The Frontline - A Look Into Jungle Fighters

The previous article was about the most common jungler types you'll be expected to play if you jungle. This article will take it another step and be dedicated to semi tank/fighers and while some junglers that I placed here might seem a bit "off" I can assure you they gained that because of their versatility.

Unlike straight up jungle tanks not every jungler fighter jungler has the same runes or masteries (or at least do best with them) so they require just a tad more build knowledge. They do have a big advantage over Tank junglers in that they often times scale better and snowball harder. This of course also leads to the fact that most fighters have weak transitions with the exception of a few that will be mentioned here.

That being said a strong argument can be set for a few here as "why weren't they put as tanks?" but as I said they are versatile enough to also be fighters! The ones mentioned in the other article are sort of pigeon holed into the role of tank but these guys have more wiggle room. Take note by the way that this is just going to be PART ONE of the article.

Dr. Mundo
Phase - Mid/Late Type - Control

No matter what people say Dr. Mundo is more akin to a fighter than an actual tank. The closest he'd come to being a tank is to be considered a damage soak. He pretty much charges into the enemy team to piledriver the enemy carry/focus and will likely aggro everyone as he's pretty dangerous up close. It helps that his ultimate basically gives him back all his health to do this except you know when he gets ignited or some health reduction thing. Dr. Mundo is awesome in that he is a strong invader and can both focus and the farming aspect or dueling aspect if he pleases. He's fast enough and doesn't rely on resources (other than health) that he can drop by for a gank without losing much of his efficiency in the jungle.

Dr. Mundo is probably the best fighter pick in the game currently and with good reason. He is the fastest jungler in the game (unsafe early) and incredibly powerful at objectives. He can be built like a tank but can deal the damage of fighter. This is actually a really big deal. I've mentioned it before but I cannot stress it enough how big of an advantage it is to build solely tank but deal extreme amounts of damage because of it. He almost triple dips the value of tank items. He naturally gains tankiness by buying health and resistances just like anyone else but adds more defensive value to his items because of the increased effectiveness of his ultimate. Mundo runs on health as a resource for his abilities and W is allowed to be sustained for much longer once Mundo has more health and regeneration and then let's not forget about his E just being a massive damage steroid.

In short Dr. Mundo is amazing because he overcomes the fighter's weakness of needing gold by making every item be a giant strength boost to him, being an amazing counter jungler and early duelist, being super tanky and dealing good damage. He's actually a very strong early pick. He can't really be countered per say because champions with health reduction are few and people will be getting ignite anyways. They might get another because Dr. Mundo was picked but that's expected.

Lee Sin
Phase - Early/Mid Type - Omnipotent

Lee Sin gets the lovely labeling as perhaps the only omnipotent jungler in the game currently. There used to be more but the increase in mobility in basically everyone shut out the rest of them. What I mean by that is that Lee Sin is both able to become a control jungler or a ganking jungler in a game. He does not even have to build for it prior to the game! The Lee Sin player can just read the game and say "I think this is what needs to be done!" and do it. Lee Sin is one of the strongest duelists in the game and he can make it his life's work to counter jungle the enemy jungler all game and look for him and kill him. He can be the staple control jungler. He can do that or he can just try to murder the laners with his awesome set of skills. No other jungler has ganking tools as powerful as Lee Sin. Someone like Nautilus has multiple crowd control sure but doesn't pack the raw damage and versatility like Lee Sin. The following paragraphs will break down each of his focuses.

Lee Sin as a control jungler is almost artistic. The new jungle took a good chunk of his speed away and as a result some of the fastest junglers like Dr. Mundo and Shyvana can run circles on him. The jungle remake made it so most junglers favor taking boots instead of cloth armor. They'll have less defenses and sustain this means Lee Sin can punch a hole straight into a lot of junglers. Even then some junglers can out damage Lee Sin if he's not careful. This is what encourages Lee Sin players to be careful with their skill set. The early duels are marvelous with all the E kiting, engage - disengage and juking going on. Lee Sin too can just go pure stereotypical control jungler and focus on map control by warding and hounding the enemy jungler. One of Lee Sin's greatest strengths comes into play here. Lee Sin is straight up one of the best counter junglers in the game. Lee Sin simply has to dash into his teammate and already there is an impact in the skirmish. His counter ganks can either lead into a rout, the enemy giving up or the enemy being forced away. In short he'll either be saving his teammate or killing the enemy team thanks to his incredibly versatile kit made even more extreme by the fact that the enemy team probably just blew everything trying to gank.

