Apex Gaming has easily been the most dominant team in the NA Challenger Series. They finished the regular season in first place and would go on to win their two playoff series in fairly convincing fashion. By finishing first in the Spring playoffs they have put themselves in the best possible position to qualify for the Summer season of the NA LCS. After some substitutions in the first week of the season, the roster settled and turned out to be one of the strongest lineups in the league.
On this lineup, Apex Gaming have the luxury of not just one but two effective carry junglers. Seo “Eve” Jun-cheol was the former jungler of Samsung Galaxy in Korea but left the team after they failed to requalify for the LCK. He was acquired by Apex Gaming before the start of the season and was the starter at the jungle position. The other jungler, Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon, was formerly on Team Coast and qualified for the LCS but the organization sold their LCS slot to NRG who dropped the entire roster. Shrimp was then picked up as a free agent by Apex. The junglers have found a lot of success in the Challenger Series through different methods. They have different champion pools and operate in different ways in order to carry the game themselves, or to enable their teammates to be effective.
Eve and Shrimp split the regular season playing four games each, while Shrimp played five games in the playoffs to Eve’s three. The champion pools of the two junglers and how they utilize those champions differed greatly over the course of the season. As a damage carry jungler, Eve has played champions like Kindred and Nidalee to great success. Shrimp is well known for his farm heavy jungle play on Rek’Sai and also played Lee Sin to great effectiveness. Elise was the one champion both junglers played but Eve was much more effective on it, especially in the playoffs.
Even as a damage carry jungler, Eve was a very focused on vision control. He finished the regular season second in wards per minute and was first in wards cleared per minute. In fact, only two junglers in either the NA CS or the NA LCS combined placed more wards per minute than Eve. With such a great focus on vision, Eve still had 100% first blood participation in both the playoffs and the regular season. Eve is more focused on his lanes and farming his jungle to get himself and his team ahead. In team fights he is a major damage source on champions such as Kindred or Nidalee and he would often go with a full AP build on his Elise to output damage as well. Through his vision and consistent first blood acquisition, he would get leads for Apex which they could snowball off of.
In contrast, Shrimp was much more interested in controlling the enemy jungler through his map movement and invades into the enemy jungle. He is a farm carry style jungler, taking his own camps as well as the enemy jungler’s camps, and even sometimes taking farm from his laners in order to build a lead for himself. In both the regular season and playoffs, Shrimp had the highest creeps killed per minute of any jungler in the NA CS. By farming himself up and starving the enemy jungler he would acquire massive gold leads and would then be a monster in team fights due to his item advantage. Because of his large advantages in team fights, Shrimp would also be a major damage source and would be able to disrupt the enemy team by diving onto their carries and killing them. He was also a split push threat at times building offensively on his Rek’Sai. During the regular season Shrimp had the highest percentage of his team’s damage for junglers. On his Rek’Sai or Lee Sin he would often go into the enemy jungle looking for his opposition in order to out duel them. By invading, he would acquire knowledge of the location of the enemy jungler giving his laners information on how to play in lane. If he found the enemy jungler his team would know that they were able to go aggressive, and if he couldn’t find the jungler they would know to play more passively. Although he did not use wards as effectively as Eve, he did acquire knowledge for his team through his map movement.
Apex initially used Eve in the jungle but towards the end of the season they began using Shrimp. As it turns out, Apex had an embarrassment of riches with arguably two of the top three junglers in the Challenger Series on their roster. Both junglers were very effective in different ways as they showed they could carry the game for their team using contrasting styles. Their stylistic differences in the jungle were a major advantage going into the playoffs as the team was able to sub one in for the other and give the enemy team a completely different look. Having to prepare for one good jungler is bad enough but facing Apex meant having to prepare for two very different yet effective junglers. It is because of this jungle variance along with the strength of the rest of the roster and their team play that I predict Apex Gaming will go through promotions and enter the NA LCS this Summer.
Featured Image provided by Apex Gaming’s Twitter Account
Written by Oscar Left
Edited by Williaf