Top Junglers of Cinder Patch

So the Cinderhulk was released and sweet lord did it make an impact. I've been trying out as many tank junglers as possible and even some of the defensive oriented bruisers to gauge the impact the item has had. The item traded early game efficiency for damaging power and the item pushes the late game of tanks to come out earlier and as such was a buff to mid-late game tanks. It doesn't help the early game woes of any champion but that is a moot point when a proper leash can boost the jungler, a few jungle monsters were nerfed and, if your opponent plays a tank too, you are less likely to be invaded.

 

I personally feel the item was a boost to all tanks in the game but a much bigger boost to the tanks who were already good and/or had a monstrous late game. A few tank junglers still need a bit of a boost and many others are either moderate or strong but outdone hard by the uber tanks at the moment. Still though, as with every other time I've made a list, this is my opinion and it can change when more information is learned or when the inevitable changes to the champions are introduced.

 

I also have to mention that just because tanks have been reintroduced into the game does not exactly mean that diversity has been gained. We are in a transition point at the moment when the last batch of must-pick junglers are making their way out (through nerfs or otherwise) and we might just start seeing nothing but the same tanks be played once it becomes widespread either through solo queue or because LCS players start spamming them. I don't think we can ever truly expect competitive diversity in champion picks but hopefully we can gain some strategic role diversity such as picking between an assassin or a tank for a different type of team composition.


 

Maokai was already a competitive pick prior to Cinderhulk being introduced and was a very competent laner. The bruiser changes made to him awhile back have greatly strengthened his fighting potential and made him a much more dangerous fighter in exchange for some utility. He has strong clearing, a very affordable build path, a versatile build path, incredible artificial gold value, can hold his own in plenty of match-ups, strong ganks and powerful peeling, although he does lack in damage and he isn't a very strong initiator like many other tank champions. To his benefit, the Cinderhulk has granted him boosted clearing speed and much needed damage.

 

Maokai can hurt during a fight but, unless he has help, his fights usually drag on for awhile and he may let kills get away as he just doesn't have "enough" to finish off a target. The Cinder line adds another layer of damage that he can utilize to help this situation and it has helped tremendously. I don't know whether or not he will be picked as a jungler over top laner but it was a boost to his jungle for sure.

 

I would recommend Maokai against a team that is light on mobility so he can have an easier time initiating on them and against either a magic-AoE heavy team or one with assassins. Against an AoE team, especially magic, Maokai's ultimate can increase in value due to the damage it can block for his entire team in addition to being an aura carrier to further strengthen this ability. Maokai's ultimate alongside Locket of the Iron Solari just ruins the damage potential of many foes. As for assassins, Maokai does a good job of catching them if he reacts fast enough when they jump towards his teammates. Most other bodyguards have either slower abilities or skillshots and may not be able to react so quickly or can simply be dodged. Maokai's W will rack and capture a target and hopefully they can be taken care of during that time frame.


 

 

Vi is very one dimensional but she does what she does very well. She can bullrush a target and kill them before there is even a response to it and, in some cases, can survive the retaliation and continue to contribute to the fight. She snowballs super hard and can single handedly win games. She's also pretty damn hard to fail as since her ultimate is a targeted murder button.

 

Her clearing speed is on the higher end of the spectrum and her sustain is decent to keep her up. Her ganks are average in the control aspect early but very high on the damage so planning is required in order to burst down a kill target before they flee. However, as it was already mentioned, her ganking power skyrockets to immense levels at level 6 and can spell the doom for any target she gnabs.

 

Vi is this sort of bruiser-assassin champion we have that can snowball out of control through the game and then delete a problem target during fights. I personally do not believe there are many other uses for her as she isn't the best bodyguard or proper initiator but what else do you need but the murder of the enemy mvp?

 

I would recommend her in almost any team composition you want for solo queue as she is someone that can carry you throughout the ranks. Why bother with teammates when you can just do everything yourself? She is far better in teams that can pick off the enemy to complement her assassinations.


 

 

I despise Nidalee but I have to admit she is by far one of the strongest junglers in the game. Her early game is so obnoxiously powerful that I am very afraid of picking a weak early game jungler against her simply because a smart one can bully you till you cry. I believe Nidalee's early game is flat out the best of any jungler in the game right now. Her damage is simply absurd and her mobility is ridiculously stupid. She can outduel plenty of junglers either through outmaneuvering them or flat out killing them. Walls are not a problem for her and she can spam that god damn hop all day. I simply have no damn idea why Riot decided to buff her jungle.

