FOX Apollo: "We've been through this before, we know how this works. It's not over yet."

Echo Fox is in a similar situation about this time last split. They find themselves at the bottom of the standings as we hit the halfway point in the Summer Split. They bounced back in the Spring Split to qualify for playoffs, and there is still a chance to do so once again in the Summer Split.

Echo Fox's AD Carry Apollo "Apollo" Price spoke with Inven Global after their Week 4 victory against OpTic Gaming about going down to Academy, utilizing different roster iterations, and how they can find their team identity.

▲ Image Source: Riot Games

Congrats on the victory against OpTic. How did it feel to come back and win the game from an early deficit?

It was good. We were really searching for that win. If we didn't get that, it would've been rough going into the break. I think getting the win raises our morale, gives us a bit of hope. I don't think we're that bad of a team where we deserve only having one win. We definitely have potential, that drive, and the momentum to get more wins. It was a shaky win, but I'm glad it gives us that confidence going forward.

Before getting into the present, let's go to the past. You were in Academy earlier this month. How did Echo Fox decide that you were going to be in Academy?

At least they told me, basically, their mindset was that it's early in the season and felt like I still had a good performance from last split but want to try different roster iterations for the beginning of the split. This is the time to do it — they felt like they enough flexibility now than later. 

It's not like I was happy about it, but I still understood the process. You still learn from it — you have to take a step back, look at how the team is doing without you, and what you can do better. It motivates you a little bit more knowing that there are still people out there trying to take your job.

You have to be on point. You have to make sure you're out there trying your best. Not that I wasn't, but it gives you that extra push. Overall, it was a good experience.  

Can you tell me the differences between playing in Academy and LCS? 

Obviously, the players in the NA Academy League are generally worse than players in the LCS. Working with our players, however, was different because my teammates are great. Even our Academy players are LCS ready, which is really nice to have. It's just you have to guide them a little bit more. You need to harp on the more important things. It felt like we were distracted by the small things when we need to look at the bigger picture. 

In game, there wasn't as much direction which is more necessary in competitive right now. Having direction, proactive plays, and making sure they talk with each other creates more plans. In this meta, you have to be the one doing something, or else you will fall behind. In Academy, there is not enough communication and not enough creating plans. 

Was there anything you were able to pass on to your Academy teammates?

I mean I hope so. I was definitely working with them. Not that I'm so much better than them, but I have enough experience that I can tell them these are the things we need to do or work on. I'm still working on them myself but if I feel like they need to do that, then I'll tell them.

I hope they listen. I hope I helped them. All of them are good players and I should be the one to say that this is what we can work on. 

Image Source: Riot Games

Speaking towards yourself, what are things that you worked on while in Academy?

In Academy, I don't know if I focused on anything more specifically. My overall mindset was that I need to keep making plans with our team, communicating with the jungler and support in what I need. Especially when it comes to mid and late game scenarios. It's constantly what I'm trying to improve on.

What kind of planning did you think about while in Academy?

Setting up Dragons, specifically like Dragon and Baron timings, was a big focus. It's all intertwined where you have to figure out these windows where it's a good time to do Dragon. Same thing with Baron or Herald.

Mainly, it was Dragons and Barons, specifically because Herald is usually dependent on Mid Lane and Top Lane, where as a Bot Laner I have more control and dependency on our Dragon setup. 

After your short stint in Academy, you were brought back to the LCS roster. What was the reasoning behind that decision?

They didn't tell me the full reason why they brought me back. They just told me that I'm practicing in LCS this week. I'm sure it would be nice to be a little more transparent than that.

At the same time, I didn't really care.

If they feel like they want to use me, then they use me. If I'm still in Academy, then I'm still in Academy.

When you were brought back, was there anything different about playing with the LCS roster?

It felt pretty similar, you know? It was nice to play with them. I've been playing with Hakuho for a while, so it's nice to be with a support that I'm more comfortable with. Other than that, it was easy to re-adjust.

Image Source: Riot Games

You guys are still experimenting with the roster in different ways. Is that more of seeing what sticks or a long term thing seeing where things are?

It's kind of like what you said. Basically, if something is going wrong, then we need to change it - we need to figure out what can make it better. I think that was the idea behind this roster. Clearly, things weren't working out with the core 5 that we had in the beginning. They thought that bringing Samson "Lourlo" Jackson and James "Panda" Ding up from FOX Academy to play Top and Jungle respectively  can help solve that. It's not a completely different change since I've played with them before. They have a little more energy.

We really were aggressive to the point of maybe stupid yesterday, but it felt kind of good. When you're constantly talking about what you want to do, there was a lot more with this roster iteration. That kind of end up being our kryptonite. We did a little too much, too fast. This time around, we slowed down and still doing the same things. Maybe we'll make more changes, but for now, it felt really good.

Do you think that since you played with Lourlo and Panda in Academy, your familiarity with them contributed in this win?

For sure! Me and Fenix played with them. I think it is helpful we played with them before rather than just this week in scrims. It wasn't one week of practice. We were testing out Lourlo in the top instead of Colin "Solo" Earnest and Panda instead of Lee "Rush" Yoon-jae to see how it is.

The whole point of Academy is to have that 10-man roster. Having that experience with them was really good. Players have different playstyles - Lourlo isn't the same as Solo and Rush isn't the same as Panda. 

Image Source: Riot Games

I've seen bottom-tier teams whether it's in LCS or Overwatch League rotate their rosters to see what sticks. How do you adapt to each other's playstyles? 

I don't think you have to adjust too much. It's really the coach's job to bring everyone together. Of course, you have to make adjustments. If I see what Panda is trying to do, then I kind of know what he's going for. Then, I have to make a decision on whether that's good or bad. It's the same thing with Rush. It's maybe the way the communication is when you're not saying things directly, you have to guess a little bit. That's just how it works.

When I'm at the point with Rush where like he says something, even if it's a bit vague, then I know what he's trying to do. I think you don't have to change your own playstyle, but you do have to think about what they're trying to do. I don't think it's playstyle dependent, it's figuring out what's going through their head.

What do you think of the team's performance before and after today's game? 

It's hard to judge based off roster iterations. With this one currently, we haven't had time to practice with each other, so it's hard to say. I'm not too concerned with it either. It's one of those things where you're last place or something. At that point, you don't care. You have to get better. It doesn't matter to be a little better than other teams, we need to be better to get wins. 

So you guys lacked an identity during early Spring Split, but still made playoffs. You guys are pretty much in the same situation as the last split. Is that a boon to your morale in a way you've done it once before?

We know since we're all veterans that we know what this feeling is. We've been through this before, we know how this works. It's not over yet. You can have a bad start to the split and turn it around. We've been there.

I've been on multiple teams before where that's happened. It's okay, even if we lose games, to still feel good about like you're still learning, and getting better. As long as we still feel that way, we're in a good spot. 

Image Source: Riot Games

In your opinion, how is this split going to be different than the last?

Identifying what our identity is. Making sure we need to find the baseline. We need to be that good team, then we can shift to having our own playstyle. You don't worry about your own playstyle until you figure out the fundamentals. We're still struggling on that aspect. 

Thanks for the interview and we'll certainly look out for Echo Fox to bounce back in this split. Is there anything you want to say to the fans out there?

Thank you guys for hanging in there. I hope you guys have been watching games via the team pass that you can get through the Riot store. It's been a couple of rough weeks, but thanks for hanging in there.

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