Bouncing back from a 0-2 loss to Edward Gaming in Week 3 of the 2021 LPL Summer Split, JD Gaming are on a roll. Their drafts show that they’re adapting better to the current meta, while also keeping their unique JD Gaming flair.
In their match against Team WE in Week 5, JD Gaming surprised by locking in one of the most off-meta junglers for Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok.
On red side, JD Gaming gave away a first pick Nocturne to Team WE, then filled their draft with lane carries. Leaving their jungler for last, they pulled an extremely unexpected move by locking in Shaco.
Shaco’s presence in solo queue and absence in LPL pro play
Before this match, Shaco has not been picked a single time in major regions this 2021 Summer season. In the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) itself, he hasn’t been played in 2,527 days, which is almost 7 years!
The long absence speaks volumes about him as a champion — one who excels in solo queue a thousand times more than pro play. Deceive grants invisibility, which combined with the fear from Jack in the Box makes him a great ganker. Once ahead, he’s one of the best champions at snowballing games.
In the most recent League of Legends patch 11.14, he even got nerfed for the third time this season because “Jungle Shaco is simply very strong”, wrote Riot.
In pro play however, his kit is considered gimmicky. At the highest level of competition where teams ward up camps and track the enemy jungler’s pathing, it’s much harder to get fooled by the Demon Jester.
What’s more, he’s also way out of the meta compared to Diana, Xin Zhao, and Viego. Still, that didn’t deter JD Gaming from trying out something unorthodox and new on patch 11.13 against Team WE.
Kanavi did ‘Shaco things’ all game and it suits JD Gaming’s playstyle
Since jungle Shaco needs to set up boxes before camps spawn, Team WE had the right idea to invade the raptor camp at level one.
However, JD Gaming read their move, and were in perfect position to respond, resulting in exciting early game shenanigans. Giving over a kill to Kanavi and a kill to AD carry Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook, JD Gaming claimed the early lead.
Less than five minutes later, Kanavi found an opening in the top lane. Even though Chen “Breathe” Chen’s Camille wasn’t pushed up very far, Kanavi popped stealth to get behind her, pulling off a classic and perfectly executed Shaco gank.
Though JD Gaming misplayed some mid game team fights, they led in gold and objectives. One last clash in the mid lane at 35 minutes sealed the deal for the team.
For his early game impact and high 72.7% kill participation, Kanavi was named the “Man of the Rift” and awarded with MVP honors.
A team that relies on their star jungler to get ahead in tempo, experience, and gold while the rest of their carries defensively scale up for late game, Shaco curiously fits that style. Luckily JD Gaming managed to snowball early from level one, or risk less impactful 5v5 team fights later on.
Kanavi and his squad went on to sweep Team WE 2-0, bumping themselves up to fourth place in the current standings.
When asked about his Shaco pick in the post-game broadcast interview, Kanavi answered, “I played Shaco a few games in solo queue, and the results weren’t bad. During scrims, I tried it twice, so much so that the opponents banned him.”
“I feel that this champion isn’t bad, so I picked him,” he added.