The League of Legends Jungle Pool Has Expanded – How Will the New Champs Fare?
Jungling might be the most complicated role to play in League of Legends because it involves so many things to keep track of. You have to think about your clear speed, but also consider it against the opponent jungler’s clear speed. You have to think of an appropriate path to help your laners, you have to consider which lane needs your help the most, and which neutral objectives to prioritize. You have to commit jungle camps’ respawn timers to memory, and you also have to track the enemy jungler in order to counter their attempts to gank. You also have to carefully think about your 1v1 matchup against their jungler in case you run into them while taking some jungle camps! It also does not help that the jungle gets major changes every season, and somehow the role has to be relearned with each passing year.
In Season 2020, though, aside from the changes in jungle experience and the elemental drakes, certain champions were given adjustments to be able to be played in the jungle. These changes were implemented, according to the balance team, in order to one: make jungling a bit easier for people in lower elos, and two: expand the viable jungle champion pool. Across two patches, 10.4 and 10.5, eight champions have been changed: Darius, Diana, Garen, Gnar, Mordekaiser, Poppy, and Zed. The changes were mostly towards giving bonus damage to monsters, so that their interactions with other champions in lane matchups would not be affected.
New Junglers and Some Thoughts
The most viable junglers are still the ones who can reliably engage, close gaps, and/or skirmish, which means that Diana, Talon, Zed, and Poppy might be the most viable ones. Mordekaiser will still have a hard time with his conditional crowd control, and putting him and an opponent in the death realm might be a huge toss up when fighting over a neutral objective. A great level of mastery is required to fully bring out the potential of a champion like Gnar, especially when taking into consideration the fact that proper management between his forms is necessary. The range on Darius’ pull from his E, Apprehend, might be a bit too short if the laner he is ganking for is not able to help him out. Garen may situationally be viable especially if he has Predator, or a laner that can boost his capability to approach the opponent, like Yuumi or Karma, or both.
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Talon in particular seems like jungling might be an extremely good fit for him as his E, Assassin’s Path, enables him to jump over any terrain or structure, which may result into some creative jungle paths, and some unexpected gank angles. If paired with lanes that have good gank assistance, a Talon with at least one item may be able to kill an opponent bot laner or mage within one rotation of his spells.
Zed is in the same boat as Talon: his shadows through his W, Living Shadow, enable him to navigate through terrain, which means that he can be able to sneak up on unsuspecting opponents. For champions like Zed and Talon though, lanes with crowd control are necessary to make sure the ganks pay off. In addition, assassins often rely on a snowball-y style of play: you need to get them going in the first few minutes of the game or else they might not be that relevant for most of it.
Diana is a special case though: she has been somewhat viable in the jungle position since the changes to her abilities, and better access to her Lunar Rush and the high damage of her ultimate allows her to burst down enemies with one rotation. She is especially good when enemies are bunched up together when taking objectives like an Elemental Drake or Baron Nashor— use your ultimate right, and you will be able to win the teamfight instantly.
Poppy has also been somewhat viable in the jungle in the past, but the changes improve her clear speed. This means that with the right setup, she can get to lanes faster and slam enemies into walls. Poppy has always had a great amount of burst damage early on in the game, and the resistances she gains through the passive in her W, Steadfast Presence, means that she will be pretty difficult to kill. In addition, Poppy’s ultimate is great with establishing objective control: she can use her ultimate on an enemy jungler to send them flying, avoiding a 50-50 situation in the Baron or an Elemental Drake pit.
With that being said, some of the mainstay junglers are still in a very good spot right now: junglers such as Jarvan IV, Olaf, Sejuani, Lee Sin, Rek’sai, Gragas, and the occasional Kindred can still be counted on to do what they are supposed to do in the jungle. It might be a bit difficult for the newly-adjusted champions to deal with the mainstays in the jungle for now due to the aforementioned mainstays having a balanced combination of damage, crowd control, and camp clearing speed. Just remember to be very mindful of the team’s needs when jungling, and cooperate with your laners to be able to secure that win!