It’s the time for Tier Lists once more! The changes in this list from the previous list will be down to a mixture of buffs/nerfs, meta changes, and jungle item changes.
As always, please note that just because a champion is not in Tier 1 doesn’t mean that I’m saying they suck. Tier 2 is still very good, and Tier 3 is also good.
Video that accompanies the Tier List, slightly different this time around. This video discusses the top 5 junglers of this patch :
How does the layout work?
- Each champion is placed in to a Tier, ranging from Tier 1 to Tier 4. The higher Tiers are better, while the lower Tiers are worse.
- Each Tier is split in to two sub-categories – A and B. The difference between A and B is very minor, often coming down to my preference. The reasoning behind having two Tiers is to insert a bit more detail while also keeping the list from being cluttered.
- There is no order within each Tier – i.e the first champion listed in Tier 1A is not necessarily better than the last in Tier 1A.
Chances are you will disagree with some of the placements in this Tier List. Please note that Tiers 3 and above are for good jungle picks. Just because you see your favourite champion in Tier 3 doesn’t mean that I’m saying it sucks. In fact, I’m saying it’s actually pretty good. There are over a hundred different champions in this game and to make Tier 3 puts you in the top percentage.
What defines a champion’s Tier?
I thought I should clear up my reasoning behind where I rank champions. Please note that at the end of the day it is all my opinion, and you may have varying opinions, which is fine. My placement of champions is not 100% fact and is more of a guideline forged from both my experiences and my opinions (though I try to sieve out any bias by running my list by other Diamond 1 players). So, in no particular order, the criteria that I take in to consideration:
- A jungler’s clear speed
- Their dueling potential and power
- Their counter jungling potential – how fast they can do it, how safely they can do it (a lot of this is down to play style rather than specific picks, but picks inevitably help)
- Their role within the current solo queue meta, i.e champions that can snowball early, that are tanky, provide good team utility, good engagers, good teamfight abilities, etc
- Their ability to gank, and how frequently and to what level of success
- Their versatility as a pick as far as what team comps they fit in to
- Their versatility as a champion as far as what role they can play in the team (initiator, peeler, soaker, carry diver/zoner, etc)
- How useful they are as a champion throughout various stages in the game
- How effective they are with budget builds (junglers don’t get much access to gold so have to still be useful with limited items)
- Ability to sustain in the jungle
- Objective control (sieging towers, taking dragon/baron)
Note that some criteria have a heavier influence on a champion’s Tier position than others. Ultimately, a champion’s position will be determined from a combination of these criteria.
So without further ado, let’s get started!
Patch 4.2 Tier List
Champions in Tier 1 and 2 (both A and B) alongside those highlighted in bold will be given detailed write-ups at the bottom of the article. If you want to learn more about my ranking of a certain champion, Ctrl+F the champion name and take a look at the explanation at the bottom of the page.
Champions with their names in italics are those that have had their positions changed from the previous list. The arrows symbol next to their name will indicate whether they have climbed (↑) or fallen (↓).
A - Lee Sin, Elise, Vi, Kha’zix ↑
B - Udyr, Nocturne, Olaf, Evelynn ↓, Gragas ↑, Shyvana ↓, Pantheon ↑, Wukong ↑
A - Master Yi, Hecarim, Rengar, Sejuani, Shaco, Xin Zhao, Nasus, Volibear, Rammus, Zac, Amumu, Aatrox ↓, Jarvan ↓, Dr. Mundo ↓
B - Nunu, Malphite, Shen, Trundle, Fiddlesticks, Skarner, Riven, Maokai, Cho’gath, Diana, Nautilus ↓, Kayle ↑, Jax ↑, Zed ↑,
A - Gangplank, Fizz, Morgana, Tryndamere, Twitch, Karma, Yorick, Darius, Cassiopeia ↑, Taric ↓, Leona ↑, Yasuo, Urgot
B - Ezreal, Jayce, Renekton, Thresh, Warwick, Lissandra, Brand, Jinx ↓, Poppy ↑, Talon ↑, Kassadin ↑, Zyra ↑
A - Katarina, Singed, Rumble, Karthus, Fiora, Akali, Blitzcrank, Teemo, Xerath
B - Vayne, Twisted Fate, Sion, Malzahar, Irelia, Heimerdinger, Kennen
Lee Sin - Quite possibly the most versatile champion in the game. Lee Sin can literally do it all throughout all stages of the game. The only downside to Lee Sin is that he is particularly hard to learn and his damage definitely falls off late game. He can gank, counter jungle, duel, engage, peel, tank, assassinate – all to the same level of efficiency as those who can only do a handful of these things. With how popular Spirit of the Elder Lizard and general DPS builds are for junglers, Lee Sin can fill this role very nicely. The new warding totem practically gives him an extra flash from level one, too.
