The Feral Flare is currently stirring up all sorts of controversy with players as there is no doubt the item is strong but players are divided in whether the item should obtain minor nerfs or should be gutted. Feral Flare is definitely very powerful and changed the solo queue jungle quite rapidly to the point where there are a handful of more (jungle) champions as perma-ban worthy. Aside from Leblanc bans, most players seem to be banning every jungle they feel threatening and still coming up short in bans. Even if you fear the Feral Flare junglers, players still need to remember that there are several other threatening champions in the game that do not use it and are also ban-worthy. I was recently cursed at by my teammates for not banning Pantheon despite my bans being "high-priority" bans in this patch (they were Kha'Zix, Evelynn, Warwick) and I have seen some teammates dodge because certain champions were not targeted and ended up getting picked.
The item was released to give carry junglers an offensive jungle option other than Lizard since there were plenty of junglers that made little or outright poor use of it. Wriggle's Lantern was reworked and made much better but it was also given the Feral Flare evolution which made the item have actual late game potential. It granted a lot of power to auto attack heavy champions and it seemingly benefits every intended jungler that Riot wanted to indirectly buff with the item. However, it has also seemingly been useful on junglers that were not intended to use it and players have shown mixed feelings about this along with the fact that the item might be a too powerful in its first patch.
In this article, I want to give credit to a few champions who greatly benefitted from the Feral Flare changes without any order as to who is better. Certain junglers definitely saw a massive increase in power while others were already worthy junglers but were finally given an option for damage builds and had an increase in carry potential. The reason this article was delayed was because I was waiting for the hype around the item to die down. The hype is still there but hopefully LCS using both the Spirit Line and the Madred's Line shows players that it is simply different methods of jungling which prioritize different things. It is not to say that Feral Flare is not obscene in solo queue but that perhaps the item does not deserve to be gutted with nerfs so soon. Feral Flare is an item that is rather balanced in competitive but obscene in solo queue.
This is the champion I am betting most players expected to see on this list. Master Yi has seen both a massive increase in pick-rate and ban-rate since Feral Flare was introduced. The item did not boost his clearing potential too much considering he already murdered camps but it enabled him to single-handedly take down the boss monsters like Dragon and Baron in relatively short time and quite early into the game. The item is also a massive boost to his power in comparison to Spirit of the Elder Lizard and it has boosted his threat level to insurmountable levels.
Arguably he has always had same carry potential prior to the release of Feral Flare. It is true that a farmed Master Yi could slaughter teams if he is played correctly and given the chance and several diamond/challenger players have posted on Reddit recently to try to cull the Master Yi hype. I agree that he was always capable of carrying games but Feral Flare definitely gave him a strong early offensive item that enables him to do so even earlier than before. The buffs to teleport have also helped him by allowing him to use teleport more often by reducing the cooldown whenever he goes to an empty lane using the tower as a teleport point and then farming/pushing the lane. The buffs to Feral Flare and Teleport have allowed Master Yi to maintain a ridiculous amount of momentum that is tedious to shutdown.
Master Yi still has the weakness of having nothing to contribute to the team outside of damage. It is not to say that he cannot lead a team to victory as he can destroy unprepared teams or split-push the enemy team to oblivion. Master Yi is simply one of those champions who works more as a selfish champion that does his own thing and carries that way. It does not make a champion "unviable" but more of a menace to solo queue. If he is on your team you know he will lean towards disregarding the team and if he is an opponent you know he will become a massive nuisance to your team.
In my opinion, while Master Yi is ridiculously scary and I even ban him, I do think he is a bit overrated. He is one of the stronger beneficiaries of the item sure but he can still be tripped up by crowd control and killed. I repeat, he is definitely very powerful but I have been reading Reddit and the general discussion forums where players complain that there is little that can be done to stop Master Yi and it seems they forget that they can just stun and burst him down. Master Yi can still be considered a risky pick because of this.
If there was any jungler who had almost no use of Spirit of the Elder Lizard it is Xin Zhao. That item was usable on him but I always felt it as wasted gold. One of his abilities is magic and will not proc the effect while his ultimate cannot always be used for damage and his Three Talon Strike are just auto attacks anyways. You would feel the weakness set in as the game progressed and you would wonder why you even bought the item.
Xin saw an increase in use and ban rates with the release of Feral Flare. The item actually makes sense for a champion like him and his damage stays steady throughout the game instead of gradually getting worse. His glass cannon builds still get him killed easily so players have not changed their habit of building him bruiser or near-full tank. Most Xin Zhao's have been building Feral Flare into Sunfire/Randuin's and pure tank after that. Xin does not see a significant drop in his killing potential like prior with Elder Lizard. He can do his job of frontline fighter with a build designed to take damage and still deal enough damage to be considered a threat worthy of peeling or focusing.
Xin Zhao is perhaps my favorite beneficiary of the Feral Flare because he is an example of players perhaps being a little too ridiculous with the demands for "huge" nerfs to the item. He is a jungler known for having high damage ganks with plenty of control enacted on his target even without having actual items. Xin Zhao is pretty mediocre at farming even with the Feral Flare but can spend his time ganking and farming on the side much like he used to. He will eventually get the Feral Flare but he will still have been dealing competent damage to his foes prior to that. After all that, as it was already mentioned, Xin will not lose as much power if he chooses to go tank. As to why he is being banned a lot, I can only say that people seemingly forgot that Xin is pretty damn easy to kite and burst down especially if he is built as a glass cannon.
