Aleš "Freeze" Kněžínek has been part of the League of Legends competitive scene for three years, and he has seen many teams rise and fall, including his own. But this time is different -- different from the 2013 Ninjas in Pyjamas, 2014 Challenger Series or the 2015 Copenhagen Wolves.
He tried to join the North American circuit for a while, and the freshly-qualified Renegades sought his services after CW's collapse. "At that point, I got an offer from a NA LCS team, and I was excited," Freeze explained. "I wanted to try playing versus all these NA teams and mainly see how NA is. All I can say is I enjoyed it [very] much and I would do it again."
Six months later, he decided to put on H2K Gaming's jersey.
Despite his best efforts, Ninjas in Pyjamas, the Copenhagen Wolves and the Renegades experienced (or came close to) the bitter taste of relegations while he shined as one of the few redeeming factors. On H2K Gaming, he finds himself on the verge of winning and maybe journeying to the World Championship later this year. Head coach Neil "PR0LLY" Hammad has already stated his excitement and expectations for the flexible AD carry.
That flexibility came from skill and adaptation, two of his best qualities.
His skill shined in the 2015 LCS spring split, when the Copenhagen Wolves made the playoffs off Freeze's plays. "It comes down from me playing in the spring split of 2015 when AD carry was the most broken role. You could basically 1v9 with AD carry. The [Copenhagen Wolves] put a lot of gold into me for me to get ahead. At that point, I felt super strong carrying every game. It was super easy to carry games with AD carry."
When Riot's balance changes axed AD carries and promoted tanks, juggernauts and recently buffed mages, he quickly pinpointed that he would do more harm than good if he demanded the same levels of attention from his team.
"If I get ahead compared to another AD carry, I will have way less impact than if our top laner or mid laner gets ahead compared to the enemy laner," he elaborates. "The difference in how much these two roles have compared to AD carry, if the AD carry gets ahead, is significant. For me, I'd rather lose lane, get behind, and win the game. The enemy AD carry is not going to do much with the advantage he has, and our solo laners will do more."
His past teammates within the Renegades organization could not have asked for a better teammate. In fact, he would have stayed with the Renegades following the team's acquisition of Seraph and Ninja and the ensuing seven-win streak. "I got notified by management that they will not keep Seraph and Ninja, which made me look to other options and not stay," he stated.
"For me, I'd rather lose lane, get behind, and win the game. The enemy AD carry is not going to do much with the advantage he has, and our solo laners will do more." Freeze
His current team, H2K Gaming, developed an efficient communication system in his absence. PR0LLY relied on his primary shot callers, Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu and Yoo "Ryu" Sang-wook, as much as he relied on Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski's jungle objective-related calls and Oskar "VandeR" Bogdan's vision-related calls. Freeze agrees with that approach and explains, "Everyone has a different role and a different aspect on how to support the team and make calls. If you had one shot caller -- unless you have Hai or Aphromoo -- it's too much to handle."
He also agrees with PR0LLY's way of improving the team's individuals on Summoner's Rift. His previous coaches merely pointed out mistakes, offering little in terms of improvement. By contrast, PR0LLY makes players think about mistakes until the issue is resolved. "What PR0LLY does very well is he tries to force the player into responding [when] he made a mistake," Freeze notes. "That way, if he tells me I did a mistake, he doesn't tell me how I should do it [correctly], but he says 'tell me how you should do it otherwise.'"
Food for thought: his first game back in Europe against ROCCAT -- a game where he delivered a 2/4/2 KDA score. "In that game, I threw [it]. I played horribly, let's be honest. We would have won if I didn't get caught."
But players who are willing to improve and are willing to take criticism -- that includes his new bot lane partner VandeR -- are valuable. Although he fancies taking on the region's best bottom lane -- according to him, G2's mithy and Zven -- he is aware of the work that lies ahead of him. "It usually takes a long time with a new support [and AD carry] to get used to each other. But I see we're both very dedicated players, and we take criticism lightly and try to learn from it."
If anything, H2K's trouncing of ROCCAT in the second game of the series helped the duo move towards that goal. It also helped brush off their defeat. "We knew it was a player mistake and that it shouldn't happen anymore, so we were going with the same strategy for the second game because we knew we were the better team. And if we didn't do the same mistakes, we would win."
Did that change his expectations going into this split? Not the slightest. He had expected adversity as much as he had expected comfort. "While in NA I was hanging around my team. Here, I can just hang out with everyone."
When asked about his competition in the EU LCS, Freeze replies, "The EU bot lanes are pretty stacked up. We have FORG1VEN and Hybrid, and we have mithy and Niels. These are super good bot lanes, and I feel I will learn a lot playing them in the LCS."