Welcome to the Jungle!
Hello, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dylan “DXI Edge” Edgar. A little bit of background, I’m a Platinum Top Laner and Jungler who excels at League of Legends theorycrafting and builds, as well as optimal meta picks (and I’m also a Yasuo/Ekko fan boy).
Today I’m going to talk about the Jungle meta leading into SKLeague, or specifically, which champs are good right now, how to build them, how to gank with them, and how to maximize your champion.
If you have been following competitive play, you will know that since the Cinderhulk patch, 2 junglers have reigned supreme: Gragas and Rek’Sai. These champions are king and queen of the jungle and are the epitome for what a team needs in the jungle. Why is this? The answer: flexibility.
Let’s start with Gragas. Gragas’ utility comes from the fact that he can disengage or engage, he is good both early and late, he has a percent health skill on a four second cooldown at level nine (not including any CDR), has good sustain in the jungle for early ganks, and is a beefy tank. His bread and butter is his W, probably one of the best skills in the game. With 40% CDR (Frozen Heart, Locket of the Iron Solari, and Runes/Masteries) he can have an auto attack every 2.4 seconds that does 140 + .3 AP + 12% max health. On an average enemy with 2.1k health at level 18, and approximately 40 AP (18 from runes and 22 from masteries at level 18), this means every 2.4 seconds Gragas’s auto attack does 400 bonus magic damage (with his auto damage added, we’re looking at a 500 damage AUTO ATTACK). Not only this, with 40% CDR, his W passive (18% damage reduction for 2.5 seconds) is always up. 100% uptime. On top of this, part of what makes him so likeable in team play is the fact that he can build Sightstone. This is an underrated fact when playing ranked 5’s, and something I don’t see enough from Junglers. Buying wards is great, but as a Jungler, unless you snowball early, buying wards every back can delay you from getting tanky. Although you should still regularly buy pink wards, (watch for my next article where I discuss optimal pink placement!), buying a Sightstone not only makes you tankier (190 health when paired with Cinderhulk) it also gives you regular wards for free every time you base, allowing you to ward for your laners and the enemy jungle, saving even more money for your laners to buy the important power spike items to allow to fight easier. The fat man is here to stay for a while!
Optimal masteries on Gragas: 21/9/0 (5% CDR, Arcane and Martial Mastery)
Optimal Runes: Attack Speed Marks, Armor Seals, 6 CDR/3 AP Glyphs, 3 AP Quints
Skill order: Start E-W-Q, max R-W-Q-E.
Ganks: Early on, use your E to go over walls to help position in locations the laner won’t expect. Try to initiate with Q and get in for auto attacks with red buff. Only engage with E if you have your ult up, or if you can 100% land the stun for your laner to follow up with CC. Watch your casks, and practice flash-E!
Core Items: Cinderhulk (Purple Smite), Frozen Heart, Locket of the Iron Solari, Righteous Glory, Spirit Visage, Randuin’s
Next up, the queen of the jungle: Rek’Sai. Why is she so popular? Well, same thing as Gragas. We have jungle sustain, good early ganks, and can build a Sightstone in her build path. What she gains over Gragas comes from the global pressure from her ult, and the fact she can poke with her Q (180 damage every 7 seconds is no joke, folks). Her biggest boon, however, is her passive. Rek’Sai’s sonar vision allows her to scout the enemy jungler without putting herself in harm’s way, as well as seeing approaching laners looking to countergank/deep ward in the jungle. This is huge, as in ranked 5’s information is the best resource possible. Knowing the jungler is top side while attempting to deep ward while not actually seeing the jungler is massive, and lets the laners know they can play aggressive without consequence. Use your ult to get back to the jungle quickly after basing, or to rejoin a fight after getting low. Use your tunnels everywhere, and try not to use too many in base to get back. Saves time sure, but you only have so many you can use on the map!
Optimal Masteries on Rek’Sai: 21/9/0 (AS, Double Edged Sword, Blade and Spell Weaving)
Optimal Runes: AD Marks, Armor Seals, 6 CDR/3 Scaling MR Glyphs, 3 Attack Speed Quints
Skill Order: Start Q-W-E, max R-Q-E-W
Core Items: Warrior/Cinderhulk (Red Smite), Sightstone, Black Cleaver, Randuin’s, Spirit Visage, Locket of the Iron Solari
Ganks: Your E can allow you go over a lot of walls laners won’t expect. Try to go behind the laner, and remember: since the nerf on her W, auto attacking to unburrow yourself won’t knock people up. You have to position yourself just inside your auto range while popping up to get the knock-up. Also remember to put your tunnels in deep locations to surprise the enemy laner with a gank, or surprise the enemy Jungler with a cross map invade/countergank after showing somewhere on the other side of the map!
Now, let’s move on to my two favourite junglers at the moment: Nidalee and Ekko!
