KZ Peanut: Road to Becoming the Perfect Jungler

The 2018 LCK Spring Split is heating up with the buzz surrounding transferred players. This is especially relevant to bbq OliversLee “IgNar” Dong-geun, Afreeca Freecs Kim “Kiin” Gi-in, and Kingzone DragonX Han “Peanut” Wang-ho, who have each settled as one of the main pillars of their teams. Normally, the transferred players are evaluated by the team’s results and subjective performance stats. Among those players, Peanut is being rated as the best transferred player and the jungler who is closest to perfection.

Peanut has a major impact on games from early to late phases. When he plays a champ that needs to scale like Nidalee, he utilizes Kim “Khan” Dong-ha and Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong’s strong laning phase. Since Khan and Bdd are quick to back up allies, there are more chances to infiltrate the opponent’s jungle, and naturally, they gain more vision of the map. With this kind of information, the PrillA duo of the bottom lane plays a macro-centric game. Otherwise, they help their teammates scale with precise gank timing.

Peanut was not always good at utilizing his teammates or supporting them. When he was in ROX Tigers and SKT T1, he had many weaknesses; it was often pointed out that he made too many independent plays. However, after joining Kingzone DragonX, he alleviated his weaknesses and maintained the strengths that he’s shown in previous teams. Now, Peanut plays a major role on his team.

■ Chapter 1. The Best Cradle, ROX Tigers

Peanut started to deliver solid performance when he was playing for the ROX Tigers. ROX needed a jungler to replace Lee “Hojin” Ho-jin and they signed Peanut. At that time, Peanut was a young prospect with confidence who had good mechanics. He was a rookie who hadn’t proven himself much yet.

The youngster successfully played his debut for ROX Tigers in the spotlight. The 2016 season had a meta which was focused on top lane and jungle, with Graves, Kindred, Nidalee, etc. as the most popular picks. He drew a lot of attention along with Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, but it was a bit too early for him to lead the team.

This was before Peanut knew more about making team plays; he prioritized his jungling like any other rookie jungler. He had an obligation to scale faster than the opponent jungler and preferred combat to lighting up the map.

Peanut was a jungler who really had impact. Because of his aggressiveness, Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng and the PrillA duo presented themselves to back him up, and created an environment that allowed Peanut to carry the team. Despite the sacrifices of his teammates, Peanut was better suited to making sudden improvised plays instead of playing the macro game. He was a gemstone that was not yet polished.

Head coach Jeong No-chul said “Peanut was a boy who was mature for his age. He had been 1st in solo queue, so he really has the ability. However, he lacked in early jungle macro, playing according to the map vision and communicating with the team.” So the experienced ROX Tigers focused on teaching him team play, and Peanut was clever enough to learn very fast. They lifted the LCK champion trophy that year.

■ Chapter 2. The Needs and Need Nots learned from SKT T1

ROX Tigers may have been the best environment for a rookie. The players and coaching staff had both ability and experience. Within their free atmosphere, they developed Peanut. However, they didn’t walk the same path for too long. In 2017, Peanut transferred to the rival team, SKT T1.

SKT T1 had a completely different atmosphere and game macromanagement compared to ROX. SKT preferred static plays and systematic movements. They had prominent strikers like Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and Bae “Bang” Jun-sik. They didn’t really need the surprise plays or carries of Peanut that his previous team used.

As a result, Peanut started to play as a backup, which was quite an unfamiliar experience for him. Even if he had expertise on a champion, he needed to approach the champion in a new way. Moving according to the situation was prioritized over making aggressive plays. His role was to care for the team, so he learned ‘what need not be done’.

SKT T1 is the team that Peanut won the most trophies at. Ironically, 2017 was Peanut’s most unsuccessful year. He thought of ‘what needs to be done’ but the team’s thoughts were different; as time passed, Peanut’s in-game personality began to fade.

Team SKT T1 puts a lot of effort into lighting up the map and managing the lanes. They try to avoid fights until Faker and Bang have scaled enough to carry the team. SKT believed that to become a strong team, playing by the book was better than trying to take risks.

On the surface, looking at the results at the spring split and MSI, it could be said that he did enough. However, Peanut struggled in the changed meta and wasn’t able to fully adapt to SKT T1. He was 9th among the junglers of the LCK in game stats.

■ Chapter 3. The Success and Failure of Peanut comes Together in Kingzone DragonX

For 2 years, Peanut experienced success and failure in polar environments, but it didn’t take long for him to blossom again. He was reunited with the PrillA duo, and at the same time became teammates with Khan and Bdd, who were just starting to build up experience in the LCK.

Kingzone DragonX’s notable trait was a strong laning phase. Khan led the side macro, so in the big picture, it wasn’t much different from other teams. What was different though, was the strong mechanics of each player. They were able to become champions with their strong mechanics and quick improvising.

Being strong in fast-paced and complex situations rather than in well-prepared battles. This was a style that suited Peanut the best, and soon enough, he was able to fit right into the team. Surprisingly, Peanut carried the macro he learned from SKT T1, not ROX Tigers, to Kingzone DragonX.

Proving that failure is the best teacher, Peanut changed Kingzone DragonX into a fast and systematic team. The previous Kingzone insisted on using combinations and plays that the team is good with. However, the macro game they’re presenting at the 2018 LCK Spring Split is: ‘go for whatever play best suits the current situation’.

Peanut suggested what to do in certain situations and added detail in managing lanes. Also, he started to aim for building safe advantages rather than picking fights in the hopes of gaining a sudden lead. In recent matches, Peanut has been counter jungling only when the enemy jungler’s HP is low, and otherwise he will simply provide vision to protect his teammates. Gradually, he scales faster than the opponent jungler.

Peanut is now nearly a perfect jungler, having both the explosiveness he showed at ROX Tigers and the macro game he learned at SKT T1. The biggest change is that Peanut used to be the one that needed to learn everything, but now he is at the center of the team; the student has become the teacher.


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