Keep in mind one very important thing - this tier list is made to reflect which junglers (in my opinion) are the best at jungling. This is list is NOT made to dictate picks nor does it heavily reflect the competitive scene.
I believe there are too many factors to consider when it comes to who is the best jungle pick. There are too many little variables to consider that could help or break a person's argument for who the best jungle pick is. Not only that, all those little things can become big things depending on how much the individual values a certain aspect. Even a jungler who is listed in this tier list as being on a lower end of it can be a much better pick for a certain team comp (or against one) than someone that's much higher. All that stuff is situational and can be interpreted differently and so on.
However, I do feel there are some things that cannot really be debated. You can't deny things like "Shen is super slow" or "Warwick jungles at basically full health" or "Amumu is mana reliant." Things like that are clear as day and you can measure them and give them values. Sure there are some things that are ultimately overlooked but that can't be helped. So in short, this tier list is a way to organize junglers according to how well they function in the jungle role (though not completely removing team pick out of the equation) and how they stack up to one another. It is also imperative that one understand what being in each tier means.
Feel free to discuss anything in the comments below. Please be civil as well. If you find any mistakes in the aspects on the table compared to the breakdowns - please let me know. I tend to overlook somethings when I'm working on a lot of things.
Tier 1 - These junglers are basically perfect and their greatest strength(s) make their few weaknesses (if any) negligible. They can have some weakness but they tend to immensely excel at their role in the game. They have few characters that can be compared to them and they are miles above those. Only one of every certain "type" of jungler is allowed in this tier. Unless two junglers are absolutely godlike to the point of pushing all others aside, the jungler that simply outperforms the other similar jungler will be selected for this tier.
Tier 2 - These junglers are just shy of perfection but have more weaknesses than those above them. They are very good junglers and can often do their jobs very well. They are simply outdone by those above. They offer plenty to their team and contribute plenty to the jungle role.
Tier 3 - Some of these junglers can be very powerful but aren't the most well rounded. They either greatly excel at something but have issues in another aspect. Some of these junglers can be faster than the ones above them or gank better but they are weak in some crucial areas that make them situational picks in most cases. There is a certain risk when using these junglers either to themselves or to their team.
Tier 4 - Take the previous tier's issues and amplify them a bit and you have the junglers here. Basically put these junglers may or may not excel at something but end up not being able to override their current flaws. Even if there is some stuff they can excel in - other junglers are likely able to do the same with less effort or with balance in other aspects. The junglers in this tier border the line between situational and niche. They can be used but often times you could have done better even if a step above them wouldn't have been the highest step.
Tier 5 (not yet added) - Pretty much gimmicky through and through. Some of them can work but they're definitely nowhere near the best choices or even a decent choice. They're functional picks that offer some things that could be fun to mess around with.
The first tier list of Season 3
Tier 1 - Lee Sin, Olaf, Cho Gath, Dr. Mundo, Amumu, Vi, Maokai, Nocturne, Shaco
Tier 2 - Xin Zhao, Jarvan IV, Trundle, Elise, Skarner, Hecarim, Malphite, Diana, Shen, Riven
Tier 3 - Nunu, Zed, Rengar, Darius, Nautilus, Kayle, Fiddlesticks, Fizz, Kha Zix, Udyr
Tier 4 - Shyvana, Master Yi, Rammus, Gangplank, Thresh, Jax, Warwick, Tryndamere, Sejuani, Pantheon, Leona, Volibear
Things that changed
Updated some scores - Compare the older spreadsheet so see some updated scores and fixed errors.
A debate about positions - I'm currently considering potentially giving Jarvan and Xin Zhao tier 1 spots by lowering Lee Sin lower in tier 1 and moving Maokai and Nocturne to tier 2. I haven't seen enough Shacos to really make a big assessment on whether his nerfs completely crippled him. I'm also very strongly considering Elise for potential tier 1 placement. Her sheer versatility and craziness is just obscene.
Vi - She's essentially the new Skarner with conditional tankiness (though not bad). Skarner is a lot more dangerous than her early but she becomes a mid game monster. I hope people understand that she's not all that strong of a jungler early on but kicks it up to bestial godliness once she obtains her ultimate. With levels and a few items she becomes a dueling force and a high damage + high crowd control ganking machine. It's strange that Riot would nerf Skarner's ultimate but then release a champion that does exactly the same. Basically put - her blinking powers and her inescapable ultimate gave her the boost to replace Skarner.
Now I know I had her in tier 3 in the last iteration but I did have her in tier 1 in the one before that. I was hasty in both situations. I put her up because her flair (with the ultimate) was so awesome and I got ahead of myself. Then I took her down because her earlier levels weren't impressive and I kept getting countered or countering other Vi junglers. I tried her again recently (after coaxing from people) and found out the best way to manage her early game in order to abuse her overpowered mid game.
Skarner - Vi took his place!
Xin Zhao - Went up after I started facing more Xin Zhaos. The use of his ultimate just impressed me and shot up his transition scores. The initiating power from it is simply game winning. I didn't pay attention to its use in conjunction with a proper follow up. It mostly nullifies the enemy's positioning and can potentially give a lot of breathing room for the follow up. In some cases it can be a purely safe initiation with no draw backs.
