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The Big Four

March 9th, 2013 Leave a comment


When it comes to jungling, four champions stick out above all others: Xin, Vi, Hecarim, and J4. While this may not seem like a huge deal, how often does a team-mate instantly rage when one of those four champions is selected on the enemy team and yours has a jungler not on that list?
Survey says: almost every time.

While we can argue that itemization, health stacking, and all the other shiny new things season 3 has brought us make these champions OP, the real answer lies elsewhere. These champions can all carry from the jungle; in a sense they invalidate the ranged DPS champions. They can roam, gank, and eventually become un-killable demi-Gods of death and destruction.

How did we get to this?

1.  The old counter-jungle, snowball-based, ganking junglers have all been nerfed to a point where counter-jungling is mostly risk, without reward.  Shyvanna, Lee, Shaco, even Noct, all have been nerfed to balance  around the Season 2 meta, leaving the Big Four not just as the most viable picks, but the superior picks every time.  Think on it, since the start of Pre-Season  every patch has more or less knocked a champion out of the jungle until the previous popular picks were almost unviable.  Lee is an example of this, a champion many suspect was nerfed, simply because he saw too much gameplay.

2.  The increase of warding in general has knocked out some other junglers who needed the element of surprise to be successful. Fiddlesticks is easily the best example, he needed those spots in the dark to sneak an ultimate, however those dark spots are near non-existent. Meanwhile because of their gap-closers the Big Four hardly need to worry about wards.

3.  A shift away from sustained teamfight to a herd and slaughtered set-up. Heal, Peel, and Protect the ADC is a thing of the past.  While a team might be able to stop J4 from diving the carry- the burst AP Carry is now free to insta-gib a team free of CC methods, flashes, and maybe ultimates. Think about Xin, how often does a team have to Chain CC that champion to contain him. If one champion eats up 100% of a teams CC, what do you use on the other four that remain?

4. The addition of more roles to carry from. Think Season 2: Tanky Top, ADC Carry/Support Bottom, APC Mid, with an Off-Support Jungle. Now we have a Tanky Carry Top, Tanky CC Bottom or AP Soft Carry on Bottom, Carry Jungle, APC Mid, and the ranged DPS is raging at you to keep him alive.

5. The falloff of utility and support junglers.  Think about champions like Malphite who was a strong pick in season 2, now however most champions can simly eat his ultimate, and thats if any choose to stay in one spot, meanwhile the tankiness of champions like Malphite are shredded by the free stats given to the Big Four that allow for easy tank busting, while being tanky themselves.

6. Lastly, that knock-ups and knock-backs have almost replaced stuns and slows as the most effective type of CC method. While Lee or Shaco might be able to slow Hecarim, the effect is lost soon as he uses an ability. Meanwhile dive an enemy carry with a Hecarim on their team, and watch as you get knocked into a wall to be focused.

Why Now?

In essence we have a  last man standing mentality.  We saw this at the start of season 2 with Akali dominating the scene.  Basically ALL the other jungle champions found themselves nerfed or invalidated because of items or clear times, this left the Big Four as the only champions remaining to pick.  Not because people initially were following FoTM OP, but because the more popular picks had simply been nerfed too hard, leaving few logical choices to jungle with.

e Big Four

So what exactly is it that makes those champions not only the most viable junglers, but also carry junglers? What it comes down to is gap closers mixed with a formation disruption and the innate abilities to counter the HP/Resistance Meta they represent. Does it matter if a teams Ranged DPS is fed if a jungler can simply ignore the front line, dive and kill him?

It is arguable one of the largest problems when playing against these champions is the amount of itemization it takes to counter them. Any summoner who plays against them will usually need health to last long enough during engages, some defense to not let their life-steal get out of control, armor penetration, and a item to neutralize lifesteal or health regeneration.

Those four champions can do exactly that; they can ignore the front line and go straight to the Range DPS. Meanwhile those champions have a kit that disrupts the enemy formation, and allows for their team-mates to have a 4v2 followed by a 4v1 followed by clean up of the survivors.

Formation disruption is what makes these four champions so viable. If you can separate a team during a team-fight, you win. If you can separate carries from their tanks, from their supports, from those who can peel for them, can they still carry? Not so much.

Which leaves one question, who is the real carry?

