If you're like me sometimes you get completely bored of playing the vanilla junglers and just want to branch out and challenge yourself. The title is misleading a bit but it's true in that while you may know some of these characters CAN jungle not many players seem to give them any credit as being potentially viable junglers. Sometimes I take a common jungler like Jarvan or Udyr and just straight out build them glass cannon and go for it. Sometimes I play a weaker version of the viable junglers and go with it. Those champions aren't too far off from being the best picks are and still relatively good picks. Sometimes I see a very good window of opportunity from crazy situational jungler and I just go for it. Those can be ridiculously fun when they're allowed to work. If somehow all the stars align and make them viable picks they become an incredibly fun option to bring in.
For this article, which was requested by fans and is a nice break away from some of the bleaker articles I tend to write, I will list some of the more niche junglers that can actually function as picks given the right situations. Some of them have absolutely better picks above them but sometimes you want a break from those and want to try something new.I will also mention the team comps they tend to fit. Not all of these are solo queue viable though so keep that in mind.
Oh boy is he fun. Jungle Gragas is apparently popular in the EU ladders if what the people from there told me is correct. It would make sense though since EU tends to value mobility and Gragas is arguably one of the most mobile characters in the game and with blue buff as a jungler he's probably the most mobile of all. If we were to hold his champion scores against him he'd be pretty damn average across most of the board. His damage, even as mid, tends to be strong early game and mid game and then it trickles down and this is even worse in the jungle. However his unique features is what gives him strength along with strong early game qualities. His mobility is through the roof, he has high range on his spells, he becomes ridiculously sustained, he is an AP jungler (which is rare) and he's a burst character (which is even rarer). To add to that he has the power to make creative ganks, disengage fights easily and is simply hard to kill. His unique traits are what bring him up in viability.
Team Composition - He has restrictions for which team comps he can fit in. He cannot be the team's sole magic damage dealer. Not only does Gragas's damage wane as the game goes on but he won't have the gold to build his standard build. Depending on your team comp, Gragas might force your team to force your top laner or mid laner to take a tank initiator of some kind or your team to have Leona in the duo lane. With all that said he is an incredible choice for kite and poke teams. As far as I'm concerned most junglers suck ass at poking. You have junglers like Dr. Mundo and Maokai that can poke but their damage is poor given their builds don't support their poking in the long run. Gragas on the other hand has good base values on his barrel and is building ability power items albeit probably budget AP like Morello's and supportive like Rylais. That said if Gragas is picked into a poke team he can greatly assist in wearing down the enemy team and either engage when the enemy has worn down by using his ultimate or disengage with his ultimate if his poke team gets engaged on. He can self sustain during pushes and escape from most threats if shit hits the fan. Most other junglers that are picked for kite and poke teams are generally there as cc bots or champions that are good at disengaging and just end up sitting on their asses.
This one is harder to praise than Gragas for sure but it's not without its good qualities. Jungle Morgana is ridiculously blue dependant and easy to kill in duels. She's not a great fighter. She's essentially a crowd control bot. She requires too much gold to make useful from the jungle (or in lane even) so it's best to just rush cooldown and hourglass on her. She excels at ganking though despite her Q being hard to land. Her jungle phase is weak but her skirmishes are what give her worth. Early on during objective dances and holding lanes she becomes very strong. A fortunate Q shot can spell the demise of the snared target and her black shield can make up for a teammate being caught off guard (if you're quick enough). Her ultimate will also get her focused and draw fire from others albeit this isn't something you really want. If her ultimate does get of then say goodbye to the enemy team. What I basically just described was Morgana essentially being a much weaker Amumu which is essentially what she really is except for her most unique trait.
Team Composition - Instead of finishing it up there I'll mention it here. Morgana's black shield is what will give her jungle choice any relevance. For all intents and purposes it's best when used on your most valuable player during team fights and thus Morgana's sole purpose in the game (as a jungler) is to protect the MVP. This heavily leans her towards "protect the ____" team compositions. You have a crazy Vayne, a overzealous Ezreal, a Twitch with terrible position or somehow your Caitlyn tends to get herself trouble? Well Morgana can rectify such poor positioning and decision making and she makes an excellent peeler against a team that tries to all in your team. So TLDR: Unless Morgana gets super fed and farmed she becomes a bodyguard for your most important characters. She really doesn't have much of a reason to be played outside of trying something new but she won't utterly break you unless you know nothing of the jungle.
