Champion Select: Choose Well

I'm continuing following the theme here of teaching players to make better jungle picks. As a disclaimer, you can win with anything in the lower levels. You can win with the most stupid builds, with the weirdest choices and with gimmicks if you are good enough or your opponents suck. That said, if you're like me, you like to take the side of caution and make decisions that double up as insurance policies. What I mean by this is that I attempt to make the best possible jungle picks when playing. If I make a good pick I can salvage games that go awry or snowball the hell of the game.

The article will contain explanations as to which junglers tend to be the better picks at what pick orders. If you're first pick you'd best pick x type of jungler and these junglers are some suggestions. Some of them may even have a "risk pick" portion where you list a champion that a potentially strong pick at this spot but can backfire immensely. Some picks are just better all-around while some picks make sure your teammates can't screw up your team. Needless to say that you do need some cynicism if you want to rank up and you aren't a god skilled player but just moderate to strong in terms of skill.

First Pick

Pros
- You can pick whatever you want
- You can grab an current hot pick/overpowered champion
- You can deny the enemy a team comp if you pick a champion they need to respond to

Cons
- While you can pick what you want your teammates may not respond properly to your pick
- You can be easily countered now
- Invader jungle picks can be made incredibly ineffective as first picks

Being first pick is very scary as a jungler. There are so many things that can screw up whatever pick you make. Either your teammates don't pick anything that compliments your choice, your opponents all decide to systematically counter you or a strong combination of the two. There is nothing worse than picking a jungler with like crowd control and your teammates pick none though picking a jungler with soft initiation and your teammates pick champions that can't back that up comes close.

Essentially your first pick should always be a champion that can adapt at a drop of a hat including during champion select. The champion should be able to fulfill a damage role (doesn't matter if it's magical or physical), initiate in some way but hopefully in both hard and soft forms, tankier than average, needs to have reliable sources of crowd control, a moderate jungle clear, good damage even if built as a tank and has to be inexpensive. This is a pretty tall order for a first pick jungler. I hope you remember the golden rule that you can win with anything so don't take this as gospel. Making the best first pick as a jungler is simply an insurance policy in case your teammates decide to play ham handed and stupid or your opponents may all be diamond 1/challenger pro smurfs and you want to be prepared for the worst.

The best first pick junglers (currently) - Jarvan, Sejuani and Zac

If you can't tell already they pretty much serve similar purposes. They are all tankier than average, have reasonable clears, are awesome at ganking and initiating, relatively safe recoveries if screwed, can go into an offensive build if need to but can still deal good damage if built tanky and are rather inexpensive to build. Jarvan tends to be the better one (though Sejuani is kind of overpowered at the moment) simply because his burst can knock out the enemy mvp in one combo with some builds.

They fill the initiator role, the ganker role, potentially a damage role, the tank role, and are really strong aura carriers. They have zero direct jungle counters and no real personal (non-jungler) counters. Assuming the enemy team is also trying to make smart picks they will try to pick champions that can deal with the forms of intiation and ganking that these junglers will deal out. Their choices become more limited unless some of their teammates choose to pick up other champions that help them deal with it often times a strong jungle pick or a proper support pick does the trick. These champions have no real response and they can also dupe the enemy team into thinking you're planning on laning with them (though Sejuani is mostly assumed as a jungler).

Risky first pick junglers - Hecarim, Nautilus, Malphite and Amumu

These champions are similar in the function of the other top champions but they obviously have risks associated with them. Hecarim's is obvious in that if he doesn't get fed he can be next to useless and you might as well have picked Sejuani or something. However if he starts snowballing his initiation, damage and tankiness become uncontrollable and he can actually carry games. Nautilus and Amumu share the same weakness in that they can be heavily countered by certain line ups or their worth simply plummets if their team's composition can't properly support them either in helping them jungle or picking up on their ganks/initiation. Amumu's ability to deal a lot of damage and make half assed initiations work do lend him credibility in lower elos and Nautilus is a beast the higher you go up though. Malphite is the weakest of the bunch simply because he can't gank pre-6 unless the enemy is basically handing themselves to him. He also can't deal with magic heavy teams as well as the rest so you can't set yourself up for that. His initiation still rocks though.

