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Junglers for Beginners

February 3rd, 2013

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The Jungler has the most potential to turn a game around, yet it is the position that most people find the most daunting. They have the ability to focus on any lane they desire, to slow down the enemy jungler and to help out failing lanes. They can act as an initiator or tank in team fights, or even a bruiser carry depending on who you play. All this makes the Jungler  certainly the most versatile role in the game. In a return to my series on guiding the beginner to ranked play in the right direction, I want to point out a few of the changes that were made to the Jungle and then show a selection of Junglers that are highly recommended to anyone wanting to learn the role. For the seasoned Junglers among us, you will already know everything I’m going to say. For those of you wanting to tackle the behemoth that is the Jungle, read on! I am not going to talk about the best champions to play in the jungle for those experienced in the position. This isn’t going to be a meta-breaking discussion on how, if you play it just right, you can run Leona in the jungle- this is a simple point in the right direction for those wanting to pick up their first Jungle champion.

So what were the main changes to the Jungle?

Season 3 brought around a lot of changes to the jungle, most notably a change to how jungle creeps behave. The main change here was a massive increase in the amount of health large jungle creeps have, with a reduction in the health of smaller jungle creeps. This meant that sustain junglers like Warwick or Fiddlesticks were suddenly viable, and also that the jungle was no longer the sole realm of the AoE clear. Additionally, Hunters Machete was added to the game. It gives a small amount of true damage when attack monsters as well as 10% increased damage to monsters and the Spirit Stone upgrade is even stronger. Suddenly, AP junglers were far more viable, and with Madreds/Wriggles and Spirit Stone available, the field was wide open for junglers no one thought viable before the pre-season 3 patch.

hunter's machete

 

So which Junglers should I be trying out?

Nunu

NunuSquareNunu is a beast in the jungle. He’s primarily used because the combination of his Blood Boil (W) and Ice Blast (E) make him impossible to catch in the Jungle, which means he’s a fantastic counter jungler- but he also works great for those just starting to jungle. He has Consume, a mini-Smite, as his Q and his counter-jungling abilities mean if anyone tries to counter-jungle you, there’s no chance they’re getting away unless they burn flash, which is still a success. Nunu has a relatively quick clear time due to Consume and Blood Boil and if you manage his passive correctly, he isn’t as dependant on getting Blue buff as some other junglers. For full Nunu builds and guides check out this and this build on the Solomid guides page. He doesn’t have the strongest ganks due to not having a hard gap closer, so landing his Ice Blast is crucial to making ganks work. This can take some time to get used to, but once you’ve mastered his ganks and his counter-jungling, there’ll be no stopping you.

 

Amumu

Amumu is my favourite jungler, and for good reason. His Bandage Toss (Q) is a fantastic gap closer if you’re good with skill shots. The AoE damage output from his Despair (W) and Tantrum (E) aren’t bad, but his main ability AmumuSquareand the primary reason you might struggle to play him because he’s often banned in every game: Curse of the Sad Mummy. His (R) ability still remains as one of the best ganks in the games. Freezing the enemy in place for 2 seconds allows your own AoE damage and whoever you’re helping out with a gank to burst an enemy champion down. There are also better hard resets to team fights in the game. While Amumu is an incredibly strong ganker once he hits level 6, he does have downsides, primarily that he’s so Blue buff dependant. Despite various changes to Amumu over the last few years and various item changes- if the enemy team manages to successfully invade at the start of the game meaning Amumu doesn’t get Blue buff, he will be on the back foot until the next one comes up. Despite all this, we’ve seen time and time again through tournaments that Amumu is still incredibly viable with the right team composition, and is a champion that any budding jungler should know. For a full in depth guide on Jungle Amumu, check out this guide from TSM substitute Dan Dinh.

Maokai

MaokaiSquareLike many of the recommended champions for the beginner’s Jungle, Maokai is tanky. With the right build, outlined in this guide by TSM jungler TheOddOne, Maokai can be a powerhouse of ganks and CC. His Arcane Smash (Q) works as a knock-back that slows and damages enemies hit. Add in Twisted Advance (W), makes for a 1/1.25/1.5/1.75/2 second root and 20/27/34/41/48% slow throughout the game. Throw in a Flash or Exhaust depending on your preference and there’s no way the enemy is escaping your ganks. Perhaps the biggest downside to Maokai is the fact you must fully commit to fights. There’s no skirting around the edges, his Q, W and R all require you to be in the middle of the action. This isn’t too much of an issue and generally you build him tanky, but it can be a little daunting for someone new to the jungle. Once Maokai is perfected he is a champion that will stay in your repertoire for a long time, as he is still viable at high ranked bracket play and makes regular appearances at professional tournaments.

 

Warwick

Warwick is a pretty underrated Jungler and not one we see a lot of at high Elo (or should I say brackets?), but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective first Jungler. Although he doesn’t have the fastest clear times, Warwick’s WarwickSquarestrengths lie in the fact he has ridiculous levels of sustain. Both Warwick’s passive, Eternal Thirst and his (Q), Hungering Strike, give him good sustain in the jungle. This is even more important now that large Jungle creeps are much stronger. Sustain is never a bad thing and Warwick has plenty of it. Warwick’s ultimate, Infinite Duress, is also incredibly powerful if used correctly. At level six, if the lane you’re ganking is paying attention, you are almost guaranteed to get a kill. It is the combination of these two features that makes Warwick a great jungler. Yes he’s not the fastest clearer and yes he is incredibly dependent on his Infinite Duress to effectively gank, but his sustain makes him a great choice for someone wanting to learn jungle routes and ganking without having to constantly worry about health.

 

Dr. Mundo

DrMundoSquareNo discussion on Jungling is complete without talking about Dr. Mundo, which is why he’s earned the 5th and final spot in my most important beginner jungle champions guide. The first thing we notice about Dr. Mundo is the fact he doesn’t use mana, so this means we’re starting at Red Buff (or Wraiths if you so choose), but not Blue Buff. Mana is perhaps the biggest factor in holding many junglers back in the early game, but Dr. Mundo doesn’t have to worry about this. All he needs to worry about is his health, but once you have either a Warmog’s Armour or Spirit Visage, this isn’t an issue. Mundo can be played like a bruiser or a tank, and coupled with the fact he has very fast clear times due to the AoE of Burning Agony (W) and the steroid from Masochism (E) means you can gank lanes incredibly early. The lack of CC on Dr. Mundo is detrimental, so having some CC in lanes is important to making him successful. He can use his sheer tankiness as well as high damage output and frankly ridiculous sustain from his Sadism (R ) to make sustained ganks or repeat ganks on the same lane very rapidly. Mundo offers a different yet equally effective situation in the jungle compared to his blue buff dependent counterparts.

This is by no means a definitive guide to Jungling, nor is it an in depth discussion on every jungler, or even each of the champions I’ve listed. What I hope to have achieved is to help those of you who wish to play the role of Jungler throughout Season 3 to decide on a champion to play. For those of you with little to no experience in the jungle, you can’t go wrong with the champions I’ve listed and briefly described above. I hope that I’ve at least pointed a few of you in the right direction and I wish you the best of luck in your jungling career. Go gank some Teemos!

You can read my previous guide on AD carries here