First, Nidalee. The terror of solo queue, sporting a whopping 55% win rate in Platinum and above elo at the moment. Her early game is incredible, her ganks are strong, her dueling is insane, and she has great sustain. Her major weakness is her snowball nature, and the fact that she isn’t great in teamfights/late game (but this can be fixed by building a proper comp!) If she lands a spear on a laner for a gank, not only does it damage for a significant portion, but it also allows her leap to become a 750 range targeted gap closer, while also gaining 30% move speed towards her target. As if that wasn’t strong enough, she gets a SECOND leap that’s 375 range within two seconds of the first jump, meaning she can follow flashes. And just when you think you’re free and behind your tower, she throws a spear to finish you off and laughs as she pounces away. If Nidalee snowballs, your team is in trouble, as she can single-handedly carry solo queue games with her damage. If she doesn’t snowball, however, she just becomes a spear throwing heal bot late game, which isn’t as impactful as other late game junglers at the moment and is countered by quick hard engage.
One thing to note about Nidalee is her level 2 cheese. Rather than starting Gromp or Krugs, Nidalees often start their buff and get a leash from laners to finish the buff quicker. As almost all Nidalees start Q, they go W second to pounce over dragon wall to get to the enemy buff faster, and catch the enemy at their buff, tanking damage from the buff. Nidalee can spear-execute the buff to take it, and possibly even kill the jungler at their buff as well, effectively destroying the enemy jungler’s early game while snowballing Nidalee. Ways to stop this are starting your buff rather than Gromp/Krugs (which you should be doing against Elise, Lee Sin, Udyr, Shaco and Nidalee at ALL TIMES) to prevent this snowball from happening, or starting on the opposite side of the jungle.
Optimal Masteries on Nidalee: 21/9/0 (Martial and Arcane Mastery)
Optimal Runes: AD marks, Armor seals, AP Glyphs and AP Quints
Skill Order: Q-E-W (unless invading, in which case go Q-W-E), Max Q-E-W
Core Items: Runeglaive (Purple of Blue Smite), Rod of Ages, Abyssal Scepter, Zhonyas Hourglass, Void Staff, Ludens Echo, Rabadon’s Deathcap.
Ganks: Use brushes for the movement speed. Land Spears, and your combo is Spear-Cougar Form-W-E-Q-W. Remember, switching to cougar form is an auto reset and cougar Q is also an auto reset. This allows for killing wards level 1 if you’re quick by Auto-R-Auto-Q. Also helps when taking towers
Now to my favourite jungler right now: Ekko. Ekko was initially released as an AP mid laner, whose upside was his damage with his utility. It was realized, however, by many people (one of whom tried telling me earlier, but I didn’t listen) that this utility could be used in the jungle. What spawned is now tank Ekko. Tank Ekko is an interesting beast, as he still does a LOT of damage from his two passives (his three hit passive and his W execute passive), has a dash and gap closer in his E, and if used properly, his stun can be used very well in ganks. What really pushes him over the top, however, is his ultimate. Where AP Ekko would like to use his ult as a one shot tool, tank Ekko uses it as a re-engage or heal tool, giving him immense flexibility. One of the strongest plays to do with Ekko (and when used in a kite/poke comp, is insanely effective) is to run away while the enemy tries to engage. Throw your W over your shoulder, and when your “Time Shadow” is within the circle when enemies are, ult back and deal some moderate damage while also instantly stunning the enemies for 2.5 seconds. Also, this last patch he got some quality of life buffs with his E cooldown being reduced and his Q mana cost being reduced allowing him to clear the jungle a little bit easier and not running out of mana as quickly (which was becoming a problem).
Optimal Masteries on Ekko: 21/9/0 (Martial and Arcane Mastery, Double Edged Sword)
Optimal Runes: AS Marks, Armor Seals, 6 CDR/3 AP Glyphs, AP Quints
Skill Order: W-Q-E, Max R-Q-E-W
Core Items: Cinderhulk (purple smite), Frozen Heart, Sightstone, Locket of the Iron Solari, Spirit Visage, Randuin’s.
Ganks: Try to predict movement with your W, and use your dash as your W Shadow swings his bat and makes the “twang” sound, as that is when the enemy can see the circle. Use your Q after you land your E to land a guaranteed slow, as well as easy procs for your auto attacks, which both slow and speed you up. Kiting back and re-engaging with R-W combo is very important to master.
