History Lesson - The Classic Types of Junglers

Back before the jungle remake every jungler would find themselves placed into a category type of what kind of jungler they are. They still do and what "types" of junglers exist now will be covered in a later date but in for now it is nice to revisit what the old jungler types were. Of course some may say this is overcomplicating things but in my opinion having labels such as this and ways of organizing things helps the game's depth come more into light.

The types of junglers were originally referred to as "The Triad of Junglers" by a few people though of course they tended to say it in a less nerdy fashion. Even to those that were uneducated in this knew there seemed to be junglers with different purposes. This will be a good history lesson for those who didn't experience the game with this triad and a good revisit for those who had forgotten about it. Truth being they still exist in some way but in either a different fashion or with a truck load of variables added on to them. It is also imperative to note that the jungle remake made the jungle a lot easier and junglers lost a lot of individual uniqueness.

The Triad of Junglers consisted of the controller, the ganker and the farmer. Every type of jungler had become prevalent at some point though a lot of the best junglers had a "main" type but could also switch to a "sub" type. Take for example the jungler from hell - Nunu! In the old jungle he stood as one of the most overpowered junglers in the entire game. He was a god level control jungler and a master level ganker (at the time). A jungler who had duo types of jungling and could switch on the fly was often considered amongst the best.

Anyways here is the breakdown of the Triad starting with the least prevalent over the course of the old jungle's existence. I will also mention some of the more notable junglers from that type. Also the videos posted in this article are VERY old and with the old jungle!

Farmer Jungler
Notable Junglers - Master Yi, Gangplank, Tryndamere

This is pretty self explanatory. The farmer jungler focused on farming their own jungle at a rapid pace and could even surpass the solo laners in gold and experience. This was actually possible in the old jungle so farmer junglers could be argued as useful. They focused on speed above all else and looked to snowballing their clearing. Because of their ability to snowball like crazy they were resistant to control junglers that focused on thievery. It was very possible for a farmer jungler to spend most of the early game and early mid game in the jungle. They treated the jungle like another lane and they could become a major threat if left unchecked. That being said you can already see the weakness here. The farmer would be sacrificing his laners to fend for themselves. This leads to their most apparent and exploitable weakness. Farmer junglers were a very risky pick vs gankers because if the enemy team was gank happy and the lanes were being pressured quite substantially then the famer would have to halt their farm fest in order to relieve some of it. In order to crush the farmer the enemy team simply had to force the farmer out with constant lane pressure either by pushing like crazy or ganking like crazy. This is the main reason why farmer junglers spent so little time being the prevalent junglers. It was a very on and off thing with them. They tended to excel when the game was going through meta transitions. The roaming meta pretty much made farmers obsolete until it was crushed. It was most prevalent when AD range was mid and the game was really slow and dragged out.

The Ultimate Farmer

Gangplank was the ultimate jungle farmer. He did come very late into the game sure after his small rework but he made quite the splash. Yes he could gank and they could be deadly but honestly he could focus on just farming and become a god. It also helped him that he had a global ultimate which he could use to cherry pick some ganks/assists or farm a lane that was pushed to its tower. This was also when his parley wasn't nerfed to hell and had a huge gold bonus. In short this guy reached a gold advantage far quicker than any farmer and even laner. He was utterly insane. You could build almost anything on him and still be effective. His raise morale also gave his team a huge "gold advantage" when used. In short, Gangplank was the ultimate example of a god tier farmer as he could reach his strongest builds quicker than even the laners and needed to be desperately kept in check.

Ganking Jungler/Ganker
Notable Junglers - Fiddlesticks, Maokai, Nocturne, Jarvan, Rammus

This too is very self explanatory to anyone who knows what the term gank means. In short a ganker focused on terrorizing the lanes non stop without mercy. Their entire game revolved around their need to murder people. They would absolutely fall apart if they don't achieve any ganks but could absolutely run the game if they did their jobs right. Unlike the farmer they often did not have snowballing jungle clears but they made up for it by having lots of success at ganking. Even though some junglers who weren't labeled as ganking junglers could still gank successfully they couldn't compare to the true ganking junglers. Sure some of them had yet to be nerfed (cough nocturne) but the jungle wasn't nerfed yet either. Ganking junglers had a funny history. Which ganking jungler was used depended on which control jungler was dominant at the time. Control junglers utterly shut down gankers. If the control jungler knew the match up well they could stomp the ganker at every turn. A control jungler stopped a ganker by hounding them and assisting whichever teammate is being targeted while in the meantime dropping wards and controlling objectives making it so the ganker can't even move around without being spotted. Hell help the ganker who faced not only a control jungler but a support who knew how to use clairvoyance.

The Balance Issue

Fiddlesticks was one of the first well known junglers and has been a balance issue, for good or bad, with Riot since the beginning of jungling. I don't think any jungler has gone through more bouts of being utter trash or god mode. He was the pure definition of a ganking jungler as he has some of the most destructive tools for ganking and he can snowball out of control and dictate the game. He inspired utter fear during the laning phase and once he reached level 6 well all hell broke loose. What made Fiddlesticks one of the ultimate gankers was that he could exert so much control back when mobility wasn't so prevalent and he could gank multiple people - including entire teams. In short he packed tons of crowd control, tons of AoE damage and was, at that time, someone that required a lot of effort to kill (that overpowered drain). While it can be argued that he still has that strength, Fiddlesticks had his best days during the old jungle. One thing that's worth noting is that Fiddlesticks, unlike other gankers, was resistant to control junglers that focused on dueling. He'd just drain them to death - even Lee Sin and Trundle just got shooed away.

