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Alliance's Unshakeable Jungler | LoL Esports

Alliance's Unshakeable Jungler

Alliance finds itself in a fight to stave-off relegation and the players have to figure out how to stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution. That's been particularly important for Alliance's jungler Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema, whose play has veered between heroic and tragic throughout the turbulent season.

A SHOT AT REDEMPTION

Despite being a top LCS prospect since 2012, Shook's road to the LCS hasn't been an easy one. At times, he's been his own worst enemy, netting himself a one-year LCS ban at the start of 2013 due to toxic behavior.

It was a costly mistake, and one that had been a long time coming. Shook was forced onto the sidelines just days before his mousesports team competed in the 2013 qualifiers, and watched as the team narrowly missed promotion.

But in many ways, it was also a great opportunity for Shook to get a fresh start and a new outlook. He said in an interview on the Alliance website that, “The biggest change for me personally is that I now have a much more positive attitude towards other players in solo queue; it helps the team a lot more than flaming ever will.”

He joined the Copenhagen Wolves' squad during their dominant run on the Challenger circuit, which let him keep his game at a professional level while learning to be a better sport and waiting for his LCS eligibility to be restored. It also drew the notice of the Alliance team, and he was recruited to be one of the founding members of the squad.

BIG PLAYS, BIG THROWS

At his best, Shook is a set-up artist for the rest of his team. He starts fights in the right places at the right time, and serves up kills on a silver platter for his carries. He can also stand toe-to-toe with ace junglers like Araneae and Cyanide, keeping them on the defensive with strong early counter-jungling.

But it doesn't always go according to plan. The problem for Shook is twofold: first, sometimes there are no plays to be made and yet he'll be out of position at a key moment because he's trying to force something to happen. Wickd has been picked off more than a few times because Shook has lost track of the enemy jungler or has simply prioritized something else.

Second, Shook can only do so much. Those “silver platter” kills that Shook gives his teammates sometimes end up on the floor as Alliance fumble the play. Both Tabzz and Froggen have let good chances slip through their fingers.

Shook came to Alliance to be a playmaker, but the problem dogging Alliance's heels is that they don't reliably execute their big plays. When they do, as in their game against Fnatic in Week 7, they're as good a team as you'll find in the LCS. Shook and Froggen have tremendous chemistry and Shook's initiation instincts combined with Froggen's positioning and follow-through make them a powerful duo.

SEEING RED

If Shook has a weakness, it is that he doesn't always know when to play safe. Like Alliance as a whole, Shook comes to the team with years of success under his belt and a confidence in his own abilities. That sometimes turns his daring into outright recklessness.

A perfect example of Shook's best and worst traits came in Week 6 against SK. While Alliance ultimately won the game, they came very close to losing control as Shook gave himself up to SK Gaming at crucial moments. With Alliance and SK almost dead even at 24 minutes, Alliance went for a pick against Jesiz in the mid lane. At the last minute, Shook peeled off to engage nRated and Svenskeren simultaneously. He got blown-up instantly and that left Tabzz and Nyph as easy targets for SK's clean-up. It was a fatal miscue from the Alliance jungler that turned a crucial situation into a disaster.

That same game also showed Shook and Alliance at their best. As they stabilized against SK, Alliance were finally thinking and acting as a team, and Shook was always at the point of attack. Shook's Wukong was an agent of chaos as he plunged headlong into SK and busted their positioning, cracking the door open for the rest of Alliance to pour through. His plays created the opportunities Alliance needed for their comeback win. If Alliance makes the playoffs, it will be on the back of plays like that.

COMEBACK KID

Shook has dealt with adversity before and come out stronger for it, and Alliance are by no means out of playoff contention. If you set aside Alliance's terrible Week 1, where they lost four straight games, they would be like a lot of their rivals: good, but inconsistent.

Shook needs to continue making good plays and cut the bad decisions. But in many ways, he's already doing what he needs to: creating the opportunities the rest of his team needs to exploit. For all the ups-and-downs of Alliance's season, Shook is still there, opening the doors to victory for his team.

Now they need to walk through them together.

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