Feral Flare made one of the most ignored junglers in the game suddenly become one of the more successful junglers of this patch. His pick rate shot up and so did his ban rate though not as much as Xin Zhao or Master Yi. If it has not been obvious yet, champions with attack speed boost and/or on-hit proc abilities saw an increase of power with the item and Warwick has both. The combination of his ultimate applying Feral Flare damage several times (and pinning the enemy down) with the massive boost of attack speed from his W and his passive, which is pretty similar, made his damage skyrocket all while being even more difficult to kill in dueling situations. Things become even more ridiculous when you tack on Blade of the Ruined king.
Warwick spent most of his time farming anyways seeing as he has trouble ganking prior to obtaining his ultimate. It was seemingly natural that he would make good use of the item and obtain feral flare quickly as he has no obligation to gank. He can farm the jungle till level 6, go into some lane and attempt a gank and then return to farming. He can easily do Dragon by himself thanks to the synergy between the Madred's Line and his kit.
He is not a very complicated champion and he does not have much depth to him so there is not much to say here. He equips himself with Feral Flare and Blade of the Ruined King and can duel most anyone, including an equally equipped Master Yi, and out-sustain them. In skirmish or teamfights, he can initiate on a soft target like the marksman and tear them to pieces before they can even react or at least put them out of commission for the fight. Once late game is reached or once Warwick obtains a more tanky build he will begin to out-sustain the damage he takes and become near impossible to kill and peel.
I actually ban him more than any other Feral Flare jungler currently. Teammates seem to forget about what Warwick does and try to one-on-one him only to be embarrassed. Players overextend in lanes and forget that he can pounce on them and pin them down long enough to grind them to dust. He requires a team to deal with but you all know how solo queue.
Jax is a great example of a champion who had no offensive options in the Spirit Line and thus greatly benefits from the release of Feral Flare. He is rather average until he hits level 6 and then his clearing speed kicks into overdrive. He farms like a beast and quickly evolves Wriggle's Lantern, forces engages and trumps others in single combat. Jax has the potential to snowball out of control and carry games by himself all while still being strong late game even if he does not snowball.
He is arguably the borderline-viable jungler that benefited the most from Feral Flare's release. While other junglers with no offensive items in the machete line benefited from its release as well, jungle Jax was slowed down by the Spirit of the Ancient Golem line as it added no offensive power to him and delayed his power spikes. Feral Flare just allows Jax to get the ball rolling and achieve his spikes quicker than before. This makes him feel rather similar to Master Yi (aside from just being a fatter looking Yi) with Feral Flare and it has been debated by quite a few people as to who is more annoying to deal with late game.
It's Jax...in the jungle! Honestly he is one of my guilty pleasures in the jungle and has always been. I enjoyed risking my early game for the chance of having a late game where I beat everyone to death with a lamp. Feral Flare simply made picking him less risky and I have been having a blast. I can fight people early, I can go for objectives and I can be at ease knowing that I can always fall back to farming if my team's early/mid went sour. You have a choice between the glass carry Master Yi or the beefier carry Jax. It's a rather nice thing that Jax is far less banned than Master Yi so you can at least pick him.
Nocturne is also one of the junglers who could use Spirit of the Elder Lizard but it did not feel like you were making the most use of it. Feral Flare quickly became the better option as a result and it has had a monstrous effect on Nocturne especially when combined with Blade of the Ruined King. He has the farming levels of junglers like Master Yi with competent ganking prior to 6 and can play the "farm-gank-farm" game as well. Once he obtains his ultimate he can simply gank whenever it is up and then return to farming.
Nocturne exemplifies how the combination of Blade of the Ruined King and Feral Flare is simply broken. He'll dive towards a target from a mile away, resist the first blast of crowd control thrown at him and fear them and proceed to rip them to shreds before the fear ends effectively removing most targets from the game. If they try to run he can just use the activate of the blade and make running futile.
He is the combination of all the positive factors of the previously mentioned Feral Flare junglers while having the bonus of a long range gap closer that steadily becomes a better assassination tool. Nocturne also tends to fit more team compositions than a lot of the other junglers. I am not really giving you any new information here though.
In my opinion, I do agree with how much more useful he is than a lot of other Feral Flare junglers even if he is outdone in carrying potential compared to Master Yi or in brute force like Jax and Udyr. Nocturne is just all-around more deadly and efficient with his ultimate and you can actually save your teammates if they're having lane problems.
Other Noteworthy Mentions
Some of these champions did see some boost to their power but I did not feel they merited much mention as they already had viable combat options or are still overall lacking in the grand spectrum of things. You can force most champions/junglers to do well with it by forcing attack speed onto the runes and masteries.
Udyr - He did not really NEED the power from Feral Flare but he makes great use of it in both of his forms. It's sort of like already being equipped to the teeth with grenades and then someone offering you a shotgun. You're already packing power but it's nice to have another option.
Olaf - Same thing as Udyr really but I tend to stray away from glass builds on Olaf anyways. Plus, doesn't have the assured mobility like the other Feral Flare junglers have. Miss your axe and you'll get kited all day!
Aatrox - I did not mention him despite seeing a great boost in strength thanks to it. I just felt that Aatrox gets outdone by Nocturne and Master Yi in carrying potential and Xin Zhao does what bruiser Aatrox wants to do but better.
Evelynn - She is very strong with Feral Flare but she runs out of mana incredibly fast. This is fixed by depriving blue from your teammates so I feel I shouldn't promote such a selfish champion.
Shyvana - She hits like a freight train with it and farms a storm. Honestly it would have been even more boring to write about her than it was to write about Warwick and Nocturne. They aren't complicated but at least I could mention that they could gank when their ultimates were up and them go back to farming. Shyvana is just farming for the entire game and punching people in the face.
Kayle - She obliterates people with Feral Flare definitely but I have not really been able to play her enough to give a proper opinion on her. I haven't seen her yet either except in videos.
Follow me on twitter
Follow me on Facebook too!
Watch me on stream!