One of the most notable transactions between the spring and summer split of the League of Legends Championship Series was AD Carry Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek’s move to H2K Gaming in Europe, replacing Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou.
Freeze came from Renegades, a North American team forced to sell its LCS slot. He was replacing the highly skilled FORG1VEN, who has since retired — at least for now — from professional play. Slingshot’s Alexandre “DrPuppet” Weber had the chance to talk with Freeze about the current ADC meta, transitioning from NA to EU and the current state of the game in the EU LCS.
Alexandre “DrPuppet” Weber: How are you doing? Are your hand problems solved?
Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek: I’m OK. I’m still waiting for my MRI appointment to be able to find out what is wrong with my hand. So far I have been doing physiotherapy but it only helps a little. So I will have to wait.
AW: You started your career getting really famous for your mechanics and your Draven play. How do you see Draven in the current meta?
AK: I think it is really good, since the meta shifted from playing tanky champions which made it a bit hard for him, so I think he is really good.
AW: What are your thoughts on the current state of the AD carry meta?
AK: I think it is in a very good state right now. It is slightly balanced. It isn’t op or anything. Let’s say the current state of balancement for the AD carry role would be 55 percent, which is really good right now. So you can carry games, help your team and you are basically every game important. That’s why I think it is pretty good right now.
AW: Why are teams prioritizing Jhin so highly as off lately? Do you think the state of AD Carry viable champions is also in a healthy state?
AK: One of the reasons teams started prioritizing Jhin is his high ability to make plays. The second one is that Jhin builds a full armor penetration build. The thing when you build full armor penetration versus squishy targets, they will always gets destroyed by it. And playing champions that benefit a lot from Armor penetration heavy builds are really strong in the current meta. In the case of Jhin you also add every 15 seconds he has a playmaking ability with his high range snare and Ultimate. It’s pretty cool to play, always very effective and you can carry a lot of games with him.
AW: Taking this into account, would you change anything in the current AD Carry meta?
AK: No I like it the way it is. Before in the tank meta the situation for AD Carries was pretty bad, but right now after some balance changes Riot Games made it is pretty good.
AW: Looking a bit more into your career, in your last stop you played for Renegades in NA. How was it to play in NA?
AK: I enjoyed it a lot, I always wanted to play in North America. It was a very pleasant experience.
AW: Would you say there is currently a better region between EU and NA?
AK: The whole infrastructure, number of fans and fan interaction is North America much better than here in Europe. But in terms of gameplay I would simply say that both regions are just different. None of them are better than its counterpart, they just see and play the game in a different way. While EU is super focused in micro and outplaying the opponent, NA is mainly focused on macro. I don’t mean NA is necessarily better in macro than EU, but this is their in game stylistic preference.
AW : How was it then for you as a player to make the transition between EU to NA and then back from NA to EU?
AK: It was much easier to transit to NA, since the game in NA is slower and there is not much fighting and outplaying. So it was easier to transfer from EU play style to NA play style. You just play the game and you don’t have to change much. You simply have to focus a bit more on macro. Transferring from NA to EU is horrible. You switch from a quieter region to a region where everyone fights everyone. While in NA you follow the game plan more strict, in EU you don’t follow it as much. In EU if you see someone you want to kill, you try to kill him and it brings a lot of chaos. It is uncomfortable at first but with a bit of time you get used to it and it becomes a normal thing.
AW: Do you think this comes from european solo queue culture?
AK: It is basically the core of the problem, because in North American solo queue people don’t like to make plays. They are scared. That is how I felt when I started playing in NA solo queue. People were scared to try something. This was the biggest problem. They didn’t want to do plays.
AW: Let’s take a look into your team experience over in North America. You played in North America with two very different Renegades lineups mixed with rookies and experienced players. While the first one was filled more with LCS newcomers, the second one had a more experienced roster, but you played bot lane with the LCS newcomer Hakuho, and now you come to H2K where everyone has a few splits of LCS worth of experience. How would you describe the stylistic and environmental differences of Renegades and H2K?
AK: There is a big difference on who has the bigger voice in the team and how players want to play the game. While playing for Renegades, I was basically the voice of the team and the game was playing according to me and in H2K I have to adapt to the way they want to play.
AW: Was it in any situation difficult for you to adapt?
AK: Yes, of course. This was one of the most difficult parts of playing for H2K. In Renegades, the team was playing around me all the time so when I joined H2K I had to get used to have as much impact into the game while also not getting nearly as much resources in game as I had in Renegades. It is very hard transferring from getting a lot of resources into getting almost the least ones.
AW: How would you describe your experience playing with the less experienced player Hakuho and then switching to the far more experienced support player Vander? How different was it for you?
AK: In the beginning, it was a bit hard to play with Hakuho, because he was missing the “GO” button. He didn’t know when to engage, how to fight and what to do, so he was very passive and he didn’t use it as his voice. Then after some time he started improving and making his own calls, which you need to have as a support since you are the eyes and ears of the bot lane. You have to make plays and calls otherwise it doesn’t work. Going into H2K it work from the start since Vander is a playmaking support. It was very different since I didn’t to do any calls, I just had to follow.
AW: Was it much better for you as a player, or could you handle shot-calling as an ADC without a problem?
AK: Making calls was very difficult for me. In EU the support says and does everything, however in NA the AD Carry runs the bot lane. The AD Carry makes calls, the AD Carry makes plays. He does everything basically, so this was very difficult at the beginning.
Anyways after a while I got used to it and it was fine.
AW: Now let’s head back to Europe, since you played already five weeks worth of LCS with H2K. How would you describe the team atmosphere? How is to live and work with Prolly and the other four players?
AK: It is pretty fun and friendly. We didn’t have any kind of problems in the team. It was only me adjusting to having to play in game with less resources. Otherwise the only problem I ever had is understanding Ryu, since he has a very strong Korean accent on his English.
AW: You guys are currently at third place, but in the first two weeks you didn’t lose one series and started the split really well. Who do you think is currently the strongest team in the European LCS and why?
AK: I think it is G2 Esports by far. I think they have a better play style plus they all look to make plays.
AW: Would you currently rank H2K better than the second place team Fnatic right now?
AK: It is hard to tell, Fnatic is constantly improving on a weekly basis. So it is really hard to tell who is better, because it is different every week.
AW: How far do you see H2K going this split? Do you think you can make the finals?
AK: I’m not too sure about finals. It will depend a lot on how we improve as a team. However playoffs are definitely in there and if we focus on proving through playoffs, it is doable to reach finals.
AW: How much is your hand injury influencing your current performance?
AK: I never got affected so much in my life. League is my Life and I can’t do it properly right now. It is indescribable how much it affects me.
AW: Thanks for your time and for the interview. We hope you get well soon. Do you have any shout outs left?
AK: Thank you a lot for supporting me even though I haven’t been performing as well as I could. And of course for keeping the hopes up for H2K. Thanks a lot, guys.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.