No I am not kidding. to just agree with some people already going "wtf Heimer?" he tends to die easily, he tends to do very little damage mid game and beyond, he's slow as hell and he's weird. He, however, does have some of the best laning in the game. How does this make any sense? Why does his laning ability matter if he's jungling? Because a double buffed Heimerdinger is one of the most annoying forces in the world and double buffed Heimer strolling into a lane and pushing your ass down is going to make you flip tables. Essentially Jungle Heimerdinger picks up a few levels from the jungle and goes to a lane and just tries to force it down. Good luck trying to stop him too. It will demand the enemy jungler comes and tries to help stop the pushes which may not even work given that Heimerdinger has been known to push a lane against even two opponents. There are some match ups where Heimer would just not work like vs a Jungle Nasus or a team with Caitlyn.
Team Composition - If it wasn't already obvious, Heimerdinger is a strong pick for a team looking to just push the enemy down as early as possible. He'd be an incredibly pain in the ass with a team that consists of all pushers. An example of this would be a top lane Nidalee, bottom lane Caitlyn and Sona, mid lane Jayce. I bet that just made your ass cringe. The team does have the inklings of a poke team (which it can double as) but they're there to push your ass down as fast as possible. Jungle Heimerdinger forces the enemy jungler to react to him. Either the enemy jungler helps the lane that Heimer is pressuring or goes after other laners to try to counter it that way. The difficulty in that is that pushers tend to also be characters that aren't easy to kill and will look to not die. All in the meantime the third lane that isn't being pressured might be able to dominate their lane and push it as well. All in all two towers aren't going to have a fun time. Jungle Heimerdinger is all about taking early game objectives ridiculously quick and obtaining a gold lead and continuously pushing at all fronts. Heimerdinger may suck but with a gold and level advantage he can still crush certain match ups and his turrets are no joke early either. TLDR: Push!
I've written about him before but he's always one of those "so average but awesome" junglers. He is literally across the board average in all his aspects with a weakness in sustain. I've mentioned before that the pure challenge of jungle Wukong is what makes him so much fun. He's average and his match ups tend to not favor him at all. You can still win by pure knowledge and ability though. That's what makes him such a fun jungler. He has some traits that do stand out though. His stealth allows for some nifty ways to approach a gank as well as bush hopping in some instances. It allows his "purely for damage" ganks to be more successful than most other junglers and he does pack a nice 1-2 punch with his EQ engage. His passive gives him some nice tank stats for free too. However his ultimate and his item builds are what give him his power. He can build very cheap offensive items and destroy entire teams with the perfect engage. His ultimate is his most redeeming quality and it can be a game changer. His damage item build consists of cheap armor pen items such as last whisper and brutalizer and those items alone allow him to melt plenty of champions. His stealth allows him to engage against teams without oracles and get to the back line easily.
Team Composition - He's a godsend for full engage team compositions. His engage is even better than some of the prime junglers out there too. With the right items and the proper positioning his ultimate can win a team fight. Pick Wukong for a team that is all about tower diving and full on engaging but also needs damage. Wukong brings both a strong means of initiation, AoE crowd control and ridiculously strong amounts of damage if built right and moderate if built defensive or stupid. TLDR: He loves dunk teams.
His team battle was supposed to go up today but my power went up and it failed. Anyways Pantheon was recently picked in the LCS tourney and he dominated the game. This prompted people to ask me "omg do more Pantheon videos!" and it was no wonder he won the vote for the last jungler covered in this article. Anyways jungle Pantheon fails in a lot of aspects but has one grossly redeeming quality that can make him worthwhile. His clearing is terrible, his sustain is pretty terrible consider some monsters don't even proc his passive, he's slow as hell in the jungle and it gets progressively worse but his ganking is better than some of the best junglers in the game. I've always said that anyone with a point and click stun with moderate range automatically gets a high score in ganking and it's still true. Pantheon's ganking is a no brainer and it's ridiculously powerful. Just go to a lane and unleash a combo on them and you'll break them in two by yourself though your teammate better respond so you can actually finish off your gank target. That's what his entire game revolves around. He needs to snowball and gank nonstop. His passive and his W passive restore allows him to tower dive early into the game though for a limited time in most cases - hopefully your teammate murders the stunned target before you take too much damage. Then he gains his global ultimate and his ganks can no longer be predicted without super deep wards. The enemy can no longer push too far while his ultimate is up.
Team Composition - If it isn't obvious yet the best team comps for Pantheon are those where the team objective is to kill their opponents. He fits a gank heavy team through and through. If your teammates have crowd control built into their characters, especially if they're stuns, Pantheon's ganks for their lane become death sentences. God forbid your team comp consists of global champions. If your team has Twisted fate and/or Shen well you guys are sick bastards. A global team with Pantheon just guarantees one lane will be eliminated rather quickly with multiple man dives. Let's run it through again though. Pantheon fits gank heavy teams and he grants the team strong turret diving capabilities and he fits global teams which are technically gank teams anyways. Pantheon is the champion you pick to murder players. You don't farm, you don't clear and you suck at objectives. However you become a good farmer and have excellent control of objectives if enemy is dead.