14 January 2015 - 18:08
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GP10 NA LCS Spring Split Rankings: #6 Winterfox

Winterfox Projected Record: 7Wins 13Losses Roster Breakdown Top: Avalon Mid: Pobelter Jungle: Helios ADC: Altec Support: Imagine Mid laner Pobelter, the man with the legendary IQ, is one of three returning veterans who form the core o...
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Winterfox

Projected Record: 7 Wins 13 Losses

 

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Roster Breakdown

Top: Avalon

Mid: Pobelter

Jungle: Helios

ADC: Altec

Support: Imagine

 

Mid laner Pobelter, the man with the legendary IQ, is one of three returning veterans who form the core of the Winterfox (formerly known as Evil Geniuses) lineup. Although he’s been part of the high-elo scene since Season 1, Pobelter is still a very young player (only of age since the 2014 spring split) and continues to show flashes of developing into the star many think he will become. The most notable feature of Pobelter’s current play is his vast champion pool: in the 2014 summer split he played 10 champions across the 28 games, notching wins on assassins (Zed), control mages (Ziggs), lane bullies (Syndra), and more supportive mids (Lulu) alike. However, this adaptability may be costing him a bit in terms of performance, as his win rate was below fifty percent on his three most played champions (Ziggs, Syndra, and Orianna). Nevertheless, with more experience behind him as well as an offseason of training in Korea, Pobelter will continue to develop as a versatile midlane threat capable of bringing whatever Winterfox asks of him to the table in any given game.

One of the two new offseason acquisitions on the WInterfox roster, top laner Avalon doesn’t quite carry the same cachet as other recent Korean imports to North America (e.g. former World Champions Impact and Piglet). At press time, the only facts known about Avalon are as follows: 1) He is Diamond 1 in Korean solo queue and hovers around 50 LP, 2) He is jungler Helios’ brother, and 3) he is confirmed to be a fan of chicken.

Jungler Helios is the second holdover from last summer on this squad. He made his name as part of the legendary Azubu/CJ Entus Blaze teams which were among the first generation of talent coming from Korea, and was notable for being an excellent, low-economy partner for those teams’ carries. During a rough patch involving several disappointing finishes, a transfer to sister team CJ Frost, and even more poor results, he acquired a reputation for being “washed up” and no longer capable of competing at a OGN level.  In June of 2014, then-EG jungler Snoopeh announced that he was stepping back to allow Helios to try out for the team.  Although asked to step in to a situation that was perhaps suboptimal, especially in comparison to the Korean organizational standards, Helios nonetheless performed admirably for the EG squad. A particular point to watch for Helios will be his early aggression; with champions such as Lee Sin, Evelynn, and Elise among his most-picked, he clearly prioritizes being able to get his laners ahead. Nerfs and kit changes have removed the latter two of those from the meta, and the Season 5 jungle has so far seemed to penalize falling behind much more heavily. It will be interesting to see how Helios adapts to the changes and higher-stakes early game.

The Winterfox duo lane will be the most important determinant of their season.  ADC Altec is one of the brightest young stars in Western League of Legends.  Even though he had been massively hyped prior to his debut in the 2014 Summer Split, few could have predicted the extraordinary performance he would ultimately put on. 2nd in overall KDA to Shiphtur as well as 3rd in Gold per Minute behind only XiaoWeiXiao and Doublelift, Altec found his most success on the hypercarries Tristana and Kog’maw. Support Imagine, on the other hand, is a complete unknown- there is very little substantiated information at all about him at this time, and so it is impossible to draw any conclusions currently about what kind of player he will prove to be. Imagine has large shoes to fill replacing the departed Krepo, widely considered to have some of the best game sense and knowledge among Western supports. If Imagine proves to be a LCS caliber player and finds good synergy with Altec, Winterfox can look forward to having a bottom lane able to stand toe-to-toe with the region’s best. However, if he is not up to the task or a language barrier creates significant issues, a large portion of the team’s carry potential will be severely limited.

How They Got Here

After ultimately finishing 7th during the round robin stage of the Summer Split, Evil Geniuses chose challenger team Coast as their opponents during the Promotion/Relegation Tournament. Going into the matchup the Coast management chose to remove their top laner Rhux and mid laner Goldenglue, and replace them with Korean imports Miracle(top) and Ringer (mid). This was seen as a questionable move by many fans and community members, and the results of that series seemed to support those questions. In games 1 and 2, EG manhandled Coast in virtually all facets of the game, whether in rotational play, vision control, or laning. Even an inspired effort from Coast jungler Santorin in game 3 ( 6/2/3 as Lee Sin) failed to stem the EG tide, and the clean sweep was complete. Although these results combined with the aforementioned strong finish to the season (7-3 across the last four weeks) seemed to indicate better days ahead, details of substantial tensions within the team came out during the offseason, and Krepo as well as top laner InnoX decided to depart.