Rammus - He still has his problems but he's definitely someone that can be used in solo queue. He can bypass wards but I feel that you might as well use a champion like Hecarim who's all around better.
Jarvan IV - Well I've begun to level Q first than E now. It used to be up to the player but Q's armor tearing powers has become much more valuable in this meta. Damage Jarvan has definitely become a much stronger jungler thanks to these changes. Basically put - level Q and witness some brutal power from Jarvan at the expense of some team buffs. The fact that this knowledge doesn't detract from other Jarvan builds but increases any offensive focused Jarvan builds ends up raising his tier position. The fact that it's very valuable to the meta helps too.
Speed B - Fizz is about average to decent speed as a jungler. He starts off a bit on the slower side but can later maintain a good speed without the use of items and just relying on ranks of his W.
Resilience D+ - This is probably Fizz's biggest weakness and why he's passed up as a jungler. He's a pretty risky jungler. He can't deal with most forms of harassment without some of his critical traits falling behind. With a low resilience score you can assume, if harassed, his sustain, ganking and whatnot all take a hit in some form. In this case, his speed and health sustain dwindle considerably early that he is unable to gank. A ganking jungler (especially an assassin) not being able to gank will put them further behind in the game especially someone as item dependent (when it comes to kill champions) like Fizz.
Build B+ - Well first off he gets the AP jungler build versatility right off the bat. He also has some unique builds for himself that are quite effective. He has variations of the same "purpose" builds like AS, AD, AP bruiser or assassin. He can itemize in different ways to achieve each build as well. He loses major points though in that he has a pretty steep gold requirement that he has issues farming (in the jungle) unless he murdered a few people.
Sustain C+ - He has no mana issues at all really despite being a mana champion. All he really has to do is activate his W and right click. He doesn't have health sustain and that does hurt him but it eventually gets to the point where his W just rends the main target before it deals any damage.
Ganking B/S - This is Fizz's greatest strength. His pre 6 ganking is a basic double gap closing high damage gank but, if properly done, can be used as a disengage. It allows for some nifty tower diving stunts but very risky even then. He would have scored better if he had reliable CC. Once he obtains his ultimate he becomes one of the strongest jungle gankers in the game. Basically put - it's a ranged initiation AoE crowd control. I don't even have to say much beyond that. It has high range too! It loses points in that it gives the enemy a big reaction time to it and its cooldown is unforgiving.
Dueling B+ - This one is hard to rate for Fizz. On one hand he can outmaneuver a lot of characters and his auto attacks hurt but on another, the other dueling junglers just outright butcher people in fights. Fizz's dueling (in lane) comes from the fact that he makes trading difficult and grinds people down. However the jungle is a different beast. The best duelists will probably hit Fizz harder than he is even with his powers of avoiding trade and he won't have the time to pull those shenanigans anyways before someone comes in to help their teammate.
Invasion B - He's an escape artist so he makes this easy. Not much else to say than that. Go in, steal a big camp and then waddle away.
Transition B - It's the case with all assassins. They get to snipe squishies in most cases though if not properly farmed they may have to consider the whole "1 for 1" trading thing. Fizz has a better transition than a few other assassins because his ultimate allows him to initiate for this team. It's not the best substitute for a real initiation tool but it's something. His gold dependency keeps him from getting a better score too.
Speed D+ - He's slow and never gets better. I mean you can try building him AD Thresh in the jungle and pad his speed but even then it's on the slower side.
Resilience D+ - The combination of slow jungling and poor immediate sustain does him in. He's a support character so he can eventually recover naturally but it can get to the point where he stops functioning. Shen, while suffering even slower speed, at least has super sustain and a way to make up for his poor speed with his ultimate. Thresh has nothing like that and can be removed as a jungle factor quite easily.
Build S - Well for starters he's a support character so no matter what you build on him he'll still serve his purpose. Anything you get on him just adds to him in some way and doesn't detract. What makes him even better is that he gets free stats from murdering the monsters! Basically put - the guy his infinite build options thanks to his passive and his support nature.
Sustain C* - He has no health sustain early. He keeps his jungle pace (though of course it's slow) and never really needs mana. The thing about his sustain is that it gets better the more souls he gets. It gets to the point where the monsters just don't do anything to him. The strength of his sustain is never immediate and it depends on how many souls he managed to obtain.
Ganking A+/S - He's a CC bot and has a ranged pull. Not many can boast that. Not much to say other than the fact that he packs tons of ways of locking a person down. He later obtains his ultimate which boosts his crowd control even further. He fails to obtain the highest core due to the difficulty of using his crowd control.
Dueling D+ - Even with that fabled AD initial death AA from Thresh - he won't be winning any jungle duels. Not only is he easy to outmaneuver but he simply can't go head to head in a slugfest.
Invasion D+ - Unless it's basically handed to you - don't.
Transition S - He's a support so his transition will be good pretty much regardless of what happens. His late game is just ungodly and potentially the best out of any other support aside from probably Leona's late game. He becomes super tanky, has a crap ton of CC and actually deals respectable damage for a support. His broad itemization options (thanks to his passive) allows him to utilize gimmick builds without much drawbacks to either increase his damage or his utility with auras and active items.
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