My name is Gohin Postale and I am a jungle main. In Season 4 I played over 1700 ranked games, peaking at Diamond 3 while ending the season at Diamond 5. I have played since season 1 maining jungle and growing in rank each season. I watch as many professional matches as I can and am constantly grinding out solo queue trying to understand the game and improve my skills and knowledge as a player.
This is my take on the current jungle meta. Champions, paths, and style.
The Nature of the Jungle
To understand the role, we need to establish its place in the game. Because junglers are not bound to a single lane, they are free to roam, an omnipresent force that can establish tempo and control over the map. This is done through ganking, vision and objection control. A jungle should be selfless and work with his/her team to achieve victory.
The Current Meta
In the current meta, we see champions like Lee Sin, Jarvan IV, Rek’Sai, Vi , and Pantheon dominating the Rift. These champions are strong at the moment because they all have similar play styles and can contribute to the team in relatively the same way. Each champion can farm healthy and quickly, are strong early duelists, are mobile, and provide strong utility throughout the early to late game. For the most part, damage wise, these champions will fall-off in the late game, but still provide utility and be a key member of their team.
These champions can also build Sight Stone. Vision control is the most important thing in the game. If you can fit that into an early game build without sacrificing the strength of your champion. Do it. It also gives crazy mid and late game vision control.
In my opinion, the current jungle meta is exactly how the game should be played. Strong early game champs, with decent damage that falls off but still remains to be a play maker into the late game. The position is about teamwork and doing the most for your team with a limited cash flow, and this is exactly what the current meta does.
- I will discuss at the end of this post why I don’t think Riot should buff tank junglers in the current meta
Jungle Tier List
Top: Lee Sin, Jarvan IV, Rek’Sai, Vi, Pantheon
- See The Current Meta above
Limbo: Nidalee,* Rengar**
*Not sure where to rank her. She doesn’t provide a lot of utility, but she does provide poke, mobility, and some vision with traps. Good at counter jungling, but with so much free vision, how reliable will it be as time goes on. Definitely a solid pick, but has the potential to be useless.
** Rengar is in a weird place. He doesn’t necessarily farm the jungle well, limited mobility without ult or when not fighting near brushes but does provide snowball potential. We’ve seen it succeed in professional play, but at higher tiers of play it needs a lot of teamwork to succeed, something we don’t often see in solo queue. There are also a lot of easy counters, similar to Vi, to deal with him if he’s not ridiculously fed.
Middle: Wukong, Shaco, Amumu, Master Yi, Olaf, Nunu, Kha’zix, Fiddlesticks, Hecarim, Sion
- Generally safe picks. Can do well if not fed, but most need strong early games to succeed. Will give more info on why I think each champ is here if wanted.
Bottom: Aatrox, Jax, Xin Zhao, Udyr, Elise, Nocturne, Riven, Irelia, Cho’Gath, Diana, Skarner
- Can succeed but only under certain circumstances. Most need to snowball, others get counter played easily. Will give more info on why I think each champ is here if wanted.
Everyone else: Nautilus, Sejuani, Zac, Maokai, Rammus, Warwick, Trundle, Gangplank , Malphite, Gragas, Mundo, Eve
- See Tank Junglers bellow.
First Clear – For Solo Queue
Right now you see most people starting bottom side. This is mainly because of the strength of the leash you can get from bottom lane clearing you’re first camp, almost instantly in some cases. The first two camps for each side are usually the same, but there are two key paths depending on what your early game goal is.
- Blue Side – Gank Bottom/Mid: Smite Krugs > Red > Smite (Optional but suggested) Razerbeaks > Gank mid/bot or Base or Crab
- Blue Side – Gank To/Mid: Smite Krugs > Red > Smite (Optional but suggested) Razerbeaks > Gank or Base or Crab
- Red Side – Gank Bottom/Mid: Smite Gromp > Blue > Wolves > Smite (Optional but suggested) Crab or Gank or Base
- Red Side – Gank Top/Mid: Smite Gromp > Blue > Smite Red > Crab or Gank or Base
Note: You should be healthy enough after most clears to look for pressure or take a Crab. Try not to just back for your jungle item. It will hurt you in the long run.
- If no kills or assists > Jungle item + should have enough for 1 potion and ward if you do Crab or a 4th camp + Switch to sweeper
- If kill or assist > Jungle Item + Buy a pink + wards + potions + Switch to sweeper
- If kills or assists > Jungle Item + Buy wards + Pots + Long Sword or Tome or Crystal + Switch to sweeper
Pathing + Smite
You’ll learn this with experience. Try not to walk past dead camps to another. If that’s the case it’s generally better just to back, buy an item + ward + pots, then continue to jungle. Be smart, plan in advance.
Try to save a smite for objectives. Purple smite + always smite Razerbeaks essential gives you a perma oracles. Good for ganking junglers who don’t need blue smite.
- Purple – Farm
- Blue – Gank
- Red – Dueling
- White – Don’t even think about it.
- Try to keep each jungle entrance warded. If possible move wards in towards their Razerbeaks or Gromp
- Ward river bush at 1:40 then run to your first camp(If you didn’t have to ward because of an invade). This prevents any lvl 2 ganks or invades. Fuck cheesers.
- Crab is worth it. Basically shuts down an entire gank path for free. Do it safely.
- Turrets > ALL. Most importantly. Turrets > Dragon
- Try to get your jungle item ASAP. Good powers spike. Gives gold for jungle monsters killed.
- Experiment with Sight Stone and USE IT. Vision is the most broken mechanic in the game. It tells you when you can and can’t fight and gives you objective control. I build Sight Stone on almost all of my junglers.
- Pink your entrances. Behind Red, Bana-bush. Try for the sneaky pink by their red if you can. Places you can defend easily early. Good catalyst for fights.
- Learn how to kite camps.
So basically why the junglers that are strong right now are so good is because they can establish early game dominance to help their team win the game. Later in the game they provide some damage, not a lot, some utility, and are relatively tanky but killable.
The issues with tank junglers are… they can become un-killable. Now imagine, for example, a Nautilus that can clear the jungle just as fast and healthy as a Lee Sin, AND stand toe-toe to him in a 1v1. Well that means that Nautilus can now duel all other junglers and gank as frequently. Naut has a crap ton of CC making for relatively deadly ganks. Because he is now free to farm and gank when he pleases he becomes un-killable. This leads too….balance. Yes balance.
So right now if you’re playing a tanky jungler, you are weak early, but if not punished or your team is doing well you can properly scale into the late game and become an un-killable tank. The early game junglers have this exact same trade off. They sacrifice late game power to snowball the game.
Now imagine you have a Sion top with Nautilus jungle. Who’s going to kill them? Marksmen, since the removal of DFG this is really the only option. Well, who can take care of Marksmen easily? Assassins. Welcome back to the mid assassin meta.
In short, you can’t bring tanky junglers up to speed as the early game junglers simply because it would make tanky junglers too strong. These two styles cannot co-exist, with a few exceptions of course. You have Nunu which builds full tank, but hes not really a CC bot, he’s really there just to secure objectives and buff your adc. You can also build things like J4 and Vi pure tank, but you sacrifice their early and mid game.
Thank you for reading. Good luck out there!