I will likely be making a change to a category system with heavy emphasis on a ramped up spreadsheet in order to move beyond a number system which tends to confuse a lot of people (especially those that don't bother to read) so the second iteration of the tier list is likely to come very soon. It will no doubt save me a lot of stress but it will also kill the updates to the tier list. That said it's ultimately up to the RoG guys to give me the go to for this idea.
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 - Jarvan IV, Cho Gath, Taric, Elise, Lee Sin, Olaf, Dr. Mundo, Amumu, Vi, Maokai
Tier 2 - Trundle, Xin Zhao, Nocturne, Shaco, Skarner, Hecarim, Malphite, Diana, Shen, Volibear, Riven Kayle
Tier 3 - Nasus, Nunu, Zed, Rengar, Darius, Nautilus, Fiddlesticks, Fizz, Kha Zix, Udyr
Tier 4 - Shyvana, Master Yi, Rammus, Gangplank, Thresh, Jax, Warwick, Tryndamere, Sejuani, Pantheon, Leona
As for junglers most valued in tournaments currently
Junglers most valued in solo queue right now
Things that changed
There are plenty of things to talk about so they'll mostly be covered in great detail in the video so watch that! I will give a quick summary as to why some changed and some didn't.
Currently the game is shifting from defensive support junglers to offensive support junglers. Characters that can built tanky, have utility and deal damage are the big choices right now. They are even further loved if they have the power to hard engage.
Jarvan - Currently the most powerful jungle bruiser in the game that can fulfill any role he wishes and switch between roles during the game. He has high burst damage, can gank anyone, the season 3 items greatly increased his power and he seems to keep up with every dramatic meta shift this season throws at him.
Lee Sin - Haven't seen much of him but he's still very strong. The Bork meta actually favors him a bit at least. He still is one of the jungle gods.
Olaf - The nerfs didn't break him as much as people think. He is still very powerful as a jungler and fulfills the aspect requirements very well.
Elise - Her only weakness is her fragile nature at the start. However that is quickly overshadowed by her amazing ganking, AP nature, build options, powerful transition, versatility and base values. She isn't often seen as a jungler because she's a godly laner but that doesn't mean she's a weak jungler. Wow I forgot to talk about her in the video didn't I? Well it would be essentially the same thing except I'd put a lot of emphasis on her spiderlings being tanks for her which would allow her to jungle on both relatively low mana and health requirements as she can jungle with no mana constraints in spider form and only using spells to summon spiders. Basically put she requires very little mana for an AP jungler and she fights like a bruiser. I'd also put emphasis on the fact that she has a long ranged stun for ganking along with a gap closer. A skilled player will be able to easily grab someone in a gank and she is able to also perform strong direct ganks - which is great in this ward heavy meta.
Xin Zhao - In some warped way he's similar to Jarvan but will only live in the shadow of his Prince. He has actual exploitable issues and was slapped pretty mean just last patch.
Nocturne - What can I say but that he doesn't really fit the whole "utility bruiser" thing that tends to excel. Let's not forget that tier 2 is still extremely good but not overwhelmingly good. Nocturne tends to not "do enough" unless he's well farmed and fed. That's pretty much his biggest problem.
Shaco - He still has that whole box power attributed to him but holy crap were those nerfs noticeable. I actually didn't think they'd make a big difference but they really slapped him in the dick.
Volibear - Well I was wrong on him on several things however he's not getting a lot of love for a few reasons. For starters he's largely being boosted because of how well he fits the meta and the fact that build options are kind of important right now. I haven't seen enough of him to actually give a justification for this. It's fine that the pros are using him but I haven't personally fought him. I've fought only one guy and he sucked ass. There is an error in the chart btw. His sustain should be a C+, Invasion C+ and his resilience a B.
Speed C - He became faster with the buff. He was beyond slow before the buff but he's still on the slower side. It's his weakness but it's eventually overcome.
Resilience A - He's support and his item build is so efficient and easy to obtain that he'll be able to overcome even the most harshest of harassment jobs. He really is just a bit too perfect right now. He will get nerfed though.