Biggest Headline: 

As mentioned above, little to nothing is known of Winterfox’s two imports, Avalon and Imagine. Furthermore, their new head coach Paragon is a freshly retired player from Korea. Importing three completely unknown quantities in these positions is a risky gambit, especially on a team which may face a bit of a language disconnect- although four of the five players speak Korean, Altec is not. It is easy to foresee any number of problems arising from this situation, whether communication problems in the bottom lane, poor coaching from a rookie leader, LAN jitters from either of the new players, or the imports simply not being LCS material. However, nothing is certain one way or another, and that’s the beauty of the situation: to quote a great champion, “Eyes on the horizon”.

Future Outlook

altAs things stand currently, it’s very difficult to make predictions about how Winterfox’s inaugural LCS split will develop. Altec is a strong enough ADC to put forward consistently high-caliber performances, even without significant improvement. Likewise, Helios showed the consistency of a veteran during his time with EG, and with additional time on the roster he will hopefully be able to assume more of a leadership role.  Pobelter will have more attention on him now than in previous splits- with the departure of Krepo, he is now the longest tenured member of this team, and his increased streaming presence has made him the face of the organization as well. He is known to periodically be prone to tilting and rough patches (hence the occasional revival of the “Throwbelter” moniker). Improvements in his consistency and mental game would go a very long way toward securing a positive season for Winterfox. Finally, we come to the two mystery men.  As mentioned above, the success or failure of Imagine will be a tremendous factor in the results of the season. Pairing Altec with a mid or low- tier support, even if he manages to continue to produce quality games, would still be a waste of his talent at this stage.  Avalon will not directly interact with the stars of the team as much, but his performance will be key to how other LCS teams approach attacking Winterfox.  Last season, EG dealt with Innox being a virtual nonentity in top for much of the season, which led to the rest of the map being opened for additional enemy jungler attention. Avalon’s quality as a player has already come into question from parts of the community based on his ranking- CLG’s Seraph was a top challenger in Korea but one of the weakest LCS top laners, and Avalon was not even a Masters player. However, the transition to competitive does not effect all players equally and mistake free, stable play from him is critical to Winterfox’s success on the rest of the map.

With the middle of the NALCS standings looking to be very crowded, it’s hard to say where they will end up. I am predicting a mediocre 7-13 record, with significant improvement throughout the season. Former TSM support Gleeb will be filling in for Imagine at the beginning of the season, and even though Gleeb and Altec have synergy together from their days on the Cloud 9 Tempest challenger team it still seems a bit problematic to change supports partway through the season by design. Nevertheless, in my opinion Winterfox will be one of the most exciting teams to watch in this split- between the storylines of the new imports and the occasional brilliance of Altec and Pobelter, fans of WFX should not be lacking for highlights.

Panelist Breakdown

 

Pobelter

8

8

7

7

8

7.6

Avalon

4

4

4

4

4

4

Helios

8

5

6

6

6

6.2

Altec

9

9

9

9

9

9

Imagine

4

4

5

5

5

4.6

6.28

6.6

6

6.2

6.2

6.4

6.28

Mechanical Ability

9

7

7

8

8

7.8

Shotcalling

5

4

5

5

5

4.8

Understanding of the Meta

8

5

6

6

6

6.2

Objective Control

5

4

5

5

5

4.8

Picks and Bans

5

5

5

5

5

5

5.72

6.4

5

5.6

5.8

5.8

12

 

Our panel graded Pobelter as the third-best mid in North America, in a tie with Shiphtur of Dignitas. Avalon is unknown, but his weak soloqueue rank pushed him down from the customary 5 to a 4. Helios received a variety of rankings, with positives cited being his early aggression and game knowledge, and negatives including a perceived lack of adaptability when games were not going well. Altec received nines across the board, placing him in second place to C9 Sneaky. Finally, Imagine is also an unknown and received neutral scores from the panel.

Wrap Up

Due to the unknown quantities that are Imagine and Avalon, Winterfox is very much a wild card moving forward. I personally believe they will have a rough transition to competitive play before sorting things out, and will also struggle heavily against the top NA teams. However, on the other side of the coin, the talent in their carry positions will likely be able to overwhelm the bottom of the league. Regardless, Winterfox will be very worth following to see how they integrate this new talent and adapt to the new league landscape.

Previous Breakdowns:

#7: Team Impulse

#8: Dignitas

#9: Team Coast

#10: Team 8

 

If you liked this article, follow me on Twitter @ScrapyardSavior for more content!

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