GP10 EU LCS Spring Split Rankings: #10 Copenhagen Wolves
Predicted Record: 5 wins 13 losses
Team captain and top laner YoungBuck is generally regarded as a lower-tier top laner in the EULCS. However, he has occasionally shown flashes of solid ability on aggressive toplaners- his Renekton and Trundle in particular. A Renekton resurgence (the champion has seen recent play in OGN Spring and LMS) combined with the debut of Gnar, another strong lane bully, may help boost YoungBuck up the rankings of European top laners. This would go a long way toward protecting the Wolves' carries from absorbing so many targeted bans.
Airwaks is an aggressive jungler who tends to favor a high-gank, low-economy style. Priority picks for him in the past have included Lee Sin and Kha’zix. He is quite mechanically solid, but occasionally struggles with decision making and judgment. With additional experience and an offseason under his belt, he will come out expected to be an average LCS jungler with the potential to move up to above-average.
When former mid laner cowTard made the decision to step down during the Summer Split, free agent Soren was recruited to be his replacement. Unfortunately, the team had a very rough 1-7 record following the switch, including a tough loss to Gambit Gaming in the tiebreaker for seventh place. Soren showed an affinity for picking mainly passive and farm-oriented midlaners, such as Ryze, Orianna, and Ziggs. The return of assassins to the meta may prove to be a challenge to his champion pool, and questions about whether he will be able to hold up in lane against top-tier mids remain.
The most likely engine of the Wolves' victories this season will be their bottom lane. Freeze and Unlimited will likely combine to give the Wolves a solidly average duo with good champion pools and adaptive playstyles. Unlimited is unequivocally ranked as the weak link of CW by our panel, with an average rating of just 3 out of 10. His Thresh was a particular sore spot in the summer split, with a 1-7 record on the champion. However, he has proven reasonably capable on tankier supports such as Leona and Braum, and a switch to a more defensive style of supporting would be likely be advisable. Freeze is a longtime veteran of the professional scene, and has dependably shown results at each stop on his journey. He will be stepping into the role vacated by Woolite (now with ROCCAT) as the primary carry of the team, and will likely be relied on heavily considering the middling talent and inexperience of the rest of the roster.
How They Got Here:
Copenhagen Wolves made their most recent competitive appearance in the EU promotion/relegation tournament, defending their LCS spot against the well-regarded H2K Gaming squad. Although the popular opinion was that the series would be closely contested, a Game 1 CW win by dint of superior rotational and objective play seemed to throw H2K off their game, and CW were able to easily take games 2 and 3 to close out an easy series sweep. On an individual level, the biggest positive sign for CW was the play of Soren. He was able to outplay now-Fnatic midlaner Febiven in two of the three games, and lane evenly as Ziggs against Ahri in the other. Although he did not put up especially large kill numbers, quiet skill and consistency against a LCS-caliber mid were a very encouraging sign for the young midlaner. YoungBuck also turned in strong performances on Maokai and Dr. Mundo against H2K's Odoamne (who our panel has graded as roughly average), and the team's pick/ban phase looked generally strong. After this series, Woolite departed to join ROCCAT, and Freeze was signed from free agency to replace him.
Biggest Headline: Thawing the Freeze Curse
ADC Freeze has a reputation for being an excellent player with serious bad luck. After distinguishing himself during his initial LCS split with Ninjas in Pajamas, his team was relegated from sixth place due to picking Kiedys Mialem Team (later ROCCAT) as their opponent in the relegation tournament. ROCCAT would dispatch NiP 3-0 and then go on to become one of the stronger LCS teams immediately upon their arrival. Incredibly, NiP were then given a chance to reclaim their LCS spot when Lemondogs were removed from the LCS due to not submitting the correct paperwork. Even more incredibly, the Ninjas were then denied the ability to even play for that spot when top laner Zorozero failed to patch his tournament client properly.
Ninjas in Pajamas looked extremely strong in the challenger scene during the 2014 spring split. With the additions of Zorozero, midlaner Nukeduck, and support Mithy from the Lemondogs team, Freeze had a strong roster around him and seemed to be set for a return to the LCS with a team that was potentially even better than the one ambushed by KMT. Easily qualifying for the promotion tournament, they were passed over by the 6th and 7th place LCS squads and matched up against 8th place Millennium. The series produced a number of memorable games, including a 72 minute Millennium victory in Game 2, and was tied 2-2 going into the deciding Game 5. Although the game was close and tense in terms of kills (5-5 at 51 minutes), Millennium played a vastly superior objective game and gradually used map pressure to suffocate NiP, closing out the series with a 4 for 1 teamfight in the NiP base.
To add insult to injury, a month and a half later Nukeduck and Mithy received competition bans from Riot, and Zorozero chose to retire to pursue his education. This left Freeze teamless, and the failure of a subsequent attempt to import Alex Ich and resurrect him as a top laner only solidified the mythology of the “Freeze Curse”. Now that he has been signed directly to the LCS, in a situation where he will be under huge pressure to perform, can Freeze truly shake the curse? Only time will tell.
As things stand currently, Copenhagen Wolves have the lowest aggregate score by quite a bit among our EU panelists. However, this is far from a hopeless roster. Airwaks and Soren have shown brief flashes of excellent play, and can be expected to improve with the additional experience in LAN settings. YoungBuck and Unlimited have been successful in the past when they stick to their playstyles, and Freeze is damn good. Even more importantly, the H2K team that they dismantled in the promotion tournament looked worlds ahead of all the other teams in the later Expansion Tournament even with a roster change (Trashy out, Loulex in). If CW can retain that form, they could manage to pull off several victories over the new teams while occasionally stealing wins from the established ones.
However, the key to accomplishing that will be consistency. Despite several of the players being older chronologically than their peers (YoungBuck is 23, Unlimited is 24), this is a very young LCS roster. Soren and Airwaks were rookies last split, while Freeze only has one split of experience. Even the old men of the squad have only two splits of experience each. Even though there is certainly talent evident here, it seems much more likely that this split will be a very rough ride for the Wolves.
On aggregate, Copenhagen Wolves earned the lowest team score in the EULCS by nearly a full point, with their 8.88 behind GIANTS' 9.6. Unlimited was ranked as the worst player in the entire league at an average of 3, with YoungBuck taking the crown of third-worst with a 3.6 average. Soren is rated a 4.4, and he, YoungBuck, and Unlimited all graded as the worst players at their position. Airwaks, at a 4.8, is rated as the 7th best jungler. Freeze's 7 ranks him as both the best player on his team and the 5th best ADC in the EULCS (tied with P1noy of Gambit).
CW were not looked on favorably by our panel, and there are a number of factors which went into that decision. However, it is entirely possible that additional experience and seasoning will give them a chance to play spoiler and show much stronger than expected. Their showing in the promotion/relegation tournament was a good step, but they need to prove that they can sustain that level of play with Freeze instead of Woolite.