For this weekend (including Monday) I am planning on posting the first official tier list for Season 3 along with an explanation for virtually every champion on that list. I will break down why they received the scores they were given on the spreadsheet. Keep in mind that if a champion was not placed on the list it means they haven't received full testing. However, this should only be a case for junglers who aren't priority junglers and merely gimmicky.
Below I will break down what all the aspects mean and how they are scored. Just like in the previous seasons though, having high scores in a few aspects does not guarantee a jungler will be placed in a high position of the tier list. There are several factors that cannot be gauged by the aspect scoring such as unique traits like Shen's ultimate or possibly even Thresh's passive. Those things are special factors that boost a champion's position or in some very rare cases (Nasus's Q) lower them. Also not all the aspects are weighed equally as others. Some aspects are more important than others. An example of this is a champion scoring an S in sustain and an A in speed. If the importance for a jungler to have speed is higher than the jungler needing to have sustain then the A attains more points towards determining the position than the S does.
The tier list is also not a "This is who you must pick" tier list. There are too many factors that need to be weighed in order to create a proper tier list and even then the feat would be near impossible. I feel the only type of tier list that can be made is one that simply measures and compares jungler feats on an almost neutral basis. You can argue with someone whether Amumu, Shen or Olaf is the best jungle pick for your team and you can throw scenario after scenario to support yourself. Multiple things can happen after that - either the person you are arguing with agrees, finds scenarios to counter yours, simply scoffs at your scenario examples or neither you agree to anything. However, there are some things you cannot deny about certain champions in the game. There are very few people that would disagree that Olaf is one of the fastest junglers in the game and by far is faster than a jungler like Nautilus. That is something you can measure, replicate and witness. There is no doubting certain things like that and thus a list of that is something I feel can be done.
A list showing which junglers have great speed, sustain, transitions and etc doesn't say much right off the bat. A list like this is not there to dictate picks but to promote discussion and thinking. Sure a jungler at the top of the list may not be the best pick currently but that doesn't mean they are not a strong jungler. They definitely present the proper aspects of a strong jungler - they just aren't necessarily needed at the moment. The list instead allows a person to instantly understand the inherent strengths of the jungle and then figure out the potential uses for the champion and build from that. It is a tool for the weaponsmith but not the warrior.
In short, the list is not trying to dictate who you should use. It is trying to bestow knowledge of the character. The application of the knowledge is another thing and that is highly affected by the current meta-game.
Break it Down
In any case, let us begin with the breakdown of all the aspects of the jungle. I have added more, removed some and broken up a few of the aspects. The aspects are still evolving as Season 3 has still not undergone full transition.
Speed - This one is rather self explanatory. It is how fast a jungler is unleashed because, frankly, everyone can be rather fast with a strong leash. However, not all leashes are bound to be good or even existent so a knowing how fast a jungler is unassisted can be important. This aspect is scored purely on how fast a jungler is to level 3, 4 and to level 6 and it can be slightly different in between champions in some situations if the circumstances for said jungler calls for it. The speed score is also affected if a jungler slows down after level 3 or 4. Some junglers may be naturally fast to level 3 and/or 4 but then they slow down in their attempts to gain level 6.
The speed aspect also tends to be one of the most dynamic aspects in the game. The value of speed tends to change according to the meta (though often times fast junglers are good) but it is often made more valuable depending on the junglers other aspects in conjunction with it. While speed has a moderate weigh in the total score, it is unique in that a very fast jungler or a very slow jungler will either negate good aspects or pad weak aspects. A good example of this is Shyvana - a very fast jungler with poor ganking. She is so fast that her low scores in the ganking aspect can be ignored when it comes to placing her sometimes.
Resilience - This is an aspect that is very much ignored by a lot of players when it really shouldn't. Resilience is a jungler's ability to recover being crippled. It can vary between having their buffs stolen, being invaded, being killed, and simply anything that affects their jungle phase. There are some junglers that have amazing values in other aspects but have such poor resilience that it brings them down. That is why some players will comment on a few junglers with "Just avoid x's ganks and they'll fall apart!" or "Just invade x and they're done for the game!" Resilience is weighed heavily when it comes to the final score. This aspect often goes hand in hand with transition (which will be explained later) since a jungler with good resilience/recovery often has a strong transition.
Build - This one can be rather self explanatory. I'll tell you right off the bat that it is weighed rather lightly but a jungler with complete build freedom is given a bonus boost in their final score. The build aspect is simply the champion's versatility when it comes towards their build in the game and how well it relates to their most optimal builds. There are some junglers that have to sacrifice some runes, masteries or items in order to jungle and it detracts from their best builds and thus they receive weaker scores. There are some junglers that either mirror (or entirely copy) their best builds and thus have better scores. Then there are junglers that can alter their builds during the game in order to fit the circumstances without much issue and thus likely score more than all other junglers. This last condition is similar to a jungler's ability to transition smoothly.