"Second" first pick is essentially the same thing. This is when you pick after the enemy team makes their first pick. Here you either pick a champion from the same pool or a direct counter to whatever the enemy team first picked though this is only recommended if the enemy picked something that really needs to be checked or handled such as Twisted Fate or Lee Sin. Which champions to pick for countering will be covered in the next section.

Middle Picks

Pros
- You can counter enemy champions
- You can adapt to the picks your teammates are already making
- Your champion pool is at its greatest though concern should still be taken

Cons
- Your counter can be made worthless if the enemy makes proper picks next or your teammates make improper ones
- Jungle carries are still risky to pick

Middle picking is one of the better places to be as a jungler especially if you're someone that likes to counter pick the enemy. This of course opens up tons of pick opportunities for you though it still, if you want to pick properly, should depend on what's already in play. Middle picking refers when you're 2nd or 3rd pick when your team had first pick or you're 3rd and 4th pick when the enemy team had first pick.

Enemy has immobile champion(s) - This is a fun one. Pretty much all strong gankers are on the table at this moment. There are plenty of popular immobile champions in all elos. Some champions are immobile champions early like Ahri and Kassadin before level 6 and some champions are just food for gankers like Twisted Fate and Diana. As already stated champions that are strong gankers are good choices.

Recommended: gank heavy jungler (Maokai tends to be godlike since he's a tank with soft initiation)

Enemy has an invader jungler - This can be someone like Lee Sin, Shyvana, Nunu and Master Yi. Essentially you can pick someone who just stomps their faces in and pick fights with them or you can pick someone that is very resistant to their shenanigans usually someone of equal speed or has no resource burdens. If you don't want to fight them then it is good to pick a ganker so you can obtain your gold through ganks and pressure them out of your jungle.

Recommended: resource-free jungler who is either a good duelist or a ganking jungler that is relatively cheap and their resource use is minimal. Some strong examples of this is Lee Sin (unless you're dealing with an invader Lee), Zac, Elise and Volibear.

Enemy has a dangerous snowballer - Whatever counters that snowballing champion in team fights or in lane. If you have a teammate who has a weaker lane then the snowballer then you are almost obligated to pick a champion that can reset the lane for them whenever they may need it. Often times this leads to you having to pick a tanky ganker with strong roaming capabilities and preferably strong counter ganking.

Recommended: Mobile junglers with strong counter ganking such as Maokai, Lee Sin, Jarvan or Volibear

Enemy has very safe laners - If the enemy has safe laners you better hope your teammates have the proper means to assist you otherwise you can't do anything. You really don't have any hope ganking a Renekton lane that is warded if you have a Nidalee teammate unless the Renekton goes all in and gets himself baited or you ambush gank him slowly. Often times you need a champion with multiple forms of crowd control and initiation though most champions only gain such things when they obtain their ultimates. With that in mind if the enemy has so far picked very safe lanes then you should aim to pick someone who can get to level 6 fairly easily and awesome crowd control and initiation. This ends up doubling as a proper team fighting pick as well.

Recommended: The original that were already suggested as first picks, Lee Sin, Nocturne or Vi

Enemy has a hyper carry - This is one of the more scary situations for you in solo queue (if you can't trust your teammates) because hyper carries can snowball out of control and can be really difficult to kill. In a situation like this you can try picking someone that just outright murders the carry or can nullify them even if just temporary. Divers (with burst hopefully), hard initiators or debuffers are prime recommended picks.

Recommended: Malphite, Nocturne, Nasus, Jarvan, Rammus or Vi

Enemy has a fierce ganker - This one tends to be fun though more knowledge based than anything. You can be a counter ganker with any champion choice you make if you know how to predict things. Still duelists tend to be favored here such as invaders that can find the ganker and kill them before they leave the jungle or crowd control heavy champions that can show up and nullify ganks and perhaps turn them around.

