The Misdirection of the Jungler Tag

Alright we are all aware of the fact that a jungle tag exists for champions in the game. We are also very much aware that it has been given only to a few champions in the game. We are also aware that some of the more beloved jungle picks are not given the jungle tag. Then we are also aware that some champions given the jungle tag actually suck at jungling.

A lot of the junglers Riot has designated as junglers are rather flawed in many ways except (usually) in ganking. The latest jungle releases from Riot have great ganking tools, or at least unique, because ganking is arguably the most fun part about being the jungler. This in itself is a marketing thing.

Let's look at some of the champions released with the jungle tag.

Diana - She was marketed as an AP jungler and ended up being a much stronger laner than jungler. To be fair she does have a lot of things a jungler would want. The issue arises in that she's hardly as easy (as a jungler) and can't do some of the things that are expected of a jungler. However at level 6 her ganking becomes rather "awesome" in that she can, if done properly, use her ultimate more than once thus having two gap closers and being all sorts of flashy while also having some form of "pull" crowd control and strong damage. This here is flash, this here is epicness, this stuff sells. It makes the player feel awesome pulling off something like this so it helps justify the purchase to themselves.

Skarner - He was a god damn mess when he came out. There were basically no redeeming qualities for him aside from his buggy suppression ultimate. He was just impossible to make work thanks to his awful sustain and bugs. He's one of the best examples of a champion being sold as a jungler yet being far from working as one on release.

Volibear - He came out during the jungle remake and that basically kicked him square in the nuts. He may have been fine in the old jungle but he's rather mediocre in the new one. Still he was given the jungle tag because he's an armored bear that people had been asking for. I mean his ganking is fine and actually pretty strong but again the total package suffers. His ganking is fine and fun but the rest of him could use a tune up. Otherwise he's a top laner more than he is a jungler.

Hecarim - Hecarim's early jungling, even after getting those buffs, is pretty bad. His W isn't strong enough to sustain him yet and his Q isn't strong enough to destroy camps yet. He's completely reliant on his abilities so he needs them to gain a few ranks first before he goes all god mode. That being said this issue was way more noticeable before he was buffed. Despite this he was marketed as a very mobile champion who strikes hard and fast. He was said to be quick, painful and map dominant. Once more they focused on his ganking and, to be fair, he is a pretty awesome ganker especially with direct ganks.

Rengar - Now I am aware some players made great use of him even as a jungler but to be fair that's because they know how to subvert the other glaring issues of the character. Rengar is a strong ganker no doubt. Rengar is basically Shaco and Nocturne's love child Nocco! Rengar isn't a fast jungler (at the start) and his health sustain is non existent early. If he wants to do anything awesome he pretty much needs the help of his teammates. This isn't a big deal sure but he was given the jungler tag over some junglers who don't need the help of teammates. Rengar's hunter themed ganking was his selling point and that's what they focused on. He was given the jungler tag to further sweeten this deal.

Now we have this new champion coming out and after running around as him I can say he's pretty much the same deal as Rengar. His jungling is pretty bland aside from the leaping through camps (though it has an obscene cooldown early) and looking cool. His role as a jungler is going to be carried completely by his ganking which is basically Nocco's twin brother Shaturne. It is pretty much the same thing though it is noticeably weaker than Rengar's is before level 6. The leap is short when not evolved and he has no crowd control aside from his passive. Still he's going to be given the jungle tag because they're marketing him as the prey that Rengar seeks (thus a rivalry) and this super awesome assassin that comes from the jungle and devours you. Once again the jungler tag is used primarily for marketing.

This is where I do find issue with the jungler tag. Riot supposedly gives the jungler tag to characters that are easy to pick up. This is who they recommend to new players when they want to get into jungling. This would be fine if they weren't sticking the tag on characters that actually require experience in jungling. Go to the champions page and click "jungler" and look at who they have there. The only characters there that could be considered "easy" for learning players are Fiddlesticks and Warwick. These two are rather fail proof against a lot of things and when the team fights arrive their focus is very easy to understand. Sure Nunu is also an "easy" jungler but his focus in the game, while simple too, may not be understood by newer players. He's a support character and new players won't understand the real strength of a support.

So the jungler tag is a marketing ploy and not really helpful to new players. It's going to give them the wrong idea. This isn't to say these characters are bad jungle picks or bad characters at all mind you. This is just to point out the marketing of it, the fact that it sends the message that jungling revolves all around ganking (at least the latest releases), and that beginners aren't given a truly clear choice as to who they should get.

I already wrote another article on shopping for your junglers and that has a detailed order on how to go about being efficient with your IP including your rune purchases. That being said I didn't give my opinion on which character is the best for a beginner.

Warwick is still the champion you throw on your friend who has never played the jungle. Fiddlesticks works too since he's rather safe and very "point and click" even during the team phase.

So if jungling had a school system then Warwick and Fiddlesticks would be the elementary junglers. Then in the 5th grade you move up and get assigned Nocturne. Nocturne is a pretty fail proof jungler. Even if the Nocturne player gives less than stellar ganks the laner can still capitalized somewhat on them.

Now for middle school I'd suggest Jarvan. As I've written some time ago, Jarvan practically teaches you everything there is about jungling. His greatest strengths take time and practice to fully realize their potential and his weaknesses are scattered and noticeable but can be handled with practice and knowledge. He is incredibly versatile, his transition is proper, his kit varied and he even has some unique things that he can do that are only available to him or a few others. His sheer versatility coupled with unique strengths and weaknesses make him someone that will teach you so much and then make other junglers easier to learn in comparison.

Then there is high school. That's when you pick your social group or club and dwell there. You pick your preferred power players and stick with them. Then college hits and you experiment with everything else and then you graduate to a shitty job market where you are blamed for everything.

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