s see whether they can earn that envy from competitors and fans in the weeks to come.

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