FOX Solo: "This year's Echo Fox is just a better version of last year's Clutch Gaming. "

Echo Fox's Saturday/Sunday trend continued through Week 4 of the 2019 LCS Spring Split, but that was not what rocked the audience that afternoon. Colin "Solo" Earnest selected a niche Malphite top lane into the Jayce of Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho. Whether it be due to the familiarity of the matchup, or Echo Fox's Saturday/Sunday curse, Echo Fox bested 100 Thieves and moved to 4-4 in the LCS.

Solo sat down with Inven Global to discuss the Malphite pick, his growth on last year's Clutch Gaming, and Echo Fox's team dynamic. 


We're here with Solo. Congratulations on your win, can you tell us about your Malphite and what you wanted to accomplish with the pick?

I play a lot of Jayce myself, and Malphite is the matchup that is the least fun. It's not super difficult or high-execution, but it's very obnoxious for a Jayce when you have a Malphite who is very hard to kill spamming his Q at you in lane. Malphite builds full armor, so carries have to build armor penetration like Black Cleaver and Lord Dominik's Regards, when they really want to build damage and lethality.

We were looking for more engage in the last draft phase, since 100 Thieves had Ashe and Tahm Kench. We wanted to be able to get on top of their whole team, and Malphite seemed like a good fit for that. They also had Olaf in the jungle, so we needed something that wasn't going to be killed easily on top side. It was the perfect scenario for the pick, and I'm glad that my team trusted me to pull it off.

You have a lot of familiarity with this matchup. Do you think Ssumday expected the Malphite?

Hard to say what he thinks about it. He built intelligently, so he's in the know as far as the matchup is supposed to go and which items Jayce is supposed to buy. That being said, I think their level 3 dive attempt was a little ambitious... *laughs* turrets are pretty strong now.

Overall, 100 Thieves played well around the matchup. I just played it better. Ssumday did as well as he could, it's just a tough matchup to snowball and smash lane through. We got some advantageous fights for us as a team overall, as well. 

Rush's Jungle build was unusual in this game, itemizing solely for tower dives at the sacrifice of efficiency. Can you explain the methodology behind it?

Rush is really big on rushing Guardian Angel and not finishing his jungle Item. To him, having the  active of a Guardian Angel or Sterak's Gage is a bit more important than the extra AD from a completed jungle item. It's his style of play, and I think having this unique build gives him an edge. It promotes his style of being really aggressive early on and making highlight plays.

▲ Image Source: Riot Games

What is Echo Fox going to have to do to get a win on Saturday?

*laughs* Hard to say. I think we're more comfortable and open to taking risks on Saturdays. We're willing to try more things and push ourselves.

Yesterday, we played a very high execution composition, and it didn't work out. Cloud9 is a good team, they played well, and we took the loss. On Sunday, everyone's a bit more in attack mode and ready to win. Our drafts are optimal, and worst case scenario, we fall back on comfort and play towards strengths to get the win.

Why are you drafting more difficult compositions to execute on Saturdays?

We want to be more of a proactive, innovative team. It's really easy to play for scaling in the LCS, and just play solid and safe until grouping as 5 for an ARAM, basically. But we think we're talented enough to win the game through laning phase, and we want to push ourselves and be a team that can do that and secure victories through skirmishes and map control.

We've won some games that way, and we've lost some games that way, but I think it's helped us grow as a team to push ourselves, especially on stage.

Because of three-fifths of your roster being last year's Clutch Gaming, do you feel that the team has a similar identity to that team?

This year's Echo Fox is just a better version of last year's Clutch Gaming. From the top down, I think our infrastructure and coaching staff are much more established and better equipped to handle a team. I think Hakuho, Apollo, and myself have all improved a lot, and I think combined with Fenix and Rush, we create a healthy environment for people to grow and bounce ideas off of each other. These factors make us a better team.

▲ Image Source: Riot Games

Is there a unique dynamic in that your team has five veterans?

Yeah, I think it helps because everyone is a bit more grounded. This isn't the first time in LCS for any of us, and while Rush and Fenix are Korean, they've played in North America before. Obviously, it sucks to be away from home for some time, but as far as moving country-to-country, neither of them have experienced any discomfort or culture shock that affects practice or how the team plays.

I think it's really hard for some imports to come here and feel comfortable at first. It's a different country, culture, style of play, and even practice regimens can differ greatly.

Do you think having a Korean Head Coach in Kim “Ssong” Sang-soo, who has experience coaching in both regions, has helped the roster gel?

Tremendously. I think Ssong has a really good blend of Korean structure and attitude while also integrating the American players. The fact that he, Rush, and Fenix all speak very good English helps us communicate really well. There aren't really any miscommunications or mistranslations in which we can't figure it out and talk to each other freely. We have lunch together and talk about things outside of the game, which I think is really important for team bonding.

Echo Fox had people at the bottom of their LCS predictions, but after four weeks the team is in the running for a playoff spot. Where do you think FOX stands in the LCS when compared to the competition?

I think every team besides Team Liquid are basically on the team footing. Everyone else still has to prove themselves to get to that upper echelon with TL. There has been some separation between the bottom and middle teams, but I don't think it's enough to really say anything definitive. We're trying to figure out how to take that next step to compete with TL.

We're taking things day by day and not trying to get stressed out by the individual wins or losses. I think if you're good enough to make playoffs, you'll get there. It's not about every day or every weekend or every specific matchup being a must win. You gotta take things day-to-day and experience the journey as it takes you, and hopefully, by the end, you're competing in playoffs.

▲ Image Source: Riot Games

You've played the game for quite some time competitively, but last year was your first full year at the LCS level. What did you learn from your time on Clutch Gaming about being a professional player?

I think LCS is pretty different than playing in the North American Challenger Series or the North American Academy League. When you're on stage every week, the days leading up to it can blow by really quickly. You have to make sure you're really tuned in to your practice, what you are preparing for, and what you're going to play for that weekend.

Last year, it felt like I blinked and we were in week 7 *laughs* You have to try and slow things down and focus on what you're trying to improve on every day so you can get the most out of every split.

Thank you for the interview, Solo, your insight is appreciated. Is there anything you want to say to the Echo Fox fans?

Thanks to all of the fans rooting for us, it's really fun playing for you guys and seeing people come out to LCS. I really love the support that the team is getting, and I'm glad we're able to pick up some wins for you guys. We're going to keep trying our best, so thank you for the support.

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