Sustain - Many players think of this aspect as very simple when it can actually end up being rather dynamic. Sustain is one of the more difficult aspects to score as there are many factors when it comes to giving it value that cancel or override each other. The final sustain score is also weighed averagely. Sustain ends up going hand in hand with almost every other aspect of jungling as it engrosses many things.
Sustain is factored by considering how well a jungler maintains their health through the jungle as well as mana though that is often ignored for some junglers when the mana usage is very minimal and thus cannot add to a jungler's sustain score but detract from it. Sustain also is factored by how well a jungler can maintain their pace. It is one thing to be very fast or very healthy but how long can that champion maintain themselves? Some junglers will slow down after each camp while some will have their sustain negated at some point.
There are things that need to be understood about this score. While a jungler's sustain may improve after they obtain an item, it only counts their natural abilities to sustain themselves. Needing items in order to sustain their health or pace is a negative when compared to junglers that need items to attain neither. On a more interesting side, sometimes some junglers can snowball out of control that they can simply ignore having weak survivability but junglers with ungodly healthy jungles cannot ignore losing their momentum.
Ganking - This one is also a no brainer and it is weighed very highly. A good ganking score can often override a lot of other factors such as weak sustain or build options while a poor ganking score can sink junglers that can't make it up somehow.
The ganking aspect is both easy and difficult to give value to. While it is easy to give value to the ganking tools a jungler has, sometimes the ganking tools aren't easily employed in practice. That said, a ganking score is based on how many tools a jungler has that work towards killing a target, how much damage potential they have (only high values count), ease in using their tools and how powerful said tools are. While a jungler may have a speed boost, a slow and a dash - all those tools may still not score highly. On another note, a jungler is automatically awarded the highest score possible if they have a quick, ranged hard crowed control ability. Unfortunately (or thankfully) there are basically no junglers with access to that. While there are melee stuns and ranged snares, there is a severe scarcity of junglers with a ranged targetted stuns (not counting ultimates) and those that do have them are severely lacking in other aspects (Pantheon).
A jungler's ganking strength when they have all their abilities except their ultimate is considered during the scoring and then either added to or disregarded when their ultimate is obtained. That means if a jungler becomes an even better ganker when they obtain their ultimate then they are either able to override their previously weaker ganking powers or simply add to them.
Dueling - This is a new aspect that was added by splintering it from invasion. This aspect is weighed moderately and that is the reason why it was splintered from invasion (more on that later). Dueling is rather simple - how strong is a jungler when it comes to a jungler vs jungler situation. Having strong damage, crowd control, good cooldowns and mobility add to this aspect while being fragile, slow and cooldown reliant will detract from it. Speed and sustain often work to better enhance a jungler's dueling. A fast jungler will often find themselves in a better dueling position vs other junglers offensively while a sustained jungler will often find themselves better able to repel most duelists and, in some cases, enhance their own dueling.
Invasion - A rather self explanatory aspect that had the dueling factors removed from it because of the conflicting importance. A jungler's potential to duel is far more important than a jungler's potential to invade and steal the opposing jungle. Thus the invasion aspect is far the least important of all the aspects but it is given value because some junglers may be fast, sustained or versatile but it doesn't necessarily make them strong invaders. An invasion score is factored on how well a jungler can clear the opposing jungler while remaining safe. Things like built in escapes, high mobility, tankiness or crowd control aid this aspect. Some junglers are weak invaders because they are forced to use their escapes or steroids in order to jungle thus making themselves vulnerable when they need to evade their opponents or engage in a fight.
Transition - This aspect has been divided into two different types of transitions. There was a weakness to the old method as it didn't take into account that some junglers become weaker at different phases of the late game. It also suffered from the fact that a lot of junglers were basically being slapped with a score based purely on the type of role they had (bruiser, tank, carry) than actually detailing their strongest points in the game.
Thus M. Transition (Mid Game Transition) is a score based on how strong a jungler's transition into the mid game phase is. The score is taking an average game into account as any champion can have a godly mid game if super fed or a really poor one if utterly crushed. L. Transition is obviously late game transitioning. It is based on how well a jungler moves into the late game phase from the mid game. This was a required change as some champions have weak mid games but strong late games and vice versa.
Early game is pretty much covered by the other aspects as a lot of them are made irrelevant as the game transitions into mid game anyways.
Now I will toss down some example breakdowns for a few champions. Every other list with breakdowns will contain more champions, but since this post already has a wealth of information it will only have a couple.
