To say that the 2022 League Championship Series season has not gone according to plan for Immortals would be the understatement of the year. After a top six finish in the 2021 LCS Championship, Immortals made two individual upgrades in the carry roles. David “Insanity” Challe was replaced by Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, who played mid lane for TSM in 2021, while veteran AD carry Jason “WildTurtle” Tran was brought on instead of Quin "Raes" Korebrits. Both moves were supposed to turn IMT into a team far more likely to challenge the top of the standings.
Instead, IMT struggled to a last-place finish in the 2022 LCS spring split. The squad’s inability to properly weaponize PowerOfEvil’s strengths combined with the worst and potentially final split of WildTurtle’s LCS career spelled disaster for Immortals, and significant changes were made heading into the summer. AD carry Lawrence “Lost” Hui was acquired from Golden Guardians and was paired with support Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun -- the latter of whom spent the first half of 2022 teamless -- and 100 Thieves Academy jungler Shane Kenneth "Kenvi" Espinoza got the call to make his LCS debut in teal.
At 4-11 in a tie for eighth place, Immortals’ summer is only going slightly better than their spring, at least on paper. However, their losses have been far more competitive, due in large part to the reliability and consistency of PowerOfEvil as a late-game damage threat. At 34.3 minutes, Immortals have the longest average game time in the LCS. Although a part of that is due to late-game mistakes, a lot of it is by design due to PoE existing as the team’s primary win condition, and, regardless of the situation, the team’s most vocal member in terms of overall communication.
“I think that, a lot of times, experience helps when being the shot caller,” PowerOfEvil said. “In this team, I try to call a lot in the mid game -- what to play for next, what to do -- but I wouldn’t say I’m the only shotcaller.”
Despite playing for a team on the fringe of potential postseason qualification, PowerOfEvil is leading a handful of meaningful statistical categories among mid laners in the LCS. The Immortals mid laner is doing a lot of what he has done for most of his career -- farming up and focusing on gathering his own resources to be a primary damage threat in the later phases of the game. At 27.9%, PowerOfEvil takes more of his team’s total CS after 15 minutes than any other mid laner in the league except Dignitas’ Ersin "Blue" Gören (29.4%), according to Oracles Elixir.
Those resources translate into some impressive numbers, however. On a team tied for eighth place, PowerOfEvil deals more damage per minute (638) and a higher percentage of his team’s damage (34.2%) than any other mid laner in the LCS. He is also third in kill participation among all mid laners, which helps bring an already vivid picture into even better focus: if Immortals are going to do anything or have any kind of success, PowerOfEvil will have to be at the center of it.
Photo credit: Riot Games
After five years in the LCS on five different teams, PowerOfEvil is no stranger to being a defining member of his team’s identity. FlyQuest and TSM were teams where PoE played a pivotal role, but Immortals is more reminiscent of his time with his first two teams in the LCS. On OpTic Gaming in 2018, PowerOfEvil was the sole bright spot on a team who otherwise would have been at the bottom of the standings. When OPT missed out on the postseason by a single game in the NA LCS summer split that year, PowerOfEvil had the highest kill participation (78.8%), damage per minute (612), and team damage percentage (34.2%) of any mid laner in the league. To say he ran the show on OpTic Gaming would be an understatement.
In 2019, PowerOfEvil finished in seventh place with Counter Logic Gaming in the spring, once again missing out on the postseason, but come summer, he helped transform the team into a competitive force. CLG finished in third in the 2019 LCS summer playoffs. CLG has not qualified for the postseason for five straight splits since PowerOfEvil’s departure.
This is all to say that PowerOfEvil is no stranger to the current situation that Immortals find themselves in at the final hurdle of the 2022 LCS summer split due to his past experiences.
"As a pro player, there are so many things you face when you’re losing -- what the community is saying; what the casters are saying; how other players are perceiving your games and how they’re looking at you. And when you’re on a losing streak, you start losing confidence, and you maybe start doubting yourself," PowerOfEvil said.
“And the community will probably rage at you for losing so many games … you probably need to have a thick skin,” the Immortals mid laner added with a rye chuckle.
External criticism aside, PowerOfEvil is optimistic about his team’s improvements, and with the top eight of the 10 LCS teams able to qualify for the 2022 LCS Championship, a postseason appearance is still very much in the cards for Immortals.
Photo credit: Riot Games
“I’m happy that these are the players I’m with,” PowerOfEvil said. “We are one team. We are going to try to build ourselves back up together, stay stronger together, and get even better.
“I've had ups and downs in my career. I've seen the bottom, I've seen the top, and I think that I managed to get some of the teams that were perceived very, very badly to the top. I think a lot of people forget that when I was joining teams like CLG or FlyQuest, those teams were perceived as bottom tier … I managed to get CLG to playoffs and FlyQuest to back-to-back finals. I think that obviously we are still very far from these results right now as Immortals, but I have to trust that we can turn around and get these wins … hopefully, we can prove people wrong.”
Calling Immortals a contender for the title is a gratuitous stretch, but with qualification for the postseason still a possibility, PowerOfEvil’s trust in his teammates and confidence in himself might be what the team needs to squeak into the 2022 LCS Championship.
One thing is for certain, though -- whatever Immortals is able to achieve in the remainder of the 2022 season will be centered around PowerOfEvil and what the veteran mid laner can accomplish in the home stretch of his fifth season in the LCS.
Lead photo credit: Tina Jo / Riot Games via ESPAT