J4 Overall Win-rate: 53%
Vi Overall Win-rate:  48%
Xin Overall Win-rate: 52.5%
Hecarim Overall Win-rate: 54.75%


4 j

J4 vs: Xin, 50.9%  – Vi, 53.4% – Hec, 49.6%
Xin vs: J4, 49.1% – Vi, 54% -  Hec, 49.5%
Vi vs: J4, 46.5% – Xin, 46% – Hec, 43.9%
– Vi loses hard to the other members of the Big Four, but wins against everyone else.

Hec vs: J4, 50.4% – Vi, 56.1% – Xin, 50.5%

How to Manage

1. Ban them outright. Though this route is not ideal, partially because one of those champions will be left unbanned, and the other will be that team-mates will instantly rage when the popular Season 2 bans of Shen/Malphite/Darius/Other pub-stompers from months ago don’t get banned.

2. If you can cannot beat them, join them. There are only three champions that have an even or winning rate versus one of the Big Four, and those are the other three on the list.

3. If your team has done neither of the first two options, numbers wise, you are destined to fail and who wants to play a fifty-minute game with your big hope being an afk player, a troll, or a legendary throw?

-Upcoming articles, The Fallicy of Balancing a game around the Ranged ADC – Support Meta, and why its still done.

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  • Josh

    If not for the fact that she’s just op in general and a stronger mid, I would add Kayle to this list.

  • TellsWhatsHeard

    I still play maokai, wrecks top and mid at my lvl 4 (usually their lvl 2-3), force their jungler to try to do the same, counterganks them, usually wins the game if bot lane doesnt snowball too hard and their teamcomp can def their adc for billions of years

  • BilionDolaBluntz

    Incon :
    Has anyone thought of Sejuani? She has decent clear times, amazing ganks, and provides great utility to the team. While she can’t carry like the aforementioned junglers, her CC allows her to affect not only the jungler, but the whole team at one time. Not to mention the health stacking meta has been extremely kind to her making her a premier tank. Her W scales with health making her even more viable. With her multiple slows, she hard counters Hecarim. I think shes very viable at this time.

    Any of these 4 (with the exception of Vi in some cases) could go into the enemy jungle lvl3 and kill Sejuani like she was some kind of bonus creep. Then take all her remaining creeps. If I see Sejuani on load screen I go Wolves>Blue>Red>their red>Sejuani.

  • Spacian

    I don’t know which elo we are talking about, I’m gold V, former 1500 elo. That’s not high at all. People realised how to easily counter Vi at some point even at my elo (winrate 48%, anyone remembers?). Yes you can ult the carry. That doesn’t mean you can solo their whole team. The only one who can like always solo the carry is Hecarim. The others are CC bots that heavily rely on their team to finish the carry at a certain point, not too far in the game, and even when 6-0. I experienced that way too often.

    I admit that Voli is at least different in playstyle. He can’t dive the backline. But he can tank front and backline fore quite a while. He is great at protecting your carry. And his ganks pre6 are stronger than the ganks of “the big four”, post6 only slightly weaker in some cases, but he doesn’t need his ult to gank properly, so he can gank way more often. And IF he reaches the carry, he can at least tank him, but he can solo him for way longer than Xin. After all, Voli can’t really snowball himself, but he can snowball his team.

    And speaking of free stats: As long as Voli doesn’t get nuked from 30% to 0, he has 130% HP. That’s quite a lot of free stats.

  • rtyhwertwqert

    I think most of you are really missing the point on this article. Yeah he’s making the claim that these are the only 4 valid junglers, but not in literally every case. These are the PUBSTOMP champions, the new soloq dominators. Every other jungle champ (esp. the ones mentioned, but also voli, lee, etc.) either cannot dive backline nearly as hard and still get away, does NOT get the amazing free stats these 4 do, and requires team coordination to work. These 4 you can essentially be a complete knucklehead and still get fed and dive the carries SO EASILY that it’s not even funny.

  • Moobu

    aryn :
    name one.
    also you do not lose automatically ofc. your chances to lose are just increased.
    instead of taking everything literally maybe start abstracting sometimes you subhuman.

    This is literally one of the weakest attempts at an internet insult I’ve read in years.