 

She is extremely easy to kill if you get a hold of her with any champion but doing so can be a chore depending on who you chose for this. A champion like Lee Sin can probably snap her in two if he manages to catch her but a champion like Nautilus will just get recycled and turned into a dumpster so he can hold all the other junglers Nidalee tossed into the garbage.

 

Her late game might be spotty but she's so dominant early game that she can completely shut the game down with her shenanigans. I will go as far as to say that she is the strongest control jungler in the game at the moment. She can avoid wards with wall hops, she can steal camps without any difficulty, she can put traps to help keep track of the map, she can travel insanely quick and be where she needs to be all while being very dangerous to face. Her ganking is much like Vi in that it lacks any form of control but the damage is high enough to make it work if done correctly.

 

I would recommend you play her if you hate life and worship Satan.


 

 

Nautilus had his power shifted around in the form of a weaker W but a much more spammy E. This, alongside the Cinderhulk, proved to be a huge buff to him. His early game is still absolute crap and he is still prone to invasion and counter ganks but his late game comes sooner and his bodyguard potential is outright sickening. His peeling potential was already insane before but now it's crazy. Anyone who doesn't have any blinks (or if they are on cooldown) will never pass him to get to his mvp.

 

He already had a very strong late game even when he was underused and experienced players knew to respect Nautilus's late game. As it was stated earlier, the Cinder line has essentially brought the late game for many junglers out sooner. Nautilus reaches the point where he is nearly unstoppable much sooner than before. He has the most crowd control in the entire game and his damage is respectable given that he is usually built as a full tank. His initiation can be rather lack luster against certain team compositions but he makes up for it with his ungodly peeling and slew of battlefield control tools.

 

I believe he will continue to get better as more and more tanks are played as there less of a chance that he will run into the match ups that punish him for his early game. He also does greatly suffer from having low carrying potential and having to rely on teammates to do this for him but at least he is a great enabler for them.

 

I'd recommend playing Nautilus in team compositions that either lack crowd control so you can fill that gap or have lots of crowd control so you can lock down entire teams with a proper rotation of crowd control. I'd strongly suggest avoiding picking Nautilus into a heavy disengage team as it can make most of his abilities useless.


 

Rek'Sai is a champion I personally do not like very much but I cannot deny that her damage is rather absurd. She is very dangerous in fights, has competent clears and is very mobile but has sketchy if not outright useless crowd control and an ultimate that is only really useful if you're already ahead. Even so, her absolutely tremendous killing power and the ability to farm it is enough to make her a contested pick. She's a tanky fighter with high killing potential that makes up for any shortcomings. There really isn't much else to about her.


 

I'm actually a bit divided between the following two. Sion and Sejuani are both very strong champions right now and they were strong prior to Cinderhulk being introduced. The item sent them over the edge though and right now they possess too much tankiness with killing potential. Sion is seen in top lane more but the allure of Cinderhulk has brought him to the jungle. Sejuani probably edges him out but I want to say it is only slightly since there are heavy pros and cons to both of them.

 

For starters, Sejuani's early game is still awful and her early mid game can still be a pain sometimes. Her ganking pre-6 is only just okay but it becomes incredibly potent once she reaches level 6 and soon enough most of her problems start vanishing. Her late game has always been incredibly strong thanks to her high damage alongside her initiation powers. The Cinderhulk has only further increased this late game power and made her a menace.

 

On the other hand, Sion has no problem at any portion of the game. His early game is actually very strong and safe and he continues to transition well into the game. He never loses any potency as in he is strong early, mid and late game. However, his ganking is very spotty pre-6 and even then it is pretty unreliable with his ultimate against certain compositions. His health becomes absolutely absurd by the end of the game and he becomes nothing short of unkillable.

 

It is basically a debate between one champion who is strong throughout the course of the game and another who starts slow but ramps up to dangerous levels. I do feel Sejuani edges him out simply because solo queue games tend to either be stomp fests or drag out long enough for you to hit late game. Sejuani will also get stronger the more tanky champions are picked. However, she is also getting mega nerfed in the pbe so we will have to wait and see.