Lee Sin is a ganker is one we all know well. The amount of damage and control this guy can enact on a target is ridiculous. He combines everything you'd want in a jungler and even some that very few junglers even have access to. Let's run it down shall we? Lee Sin has an AoE slow with decent damage, a high damage skill shot gap closer that is also an execution, another gap closer that gives him and his target a shield and then can become a source of sustain, a passive that gives him attack speed and regains his energy (no mana restraint) and a knock back that can cause a knock up in a straight line. That's a huge kit he has there but that's not all. His kit allows him TWO sources of fog/stealth reveal. This is actually really huge. In the early jungle duels or when ganking someone is likely to attempt to juke through the bushes. Lee Sin can simply clip a bush with his E and reveal whoever is in there and be done with that fog nonsense. Lee Sin can also check bushes with his Q from a range making his approach safer at the cost of one ability. His skill set just screams "gonna get you" out loud. His sheer mobility and versatility also means all but global ganks are available to him. He can blink over walls using wards or a minion, he's great at side bush ganks, he can do direct ganks by using his teammate as a blink target and he's amazing at counter ganking.

Lee Sin is simply the ultimate jungler. His sheer versatility and self-reliance is godly but the weakness of his late game IN COMPARISON to other junglers is enough for some players to not consider him. His late game is not weak but a dull average.

Shen
Phase - Mid/Late Type - Farmer

Shen is one of the few remaining jungle farmers but he's definitely stretching the definition of that. Often times it is easier to just call him a ganking jungler with a greater emphasis on farming. I do know he can be built full tank but he can also be a fighter. That versatility landed him here also the fact that even if built as a full tank he tends to not work the same as a traditional tank. Shen is considered a risky pick because of his obscenely slow jungle. Even junglers who are only of average speeds can harass him so just imagine what super fast junglers like Shyvana and Dr. Mundo can do. Shen can't even hope to stand vs duelists. So what lands him here? His ultimate.

Shen is a good ganker. He's not godlike but he can do a quick and simple gank and be done with it. He best be ganking though because he needs to reach level six as quickly as possible. One Shen reaches level six he gains his ultimate and gains access to his redeeming jungle power. Infinite jungling is only available to Shen and is basically what makes him a good choice for jungling. With his ultimate available he is now able to join any fight regardless of where he is. This allows him to give himself an artificial speed boost. He's not jungling faster but because he can simply join a fight regardless of where he is he doesn't have to waste any time traveling. Shen can continuously farm the jungle or an open lane but still apply pressure to the map. He can join a gank his team is making or he can save his teammate from an enemy gank and perhaps even turn it around.

Shen has the benefit of being able to be built as a fighter or as a tank. As tank he's just standard with the whole Aegis + Randuins combo going but as a fighter...well as a fighter he has quite the arsenal. I am aware that some pro players like building him with a trinity force while some like the standard wit's end build on him. Some will build ionic spark to take advantage of his split pushing later in the game while some will go for warmogs + atma's still. He'll end up working much like Dr. Mundo in that he tries to piledriver the enemy carry/mvp and force the aggro on himself or he'll down his target.

Even if Shen doesn't have the best early game thanks to aggressive junglers or it just wasn't that great it may not end up being a big problem for him in the end. Once it's time for the team fights to occur and lanes are being left open he can just run himself up to a lane and farm it. His ultimate allows him to split push and he'll eventually recover and may even obtain more farm than the enemy jungler who is likely not even being given his own jungle camps at this point.

