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The Fallen: Freeze's fight for survival

by Michael “Veteran” Archer Aug 1 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

“He is really vocal about demanding resources to carry and almost never backs away from the responsibility that this move brings. One of the fatal flows he had in NiP era (and before) was that in a big teamfight after 25-30 minutes he would never actually commit, thus this would actually make his team lose some games, he fixed it.”

- Forg1ven on Freeze

I have a confession to make. I, like many, did not rate Freeze too highly. He was one of Nukeduck’s chosen in the experiment that was NiP, but NiP would soon collapse under the weight of a superstar roster. Freeze had shown strength in lane, but only against Challenger duos. In teamfights, he was a Rekkles rather than a Forg1ven. I figured Freeze would come up as a middle of the pack ADC that would be functional within the Copenhagen Wolves. I figured the Wolves would end up bottom three again. I figured history would end up repeating itself.

In the spring, the Wolves gave it their all and made the playoffs. They failed to win a single game but this was nonetheless a significant improvement for a team that has only ever entered the relegations. Still, Youngbuck was constantly making questionable decisions — diving into tank lines with his Hecarim when a hypercarry was open or overextending in teamfights without taking into account the position of his team. Airwaks was still finding his identity, but showing great form in teamfights while innovating on champions like Ekko. Soren was able to hold his own against his counterparts, both in and out of lane. Unlimited had shown significant improvement. There was one stat line however, and one player, that jumped out at everyone.

Freeze had survived the spring split with a staggering 5.26 KDA on a lower placed team. On par with Hjarnan and only below Forg1ven and Rekkles. This was exceptional.

Greatness from Nowhere

The failure of the Copenhagen Wolves came from their staff. The Deficio/Dentist debacle left the team without a coach for several games, and the subsequent leaking of Dentist’s personal logs left them with a sullied public image. It also severely damaged the inter-personal relationships of the team. Youngbuck left, stating that the team environment had not been the same since the incident. Unlimited would join him, no longer feeling that he was a part of the same Copenhagen Wolves he joined. First time LCS player Lenny was brought top lane and first time LCS support Je Suis Kass were called in to fill in for Unlimited.

It is important to note all of these dramatic changes and events when trying to explain how a player that has had such an incredible season has ended up in Challenger once again. Freeze is immortal on Kalista. In two wins and one loss he never died, clocking in an 18.00 KDA that was never actualised. The champion became a must ban for teams going up against the Wolves. Draven, a champion whose traits require significant mastery such that very few ADCs count him in their champion pools, became another must-ban. Two games, one loss, 13 KDA. These two were his most successful champions from the spring split, holding his only positive win rates at 66% for Kalista and 75% for Draven.

From the Statline to the Rift

Is this truly representative of skill though? For example, Rekkles was putting up similarly ridiculous statlines, but actually contributed a relatively low percentage of his team’s damage in victories. Freeze did have one of those games in the now infamous Lenny backdoor against ROCCAT. In that game, Freeze held a 1/0/1 statline with 445 CS on Kalista — 73 CS over his opponent, MrRallez, on Sivir, a champion whose wave-clear makes her a valuable asset to a siege composition. However, Freeze’s damage was equal to his mid lane Irelia and the game was ultimately decided by an incredible base race by Lenny against the whole of ROCCAT. Lenny won. In fact, his Shen did more damage to the Nexus than to champions that game.

Eliminating this distinct outlier in the League of Legends landscape, Freeze is responsible for 33.9% of total damage dealt to champions in victories. This includes a 37.4% damage game as Caitlyn with Lenny on Rumble, and a 30.7% damage game as Kalista with Youngbuck on his main champion and AOE behemoth Vladimir and Soren on Azir. The current league leader in damage share for the ADC role is 29.7% from H2K’s Hjarnan. Often placed on Sivir or Corki, he is able to acquire this damage share with high AOE champions. Of course, this includes defeats as well as victories, but Freeze ended his Caitlyn game with a 14/0/4 statline and a CS differential of 49 against H2K of all teams. He can match the best.

When the Wolves won, they won on the back of one man. The Copenhagen Wolves were not giving up without one last howl, and Freeze’s echoed loudly in the ears of his opponents. Freeze was no longer the Challenger scene player that would win lane decisively and back out of full commitment to teamfights. His weaknesses had come undone. He was not Rekkles in the mid game. Freeze was nearing ever closer to the Forg1ven/Altec realm of play and he was becoming a force to be reckoned with. If you played against a team with Freeze on it, you knew who to fear.

Justification

It has to be said that Freeze requires these phenomenal statlines and damage shares to justify the amount of resources he takes. Freeze holds the third highest CS differential at 10 minutes in the EU LCS — 5.6, even above Forg1ven, a phenomenal feat considering that he is on the lowest place LCS team. His ability to stay ahead of his counterpart is exacerbated by his truly defining stat: Freeze holds the highest gold share in the entirety of the EU LCS at 28.8%. With this, he has gone from the Copenhagen Wolves’ carry to the Copenhagen Wolves’ one hope at victory and he has done his best to grant them such. His consistent play and ability to outperform his counterparts showed that he was more than just a lane proficient resource sucker. He was not a selfish player, just a well funded one.

Freeze is not the first to be in this exact situation. Forg1ven, who was soon recognised as the greatest AD carry in Europe and contender for best in the west, was borne of the same cloth and the same roster. Rekkles before him, though he was always promised a spot in Fnatic, developed on the Wolves. If Freeze wishes to find a similar situation to his own this season, he need look no further than to NA’s Altec who spent the spring with Winterfox. Winterfox went to relegations and collapsed, but Altec never stopped being the final beacon of hope on his failing team. Both Altec and Forg1ven eventually came into their own through stronger teams. Forg1ven took SK to the playoffs and Altec led Gravity in North America. Both may have fallen in the final run but neither’s skill can be truly denied now. Altec is still in the running and people anticipate his final battles with Piglet and Doublelift for the true crown of his region. He is finally there to prove himself rather than just survive.

Right now Freeze is a set of numbers that mean nothing to his standing. He is good. Undeniably so. He is far better than the team he is on and he is far better than his current predicament implies. Of all The Fallen, this one deserves his time to shine the most. Cabochard and Svenskeren have both had times in the limelight. Freeze waited in Challenger and improved. Freeze waited on the Copenhagen Wolves and stepped up. Next season he shouldn’t have to wait anymore. Next season should be his proving grounds.

*Some statistics used in this article compiled from oracleselixir.com

Michael “Veteran” Archer writes about Europe, watches European games and talks about Europe to whoever will listen. He got progressively angrier at the unfair world while writing this piece. You can follow him on Twitter.

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