Speed B - Jarvan is not a particularly fast jungler but neither is he slow. His speed towards getting level 4 is average leaning towards the slower end of the spectrum but it picks up as he approaches level 6 and then manages to maintain the pace. All in all, he is a jungler that has minor early speed deficits that he fixes later largely due to the power of his abilities as they rank up.
Resilience B+ - Jarvan is a versatile champion and he has many builds he can take if he were to fall behind. Jarvan has plenty of budget builds or support/tank builds which tend to be gold efficient and easy to build. This naturally makes him a resilient jungler along with his strong crowd control and initiating powers. That said, his abilities natural scaling (at least for the earlier parts of the game) allow him to recover his jungle pace and continue without much issue especially with proper usage of his flag.
Build S - As previously said, Jarvan has a wealth of itemization options from pure offensive to pure tank and many in between. This allows him to shift his build focus according to the needs of the team and the needs of the game and many of his builds allow him to easily transition between them if he has to. Jarvan does not have much issue morphing his defensive build into a pseudo- offensive tank build. Some of his builds are gold reliant (though that doesn't work against him) and are only available if he manages to score dragons or kills yet he has a wealth of other budget options.
Sustain C+ - Jarvan has no natural health or mana sustain outside of passive armor from his flag. It is not enough and eventually he will be forced to build some form of sustain though, thanks to his flag, he is able to mitigate enough damage that health regen can easily cover the bits of health he loses while clearing. That makes it so he doesn't always have to squeeze in some form of lifesteal into his builds. However, he does lack mana sustain as he has to continuously burn his spells in order to clear. If Jarvan runs out of mana, if he didn't build any damage to help his clearing then both his pace and his health sustain are weakened. Jarvan's pacing is maintained throughout the jungle phase and it only speeds up from a slightly slower than average start.
Ganking A/S - Jarvan's ganking is one of the strongest but most haphzard in the game. His E Q combo allows him plenty of options when it comes towards ganking such as direct ganks, blink ganks, side ganks and so on and it even allows him to slowly trek through areas in order to avoid wards though at the cost of putting his abilities on cooldown for awhile. Jarvan's E Q combo is very powerful when it comes towards ganking as it combines a gap closer with fog reveal and an AoE knock up but it is weak in that it is easily telegraphed. Jarvan has to bait his opponents into the combo but it isn't always easy (even when it isn't bugged) when one is attempting to do so at long range. A method usually done in order to ease this is to simply walk up to the target and use his slow and then hit them with the E Q combo. That sort of defeats the purpose and thus Jarvan scores only an A on ganking before his ultimate is achieved
Jarvan's ganking takes on a whole new level of power once his ultimate is achieved. He is now granted a second gap closer (a third if he has flash) which makes it so he can gank anyone in the game. His ultimate forces the target to burn their escapes or stay trapped with him which allows his teammates to close in or sometimes escape. Proper usage with his E Q combo can make this one of the deadliest ganking tools in the game and a master of his Jarvan will know the proper order of using his abilities in order to guarantee success in a gank. Despite the incredible power that his ultimate grants him - it too has some potential to backfire severely. The ultimate may either trap your own teammates into a situation they can't handle or sometimes trap Jarvan with an opponent they can't handle and his teammates can't assist him as he blocked them out yet shattering the cataclysm will simply cause the failure of the gank. The fact that even if it is done properly and it can backfire that way is what detracts a few points from it thus it is not an S+.
Dueling B - Jarvan simply does not have the killing potential that a lot of other junglers have but he is not a light weight either. He is able to stand toe to toe with plenty of the strong junglers but he usually needs to outmaneuver them in order to win either by kiting them or catching them off guard. He would rather avoid most other junglers and focus on ganking laners but, since he tears them apart, he wouldn't mind chasing after and murdering a light armored target.
Invasion B+ - Jarvan is a very sturdy champion and has plenty of invasion tools from fog clearing, defensive steroids and wall hops. He also greatly excels in single target damage and can rend a buff camp rather quickly. He does require the usage of his abilities in order to clear and thus renders himself vulnerable but his cooldowns are strong and he is tanky enough that he'll simply walk out (blink out) with a beating rather than a death.
M. Transition A - Jarvan is able to easily transition into mid game where the items he's invested in start to dictate his purpose in the game but he is still able to lean towards another route. A tanky Jarvan is able to initiate and follow it up with strong crowd control and give his team enough time to follow up (even if he dies) yet still deal some reasonable damage (for being tanky) while an offensive Jarvan is able to piledriver a target yet still take some punishment.
