New esports organization Phoenix1 will take flight in the upcoming summer split of the North American League Championship Series, buying Team Impulse's sold slot in the competition. The seven-man starting roster will be a mixture of veteran and rookie talent, as Impulse's former players Brandon "Mash" Phan and Austin "Gate" Yu join as the starting bottom lane duo. Rami "Inori" Charagh will be joining as the jungler, Derek "zig" Shao and Brandon "Brandini" Chen will be vying it out for the starting top lane position, and Andrew "Slooshi" Pham and Junsik "Pirean" Choi will be fighting for the starting position in the mid lane.
"Similar to last split, I expect a lot of people to count us out at the beginning of the split but I'll be sure to prove them wrong," Gate told ESPN.
The three owners of the team are Michael Moore, Rob Moore, and Jack Giarraputo. Rob Moore is the Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures, and Jack Giarraputo is a famous film producer who has worked closely with Adam Sandler throughout the comedian's career, producing such titles as The Waterboy, 50 First Dates, and Grown Ups 2. Michael, Rob's son, will also act as managing partner for the organization.
"We're such big fans of esports," said Michael. "We have been playing, watching and advocating LoL for some time now. We want to bring our expertise in Hollywood to highlight these incredible athletes. I speak for everyone involved when I say that we're ecstatic to be part of this."
In the middle lane, Pirean will be competing for the starting spot alongside former Team 8 player Slooshi. While Slooshi left Team 8 in the middle of last summer's campaign due to personal family reasons, Pirean, a Korean import, traveled to the United States at the start of the spring split to make his professional debut, accumulating a 2.2 KDA while starting 16 games.
Filling the jungler role is Inori, a longtime amateur player who has bounced around various minor league teams and subbed for LCS squads. He recently made it into the Challenger tier of South Korea's solo queue ladder, and will be hoping to follow in the successful footsteps of Rookie of the Split, Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett.
Top lane will be another position of contention, with P1 having two rookie players vying for the starting job. Derek "zig" Shao, a Canadian-born player, was on Team Liquid's Academy squad last split and was considered one of the better players in the Challenger leagues. After rumors of him possibly taking over the starting position from Samson "Lourlo" Jackson were proven untrue, he became a free agent and signed with Phoenix1. His teammate for the top lane role will be 18-year-old American Brandon "Brandini" Chen, who was a bench player for Apex Gaming before joining his new squad.
"We wanted this transition to be a new start for our players, who have had some really difficult times dealing with their ownership and management in the past," said Michael. "The imagery of the phoenix and rebirth -- we thought -- was fitting with that goal in mind."
Former Cloud9 head coach, Charlie Lipsie, will return to the NA LCS as Phoenix1's head coach, former Team 8 manager, Eric Ma, will be the team's general manager, and Brendan "Saparino" Franco will manage the players and team itself.