Looking Back At Airwaks: Thick Atmosphere, And Out Of Air
Karim "Airwaks" Benghalia is one of THE most underappreciated junglers in Europe right now. He and Soren "Soren" Frederiksen straight up carried CW out of relegation matches last year against H2K (Once promising challenger team, now standout European powerhouse impressing viewers worldwide) and has been the shining light on Copenhagen Wolves these last few weeks, though some props to Soren too. It's been very clear how desperate and hard he's been trying to save CW after the Karl "Dentist" Krey and Martin "Deficio" Lynge fiasco, and in the coming weeks and months to come, he could be rewarded.
To speak on Airwaks criticized performance (or just flat out under the radar?) specifically, Joey "YoungBuck" Steltenpool is his top laner, and Aleš "Freeze" Kn?žínek and Petar "Unlimited" Georgiev is his duo lane. It's important, as a jungler, to analyse his teams play and how it affects him. Youngbuck may be a great guy, great leader and all around positive force on the team, but he rarely provides a net positive in game outside of the aforementioned qualities.
The entire CW organisation has had positive things to say about YoungBuck's presence on the team, they've acknowledged and deflected the criticism. However YoungBuck's inability to be a consistent carry, but attention he draws from Airwaks to not be a negative force hurts the team, especially when you consider Freeze as a primary carry. Primary carries REQUIRE attention. YoungBuck's meagre 1.8 KDA is telling of his individual performance, especially in such a top lane driven meta. 5 good players a bad team does not make.
As for the bottom lane, at first you see Freeze, Freeze individually can be considered, and is, a strong individual player. With resources he can carry, with Youngbuck drawing Airwaks away, he cannot. With the exception of a few stellar performances on LANE BULLIES, (Kalista and Annie) Freeze and Unlimited cannot be considered a strong duo lane.
Unlimited is a player who has been, and is criticized heavily. From inexplicable deaths, poor vision and average to bad shot calling, it's easy to understand why. If he's not a large voice on the team in terms of shot calling as a support player, the role he has in this team is undefined. In the current state of the game shot calling is a role assigned to support, unless of course a team has an existing shot caller elsewhere or the support is an exceptional talent. It's fair to say Unlimited has stood out for all the wrong reasons, sporting the lowest KDA (1.5) on CW this season. To contrast, his star pairing Freeze has achieved a 3.6 KDA on a struggling roster.
This divided attention between the lanes is hurting Airwaks, and the Copenhagen Wolves. Even former jungler Maurice "Amazing" Stückenschneider, and former AD Carry Konstantinos "Forg1ven" Tzortziou have been seen on twitter joking about the cries both bot lane and top lane have had in regards to jungle pressure. Though they were framed as jokes about a very different CW roster, it seems like a trend in CW's LCS history.
To contrast them to North American frontrunners Counter Logic Gaming, who has carry threats in every lane, Jake "Xmithie" Puchero CAN divide his attention between lanes effectively. All lanes have proven to be consistent carry threats so far in the regular season who can work with a little, and gain a lot. Their early game play is as crisp as ever.
Despite all of this, Airwaks has achieved a 2.3 KDA on this struggling roster, second highest on the team, from the jungle. While not the most impressive as an individual stat, beating out struggling Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen and Danil "Diamondprox" Reshetnikov, he was never meant to be their star player. His Gold Per Minute is understandably low on a losing team, but his kill participation is 3rd in EU LCS at 73.2%, behind Marcel "Dexter" Feldkamp (76.9%) and Amazing (74%). For comparison, Kim "Reignover" Ui-jin is at a surprising low of 66.4%, though that can be attributed easily to his team's ability to make strong solo, and skirmish plays.
Perhaps the most surprising statistic to touch on is his damage share to champions across the jungle role. Airwaks sports a massive first place 18.1% of his teams damage, compared to second place Unicorns of Love's Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek (another often undervalued jungler) at 17.4%. Even that is a whole percent higher than third place's Svenskeren.
Regardless, it would be unfair on the team to not at least mention what was probably the biggest factor in Copenhagen Wolves decline. In the beginning of the split, Copenhagen Wolves WAS decently promising in the middle of the pack. It was immediately after the suspension of their coach, Dentist, when he and Deficio mishandled their circumstance, that their run at European playoffs could only be described as walking off a cliff.
With all that said though, Airwaks' ability to step up when times are tough, now and in the dominating relegation matches against H2K, should be commended. As should the decision to step down from the CW roster when the atmosphere in the Copenhagen Wolves seems counterproductive to a healthy environment, one that shouldn't be looking to squander his potential talents.
Big thanks to Oracleselixir.com for the statistics. A great resource.