Recommended: Lee Sin, Skarner, Cho Gath, Udyr or Trundle

Anyways there are only so many situations you can think about. That said you could just make a pick that is generally strong and compliments your team. Often times a strong middle jungle pick is another tanky character that has something your team lacks but leans heavily towards team fighting, ganking and crowd control. The best middle pick junglers are those that can initiate in some form and thus it can be of use to pick such a jungler. If your team team has already picked an initiator in some other lane then you can go ahead and pick a jungler with softer forms of initiation such as Volibear and Nasus otherwise you'll pretty much have to find a hard initiator from a limited pool (aka the first pick pool) that can respond to some of the niches that both teams have picked thus far.

Strong Middle Pick Junglers - Volibear, Nasus, Rammus, Skarner, Trundle, Xin Zhao

Volibear and Nasus stand out the most of these picks simply because they're very cheap champions, deal strong amounts of damage essentially for free, are super tanky and can debuff/cc like crazy along with general utility and soft initiation. They also have reasonable clear times and demand counter picks from the enemy team. If they're not responded to appropriately then they can go out of control and they also have potentially strong late games. The rest tend to be strong, cheap champions that can counter certain line ups and deal strong amounts of damage or cause scenarios of great advantage for their team. They're all soft initiators with tankiness, good damage, crowd control and free stats.

Last Pick

Pros
- You can counter anyone now (unless you're not absolute last pick)
- You can compliment your team in any matter you want
- You may have the chance to take a very crazy jungle pick

Cons
- Your champion pool may be severely limited in some situations
- You may be forced to play an extremely risky champion to support your teammates

First and foremost all the situations that I illustrated in mid picks apply here but likely apply two times over. Also keep in mind that if you aren't the absolutely last pick (the enemy team gets the last pick) then you can still be countered. As last pick you need to take into account your team as much as you need to take into account your enemy though sometimes more.

Your team has low damage - Obviously pick damage. Depending on what kind of damage your team has you need to supplement what they're lacking. Are they all packing physical damage? Take some magic jungler. Are they all sustained damage? Take some burst! There really is no recommended here. Most any jungler that can deal damage (even those that be built to do so) is recommended here.

Your team has poor crowd control - This is one of the more annoying situations but it pretty much forces you to pick a champion that packs a shitload of crowd control. Shitload is the only proper word here since sometimes these situations are just stupid. Hopefully you still have junglers that have tons of AoE crowd control and hopefully it's reliable.

Recommended: Cho Gath, Nautilus, Rammus, Maokai, Sejuani, Amumu or Jarvan

Your team lacks beef - They're all squishy teammates and they'll likely die. You need someone that can peel. The same recommended champions have already been given above but I'll add some more specific ones for this one. If your team lacks beef, or doesn't have enough, then you need to pick a tanky character with forms of constant crowd control or knock backs to keep people away from your valuable teammates. Some of these champions can function as early game terrors that transition into bodyguards.

Recommended: Lee Sin, Volibear, Xin Zhao, Nunu or Sejuani

Your team picked all magic damage, no crowd control and all squishy characters...

Recommended: Queue dodge

As a general rule of being a late game pick you need to know how to counter pick. Several situations have already been highlighted and therefore you simply draw from them and compound them to see who the best jungle pick would be. Sometimes the heaven's align and the light comes beaming down guiding you to that one jungle pick that completely fits the entire situation 100% and makes the game seem like a breeze and you feel like a God. Often times though you will have to hope your teammates can deal with one situation that you couldn't counter and you made the best pick you could given the circumstances. However most of the time you will end up either countering the enemy team or just amplifying/padding your team's composition.

This guide won't immediately help you (and it may not help some of you) as a lot of this comes with tons of experience. If you can't play the champion then they're automatically out of your champion pick pool. If you don't have enough experience with counter picks then picking them won't necessarily do anything as you won't know what you should actually be doing to make the countering happen. Experience is the key to making smart decisions and you have to accept that you'll lose, you'll make bad decisions, you'll get countered, you'll make mistakes. Experience will only come to you if you learn from these failures. You need to ask yourself why something good/bad happened and attempt to understand it. Never force yourself to pick anything you aren't comfortable with and never force yourself to pick anything just because your teammates demand it from you. Pick within your strengths when you want to win and look to fix your weaknesses when you want to improve. Practice makes perfect.

 

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