Lastly, we come to the third set of junglers: Devourer junglers. For this section, we will focus on Shyvana and Xin Zhao as these two are, in my opinion, the best Devourer junglers (most of what I say in this section applies to all devourer junglers, but these two will be described in more detail). Most of these junglers have exceptional clear speed as well as multiple on-hit abilities and scale well with attack speed, which allow them to maximize devourer as an item. For all but Kayle, most devourer junglers go Devourer into Blade of the Ruined King to give more attack speed, more on hit effects, and Cutlass gives them more sustain in the jungle as well as a slow for ganks. This is followed by, again for all but Kayle, mostly full tank. However if you are significantly ahead you can also go for more damage effects (but I would recommend full tank). Since I’ve had this question quite a bit, a good time to get Devourer is before 20 minutes, with 17-18 minutes being a very good time and I’ve had it transform as fast as 14 minutes (however this was a VERY niche case). One thing to note: if you can, base early to upgrade your smite to get the extra gold when killing camps, and try to wait for the 1400 gold after that to base and upgrade straight to Devourer. This allows for efficient Devourer timing. Also, try to prioritize early dragons and scuttle crabs, as five and two stacks respectively is necessary to stack faster.
Let’s start with Shyvana, as she is the only devourer jungler to see play in competitive so far. Her strength is by far her clear speed. There have been many times where I clear my jungle and by the time I do a scuttle crab and walk back to the first camp, it is either just respawning or waits a little bit longer even! Her AoE and percent health on hit is amazing, and she is probably the best champion that scales with attack speed just based on what attack speed does to her kit (reduces Q cooldown, on hit while W is up and extends W, E procs and also making your ultimate come up faster), and giving her more reason to build attack speed while also building attack speed…it’s a match made in heaven. The one downside to Shyvana, as has always been the case, is that her ganks aren’t exceptional and she has no real CC. However, if you saw Hai’s games on Shyvana, you will see that a lot of high elo junglers are taking exhaust on her rather than flash, something that is becoming more and more popular lately, however this is typically seen on aggressive top laners (Smite/TP, Ignite/TP). The thing is, with her ult on such a short cooldown she really does not need flash as much as other junglers, and she is able to use exhaust as a form of CC, a tool for counter jungling, and diving the back line easier and singling out the ADC. Something to keep in mind: once she hits Devourer, she can solo dragon with ease, even at level 4 or 5, so if you’re on the enemy team, make sure to ward dragons early and often!
Optimal Masteries: 21/9/0 (Martial Mastery, Blade/Spell Weaving, 5% CDR)
Runes: Attack Speed Marks, Armor Seals, Scaling CDR Glyphs, Attack Speed Quints
I’ll quickly go over this as this is an odd rune page to be sure. With 20% CDR and max level Q, the cooldown on it is essentially 1.5 seconds. This is absurd with Devourer, as if you Q the same time your devourer procs (no, it does not automatically trigger devourer) you trigger on hit effects 4 times in one auto attack.
Skill Order: W-Q-W-E (Max R-W-Q-E)
Ganks: Well, Shyvana doesn’t gank well. It’s that simple. However, look for opportunities to counter-jungle and counter-gank, as skirmishes and duels are what Shyvana excels at, especially with exhaust. So the key to playing Shyvana is to anticipate the enemy jungler and abuse the fact you are better than them at fighting. You typically want to play Shyvana with lane bullies or laners that can play super safe without jungle pressure needed.
Core Items: Devourer (Blue Smite), Blade of the Ruined King, Randuin’s, Banshee’s Veil, Thornmail, Locket of the Iron Solari
Finally, we come to Xin Zhao. In my opinion, Xin Zhao is the best jungler in the game right now, and people will begin to realize this if he starts to see competitive play soon. He has a targeted dash/slow, a knock-up, incredible sustain, and a good engage tool/damage tool with his ultimate. Sure, he doesn’t utilize Devourer as well as someone like Kayle or Shyvana with the on hit effects, but the utility he brings and the early ganks he’s allowed to do while still scaling into a legitimate tank assassin late game that can make an ADC’s life a living hell is incredible. On top of that, Devourer allows him to use his Q such that the knock-up happens after two auto attacks rather than three! He also uses Black Cleaver very well, which he can build if he snowballs early (which he often does). Watch out for Xin Zhao in your upcoming solo queue games, and if you haven’t already, start learning this monster!
Optimal Masteries on Xin Zhao: 21/9/0 (Martial Mastery, Blade/Spell Weaving, 5% CDR)
Optimal Runes: AD Marks, Armor Seals, Scaling MR Glyphs, Attack Speed Quints (Also trying Attack Speed Marks and Movement Speed Quints)\
Skill Order: W-Q-E (Max R-E-Q-W
Core Items: Devourer (Red or Blue Smite), Blade of the Ruined King, Randuin’s, Spirit Visage, Thornmail, Black Cleaver, Ravenous Hydra
Ganks: Walk up to anyone and E them. Use your Q after you auto attack for an auto attack reset, and activate W before you use Q to reduce the cooldown of your W. Try to use your ult early as it does Current %Health, not Max% health. Another ganking tool is to E to creeps behind a target, or to walk behind a target and ult them backwards for a knockback and then use E to follow up after a flash.
Well, that’s all for this week. If you have any questions feel free to send me a message in game or on twitter @DXIEdge.
Thanks for reading!
Dylan “DXI Edge” Edgar