In competitive League of Legends, support has historically been the role most under-appreciated by fans and analysts alike, but perhaps now the trend is starting to shift.
Marking another successful split for Team SoloMid’s Vincent “Biofrost” Wang, the support was recognized as MVP of NA LCS Playoff Final series, a worthy accolade for his role in carrying TSM to the organization’s sixth NA LCS championship with their win over Immortals.
— lolesports (@lolesports) September 3, 2017
Right down to the grass roots of the game, every aspiring solo queue player wants to be “the carry”; the one who makes game-winning outplays and secures the victory through their individual prowess.
By contrast, almost no-one wants to be the player who empowers their teammates to succeed (and is thus reliant upon them to do well).
In competitive play, the support role is often undervalued by fans, as few of us are circumspect enough in our commentary to appreciate the ways in which a good support secures vision, aides their jungler’s tracking of enemy players and facilitates objective control.
Indeed, it was only with the rise of supports like Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong and Samsung White in 2014 that the professional scene itself began to take notice of the importance of a support capable of controlling the map.
The untrained eye is, however, drawn to notice the incredible engages or picks that supports often make. We remember with fondness a time when we all knew a little less about the game and were awestruck by the playmaking abilities of star supports like Hong “MadLife” Min-gi, who seemed like an endless highlight reel of Thresh plays in his heydey.
In the 2017 Summer Finals versus Immortals, however, Biofrost demonstrated both of these supportive attributes, empowering and playmaking, and thus deserved the MVP award for the series.
Game 1 of the series saw Biofrost and TSM’s AD Carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng drawing their jungler, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen down to the bot lane for repeated ganks in order to snowball the game.
In these skirmishes, it was Biofrost’s vision control that allowed Svenskeren to get the ganks off and it was his confident engages on Rakan that facilitated his team getting ahead.
Though Games 2 and 3 saw considerably less eye-catching play from Biofrost, but the kind of movements around the map and attempts at vision control that speaks volumes to his quality.
In Game 4 of the series, however, in one of the most impressive comebacks in recent memory, Biofrost was able to find key engages on the carries of Immortals, Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Li “Cody Sun” Yu Sun, and was able to steer his team towards victory, snatching it back from what seemed like certain defeat through flashy in-and-out gameplay on Rakan.
— lolesports (@lolesports) September 3, 2017
Biofrost posted an incredible 100% kill-participation score in that game and impressive stats overall for a support.
Dayum Biofrost stats. 100% on that final game. pic.twitter.com/Rff6ILSGWW
— Karma Police (@GabThePainter) September 4, 2017
This series was particularly important as Biofrost was in the head-to-head matchup against the support for Immortals, Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, whose play throughout the 2017 Summer Split lead many to consider him as a candidate for the MVP award.
Indeed, speaking to Inven Global in August, Biofrost himself emphasised the indispensable role that Olleh played on Immortals, describing him as the true carry of his team.
Olleh’s play in the final was also impressive, helping his team secure early leads in Games 2 and 4, protecting his team with his Tahm Kench, and averaging close to 2 wards per minute throughout the series (whereas Biofrost hung around 1.2).
In practical terms, however, this translated to losses where TSM were the ones gaining early leads (in Game 1) and close fights for vision, particularly in Games 3 and 4 where both teams found themselves locked in long dances around the Baron pit.
However, despite Olleh putting up a good fight, it was Biofrost who was better able to solidify the conditions for his team’s victory, showing North America what a good Support can do.
Sometimes it’s not about being the most mechanically skilled player or dealing the most damage or even placing the most wards, but being the right player for your team at the right time. Biofrost’s clutch play in Game 4 shows that he can be exactly who TSM needs when everything is on the line.
Biofrost’s career thus far has seen him win the NA LCS championship three times with Team SoloMid, the first being in his rookie NA LCS split back in Summer 2016, for which he also earned the Rookie of the Split Award.
Only time will tell what else is in store for the young support, but for now, we can reflect upon his solid and MVP worthy performance in his third consecutive NA LCS Playoff victory.