  • timotheus auge

    sejuani is okay, but has the same weakness most utility jungker have:
    when it comes to counterganks and therefore 2on2 shes just weaker than j4, vi or xin.
    thats why u dont see her as much.

  • JohnDoe

    She’s kinda ok. She has three big cons to her:
    1) she loses a lot of HP in the jungle (at least in my experience)
    2) I’m probably not very good with her, but for me her ganks were kind of meh.
    3) the most impactful con: she has no defensive ability; Q is gapcloser/damage/knockup W is aoe damage, E is aoe damage/slow, R is aoe skillshot stun. All of the champions mentioned by author are good in part because they have some defensive ability (Hec – his aoe heal of damage, Xin ult + heal on 3rd attack, Vi passive, Jarv shield + armor of W).

  • Incon

    Has anyone thought of Sejuani? She has decent clear times, amazing ganks, and provides great utility to the team. While she can’t carry like the aforementioned junglers, her CC allows her to affect not only the jungler, but the whole team at one time. Not to mention the health stacking meta has been extremely kind to her making her a premier tank. Her W scales with health making her even more viable. With her multiple slows, she hard counters Hecarim. I think shes very viable at this time.

  • BiggMommy

    i think that the only viable ban here is vi maybe xin but not j4 or noc

  • JohnDoe

    @aryn: Kayle – ult and heal have huge range, so having team split has lesser consequence; cast ult on champ jungler is trying to focus, melt that SOB, profit. Also, you deal enough damage to basically double as another carry (with Rageblade you can solo many carries 1v1 with minimal stutterstepping).
    Cho’Gath – you dive, I CC you to hell and feast your ass so our carries can melt you. Pop Reverie, disengage, wait for cooldowns to come up for me, reengage, bam, you’re fucked.

    And that’s just two examples…

  • Araiguma

    I accept your premise, but i reject your conclusion.

  • sTiyl

    I hate it when people go “if you dont pick or ban x you loose” because it’s just not true.

  • Nick

    I agree that these champions are dominating the jungling meta, but that doesn’t mean it’s a for sure win. All that aside, I do agree that Hecarim is worth banning now.

  • http://Itrolltrundlepeckershredder.tv Itroll

    just play trundle

    easy answer

  • Scott
  • Scott

    If we are talking about just in the jungle these 3 are good but I’m pretty sure jax does really good against all of them.

  • Beastmister

    This article is biased if I’ve ever seen it. Physical health shred bruisers, Hec aside, is not the end-all-be-all of jungling. There are literally dozens of champions that can compete with any of these picks. And no, the team does not rage when they see one of those picks. If you’re at that level that a team rages instead of coordinating team picks and play, ANY jungler will shred just as well.

  • Monster

    o.o, nasus is extremely good in the jungle. He provides extremely good ganks with his wither and is so strong in late game team fights. You can lock people down easily, force them to flash out instantly and if they don’t have it they GOING TO DIE. He also counters the hp meta with his ult, is excellent at 1v1 skirmishes as well. Defiantly 1 of the stronger junglers since the recent nerfs on the others.

  • Freaky4Life

    Well, i think you see this dramatically.
    Vi was OP, with the nerfs did she become balanced. The nerf on spirit nerfed heca and vi.
    Nasus and voli are the 2 who can stay the ground with those 4 imo.

  • aryn

    name one.

    also you do not lose automatically ofc. your chances to lose are just increased.
    instead of taking everything literally maybe start abstracting sometimes you subhuman.

  • DrMurloc

    Wow this has got to be the most stupid article ever written. You can basically skip all the bullshit and cut to the end where it says and I quote:

    “3. If your team has done neither of the first two options, numbers wise, you are destined to fail and who wants to play a fifty-minute game with your big hope being an afk player, a troll, or a legendary throw?”

    That is so stupid. So you are basically saying if my team don’t pick these champs or ban them so the enemy team picks them my team is destined to lose? There are alot of good junglers to counter them so cut the bullshit seriously.

  • timotheus auge

    these champs are also great for peeling of from an ad carry so they can just decide to not dive and still be good, right?
    So whats ur plan with your trundle if someone plays smart?

  • someone

    Trundle all the way. Seriously, he counters ad divers, tanks, teams with a single tank and initiaten. Thats 3 out of The Big Four right there.
    Xin dives on your carry? Sure. Let me just steal your ad, your resistances and pillar your team away from you.