Elise – Elise is a good clearer, very strong dueler, and pretty good ganker. Her team fights are quite good too, with an ability to catch people out with Cocoon and jump on to priority targets with her Rappel. She is also flexible with her builds and roles, being able to go both tanky (relying on her base damage and % damage for DPS) and more caster-assassiny, for more deeps.
Vi – She is also the BEST mid lane ganker in the game. The gap closer on her Vault Breaker leaves very little time to react to her ganks, and at level 6 her Ultimate almost guarantees a kill. Vi has amazing clear speeds due to the %maxhp damage (which shreds buffs, Dragon and the big creeps with high hp) and the attack speed steroid on her W, the auto attack reset/AoE damage combo on her E, and the high damage with a fully charged Q - this allows her to gain Arabian-prince amounts of gold with the new jungle changes. She can solo Dragon better than most for reasons previously mentioned, she can duel with high effectiveness, counter jungle, gank, engage team fights, peel, carry dive, and her builds can vary from full tank to pseudo-assassin. She has crazy mobility and her kit synergises amazingly with itself – Vi does it all.
Kha’Zix - . He farms the jungle extremely quickly with his low-CD Q and can take on the new Wight camp a lot easier than the majority of other junglers due to his isolation bonus – this is enhanced even further when Q is evolved. Kha’zix also gets more gold since 3.14 which is imperative to being a successful assassin, and he can (and will) utterly destroy teams. His biggest issues are with his mana pool and early jungle clears. Outside of that, his ganks are good (great with evolved wings), dueling is good (great when enemy is isolated, amazing when Q is evolved), and he can be effective throughout every stage of the game. His overall damage is, in a word, absurd. 4.2 hit his evolved Q’s isolation damage, but he still packs a true punch.
Shyvana – Pressure is what makes junglers truly frustrating to play against, and nobody applies pressure like Shyvana. Her dueling power is one of, if not the best, out of all the junglers. Tagging someone with your E and beating on them, especially in combination with the Auto attack reset on your Q (PLUS the fact that the ability hits twice) and the constant damage provided by your W, really puts out a lot of pain on to the enemy jungler. The nerfs to her W have hurt her clear speeds (and subsequently make her weaker after clearing) and early damage which is enough to somewhat limit her early pressure. Her ability to counter jungle is still unmatched, and she can really set enemy junglers behind.
Evelynn - The only champion in the game that forces the enemy team to play a completely different style due to her almost permanent Invisibility. The warding changes with Patch 3.14 saw Pink Wards heavily nerfed – they are now visible, allowing Eve to apply early pressure with immense ease. In all honesty, Eve may still be T1A material. Her E no longer does magic damage meaning spell pen setups are slightly less effective now, but AD builds are becoming more popular and accommodate quite nicely for this change. Outside of her Invis, Eve clears pretty quickly and has good sustained damage for dueling and ganks. She is also pretty good at clearing waves and split pushing, and (most importantly) has a great engage tool, being able to appear out of thin air at 1,000 miles per hour to then slow everyone in an area with her Ulti.
Nocturne - Possibly one of the best solo queue carry champions, Noct will always be up-there in the solo queue Tier List standings. He has a great AD steroid (steroid = self-buff) on his Q that makes him extremely powerful in both duels and ganks, unmatched by anyone in his raw DPS. He clears very quickly and can counter jungle just as effectively. Come level 6, he is almost guaranteed a kill with his Ultimate and in late game he can punish carries that are out of position. He can also opt to build flat tank or take a more damage-focused build and act as an assassin/heavy damage bruiser, or (my personal favourite) be somewhere in between. Noct can power through the new jungle and gain large amounts of gold that improves his already terrifying late game.
