iShiny Discusses his Apex Journey, S9 Changes, Finding Consistency
We caught up with COL iShiny to ask him about his journey in Apex Legends. With the Apex Legends Global Series Finals being just around the corner, we also discussed the recent changes to Apex brought by Season 9 and how they will affect the pro meta.
Hotspawn: You started out as an Overwatch player and you played for some notable organizations for a couple of years. I saw an interview of yours from a while ago where you said something like “Overwatch is the first time you pursued a game fully.” What was that experience like and how did it help you transition to the Apex scene?
iShiny: I started out in college just trying to get my degree. League of Legends was actually the first esport that I tried. I got notified by someone you might know, Snoopeh, that Overwatch was coming out and that it would be a pretty good, ground-level game to get into. Our amateur team eventually got picked up by CLG and we played with them for almost a year.
After my second year of not making it into OWL, I decided it was time to call it quits. I did learn a lot of things about the mentality of being a pro player. As well as how to get good at getting good at video games since the process is similar. Apex then just kinda came out and was really fun. I played it with my brother and eventually stomping pubs wasn’t enough. We found our way into the scrim lobbies and even led the leaderboards for like three months. We then got picked up by Fnatic.
Hotspawn: You played for Fnatic for a year, then continued playing with your brother for five more months. You were then signed by Complexity. What was that process like? Were you actively looking for any spot on an org’ed team or were you reached out to?
iShiny: Yeah, so I was on Fnatic for a year, but then because of COVID, a bunch of orgs started pulling out of the scene and focusing more on their staple games like League of Legends and CS:GO. We were supposed to be contracted through the rest of last year (2020), but the orgs didn’t want to keep players when they were just going to be playing online for a while.
After that, me and my brother kept playing together with a revolving third. Our main priority was always performance. We had a really good third in BcJ who was with T1 before. But he didn’t want to put in the practice for Apex and focused on VALORANT instead. We were really strong together but when it came time to adapt, we would get left behind.
Me and my brother had a pre-existing agreement. We said “we know it’s going to be hard to find an org who will want to sign a full team during COVID so if any opportunities come along for either of us, it’s no hard feelings.” I ended up getting picked up by Complexity where I still am today.
Hotspawn: Back then, you were more of a Wraith player, but Gibraltar was buffed into being meta. At what point did you start transitioning to Gibby and eventually filling in on the character for COL? What were some of the difficulties of making the swap?
iShiny: So, when I first got picked up, me and Monsoon both played Wraith. Both of us were fine with flexing once Gibby came into the meta. We were essentially letting each other just have Wraith like “no, you can play it.” We ended up deciding that in order to keep as much as the team’s synergy as possible. It would be best for Monsoon to keep Wraith so his preexisting connection with Reptar’s Bloodhound would be there and I could build new synergy with them on Gibby.
Monsoon plays a more aggressive, poking and prodding style of Wraith that you’ll see leftover in players like ImperialHal. My Wraith was a more passive, control style more similar to that of SweetDreams. Monsoon’s playstyle fit better with the team so that’s another reason why he took it.
Learning Gibby was actually not too difficult for me. He fit in with my controlled style of play being an Anchor character, able to support my team from behind. The Bubble was easy to learn, maybe because I played Winston in Overwatch. The biggest trouble was the hitbox change. On Wraith, you were a very small model while Gibby is really big. I had to learn what I could and couldn’t get away with because one moment in the open on Gibby can cost you a Shield Battery. Dying first on that character is the worst thing you can do.
Hotspawn: You’ve been in on Apex since the beginning. What have been your favorite or most memorable moments in your Apex career so far?
iShiny: Ooh, I have a couple I can think of. Back when I was on Fnatic, I was known for my zone 8 heal-off mechanics. I knew exactly how to maximize time spent in the last zone as to last the longest and clutch it out. I remember doing it in some scrims and matches, so that was always really fun and heart-pumping. My favorite moments however have to be the tournament wins with Complexity. Back when I first joined the team, we were all good players, but none of us had ever won a tournament. I remember our first ESA tourney that we won together and it had a different feeling to it.