  • timotheus auge

    i see far more volibear and nasus jungle than hecarim, but i totally agree on your main point of metha shift and on the big strengh of xin, vi and j4.

  • Draedgal


    Sorry I forget to add something.

    IMO wtf with the bans.

  • BartenderBilly

    win-rate doesn’t determine if the champ is good or not. If soloqueue can’t play them with great success doesn’t mean the champ itself is bad, as you clearly can see Vi has everything S3 junglers need and therefore she’s one of the big four. and I’m sure the bear would’ve been in “The Big 5″ as he’s really strong, but not as strong as the other 4 in general, although he’s been played a lot. That’ll probably vhange aswell from week to week, just like olaf, no one plays him anymore for no reason, he’s still as strong as before in the top lane.

  • Draedgal


    Thanks for your powerful and instructive comment. It helps to improve a lot.

    By the way, I think that even if the statistics are saying that, I’m pretty sure that sooner or later the “old” junglers will come back and add variety. But right now I approve with you OP, the big 4 are the best today.

  • lolwat

    rofl no those articles are so bad lmao



    Totally agree

  • Mord3kais3r

    “Meanwhile dive an enemy carry with a Hecarim on their team, and watch as you get knocked into a wall to be focused.”

  • BrotherBlood

    Lol so many comments that are like “Waaaahhhh, waaaaaah, my favorite champion didnt get mentioned.”

  • Spacian

    Where is Volibear? I know he is not the backline dive type of jungler, but he was picked more often in IEM than Vi, Hec and J4 together… And you leave him out…

    I have some doubts about Vi and Hec as well, especially after the changes, and because Vi has only a winrate of 48%… (I feel like “the big four” should have a winrate way over 50%, not way below…) But I won’t say anything about them because I didn’t play them since their changes. And I don’t know how to play Xin or J4.

  • asdaadsd

    @Beast º

    this was the most retarded Naruto bleach goku anime shit I have ever read.

  • EnderForHegemon

    Kudos to the choice of title. Love the Agatha Christie reference, assuming I’m right. ^.^ Also I agree with these guys being amazing junglers for sure!

  • Beast º

    Every champion is strong as long as u play it with all your emotions. no matter who you are playing u can kill your opponent if ur just playing it right. a 1v1 fight can easily take 30 seconds or more. Too many players just want it to end in 10 sec

  • sAviOrWeRRa

    How can you have an article about junglers and not include Volibear? Volibear has much more impact than Hecarim right now….

  • AE_Carebear

    Even I have almost totally quitted LoL, I do indeed follow the news and forums quite often and LCS has been most interesting to watch.

    Lets take a rather popular streamer like Dyrus and watch him play Vi or J4.. its rare to see him fail alot. Ofcourse sometimes anyone fails and things dont go as planned, but around the % giving in OP post its really true… these 4 are moreless wrecking alot of teams. In the essence the OP poster has it nailed down, I do disagree with few points – but he is right. RIOT has blind sighted themselfs with targetting few champs via item nerfs, but it affects the same amount of other champs.

    As for meta change… for junglers part Im waiting what do the Asians and “old M5″ come up, due in their “nature” has been always to change to current meta or play seriously against current system and win.

    Changes are always good, but sometimes changes dont go as planned.

  • dudeperfect

    Essentially this article outlines most of the things that are wrong with League at the moment. On the one hand you have the ranged dps carry, whose items got nerfed into the ground while simultaneously buffing tank-items and ridiculous attackspeed-slows and on the other hand there are bruisers and some assassin-champions who simply can do everything at once.

    Vi is a good example. Not only does she have a double-gapcloser, the second of which is targetted and can’t be escaped by any means (aka her ult), which essentially means she’ll get to your backline, no matter what. She also gets fairly strong burstdamage on her e, which blows up squishies AND strong percentage-based sustained damage on her w, which enables her to duel and shred other tanky champions. AND ON TOP she gets high innate tankyness, including shields from her abilities.

