Swiss Smash in the COVID-Era #7: LK DeepFreeze

“Swiss Smash in the COVID-Era” is a series of interviews with some of the best players in Switzerland, figuring out how they are dealing with the “COVID-Era” (from March 2020 until the present days of 2021) and its absence of offline tournaments and how they are preparing for the return of offline events in the foreseeable future.

LK DeepFreeze at Saint Smash

DeepFreeze (@DeepFreezeIV) is a Joker player, known for his previous main Falco, from Derendingen (Solothurn), playing for Lostik. He was ranked 5th on the 2019 Swiss Smash PR, but his performance in 2020 exceeded that rank, with him winning multiple tournaments. The second lockdown gave “the giant” time to prepare his new main so he can continue to stomp his competition.

How did COVID affect your private life?
When COVID hit I had just finished my apprenticeship as computer scientist in application development. I couldn’t stay with my employer, so I was unemployed for a while and just stayed at home. It was alright for me, but I missed hanging out with my friends and what I missed the most were tournaments. Staying at home allowed me to catch up on things that I didn’t have time for before. I started reading some books, but for the most part I just played even more Smash. I was able to work on my habits and I modded my Switch to use the training mode modpack where I started labbing a variety of things. It’s a lot better than the normal training mode because it gives you such a large variety of options to choose from so you can test almost everything.

How did you play Smash during the lockdowns with no tournaments and all?
As I already mentioned, I’ve been playing around with training mode on a daily basis because it is offline movement, even though you’re not facing anybody. Other than that, I played online. I’ve been playing a lot of online with SickBoy, almost every day. And once or twice a month I tried to visit somebody to play some offline. Even before COVID I was mainly practicing using online arenas where I played against people I know. I always thought this was the best way to practice and if nobody is up for some games, I would play some Quickplay.

If you’re practicing mostly in online arenas, did you use the European All Stars Discord for example?
Yeah. I either played with friends from Switzerland or with people from the European All Stars Discord or Quickplay if nothing else worked out. That was basically my priority list.

Did you try Yuzu*?
*Yuzu is a PC-emulated version of the game that, together with Parsec allows you to play online with less of the known issues, like lag. You can learn more here.
I tried it a bit as client with SickBoy hosting because my PC is too bad to host myself. I haven’t used Yuzu for a while now, but I really should, it’s a really cool thing to have. There are some issues with it though, especially as a client my framerate wasn’t that great, but it’s a lot better than online. So, I should really use it more and also upgrade my PC so I can host.

You’ve played in very few online tournaments. What motivated you to participate in those few, like the Smash World Tour, for example?
Hard to say, maybe I was missing tournaments too much. On online tournaments in general: I don’t think they’re bad, but you need the right mindset to play in them. You need to adjust your expectations, you have to accept that it might lag in a crucial moment, and you could lose the game because of that. Things like that can tilt you easily which then makes you lose even harder. My issue is that whenever I participate in a tournament, I’m always tryharding, I want to absolutely win it and the environment of online tournaments is just not very healthy for that kind of approach. I’m happy that offline tournaments are about to be coming back. I participated in the Smash World Tour mainly just to give it a try, I had no real expectations. But it’s obviously very nice if you make it really far in that kind of tournament, because so many people entered. For the other online tournaments, I think it was to get some experience and test my nerves in a tournament setting, because I just recently switched to Joker. But I don’t plan on entering more.

You said you played some offline too. Who did you play with?
I mostly played with Karpador64 and Mistic. I had to travel a bit, but it’s worth it for being able to practice offline. In the last two months I’ve been traveling to grind offline almost every weekend. So I’m kind of busy. I’m also going to play against Neo in Geneva in the near future (as a part of the “Swiss Series – Couch Edition” by Benooou. More information at the end of the interview.)

You switched characters. When did you decide to play Joker?
It was about one or two months after my last offline tournament in 2020. I’ve always wanted to move away from Falco, but then I’ve always returned to him. In the past I’ve tried Wolf, Fox, Diddy Kong and Joker. The reason I wanted to switch was because I enjoy the game a lot more with a better character, where I have to think less about the matchups and where I’m not thinking about my character being not that great. Falco might be high tier, but I enjoy the game a lot more if I can just simply play a top tier character and think “wow this character is broken”. After a month of no tournaments, I thought to myself that this would be a good time to switch characters. If you switch during tournament season your results are going to be worse because you’re lacking experience and such. But now that I was at home, I had nothing to lose and could completely switch characters and only focus on one. I had already played a bit of Joker, he’s a really good character and I enjoy playing him a lot.

Was there anything you felt that Falco is missing?
I don’t think there’s anything specific that Falco is lacking. In Smash4 I was playing Fox and he was really good in that game. He destroyed any character that wasn’t considered top tier and maybe had a few slightly losing matchups. That was really nice for me, I never had any thoughts about needing a secondary. Maybe towards the end against Luigi, but that was a special case. And now in Ultimate I noticed that I had a lot more fun back then. Especially when I was losing with Falco. It might have been because I was the worse player, but I felt as if my mind was clouded by the thought of my character not being that great. That took away some of my fun and also some of my motivation to get better at the game, because this excuse was always available to me. I’ve tried to switch in the past but results mattered way too much for me and so I went back to Falco. But now I must say, I’m happy that I’m playing a broken character like Joker. There might be people out there calling you a “tier-whore” for making a character swap like that, but in my opinion, you’re doing the right thing by picking a top tier character.