Jarvan IV
Phase - Early + Late Type - Ganker

If manliness was a factor for junglers then Jarvan would be the top of the list. Jarvan is one of my favorite junglers but I will be unbiased on this. Jarvan is probably the bruiser with the most utility in the game. He's a straight up ganking jungler with tons of tools including one that is unique only to him. He has access to all gank types and deals pretty good damage early. He has the potential to be one of the best junglers in the game but he does have a gaping weakness that can be exploited. This is what a lot of players who advocate for Jarvan can agree on. It is agreed that Jarvan is an amazing and useful character but he could use just a bit more. The sheer volume of his utility marks him as one of the more unique and awesome junglers still though.

As a ganker Jarvan is godlike. He is one of the best jungle gankers in the game and stays that way throughout the game. His flag spear combo allows him so much versatility. In addition to giving him an AoE gap closing knock up it lets him blink over walls and avoid wards or escape. Jarvan's flag gives him line of sight and removes the fog allowing him to approach safely or reveal a gank target while also increasing his and his teammates' power. He has an AoE slow which, while weak, is still another tool for his ganking. Let's not forget that his damage early game is also pretty damn spectacular and he can maintain it if he builds damage. Jarvan then gains his insane ulimate - Cataclysm. It's called by other names such as the dunk slam, thunderdome or the man slam and rightly so. He's the only jungler with access to that type of ganking tool (wall entrapment) and, in combination with everything else, he can make it so his target has absolutely zero hope for escape. Jarvan's level six ganking goes as follows: Jarvan either blinks in with E+Q and follows it up with his slow or walks up to the enemy target and activates his slow which causes the enemy to burn their escapes or they die and results in Jarvan simply using whatever crowd control he still has available and then if they still had another escape open he thunderdomes them for the finish. Jarvan is also an excellent counter jungler for the same reasons but he can do the cheap trick of trapping the enemy with his ultimate and keeping them there while his team escapes and he simply blinks out!

Now to mention the weaknesses of Jarvan. As you notice I marked his early game and his late game as being his strongest. The fact of the matter is that unless he's fed he's pretty weak mid game. He's very item dependent considering his stats suck so he's going to require some gold. The early items a jungler would want to get when they want to be efficient with their gold would be gold items of course and Jarvan can most definitely jungle well with just that except if he were to obtain wriggles he'd be a lot stronger. With that there is a conflict in gold interests. Most of the time the player will just settle for gold items. Those items will not make Jarvan tanky fast enough though. During mid game he'll be taking way too much damage and will have to pray he gets his initiations down right otherwise he might just be dropped. Mid game is an absolute test for Jarvan. He has to get his team going and often has to push the envelope here. It's very high risk because the Jarvan player knows they need to build up items and build an assortment of things. Jarvan needs that cooldown reduction, that health, those resistances, some sustain and he wants to be able to output some damage at least.

Jarvan could be considered a tank but he's far more expensive than your average jungle tank. He has more utility as your average fighter as well that he can almost be considered a support but of course more gold requirement again.

Skarner
Phase - Mid/Late Type - Ganker

Skarner is one of the most underrated junglers at the moment and he's finally picking up steam again. He's a high damage, high mobility fighter that has access to suppression crowd control. He can initiate a pick on an enemy character, get them killed, and follow it up with a fight in his team's advantage. His early game is often spent just farming up so he can obtain his game changing ultimate.

He was underrated for so long after he receive some nerfs and people proclaimed that he was no longer good and had so many issues and oh man he sucks. This always seems to happen though with every character. Players will assume the nerfs are what pushed the character out of the game and ignore actual issues. That being said Skarner suffered this but people ignored all his powerful traits.

For starters Skarner has very high damage for being so tanky, he'll slow down his targets down to a crawl, his ultimate can even work through a flash and he's very mobile. Skarner is also a very dangerous jungler to urn into. He's actually one of the stronger 1v1 junglers (god forbid he's double buffed) and will tear most junglers who dare fight him 1v1.

It is true that he has the weakness of mana and in the world where everyone is pretty much mana free now he's kind of screwed. If they take his blue he is a bit slower yeah and is forced to just farm now instead of ganking but it it's not like his ganking was that great thanks to the mobility shift. So then what makes him so unique? He inspires fear.