Build S+ - His build is beyond ridiculous in its effectiveness. He's a support by nature so his build options are incredibly varied however his most optimal build is also one he can easily obtain from the jungle. Most of his builds are now double and triple dipping in value and giving him more effective gold. The best way to explain this is to use one of his most effective items as an example. If Taric purchases a Frozen Heart it adds mana to his build which increases his mana and damage (passive), gives him cooldown reduction thus increasing his damage even further as well as his utility, and armor which increases his damage even further and self tankiness all while also powering up his team aiding abilities like his heal and his two incredibly powerful auras. It is simply ridiculous how cost effective items are on him right now and how well he makes use of jungle gold.
Sustain D+ - Before anyone goes "omg but his heal" please understand that health is not the only thing that needs to be considered here. His mana is simply atrocious. Even with blue he goes dry. Hell his heal suffocates his mana too. Eventually his mana heavy build will fix this but it's a pretty big issue early.
Ganking A+ - It's a point and click stun. It's pretty standard that junglers shouldn't be allowed to have that.
Dueling A - He's super tanky, good cooldowns, pretty high damage as long as he shatters on someone and can spam his heal in prolonged fights. He's pretty stupid right now. God help you if he has cooldown reduction and mana.
Invasion A - Really stupid dueling and too tanky to actually kill. He outright destroys camps once he has his ultimate. Some may say "why use his ultimate to clear?" well the thing has a very short cooldown and completely destroys even buff camps and can annihilate someone in a duel. It's ridiculous at the moment.
Transition - How do I even begin here? He's a support by nature so he has a great transition as a given. With his optimal build be becomes incredibly difficult to kill, is able to spam abilities, provides his team with incredible auras, deals respectable damage, heals, can pseudo initiate, can be the perfect bodyguard...it just goes on and on. Frankly put he's a Mundo that spreads the wealth.
Speed C+ - Regardless if Nasus decides to rip the jungle and forgo stacking his Q his first clears will still be slow. They become even slower if he tactfully wants to farm his Q too. He only becomes fast at the point where it doesn't really matter anymore.
Resilience C+ - This doesn't really need to be explained now does it? He's a late game champion and slowing him down kicks him in the nuts. His recovery isn't that great either so he's vulnerable to harassment.
Build B+ - Nasus's builds aren't anything special but they are expensive. He can go several of the basis bruiser ones and is best outfitted with defensive items that also pack cooldown reduction. He has access to a lot of the bruiser builds just he tends to really need them in order to do anything - thus expensive.
Sustain A+ - He's slightly below average in this in the first run but his passive and low mana cost Q quickly kick in and keep him topped off. His only loss in sustain is his average speed that is affected by his need to farm his Q.
Ganking A - Nasus has a very powerful crippling slow and it is targeted too. It would rank higher if it wasn't for the fact that it needs more ranks in order to be deadly. A minor point - Nasus's animations have to be cleaned up because wither tends to cancel his auto attacks if he's not careful. Timing that stuff for a reset is weird sometimes.
Dueling C/S - He's pretty easy to murder early on and his abilities aren't that great with their first ranks. Honestly put he sucks as a jungle duelist. Only when he gains his ultimate does he become someone that can be feared but that's only with his ultimate. Without it, unless super farmed which isn't the case in the jungle, he's pretty average. His wither allows him to beat some junglers pretty badly in duels but often times the strongest of duelists have other things up their sleeves. We all know you don't fight a Nasus 1v1 when he has his ultimate.
Invasion B - He can destroy a camp quickly and escape with wither if need to. This often does means he won't really be farming his Q (aside from one monster maybe) so it might be better to just stay in your jungle most of the time.
M. Transition B+ - I'm thinking of this as "wither Nasus" aka a Nasus who maxed out wither second. His wither can pretty much take out a carry (or certain bruisers) out of a fight if applied correctly. It's an incredibly broken ability. Nasus's ultimate at least is a big enough steroid to overlook some early gold deficiencies and his item build requirements. He gets kited like hell though.
L. Transition A+ - This is assuming he's farmed enough and can destroy people with his Q. It's essentially the same thing as his mid game transition except he's now a big ass tank that can destroy anyone of his targets. He still gets kited like a bitch though.
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