How do you approach learning a new character? You’ve played Joker before, but it’s a bit different when you’re making it your solo main.
In the beginning I just played a lot to get a basic understanding of the character. I didn’t think too much about my gameplay until I noticed some patterns, like my n-air getting whiff-punished or my opponent punishing me for my gun usage. I looked at these issues and tried to improve on them one by one. I’ve also done things that I’m just simply interested in. For example, I’ve labbed combos that I wasn’t using at the time. The more you learn about a character, the more you understand about how they work. I think it’s important to practice in training mode on a daily basis, learning movement, aerials, combos and just getting used to the character as best you can. And after a certain period of time, you start looking at top players, what they’re doing and what they’re interested in. For example, MkLeo is using a lot of side-b to catch his opponents jumping, so I’m studying how and when he’s doing it and I try to copy that. There are still a lot of things I want to improve on.

You switched during the lockdown, meaning you had limited offline practice. Learning your character is one thing, practicing against others another especially considering the online period. How did you practice?
I practiced online. There are a lot of things where you just have to accept that you can’t react to them. One of Joker’s strengths is his ledgetrapping, but online ledgetrapping is just flat out worse. Playing online is still good practice though, especially when learning a character. In that early phase you’re missing so many things. In an online setting you should focus on things not reliant on reaction time, like learning matchups, improving your punish game and practicing save aerials. This way online practice can still be very valuable, as you’re getting more familiar with your character, even if it’s not offline. I’ve tried not to think too much about whether something would also work offline when playing online. And when I was playing offline, I noticed pretty fast where I could react better and what wasn’t viable. But when I played online, I just used whatever was working for me.

You’ve already participated in multiple offline events this year. What was your experience?
It was amazing. Generally, they’re smaller tournaments, but playing warm up games and then getting a bit nervous for the tournament sets… Because offline tournament games are the ones that actually count for me, those have high stakes, especially when it’s a bigger or more stacked event. I’ve gotten a bit nervous, but I felt comfortable playing Joker. There are still a lot of things I have to improve on, but having offline events back just boosts my motivation to play more and become better at the game. Offline tournaments are what I’m playing the game for.

Last October you got signed by Lostik, right before the second lockdown. How was your time with Lostik until now?
I think we have a good team. There wasn’t much we could do until now, but we’ve been thinking about what we could do whenever offline tournaments are coming back. I’m looking forward to producing some content with the team as soon as possible. I think we can do some cool stuff with our team consisting of four players (SickBoy, Rampage, Mirio, DeepFreeze). We weren’t able to do much until now, but I’m looking forward to the future.

The Lostik Smash team is the biggest Smash team in Switzerland with four members. You’re practicing a lot with SickBoy, but did you also plan something like a grinding session with the entire team?
We didn’t plan an offline session as a team. But I think it’s cool that we have a large team of good players. I think ideas of what we could do are slowly starting to develop now with offline coming back.

With your switch to Joker, where do you see yourself in the near future?
It’s hard to tell. I haven’t played a lot of people and don’t know how much they’ve practiced. There are also a lot of matchups that I don’t have much experience in as Joker. Despite that I would say that I can get Top5.

If you had to give me 3 players to keep an eye on with the return of offline events, who would that be?
Somebody that I think has improved a lot is Joule (@Joule_SSBU). I also like the way he’s looking at the game.
My second pick would be Neo (@NeoSSB_). I haven’t talked to him much, but he’s already performed really well in 2020. He’s practicing a lot, reviewing games and more. You can feel his passion for Smash and that he wants to improve. And he’s doing it right. I think he’s the one I’m looking out for the most, so he can also push me as he is getting better. I think he will definitely get Top3 in an upcoming PR, it’s almost bound to happen the way he’s approaching the game.
And my last pick would be SickBoy (@SickBoySSB). I’m playing him a lot. I think he’s just missing a number of small things that would allow him to place quite a bit better. Of course, I notice all the little things because I’m playing him a lot. But I think he definitely has the potential to place really high. He has a good mindset during the game and he’s playing broken characters. That’s a good basis.
I want to add something here: I feel like people seem to underrate Destany (@mYiDestany). He’s studying right now and maybe lacking the motivation for Smash a bit, but as soon as he’s finding his motivation again, he will be coming back, and he will be on top again. We need to be ready for Destany and we need a proper challenger for him. He’s been at the top for so long waiting for one. I’m sure he will find his motivation again. Maybe not at his first tournament, but it’s hard to get away from Smash, especially if you’re involved in the community and he’s a competitor at heart. I feel like people overlook how good he is, just because it’s kind of a given, because he’s the best in Switzerland. You know, talking about who will rise and such. He can’t rise because he already is the best. But he still has a lot of potential to improve even more.

Both Jaka, in his interview, and SickBoy, when he played against rohan doge in Geneva (you can watch the VoD here), mentioned that they plan on traveling more in Europe as soon as bigger offline events are coming back. What about you?
It’s the same for me, but I want to wait until I’m fully vaccinated, and countries are stable again. Now that I’m earning a decent salary I definitely want to travel more. Experience at an international tournament is one thing I’m missing. I’ve been playing in Switzerland for a long time, but barely outside of it. That’s the next step I want to take, going to international tournaments and getting some experience there, even if I’m not placing great at first. That’s part of the experience.

Do you have any hot takes or some banter for the Swiss Smash community?
Alright, so I think Neo will get first on the next PR and then it will be me who’s going to dethrone him and become the best in Switzerland.

If you want to see more of DeepFreeze, you can follow him on Twitter.
He’s also participating in Benooou’s “Swiss Series – Couch Edition” where he will be playing against Neo in the near future (give @BenooouSSB a follow to keep up to date with the schedule). The entire series will be streamed live on Twitch.

Updated at: 14.02.22 (16:46)
Created at: 10.06.21 (12:11)
Created by: Yomi