Skarner ganks like a beast once he hits level six. Skarner doesn't have to do much in order to force escapes from people. If Skarner gets near flash range of a character they will likely be scared enough to use flash. I will say this - Skarner's ultimate will work as long as his animation has begun. Whether they flash, knock you back, whatever - as long as the animation started he will grab the person. They're done for. With that said everyone will run and burn their escapes (if they're soft targets of course) if he gets anywhere near them. As the game goes on he'll be either the bodyguard for his carry through peeling or dragging their oppressor away or the initiator which admittedly gets harder once quicksilver sashes become mass purchased.

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Comments

  • #13 YtKami

    Can you do one about trundle? He technically should belong here, but he's fallen so much...

  • #11 StonewallRoG

    Lol for starters are you really making this sound mildly threatening? Second - Xin Zhao is definitely a terrible jungle fighter.

  • #10 ninbushido

    Part 2 better include Shyvana, Xin Zhao.

  • #6 tacobff

    No mention to olaf?

  • #5 Mew_Two

    A very informative post, indeed! Definitely going to go and polish up my shen jungle abilities, you opened up my eyes once again for the farming junglers.

  • #4 Nash19

    As a long time Jarvan player (pretty much as soon as I started playing the game back when Riven came out), I agree he could use something such as small base stats buffs, or fixes to his ultimate, while I really like it and don't mind people being able to escape it (would be seriously overpowered if it was truely impassable), I'm tired of those Jannas/Fizz/Hecarim walking through my ult, just like people with Ghost on.

    Must have something to do with the ability to ignore unit collision I guess.

    Edit : While I think a few buffs could make him a top tier champion I'm kinda afraid he gets the same treatment as Gragas, buffed and then nerfed almost back to where he was or worse.

    Jarvan IV is precious to me, so I don't really mind people underestimating him so much. I even sometimes get flamed for picking him instead of another jungler (~1700 elo), but it gets rarer as I rise my elo.

    Last edited by Nash19: 9/8/2012 10:48:00 PM
  • #7 SilverSlave

    I remember that I once entered a match and picked Jarvan, with the intention on jungling (keep in mind this was draft pcik). The guy that got to pick in the same turn as mine locked in Nocturne, with the intention on jungling too. I tried to make him understand that I had called the jungle but it was futile... "LOL NOCTURNE IS BETTER NOOB"....

    So yeah, your statement is true, and pretty depressing at the same time...

    O well, at least I had fun carrying the team and stealing Noc's jungle since he wasn't worth crap late game.

    PS: Why is Nocturne the "go-to" jungler for noobs? It pisses me off sooooo that much I pretty much hate the guy and I even call people who use him unproffessional... Lol.

  • #9 A2ZOMG

    Quote from SilverSlave »

    I remember that I once entered a match and picked Jarvan, with the intention on jungling (keep in mind this was draft pcik). The guy that got to pick in the same turn as mine locked in Nocturne, with the intention on jungling too. I tried to make him understand that I had called the jungle but it was futile... "LOL NOCTURNE IS BETTER NOOB"....

    So yeah, your statement is true, and pretty depressing at the same time...

    O well, at least I had fun carrying the team and stealing Noc's jungle since he wasn't worth crap late game.

    PS: Why is Nocturne the "go-to" jungler for noobs? It pisses me off sooooo that much I pretty much hate the guy and I even call people who use him unproffessional... Lol.

    I'm not sure how you consider Nocturne the go-to noob jungler.  He's actually one of the harder junglers to play correctly if you ask me.  Nocturne's transition is only average if he doesn't get fed, and his ganks while very strong require a decent amount of finesse to work well.  Udyr at the moment I would consider a better candidate for that, in that jungling with him is very easy, but not very smart in the current metagame.

  • #3 Skithee

    Fun side note to the Skarner Ult; one of the goofiest things I've ever experienced was jungling as Olaf, and having Skarner ult me repeatedly.

  • #1 pimpinguy123

    What about Hecarim, who you've discovered does "tons of damage?" I, for one, have experienced his late game and dominated with it, and think that once I get a FH, Trinity, and maybe a Maw, I'm basically a giant monster stomping on their team and slashing at them. 

  • #2 ToyBoats

    Take note by the way that this is just going to be PART ONE of the article

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