Udyr - Udyr is a very frustrating champion to play versus. When played Tiger, he can be a total jungle bully and out-duel pretty much anyone while having very high burst and sustained damage in ganks. As Phoenix, he clears ridiculously quickly without losing much damage. He can counter jungle very effectively and pretty safely, as it’s very hard to catch a lightning fast and indestructible man-beast-rage-monk. He is a very solid jungler whose only downside is a tendency to fall victim to particularly powerful kite teams. Even then, it’s impossible to truly shut him down.
Olaf – His rework bought back the terrifying Olaf of old. A top pick in both Korean solo queue and competitive play, Olaf is extremely tanky while also having large amounts of damage, especially early. Being able to spam Undertows and apply a massive, permanent slow is extremely daunting to play versus. God save you if you’re overextended and Olaf has Ghost up. The new jungle doesn’t do too much to help Olaf specifically (outside of any overall gold income boosts) but the new defensive masteries give him a nice boost.
Pantheon - Panth’s old issues were twofold: he is very mana hungry and his role of ad-caster/assassin didn’t work too well in the jungle. The new jungle item changes solved most of Panth’s mana issues – junglers now regenerate a % of the damage they deal to jungle monsters as HP and mana. To address his other issue, AD casters are now more popular than ever in the jungle. Aside from that, his early pressure is very high with decent damage and respectable clear speeds. His Ultimate is extremely threatening, as all quasi-global teleports are. Panth can engage ganks from far away and completely bypass any security system the enemy laners may have set up, such as wards. He can also use this Ult to start favourable fights in the mid/late game.
Wukong – A solid all-round jungler. Good clears with an AA reset on his Q, an AoE damage and AS steroid on E, and a tendency to buy DPS items. His duels are pretty good although not quite as potent as people like Shyvana. His skirmishes can be extremely rewarding thanks in large part to his great Ulti and high damage outputs when not getting focused. He used to lack any form of sustain and could easily run in to mana issues, but the jungle item buff has remedied this. The new jungle changes make it easier for him to reach an item threshold that enable him to be a threat in the late game.
Gragas – Fatman came out of nowhere and blindsided everyone with how potent of a jungler he was. Originally played on occasion by Insec back in S3, he didn’t become a popular jungler until the revamping of his abilities. His Body Slam is the largest reason for his jungle successes – it now does full damage to all targets hit, instead of spread, and has its CD chopped in half if it hits a unit (i.e if it’s used to damage not to dash across the map). This makes it an AMAZING skill to clearing the jungle. Not to mention Gragas also gets free AD from his W that not only helps his basic attacks but also increases the damage of his E. He has exceptional clear speeds and very high damage, even from early thanks to the previously mentioned AD steroid. Sustain can be a bit of an issue, but his phenominal clears limit the damage he receives and his passive takes care of everything else. He gets mana from his W and also benefits from the sustain off Spectral Wraith. His ganks are very simple yet very effective, especially when he gets his Ulti and can launch enemies away from safety. Later on he plays identically to a standard Gragas, with very high burst and displacement potential.
Dr Mundo - The biggest downfall of Mundo is how vulnerable he is early on. Ironically, this is also when he’s at one of his strongest points. Early on, Mundo’s damage is insane, almost entirely due to the steroid on his E, giving him massive amounts of AD. He can chase people down forever, constantly lobbing Cleavers at them, and whereas it’s not the greatest engage tool, it can also be used as such. Disengaging is also something that Mundo does extremely well with his Cleavers, keeping the enemy from chasing his team down. Mundo was always better in the top lane than in the jungle, but has received some indirect nerfs that make him weaker than before. Most noticeably were the nerfs to Spirit Visage and the Perseverance mastery.
Aatrox – His clears are pretty good due to his passive’s attack speed augmentation and his resourcelessness, allowing him to spam abilities to clear. His CC for ganks is quite scary with a gap-closer knock up (think of an Alistar that still has huge damage) and a long-ranged slow. His burst is also very good and he can put out a decent amount of sustained damage with his W. At level 6 he can become somewhat of a raidboss with his increased range and attack speed. His dueling is great, his W means he will never fall below 50% hp while jungling, and his revive passive allows him to pull off some extremely ballsy early plays, including flat-out tower dives. Unlike most other revive passives (Anivia, Zac), Aatrox drops tower aggro while reviving, meaning he can escape scott-free if there are minions nearby. His team fighting is also quite formidable and he can be a real nuisance to deal with.