Control Jungler
Notable Junglers - Nunu, Trundle, Udyr, Lee Sin, Warwick

Now control junglers were the legitimate rulers of the old jungle. They had the most time in the spotlight and some control junglers automatically dictated how the game was going to go down. Having amazing sustain is what made a jungler a controller. If a jungler had high sustain they could roam the map longer and safer than other junglers and artificially give themselves speed in the jungle as in while the enemy jungler has gone home to heal they (the sustained jungler) can continue jungling without worry. They also, on average, had more item choices. This was very rare in the old jungle as many junglers were forced to start cloth armor no matter what. Thanks to their super sustain most control junglers could at least forgo some health potions in favor of a ward or even build boots. Control junglers originally started as junglers who roamed the map and placed wards and did that whole map awareness thing. This is where farmers didn't have to worry about controllers. Then came the roaming meta which pit the enemy jungler vs both a roamer and a jungler (if that team didn't have a roamer of their own). The controller couldn't stop 2 gankers whether they were together or ganking different places at the same time. This eventually led to the birth and discovery of duelist focused control junglers. The duelists were the ones who crushed the roaming meta since if they showed up during a gank they could easily turn it around. Even better the duelists control junglers invaded the enemy jungle not necessarily to steal but to find their opponents and murder them. Control junglers were the best and most consistent in the game. The best controllers could deal with farmers and gankers with no problems and even other controllers if they knew the match up well.

The Dueling God

When he was first released Lee Sin had incredible sustain and was a great thief. That was pretty much all he could do because he had bugs everywhere else and his Q was slow as all hell. They fixed Lee Sin and re imagined his purpose and they took some of his sustain in exchange for better ganking and ungodly dueling. Lee Sin was the epitome of the duelist jungler. It is true that Trundle was the jungler you didn't fight 1v1 but Lee Sin had an advantage over Trundle. Trundle ran on mana and while he was super sustained health wise his mana was an issue. Lee Sin ran on energy and that alone let him sustain himself all day if he wanted to. It was not uncommon for a Lee Sin player to take a doran's blade/wriggles and boots and just invade non stop. As a control jungler Lee Sin will be abusing wards to keep track of everything on the map and Lee Sin's shield had yet to be nerfed. Pretty much the guy was slippery, could re engage easily and had mobility that at the time was unmatched from a jungler. He was also the jungler that made level 2 ganks easy and brutal. They were even more dangerous coming from Lee Sin as his energy saved him from any sustain loss if his gank were to fail.

The Former King

Warwick's time as one of the god junglers has long since past. He was one of the first discovered junglers even though he was bugged as hell. When those bugs were fixed he went from a joke to a king. He stayed as one of the prime junglers throughout the course of the old jungle. He reached his prime when suppression was introduced and him reaching level 6 was certain death in the laning phase. He was one of the best jungle picks during the roaming meta as someone else covered the early pressure while he just farmed till level 6. Warwick also was one of the junglers with the most pathing choices. Back in the old jungle pathing was a really big deal and having multiple paths was a huge advantage. The Warwick player had access to multiple path patterns that landed them in a specific level, placed them at a specific location, early dragon paths and even match up specific paths. It was very difficult to predict what Warwick was planning on doing and you couldn't necessarily duel him. Even Trundle and Lee Sin had to watch themselves as Warwick could fight them 1v1 and outlast them if it was on equal footing. Warwick also had the advantage of being able to start with multiple item builds such as boots which were very rare in the old jungle, long sword for faster clearing, vampiric scepter for even more sustain, cloth armor with a ward for early control or even doran's blade for offense.

The Jungle Tactician

It was often said in that in the old jungle you never ever fought Trundle in the jungle. God help you if you dared invade his jungle and he caught you. Not only did he trash people in 1v1 duels but his wall made it nearly impossible to escape him in the small corridors of the jungle. He was also one of the most sustained junglers in the game so you'd often find him at full health and having a health advantage against his opponent. In the old jungle era no one had boots not even the laners. That was a very rare thing and Trundle's contaminate was one of the few powerful speed boosts. When it was used in combination with his pillar his target/opponent had no chance in hell of escaping unless they burned everything they had. Trundle was also a jungler that could easily take out dragon early and later on his ultimate allowed him and his team to shred both baron and dragon. In short the enemy jungler could not access Trundle's jungle but at the same time their own jungle is at risk of invasion and to add to that Trundle is a strong ganker and could target his teammates or could decide to devour dragon early. He utterly destroyed roamers and gankers and only the best of controllers could face him.

Even now I still look at the old jungle fondly because of how ass breaking it used to be. It was like a huge game of chess and your decisions mattered a lot more. It was fun. I did understand why it needed to change and now I do feel, as nostalgic as I can be, the new jungle is better. While it is more homogenized in terms of a lot of junglers doing the same things, there is just a lot more choices in characters you can pick. This in turn makes their transitions matter even more and your jungle pick can be made for your team instead of just being for the jungle. Your team comps won't completely be dictated on by what's going into the jungle from both teams and thereby diversifying the game.

BONUS VIDEO - The last team battle with the old jungle

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