State of the Jungle is an article series that details current meta changes in the jungle. It is aimed to inform players of all skill levels on how the jungle is currently played when effected by tournament results and solo queue formalities.
Check out what GambitGaming's DiamondProx has brought to the jungle meta after the jump!
A bear and a dog. Seriously, DiamondProx? Volibear and Nasus, two champions no one would believe, have become the favour of professional players alike. At first, I was absolutely puzzled as to why these two champions have risen in popularly so much as continuations of the 'Hybrid Junglers,' previously mentioned, such as Vi, Jarvan IV, and Xin Zhao. The holy trinity of Hybrid junglers were recently nerfed by Riot and play of them has dropped accordingly. As such, it makes more sense as to why Volibear and Nasus have seen more play.
Volibear has seen a ton of play in both LCS and solo queue, and justifiably so. He is another addition to the classification of 'hybrid junglers' that have been dominating Season 3. With a combination of a good clear time, and a game changing passive, he has quickly become one of my favorite junglers. A mix of maxing E on his kit and building Madreds with the attack speed steroid on his W gives him a very fast clear time. His Q, which was recently nerfed, gives him some mobility along with a broken mechanic that can fling people even after they flash (Skarner wants his nerfs reverted, riot). Furthermore, the most intimidating part of Volibear's kit is his passive which heals him for 30% of his maximum health. His passive lets him win almost any duel or skirmish in the jungle, heals him for ridiculous amounts of health in late game situations, baits enemies to their death, and forces ignites on low priority targets. However, with a lack of a true gap closer Volibear is vulnerable to soft CCs which make Janna a more popular pick in the LCS. Also, Thresh, Volibears free gap-closing-CCing friend, has become a more popular ban as teams and solo queue players alike fear the flying bear ganks that ravaged bot lane .
Nasus puzzled me for a long time; I could not figure out why he was such a contested pick in the LCS. He does fit the 'hybrid jungler' description as his ultimate makes him relatively difficult to kill and his Q stack will allow him some sort of late game damage while building pure defense. However, his only merits were the armor shred provided by his E and the ability for wither to destroy ADCs without proper itemization. His clear time was good when maxing his E ability but was extremely mana intensive. Although his kit was decent for jungling, many other champions do the job better. It wasn't until I considered the implications he had to the 'korean / push' meta that many teams have been favoring in the LCS that I realized he was an amazing pick. His ability to clear a wave with his E is game changing against teams who wish to play the korean / push meta. Nasus is like the Anivia of the jungle such that teams who wish to push down towers will find it almost impossible to do any tower damage as the wave is just cleared before it even hits the tower. Furthermore, with Riot nerfing Jarvan IV, Vi, Xin Zhao, and Volibear, Nasus appears to be the last remaining 'hybrid jungler' that has not been nerfed making him a lot stronger relatively.
|Nasus' popularity quickly rises as he sees more play in the LCS|
As Nasus and Volibear see a rise in popularity in the LCS, Vi and Xin Zhao have fallen in favor as Riot nerfs two of the original 'hybrid junglers.' After the nerfs on Xin Zhao, I noticed a huge fall of damage in mid-late game situations. He simply did not have the ability to stomp on ADCs by himself that he used to be able to do. Popular professional jungler, Gambit Gaming's DiamondProx, recently expressed similar thoughts on Xin Zhao. He expressed similar concerns on Vi, that Riot nerfed her too hard and has made her too weak in comparsion to more popular junglers now.
|Aegis of the Legion sees a small dip in popularity after the March 19, 2013 patch|
|Locket of the Iron Solari sees a small increase in popularity after the March 19, 2013 patch|
Following my empirical analysis on the nerfs of Runic Bulwark and Locket of the Iron Solari, I still believe that they are both items which are strong on junglers who wish to fill the role of an initiator for the team. As well as being cheap to build, these items are cost efficient and effective for the team. However, LCS players have seen an increase in Runic Bulwark rushes as I see many professional players rush the item first instead of Locket. Locket has seen a slight decrease in favor, albeit many players are still building it as part of their 'core items' on many jungle champions.
|Team Dignitas starts three red pots on all of their carries and go on to beat TSM in Week 7 Day 1 of the NA LCS|
This would not be a good article if I did not mention the significant increase in red pot starts for many laners. As a jungle enthusiast, I seriously despise this item enormously. It is not just snowbally top laners starting it now, even mid lane players who are playing AP champions with a melee ranged attack (Diana, Gragas) are starting it and bot lane ADCs. Hell, people are starting it to just not die in lane against those who did start it. The extra 100 to 200 HP it temporarily gives to a champion make ganking and tower diving more difficult to successfully pull off. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked away from an enemy champion that should die to ignite only for them to use red pot and survive. That being said, junglers should always be wary of red pots on the enemy list as it does influence gank potential significantly. I am glad they are increasing the price of Red Pot to discourage laners from starting with it, but I can still see it as a viable start after the change.