Success with Non-Conventional Junglers

Before I go on, fun is very subjective and can vary between people and groups. I implore you never force anything potentially unpleasant on your team unless they allow you to. This pretty much becomes automatic and amplified in ranked so please be considerate. It is much easier to do these things with a group of friends who understand what you plan on doing it and are on board. Don't force it onto people as you may tarnish their fun and upset them. You may have fun but they may not be. Don't be an asshole.

That said - you can most definitely win with non-conventional picks if you take a few important things into consideration. Needless to say there are some champions that absolutely will struggle to even function in some aspects and you're really stretching it when jungling with them. Even some "troll" jungle players will find the fun with those champions lacking.

I'll begin with the breakdown of what a "non-conventional" jungler is. Truth be told some people think a "non-conventional" jungler is anyone that isn't used.

There are some junglers in the game that are strong as junglers but aren't being currently used simply because there are better versions of them or the meta doesn't support them. Junglers like Nautilus for example are very strong but he's simply not fitting the meta right now. He is simply not used or underused (not relating to pokemon tiers) but he's not a "non-conventional" jungler.

A real "non-conventional" jungler is someone who wasn't intended to function in the jungle even as a sub-spec. Vi was intended to be a laner (lol) but ended up being a jungler. Could one argue that she would qualify as a "non-conventional" jungler and make some good points but I move to say that a champion loses that moniker the second the role becomes their best form. How about Diana then? She was intended to be both a jungler and a laner. That case is much easier then. She's not a "non-conventional" jungler even though her jungling ended up being 2nd to her laning. She was built with jungling in mind as well. How about Olaf then? He was intended to be a laner but sucked, then was turned into a jungler and excelled and somewhere down the line he became (arguably) a better laner. That may have been a long time ago but it bears a good argument. This one is harder to argue but I'd move that we consider two points. Most characters who go through this were overwhelmingly and obviously powerful in the jungle. These characters sort of just fit he mold for jungling and it became easily apparent they were powerful and thus became conventional. That fits with the following thing below...

A conventional jungler can become "non-conventional" if something gives them a swift kick to the viability balls either directly or indirectly. The same can be said in reverse. It is very rare for a conventional jungler to fall out of it but it is not too rare for a "non-conventional" jungler to become conventional. It just takes constant usage of the character and practice. Eventually you may either unlock things about the character you didn't know or you have to admit they are niche or suck.

Anyways let's get on to the main topic of this article - how to go about playing (and hopefully winning) with "non-conventional" junglers.

You can ignore this by playing with friends and just saying "Yeah let's screw it and play!" but I'm sure some players out there want another thrill in this game but don't want to worsen their chances of winning. There a few golden universal rules for picking "non-conventional" junglers and still winning then.

The Golden Rules are as follows

1. No matter who you pick if the game goes long enough and/or allows it then they will function as if they were laning anyways. To put it into better words I'd have to use an example. A jungle Karthus is still a Karthus. He'll still destroy teams and cause hell in team fights with 6 items even if he was jungling or not. He's still the same damn champion and potentially the same threat.

With that in mind you may want to pick a "non-conventional" jungler with epic team fighting or transition. Think of it as added insurance that you can fall back on just in case you it doesn't work out for you.

2. You are dangerously reliant on your teammates. You have to work with them in order to succeed. As far as I know there is no "non-conventional" jungler that can be completely independent. You'll likely rely on them for ganking, clearing and recovery if need be.

3. You will have to take more risks than conventional junglers. Jungling with one is already risky but you'll have to put yourself in more risky maneuvers to make up for jungle deficiencies. This is good for the people who want to play balls deep and exciting games.

Anyways I'll talk about how I go about using a "non-conventional" jungler when I feel like it. Sometimes I play "non-conventional" junglers in order to test them out after being pressured by people or out of my own curiosity. Sometimes I'll play them because the game was not meant to be back breaking labor.

I think of it like I do even hardcore picks in most cases. I may be wanting to test Sion but if my team doesn't seem to allow it (doesn't fit) then I will not force it on them. If I ever see "oh x champion can fit right about now" then I go ahead and pick them.

I don't think I can get too general with this first step. Do we need AP? If so then I can pick someone who leans more to an AP role. Do we need a fatty? Pick a fatty. Like I said - think about it the same way you'd do a regular pick.

I cannot stress how important it is for your champion pick to have crowd control. No matter how shitty they are in other aspects - at least having one form of crowd control will make them useful at some point in the game. You can set up a gank with most forms of crowd control. It doesn't matter if you picked the weird ass jungle Heimerdinger if you can land your grenade. A stun is a stun as long as it can be properly followed up.
A "non-conventional" jungler can sometimes even be a very strong and flavorful pick for your team. It just has to make sense. A good example of this is a game I played some time ago as jungle Heimerdinger. My team consisted of junglers with annoying poking and pushing powers. Heimerdinger is the god sieges so instead of ganking and farming I obtained a few levels and just started pushing indiscriminately. We won because they couldn't fight back our ungodly pushing power. They weren't built to stop us. With that said, sometimes your team allows for special little team comps like that and they can work out better than even some conventional team comps.

They need to have at least one redeeming quality or special trait to make them stand out. This isn't important if you just want to play whatever but if you want to play whatever and still win then you have to keep it in mind. It can be anything from initiation powers, stealth, super harassment, pushing powers, whatever. It can be anything that contributes to the team or just to yourself. Then you have to push said trait extensively. The best example of this is Twitch. He has stealth, high damage, some crowd control and range. He's a perfect ganker. He sucks at everything else but just gank non stop and get fed. Push that trait and you can excel. The weakness of this is that the enemy will know what you're trying to do and may respond appropriately. Even then you can still outplay them.

Now this for me is one of my most important categories that must be fulfilled. Along with all that stuff - I try to pick a "non-conventional" jungler that fits a hybrid or semi-something role. A character like Jayce can fit the semi-carry role quite well from the jungle as he has support, bruiser and ad carry features in him. He can be built with an economy build and put out damage weaker than a true carry but still respectable while supplying his team with an array of utility. Wukong has his godly initiating powers regardless of how ham-handed the game made him.

Using all these things it's true that bruisers end up being the best in this "non-conventional" category but it's all about what you want to do with your friends (hopefully).

My personal favorite "non-conventional" junglers to use are Wukong, Twitch and Gragas.

Wukong is just all around the pure average in all aspects of the jungle. You just have to outplay your opponents and use your knowledge of things to get ahead. His stealth allows for some ward hopping and LoS tricks when ganking and dueling. Later on his initiation is just epic

I feel like an asshole if I play Twitch which is why I rarely do. Just go and gank people relentlessly and be a total dickwad. You can later hyper carry the game if super fed.

While some will say Gragas is not "non-conventional" he fits the same realm of Wukong. He's average in a lot of aspects - his ganking being pretty nifty especially with his ultimate - and generally not having anything really special about him. He suffers from the fact that he has to take a jungle build that detracts from his most optimal builds. That said - he's very fun and works as an semi-AP/support character from the jungle. He can be fun.I'll probably be adding a "flavor" article mid-week about some awesome "non-conventional" jungle picks!

I'll probably make a "flavor" post this week about some of the more fun "non-conventional" picks - though they are strictly my opinion.

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