League Championship Series (LCS) newcomer Echo Fox will use three new substitute players in today’s match against Team Liquid, after forfeiting yesterday due to player visa issues.
Korean top laner Park "kfo" Jeong-hun, Canadian jungler Anthony “Hard” Barkhovtsev, and Danish mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen were unable to obtain proper U.S. work documentation in time for their game against NRG Esports, sources close to the team tell the Daily Dot. This resulted in the team having to forfeit yesterday.
Replacing them for today’s game is Challenger Series team Ember’s top laner Colin “Solo” Earnest and mid laner Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer, as well as free agent jungler Jonathan "Grigne" Armao. AD carry Yuri “KEITH” Jew and support Terry “BIG” Chuong (formerly known as Babyeator) will remain on the team’s starting lineup, as both are American citizens and do not need extra clearance to play in the LCS.
All LCS players from countries outside of the United States must have a P1-A Internationally Recognized Athlete visa, which Park Jeong-hun, Barkhovtsev, and Hansen have not yet obtained. They are unable to compete in the LCS until they have this documentation.
The process and clearance usually takes a long time, and according to sources close to the team the three Echo Fox members were playing on tourist visas last week—something that is not only against Riot Games’ LCS ruleset, but also illegal.
They are not the only players to face this issue, Renegades’ AD carry Aleš "Freeze" Kněžínek also did not have proper clearance. Unlike Echo Fox, Renegades found an AD carry prior to the roster lock, bringing on Ember marksman Benjamin “LOD” DeMunck, who they used in their game against Team Dignitas yesterday.
After Riot Games’ Echo Fox ruling on Saturday the Daily Dot reached out to team owner Rick Fox, who confirmed that it was in fact visa troubles.
“When we were initially told of our own potential compliance issue we worked to resolve them immediately,” Fox told the Daily Dot in a report on January 23. “Unfortunately we were not able to do so in time. It’s important to note that at the time we were told of the compliance issues, our organization was barely three weeks old.”
While Echo Fox will have to play with substitutes, the outcome could have been worse had they not picked up semi-experienced players. Mid laner Gilmer has played in the LCS twice with Team 8 and Team Dignitas (in a short stint), but he’s shown to be one of the stronger North American mid laners.
Top laner Earnest and jungler Armao have not been given the same chance. Both have participated in multiple Challenger squads, such as Cloud9 Tempest, but neither have set foot on the LCS stage before.
If Echo Fox could beat any team with a substitute lineup it’d be Liquid or Team Impulse, due to their poor win-loss record so far this split, and inability to close out games. Luckily Echo Fox faces the former, giving them a decent shot at actually pulling out a win. We’ll find out today on Riot Games’ Twitch channel at approximately 6pm ET.