So now for some general Apex talk, season nine recently released in between GLL Masters Spring and the upcoming ALGS Championships. The two big introductions were the Bocek and Valkyrie. Have you or Complexity experimented with these and what are your thoughts on them? How do you think these new additions will affect Apex competitive?
iShiny: Yeah, I’ve tried the Bow. It feels good, it has its uses. The Bow is at its best when you have a spot in zone and you want to try and pick up kills at range and farm up shields, much like a Charge Rifle. I don’t think you’ll want to run a full team of them because the loadouts with a Bow don’t have much versatility. In Bubble fights, you really want a shotgun, or a Volt/R99 if you’re on the sticks. Having three bows would just make those fights really rough. We’ll definitely be trying to grab maybe one in our squad at a time, especially because Reptar is a bit of a weird weapon specialist. He loves the Sentinel already. If we ever have Gold Shields, we pass them to him so he can charge it with one Cell then swap back to farm up EVOs.
As for Valkyrie, I really like her and I think she adds a lot to the game that addresses its problems. Zone RNG is a big inconsistency that ends up messing with teams. With Valkyrie, it will be much easier for everyone to have a rotation. The problem is that you’re giving up a lot of combat power if you decide to run her over Bloodhound. Not having your wall hacks when trying to take fights on edge is gonna be rough. Gibby is already a must because of the Bubble into Valk Ult or Ult into Bubble combos, so you’re either replacing Blood or Wraith/Octane. Even if we decide not to run Valkyrie, other teams will. Edges will still open up and affect us. It’s going to be fun to see Valk teams just full send on teams who are holding a spot in the end circle.
Valkyrie allows for massive rotations from any position that were previously impossible.
Hotspawn: There have been a lot of changes to the game over the past half a year that heavily affected the Legend meta. Things like Caustic have come and gone, and Octane got buffed up. How easy or difficult was it for Complexity to adjust to these constant meta shifts?
iShiny: During the Caustic meta, we had to get used to a slower playstyle due to all of the Caustic teams around. Before, we were confident in being able to take fights to a lot of teams for their spots, but when we have to go through six of his barrels and then his ultimate, we didn’t have the time to finish the plays. We got used to playing passive around him and thankfully that time is now gone.
When Octane got buffed, we weren’t really sure how good he was. A couple of teams ran him at first and had some success, we thought he would be an alternative to Wraith. Then everyone started running him and winning tournaments with him so we decided to make that swap as well.
Octane provides a much faster mobility option than Wraith. With Wraith, you have to wait for your Wraith to pop Portal then run in and place it. You were then stacked on top of each other which wasn’t optimal. The other team had time to Bubble Rez and then could try and hold you back. With Jump Pad, if you get a knock, you can get in there instantly.
Hotspawn: Complexity’s results towards the end of last year were phenomenal. You got 2nd and 1st place at ALGS Summer and Autumn playoffs respectively. You’ve had some top-five finishes this year at events like NSG and the Teq Tournament. Unfortunately, you’ve had had a rough go at ALGS and GLL recently. Some might attribute the GLL one in particular to all of the West zones making your rotations hard. What was your biggest takeaways from the recent finishes outside of top 10 at those events?
iShiny: At ALGS and GLL there were a ton of our most difficult zones to play. The Trials zone where Liquid can just shoot at you from the top of the mountain and the Thermal Choke zones that are just free points for NRG came up a lot. We ended up playing cross country in those tournaments because of how far we had to go. We decided that we should be making the most of each game. If one of those zones pop up, we should try and play edge aggressively and get like 9 kills and 6th place. We did make a lot of mistakes that ended up costing us. Even though we finished in 12th and 14th in those tournaments, we could have probably gotten top five.
