Thursday, August 8, 2013

State of the Jungle: Article 6 - General Patch 3.9

State of the Jungle: Article 6 - General Patch 3.9

State of the Jungle is an article series that details current meta changes in the jungle. It is aimed to inform players of all skill levels on how the jungle is currently played when effected by tournament results and solo queue formalities. 

See what the jungle camp changes and the best of the professionals have to offer to the jungle meta after the jump!
The recent camp changes is perhaps the biggest change in a long time to the jungle. Small jungle camps for as long as I could remember always spawned before the big camps, so change took a bit to get used to. I constantly found myself standing at a wolf or wraith camp for far longer than I am willing to admit. Regardless, in regards to the recent camp changes, there is actually little practical change to what junglers do. Most, if not all, competitive and high ELO junglers have simply been starting at similar buffs with a smiteless leash and going to the other buff as usual. What the changes to the small camps really did was limit blue side bot lane's ability or purple side top lane's ability to do double golems for experience and gold advantage. While the 3.8 patch slightly made it more difficult to do as you would miss 2-3 CS for the camp, it was still cost effective because it gave a significant experience advantage. However, in 3.10 where camps have been changed to 2:05, almost 10 seconds longer than the 1:55 spawn, it has become apparent that Riot wants to remove double golems advantage permanently.  

As with all jungle camp changes to prevent laners from abusing additional income sources, this has had an unintentional effect to junglers. Junglers who don't get a smiteless or get succesfully invaded upon will have an even harder time recovering. Furthermore, junglers who choose to clear the small camps in between buffs are punished because of the extra camp they have to clear. I feel like the camp changes make junglers too reliant on laners to start. Furthermore, in restricts champion diversity in the jungle. Champions who would want to get level 3 before starting their other buff now find it extremely difficult because of the awkward time frame between wolf and wraith camp when not going from buff to buff. As such, champions who are weaker in the jungle and want to be level 3 to clear the blue buff are going to find it much difficult to do in the new jungle and will get counter jungled incredibly easily.

Check out the brilliant level 1 invade by iG during Season 2 World Championships that punished AzF's greedy camp opening without proper vision control.

While I do feel double golems gave an unfair advantage to traditional solo queue play, it takes away from competitive opening strategies. Camp control, vision control, and initial spawn buff control were all part of level 1 strategies that became part of the brilliant meta of competitive League of Legends. By taking away initial camp spawns you remove triple camp clear strategies that reward brilliant vision control or aggressive-quirky invades that Invictus Gaming executed in the first game of S2 worlds or brilliant double golem control coupled with lane swaps. Instead, it's been replaced with a stale level 1 opening strategies that take a direction of buff control. There is no reason to contest or do the small camps in the first two to three minutes anymore. In the end, it boils down to Riot's priorities for the game. Since Riot has always prioritized casual players, it is obvious that they would take the route that limited competitive ingenuity to remove casual player's conundrums.

Oracle's was nerfed at the start of Season 3 with a time limit which, along with the removal of Heart of Gold, completely destroyed conventional jungle build paths. Traditionally, every jungler went double GP5 into Oracles for vision control. However, the limit to Oracles made it an extremely unappealing option. Junglers who bought Oracles essentially made themselves a giant target and a ticking time bomb; there was no reward for careful play by junglers who bought Oracles now. However, with the recent changes of oracles now not being removed from death there may be more appeal to pick it up early. That being said, junglers in competitive play have not been picking it up unless they get a lot of extra gold early on in the game. On the flip side, supports have now been picking up Oracles a lot earlier than usual for vision control once initial towers go down.

Elise before the 3.10 patch (July 30, 2013) had a steady 8% pick rate and 49% win rate

Elise is the champion I want to talk about most in this State of the Jungle. While she has been nerfed, passive armor and magic resist on ultimate was removed completely, she is still an incredibly strong jungler. Her ability to do a ton of base percentage health damage to insta-gib targets with little to no AP built is insane. On top of that, her dueling potential coupled with her ability to do camps without taking any damage makes her an incredibly safe jungler. Frankly, I am amazed that no one in the competitive scene played jungle Elise, outside of NintendudeX, nor did they take it seriously. My guess was that she was just so amazing top lane that she went completely untested in the jungle. While she does get nerfed a little more in the 3.10 so that her jungle clearing is not free at level 1, she is still quite the strong champion. A little tip to Elise junglers that I learned from watching the Korean OGN league that makes her crazy in ganks: use Rappel to rappel to a minion and then switch to human form to get into stun range; it opens up insane gank paths that creates kill potential in the most absurd positions that brings her gank potential up to Lee Sin standards. 

Nasus before the 3.10 patch (July 30, 2013) had a stable pick rate regardless of the LCS pick rates

Once again, Nasus has made a surprise showing in LCS. After his huge nerf to wither, cutting its effectiveness by 50%, people are surprised he is being picked again. However, as I pointed out in a previous State of the Jungle, Nasus was picked in LCS primarily for his E ability, which was untouched. Spirit Fire is the best wave clearing and pushing ability any jungler can have. As such, it is no surprise that Nasus is very much active in the presence of a tower pushing meta that NA is so fond of at the moment. Unsurprisingly though, his Solo Queue pick rate is not spectacular and very much stale.

C9's Meteos actually had a game in week 2, playing on patch 3.8, where he got both of his buffs stolen early on and still managed to positively influence the game on Nasus because he simply walked into lanes and pushed them with Spirit Fire. 

Ironically, with the jungle camp changes there has been little to no deviation in the popular jungle picks for Solo Queue or competitive. Initially, I predicted that competitive teams would pick stronger early game junglers like Udyr who can clear their own buffs so that laners can do small camps without having to help the jungler; however, it has been proven to be false. While Udyr has been picked a bit in the EU LCS courtesy of DiamondProx, it was not for this reason. As such, the top conventional junglers to play still remain to be Zac, J4, Elise, and Lee with some Nasus, Nautilus, Evelyn, and Udyr mixed into it.

Stay tuned for the upcoming State of the Jungle Article 7 for patch 3.10 where pro players like Doublelift are calling it the death of Cloud 9 due to the nerfs of certain champions, introduction of Spectre's Cowl, and further camp changes to execute what remains of double golem advantage. 

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