L. Transition A - This is where Jarvan becomes incredibly reliant on his items as his kit doesn't scale too well into late game. An offensive Jarvan can still piledriver soft targets (such as the carry or AP) but will die to most anything while a tanky Jarvan will simply deal no damage but be able to utilize his crowd control and auras to amazing effect. Offensive Jarvan does not have a strong late game transition as he will not have opportunities to do what he must before he's killed but a tanky Jarvan can properly do his job therefore it transitions better.
Speed A - The little guy is of slightly better than average speed at the start but then ramps up rather quickly. His only weakness is that he can burn out just as quick and his speed plummets as a result. Other than that - he's good to level 4 and very strong when working towards level 6 and beyond.
Resilience B - It is a myth that Amumu is easy very easy to shut down. It is true that he can be slapped around and given a hellish time in the jungle than a few others but he has means to subvert that. Amumu is a very fast jungler and he can recover if he devotes himself to constant farming. The enemy will have to devote themselves to trying to keep up with him in order to cripple him but he transitions so well that it inevitably will not matter unless it was truly severe. In short, Amumu's speed and incredible initiation tools will allow him to recover from even some severe forms of harassment.
Build B - Amumu isn't as versatile as some of the other godly junglers when it comes to builds but he gains points in the fact that he's an AP tank jungler. This gives him a few rarer build options that most other junglers aren't able to access (because it would be stupid on them) and often times these builds ramp up Amumu's offensive power. Amumu is able to go full tank or sacrifice some tankiness for noticeable damage increase. The only issue with Amumu's builds though is that he can't easily transition in between them as other junglers can. If he's set to build a certain way then he is forcing himself to continue with it for better or worse.
Sustain B - As it was previously stated - Amumu is a very fast jungler but can suffer from his mana issues. Amumu can passively reduce the damage he receives from monsters to the point where it is negligible. He loses points due to his heavy reliance on mana early and towards mid game but his pace is extraordinary that he is able to maintain a good score. It gets to the point that his mana reliance is overcome by the sheer power of his clearing albeit it sometimes means he won't have mana to make a strong gank, unless he built himself in ways to pad his mana issues.
Ganking C/S - Amumu's early ganking has some strengths but plenty of weaknesses. Amumu is one of the few junglers that has a long ranged stun (though not targeted) and that makes ganking for a burst champion (or a champion that can follow up with strong cc) very strong. However, it can be easily telegraphed and sometimes blocked by minions. It isn't easy to land but it pays off very well if it lands.
Amumu's ganking becomes incredibly powerful once his ultimate is obtained. It is an idiot proof ultimate that requires simply pressing a button and watching everyone around you be killed. In conjunction with hils Q he is able to slingshot himself close to a target (even avoiding wards) and get in range for his ultimate - better with flash too. He doesn't have to hit a champion with his Q either - he can simply use it to slingshot himself. The sheer power and ease of use of this ability gives him a score of S. The big weakness that detracts from the final score is the serious cooldown it has which, if not used well, will severely weaken Amumu's subsequent ganks for awhile.
Dueling C - Amumu is an interesting duelist in that he can't fight a handful of junglers and will get utterly decimated if he tried but he can downright destroy some opponents and even some of the opponents that would have normally beat him if he greatly outmaneuvers them. This is often due to the insane damage he can do if a fight lasts long enough or of his opponents handle the duel with him poorly. However, it is often recommended that he just avoid fighting at all costs as only weak or stupid opponents will let him outmaneuver them. He can't deal with other junglers in equal footing.
Invasion B+ - Amumu's amazing clearing cooldowns and clearing speed allow him to grind down camps and go in and out before anyone notices. However, he tends to be outright easy to kill if he is caught though it shouldn't happen if Amumu keeps an I out and grinds the camps quickly. Aside from that - his safety comes from his speed and excellent cooldowns.
M. Transition A - Amumu has amazing mid game transition to the point where, even if he was harassed, he can serve his purpose simply with the press of a button. All Amumu has to do is initiate a proper fight (even if he dies) and have his teammates follow through and possibly win. Initiators have naturally good transitions as they'd usually die right after in most cases (during mid game at least). A tank Amumu likely has some auras first therefore he is also benefitting his team with budget items. An AP tank Amumu has offensive auras which also help his teammates wipe out the enemy team. He doesn't obtain a perfect score for this as, outside of initiation, he has no real battlefield control.
L. Transition S - Amumu is possibly one of the strongest late game junglers. The strengths he had in mid game are still here but his damage scales alongside the enemy. Amumu deals considerable amounts of damage (and is difficult to take down) late game with only a tank build thanks to his W and his refreshing E. He earns this final score because so few junglers can deal as much damage as Amumu with similar late game builds.
Anyways - give thoughts and opinions on anything that needs to be made more clear and expect breakdowns like that for every relevant jungler in the game.
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