Rumors of Froggen’s Decline Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Froggen is one of League of Legends’ first icons in the competitive scene – and many have chronicled his skills, strengths, and past achievements (1, 2, 3). While his past success is irrefutable, this season has generated speculation that Froggen is no longer one of the elite midlaners in Europe. Many have gone so far as to say that he is average at best. It is my assumption that these claims materialized not only due to Elements’ substandard year in the LCS, but more importantly because of Thorin’s proclamation that Froggen is the best Western player ever, even ranking him at #7 in his top 20 League players of all-time. Usually when a popular figure makes an opinion on a team or player, it creates a counter-reaction to contend said opinion. A similar case happened in Season 4 when popular League personalities Froskurinn, Kelsey Moser, and MonteCristo declared Namei as the best ADC going into Worlds.
Once again, there is a disparity between the community’s opinion of a player’s ability and what his performances actually tell us.
Dispelling the Passive Myth
Froggen has been associated with the term “passive” - typically because he does not create advantages for his team by roaming or making plays. This assumption is based on a false premise that the definition of “passive” is restricted to whether a midlaner roams or makes a play in lane. However, passivity is the “acceptance of what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.” This definition does not fit Froggen’s play style at all. As explained by Incarnati0n in this Thorin interview, Froggen plays a controlled lane, constantly pressuring the enemy midlaner and creating a gold lead through CS. Effectively, Froggen sets the lane’s tempo and his counterpart is forced to play his tune.
Later on in the interview, Incarnati0n also explains how midlane is not a 1v1 lane anymore and notes that “plays” are heavily reliant on jungler pressure. It is very rare these days that you see a midlaner create individual plays consistently, especially in a non-assassin meta. Incarnati0n even goes on to claim that without jungle pressure, Froggen's style is superior.
Froggen has the Largest Gold Lead at 10 minutes of all Midlaners
In this summer split, Froggen is 1st in gold difference at 10 mins (181g; league midlaner average = 0g). What is more impressive is that Froggen is able to accomplish this lead even when his team is underperforming:
Froggen is the only midlaner in the EULCS that creates a gold advantage for himself at 10 minutes while his team is behind in total gold. In addition, the average time it takes for Elements to destroy their first turret is 12.9 minutes (2nd worst in the EULCS). Suggesting that his gold income comes elsewhere. Interestingly, however, his CS advantage is not his only source of income early on. Froggen has been a part of 7 enemy kills at 10 minutes (6 kills; 1 assist - third highest of EULCS midlaners). This indicates that Froggen can and will get aggressive if his jungler presents that opportunity, which contradicts the "Froggen is passive" argument.
Froggen Converts his Gold to Damage
Sure, Froggen gets a gold lead, but does he do anything with it? The answer is yes and more.
AKP = Average Kill Participation DPM = Damage Per Minute EGPM = Earned Gold per Minute WPM = Wards Placed Per Minute
Counter to the “passive” argument once again, Froggen has the 2nd highest average kill participation of all EULCS midlaners, suggesting he has a more central role in his team than other midlaners do. Froggen is also tied at 3rd with Febiven in damage dealt per minute (100 more damage than the LCS midlaner average), behind only PePiiNeRo and xPeke. At the same time, Froggen also has the highest team damage percentage of any other midlaner in the league and 4.1% higher than the league’s average. These two damage stats indicate that 1. Froggen’s teammates have not been outputting enough damage and that 2. Froggen is not only outputting more damage than his teammates to compensate, but he is also doing as much damage per minute as the other top midlaners in the EULCS. He also does this with less gold earned per minute than the midlaners in the top 3 teams. To top it off, Froggen also places the most wards out of any other EULCS midlaner.
These are not the stats of a passive player.
An example of a passive player is Dignitas’ Shiphtur. Shiphur is consistently behind in CS at 10 minutes (-7 CS), has one of the lowest average gold differences at 10 minutes (-86g), and has the lowest average DPM of any NALCS midlaner (459). He loses lane, loses midlane pressure, and cannot afford much to his team later on. Once again: passivity is the acceptance of what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance – and Froggen is anything but that.
Froggen's Champion Pool
Furthermore, I wanted to control for damage per minute beyond game length, so I looked up the midlane champions that have done 600+ damage per minute in all regions (LPL data is not available). Those champions in order are: Kogmaw, Ezreal, Xerath, Varus, and Jayce (Note: champions must have been played at least 4 games).
The table above shows that Froggen has not utilized many high DPM poke champions to skew his damage charts – playing Kogmaw and Varus in only 19% of his games. The biggest abuser of these champions is PePiiNeRo, who has played them in 50% of his games! (PePiiNeRo also has the highest DPM in the EULCS at 813).
Furthermore, Froggen has played 6 other champions in his 16 games, including Vladimir, Ekko, Viktor, Azir, Ryze, Kassadin, and Twisted Fate - a consistent sign of his flexibility to play different champions from poke to control mages to assassins.
If Froggen Is This Good, Why Are Elements 8th?
This question goes back to the gold difference graph above. On average, Elements are down 242 gold at 10 minutes (3rd worst in EULCS) and are very late in taking down their first turret. The bigger problem then lies within the other members of Elements.
While Dexter has been involved in 19 kills pre-10 minutes to get lanes ahead (3rd highest of EULCS junglers), Tabzz and Jwaow rank below average in CS@10, DPM, DMG%, and GD@10. This means that Froggen is the only carry threat potential on Elements, which is a big flaw in a team dynamic because you need two consistent carries to ensure that 1. You will have at least two winning/even lanes going into the midgame and that 2. You will not need to rely on one good damage source in a team fight.
Either due to underperformance or a lack of early game strategy knowledge, Elements’ early deficit makes it very difficult for Froggen to impact the game more than he already has (1st in GD@10, 3rd in DPM, 1st in DMG%). Therefore, it is up to the rest of Elements to step up in the early game and for one of Jwaow or Tabzz to become a carry threat, so that Froggen’s early game creates a bigger impact in the midgame.
Full disclosure: I, too, did not rate Froggen. He never seemed to impact a game when I watched him – but the spectator camera doesn’t capture everything. Sometimes you have to sift through the numbers, the context surrounding the player, the player’s play style, what that play style brings to the team’s dynamic, the team around the player and how the team plays out the early game as they transition into the midgame. Through all of that what I found is a midlaner who still creates a supreme early game advantage over his counterpart with his controlled style. What I found is a midlaner who outputs as much damage as Febiven or PePiiNero, despite his team’s extreme gold disadvantage. What I found is a midlaner who has the ability to impact the game, but is not provided that opportunity by his team.
What I have found is that Froggen is still one of the best midlaners in the West.