Hotspawn: The second day of GLL had a lot more East zones, including one in Refinery and two in Overlook, all of which you got second place in.
iShiny: Yeah, and all of those games we could have won too, but we messed up our game-winning plays. In Overlook especially, we never play the very back, “God Spot.” We were unfamiliar with Octane Jump Pad rotations up there and, eventually, TSM ended up taking the Cilos. From there, Hal’s Jump Pad in the final zone made everything kinda crazy, haha.
ImperialHal’s end game Jump Pad play.
Hotspawn: Some people in the scene have been vocal about the lack of scrims or practice going on in preparation for ALGS Championships. If I recall correctly, Complexity wasn’t the type to frequently attend scrim lobbies. What is your opinion on the matter?
iShiny: For us, we’re very big on the idea that you want to time your practice so that you’ll hit your peak right before a tournament. Over practicing is a very real thing that can cause some teams to have burnout. We’re very privileged as a stable team with an organization behind us. For some of the unsigned teams, they can burn themselves out trying to build synergy or make strategies at the same time as doing frequent scrim blocks. ALGS scrims are starting up on the 21st I believe, so I think that the time in between that and ALGS is perfect. We are planning to attend these because of the massive meta shifts that will be happening.
Hotspawn: With many orgs like Renegades and Cloud9 returning to the game with pro rosters, how is the scene looking right now? What are your thoughts on Apex’s growth?
iShiny: It’s definitely great to see, Apex as a game is still growing just based on how fun it is. It’s kinda like the opposite of Overwatch where a scene was created and it kept falling off further and further. Apex feels very organic in its growth. Tons of people love playing and watching the game. The Twitch viewership especially has been on the rise.
Hotspawn: Yeah, there are a bunch of pro players like ImperialHal and SweetDreams who have huge audiences while also being fully-fledged pros.
iShiny: Mhm, there are also players like iTzTimmy and NiceWigg who have big viewership but are more pub and ranked players. There’s definitely a good mix.
Hotspawn: So, when will I be able to watch Complexity’s scrims and tournaments, or do I have to keep guessing where in your rotations you are at certain times?
iShiny: [laughs] We might be planning on streaming the scrims so look forward to that. Performance is a big deal, so we need second PCs to stream from. If we drop any frames in game, it’s gonna be an issue.
Hotspawn: A battle royale with a shifting meta can be hard to find consistency in. What are Complexity’s goals for the back half of the Apex competitive year?
iShiny: Our goal is like I mentioned earlier, to make the most of each game. RNG in battle royales is still very real, and while some people might say “oh, you’re pros, you should be able to win any game,” it’s not really like that. Everyone else is also a pro at that level and you can’t win them all. There will be games where we just need to be able to put our best forward and take what we can get. In the end, we want to consistently finish top five in tournaments and reassert ourselves as one of the best teams.
Hotspawn: What advice would you give to players trying to break into Apex comp for the first time?
iShiny: Oh man, I would say at the start, you should try to find consistency as well. You should be able to hit Predator rank every season and continue climbing past that. You shouldn’t get stuck at say 10,000 RP. While not all of the ranked and final zone mechanics will translate to competitive, being able to fight through to the end and win almost all of your games will teach you a lot. From there, try and qualify for some tournaments like Esports Arena and GLL Cup. Eventually, you might find your way to ALGS qualifiers.
Hotspawn: Is there anything you’d like to say to fans of Complexity Apex?
iShiny: Yeah, I really appreciate all of you who support us. From older fans to those who found us after we started winning tournaments, all of the support they give us is incredible. Everything from coming into our stream chats to sending us DM’s like “good job guys, you’ll have better luck next time” when we have a rough time is really encouraging. Also, shout out to Complexity. They give us so many resources and their culture is so amazing. They’re for sure one of the best esports organizations out there.
You can catch iShiny and the rest of Complexity in the ALGS Championships on June 2nd at 7:00 PM EST. They will be playing in Group C.