 

I'd recommend picking them at any point right now since they are simply too strong to ignore. They can wreck entire teams and flat out carry despite being primarily tanks. It's smart to either ban them or pick them yourselves rather than to face them.

Sion

Stronger early clear

Much more tanky

Physical damage

Better early damage

Sejuani

Stronger initiation

Stronger late game

Magic damage

Better ganking


 

Now for the champions who I believe are worth talking about but I wouldn't hold to the same level as the ones I already mentioned or are just interesting. I will also talk about other champions who are quite strong but aren't really worth going to deep into yet.

 

Fizz is a jungler that has been making quite a splash with his latest rework. He has become more of a stabby fighter rather than an assassin mage. His damage is absurd and he can be tricky to kill. I do believe he is quite potent at carrying but I also do feel he is a tad overhyped. At first I was groaning whenever I fight him (still do though) but the more I see him the more I am exposed to his weaknesses. He is easy to kill before he obtains his tanky items and is very reliant as a result. He cannot forgo his damage items to obtain the tankiness either so he has a period of time before he gets very dangerous. If he doesn't get ahead he may not be able to roll through a game. In short, I think he's snowball dependent although this isn't as bad as it was before in past Fizz iterations. He's a good solo queue champion but I wouldn't say he's as reliable as the others.

 

Trundle has been feeling more and more like a good response pick to all the tanks I've been seeing in the jungle and/or in top lane. The increase in Sion, Sejuani and Hecarim has led to feast for Trundle. This goes without even mentioning how badly his wall can mess with tank champions. He got buffed too and it was an okay buff but he's relatively unchanged in the grand scheme of things. He's just a very competent and strong jungler who I think can see some play with all the tanks roaming around in the game. He's simply a very good response to all these fatties.

 

Olaf was boosted by the Cinderhulk mostly because it is a reasonable tank item for him to invest in early which allows him to either continue with other tanky items or go for straight out damage. With the rise of tanks and crowd control, he might see play as he can just ignore crowd control and his true damage can smash even the toughest of opponents. He still has mana issues definitely but those won't be much of a problem if he isn't expected to deal with invaders. People should remember that the return of the tank meta can also mean the return of the tanky bruisers like Olaf and Volibear. Much like Trundle, Olaf could be a more offensive oriented answer to all the fatties.

 

Tank Gragas has always been a thing since his rework and was competent in the jungle. The Cinderhulk sent him overboard and he can become unkillable after a certain point alongside having some super strong early damage and sustain. He has a unique form of initiation, he's a mobile champion, can poke and has a surprising amount of burst but tends to be very reliant on items which is an unfortunate thing for tank junglers. If you get harassed early or get set behind due to unsuccessful ganks, it can severely hurt your potential to do much in fights let alone survive.

 

As I said before, most tank junglers did improve but the ones who were already in the middle of the pack simply got the sunfire boon and nothing else.

 

Amumu is still pretty much the same thing and is only held back by being the shadow of the top picks at the moment and by the same problems that have always plagued him. At least he has new item builds and tank Amumu is viable once more.

 

Malphite is still jungling's B student. The Cinder line was a massive boost to Malphite's strength but his weak early presence and his weakness to mobility holds him back. He is still a great response pick to attack speed heavy team compositions or AoE compositions so we might see him when that's the focus of the game but otherwise he's edged out.

 

I honestly have seen zero Zacs other than myself so I cannot really pass any judgment. If anything, I'd assume he ended up seeing the same fate as Amumu though he could just up being overpowered. If he ends up becoming big deal then he'll likely see himself placed in this list.

 

Dr. Mundo is also greatly benefitting from the Cinder line but he still has issues with having little utility. His return in the jungle will likely only see a return if early game pressure isn't needed much for teams.

 

Either way, there are plenty of other junglers who are competent or strong but they have already been talked about to death or most of you already know where they stand. Just because I did not mention them doesn't mean I think they are bad - I just think they aren't worth talking about at this very moment.


If I were to list my top ten champions, they would be in this order:

 

1 - Sejuani

2 - Sion

3 - Rek'Sai

4 - Nidalee

5 - Vi

6 - Lee Sin

7 - Nautilus

8 - Maokai

9 - Fiddlesticks

10 - Pantheon

 

If I ever chose to, I may update the tier list with comments about every other jungler but I would rather not do that right now. Some new junglers might take the top ten position in due time as we discover more things about them or Riot makes more balance changes.

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