Phreak Hits Grandmaster Rank Stirs Controversy

Phreak, a member of the League of Legends dev team, recently hit the Grandmaster rank. However, his choice of champion and gaming strategy has sparked a debate among players.

Phreak, a long-standing member of the team that develops League of Legends, has always been one to put his words into action when it comes to game balance. He manages to maintain a high rank in the game while also working on its development. However, the way he recently hit the Grandmaster rank has caused a stir amongst players.

Balancing a game as complex as League of Legends is no small feat. With a myriad of moving parts, the process of figuring out and troubleshooting overpowered champions or items is a time-consuming task.

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Yet, there are instances when a champion's win rate tends to remain too high over extended periods. One such example is Maokai, who benefitted a great deal from the Season 14 item changes in the support role. The introduction of items like Solstice Sleigh and Trailblazer endowed him with unparalleled initiation power, without major downsides.

Phreak Hits Grandmaster Rank Stirs Controversy ImageAlt

The controversy arose when Phreak achieved the Grandmaster rank primarily by playing the majority of his matches as Maokai. Some in the community hope that Phreak would have nerfed the champion by now, leading to their disappointment and frustration.

As of now, Maokai holds the crown as the statistically best champion in League of Legends. With a win rate of 54.18% in the Emerald+ tier, a high pick and ban rate, and no severely disadvantageous matchups in the support role, he is a power to reckon with.

Interestingly, the nerfs imposed on this champion have primarily affected his jungle role. His damage and jungle clearing abilities, albeit nerfed, don't have much impact in the support role. Therefore, while Maokai may have weakened in the jungle since Season 13, he remains powerful in the support role.

The community's irritation with Maokai was intensified when Phreak successfully hit Grandmaster ranking while playing majority matches as this champ.

While many players congratulated Phreak on his achievement, others opined that his choice of champion was more instrumental in his success than his actual skill level.

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Some went to the extent of calling Phreak a 'hardstuck player', who achieved Grandmaster rank only by exploiting the most potent role and champion in the game. They argue that his chosen champion and role are ELO-inflated and that success in these areas does not truly reflect skill.

However, several well-known creators in the space defend Phreak's achievement, asserting that reaching Grandmaster level is an impressive accomplishment, no matter what champion one plays.

One such defense comes from LS, who states that it doesn't matter if Phreak chose a strong champion to achieve a good win rate. According to him, Phreak identified a winning strategy and executed it to the level necessary to achieve his ranking. LS also criticizes the players stuck in low ranks who refrain from playing 'easy' champions like Annie because 'they think they have mechanics'.

Azael joined LS in defending Phreak, slamming naysayers who are trying to belittle the competency of the balance team members.

Phreak's strategy to opt for high win-rate characters isn't unique or uncommon among players. He's simply capitalizing on the meta's currents to his advantage. While players' frustration is understandable since Phreak is part of the balancing team, it must be understood that game updates take time.

Interestingly, Phreak's other main support pick he used to climb up the ranking, Janna, holds the second-best Emerald+ win rate, just below Maokai. It's not surprising that Phreak had a backup champion in mind, considering Maokai often gets banned.

On a final note, some adjustments to Maokai are expected in patch 14.5, which aims to steer him back into the jungle, hopefully reducing his dominance as a support champion.