    I mean, come on, really? All in one champion? Compare that to the new ranged dps they released (aka Quinn). Horrendeous range, super squishy, no free repositioning tool for fights (her w only helps against one champ diving you, but in the current meta there are 2-3), her Q get’s blocked by minions, so next to no use in lane, her w does nothing at all fight-wise and her ult puts her in a melee form. Isn’t that all you ever wanted as a 1600 HP adc with 70 armor and mr? The ability to rush into the middle of a fight faster? Great…

    And now they nerfed the BotrK-active to be less adc- and more bruiser-friendly. So apparently Riot doesn’t even see the direction the game’s headed…

  • Keepuh

    You need to practice your English, Coxy.

  • Unknownblade

    Do you even play League? You should know that we have ALWAYS had his happen.

    Janna, Sona, Blitz

    Graves, Ezreal, Corki

    Diana, Eve, Zyra

    It’s riot’s fault that they don’t know how to balance their own game, not the community.

  • Snuggs

    @Bart, The problem with cross referencing league to dota, is that Dota is a more item driven game overall. Not to say that champion skill sets don’t play any role at all, however DOTA has a snowball effect unlike anything league has ever achieved. A lot of champion matchups do come down to skill, and their skillset. While items do play a role in League, its not the same effect as dota. (Yes I do play dota). As soon as someone starts snowballing in DOTA if you don’t crush it fast and level the playing field the game is over, there is very little recourse, it tends to get out of hand extremely fast.

    In league, item scaling is there, but a champions abilities and what they provide for a team are much more weighted, as I find that league is a more forgiving game individually than dota, but on a team scale is much more punishing. So that is where our math, and meta game come from A champions skills stay just as relevant as any item he buys. There are static item values to go from, so yes you can math out the effectiveness of just about anything on paper. There is plenty of exploration going on at the top levels of play, and even in LCS, the trickle down to the lower levels of play is slow. Hence the stale, slow change to meta game.

  • Jeff

    Come on now. Stupid articles like these are just begging people to play more J4 and Hecarim. Are you guys trying to get J4 nerfed more? Him and Hecarim have been in a good place for a long time. Why not include Lee Sin who has more utility than half of these up here?

  • Bob


    Bart :
    I hate to compare DOTA to LOL but in the DOTA community, the best picks are based on strategy at the time and discovered popularity, not stat based superiority and the idea that they are “strictly better above all others”

    This is discovered popularity, and there’s no reason not to pick based on strategy. I don’t see where you are going with this except for the fact that you played DOTA.

  • Chase


    Don’t give us that shit man. Patches and balance changes come super fast in League, which mean the optimal picks and bans are going to change. These hierarchies are developed BECAUSE the League community is exploratory. Maybe you weren’t here a few years ago, but back when the game launched we pretty much had a “everything goes anywhere” mindset. But people learn, we find out what goes with what, and the “meta” forms. These 4 champs are simply rampaging through solo queue and the LCS, and everyone knows it. If you have a beef with it, then I guess you’re just shit out of luck.

  • Jensel Diaz

    Finally a decent article, but then comes the bottom half.

    Vi good against Xin Zhao? Um, no. Xin wins every gank before 6 and even then, he can counter gank really well after 6.

    J4 good against Vi? Uh, check her W.

    Most of it comes down to player skill, but I can’t really agree with the “counterpicks” here. But I’d like to see people copy this so I can pwn them in ranked ^^.

  • Michael

    The problem is, is that when Riot changes items they don’t look at the big picture. When you change all of these that let you have 1000 health and some health regen and then these bruisers already have high base damage on their spells, what did you think would happen? They remove madreds then they basically just change BotRK in to it, because they realized that health is stupid…but then wait. This item also gives more damage to Bruisers. I realize their aim at changing items but they have to realize that what they are changing will change ALL of the champs in the game and they need to nerf/buff champs to compensate.

  • Bart

    No offense but every patch people post things like “THESE CHAMPIONS ARE THE BEST YOU HAVE TO PLAY THEM EVERYONE ELSE IS TERRIBLE” and before they even get hotfix nerfed, people prove it wrong. Can’t we calm down for a change? I hate to compare DOTA to LOL but in the DOTA community, the best picks are based on strategy at the time and discovered popularity, not stat based superiority and the idea that they are “strictly better above all others”.

    I think if the LOL community relaxed, and was a little more exploratory with their picks, they’d find there’s a lot less of a hierarchy of champions than they believe it is.