Jarvan IV- His late game damage may not be too high and his clear speeds are not phenomenal (though they aren’t awful either), but his ganking power is unrivalled. At least, they used to be until the nerf on his knock up. It’s now harder to land and definitely noticeable. DPS jungle builds are also becoming more and more popular, yet due to the balls deep nature of the champion it’s best if he avoids such builds. He has great presence in mid game skirmishes and provides great utility to his team through the AoE Attack Speed buff on his E and % Armour Shred on his Q.
Master Yi – Yi has great clear speed, great counter jungling potential, and great dueling power. However, he definitely doesn’t bring as much to the table for team fights as someone like Vi or Jarvan would. He relies on other people to engage and bait out enemy CC so he can swoop in and 4 shot the enemy carries. He can be VERY weak if he falls behind though, almost to the extent of uselessness, but he has unlimited late game potential meaning you can split push, farm, and become a huge force later on in the game. With a new Wriggles and a dedicated attitude to perma farm, Yi can amass wild amounts of gold and be very powerful in the late game, albeit sacrificing early pressure.
Hecarim - Hecarim is very similar to Nocturne in his role and ability to carry solo queue. However, unlike Nocturne, Hecarim has been receiving a steady flow of minor nerfs, which has obviously taken its toll. It’s a similar situation to what Nami went through, except she received buff after buff after buff until she finally became arguably the best support around. Early on Hecarim clears a bit slowly and is very fragile, but he really shines late game with items. He boasts probably the highest consistent DPS out of any jungler when he has a few items, and whereas normally this wouldn’t be ideal because junglers don’t have much access to gold, Hecarim can farm extremely quickly and easily get the required gold. The new jungle beats Hecarim up quite hard early, though the new Smite cooldown does help him out a bit. If he can snowball and get items he can carry very hard still.
Rengar - He takes a lot of damage early on, despite having a consistent heal. Ironically, by using your heal you’d actually be doing more damage to yourself because you’ll be clearing slower than if you had used an empowered Q. His counter jungling is overall pretty good, and his dueling can be sublime if you catch an enemy in their jungle, especially because there are often enough bushes around for you to take full advantage of your passive. The burst damage on his Q makes Rengar a pretty effective assassin in mid game and even in team fights, but if he fails to take someone out of the fight he can be almost useless. He is stronger in the new jungle and can reach his potential a lot easier as a result.
Sejuani – Her Ultimate is second to none as far as engaging team fights go, and a good 3-man Ult can secure victory in a fight on its own. She also has strong ganks even from early on, with a gap closer than can also be used to creatively dodge wards (e.g dodging Tri bush ward at bot by jumping over to Dragon pit). If she gets ahead she can be a huge bully, especially when building a bit of damage, e.g a Liandry’s. However, she gets quite low when clearing early so can fall prey to aggressive invades.
Shaco - Great in the hands of an experienced player, useless in the hands of others. Shaco is completely hit or miss – even to those that are good with him (though they’ll hit more than they’ll miss). He almost completely revolves around snowballing and causing chaos in the early game. It’s no secret that he lacks team fight pressure, but he is a wildly underrated assassin. A good Shaco can completely zone carries out of fights or even take them down himself; he can also build a bit tankier to be even more effective in 5v5s. Regardless, early game is where he shines and his slippery-ness means he can pull off some very annoying yet amazing plays. The preseason changes have, in my opinion, hurt Shaco. He is very slow in the jungle and cannot keep up with the farm and as a result is almost always behind the enemy jungler, unless you’ve taken them out the game. He can still be very powerful, but it feels as though if you get behind, you stay behind.
Xin Zhao – He has high dueling damage, good burst for ganking and also a reliable CC. He sustains well in the jungle due to his W but doesn’t clear particularly fast. Later on, his engages can be very effective but are more useful as a follow up where he can jump on an already impaired enemy and split them off from the rest of their team with a well timed Ulti. His high damage early/mid game, while he’s still very tanky, can be used in tandem to snowball his team in fights and objectives. Later on when he loses that damage, he can still zone a carry from a fight.
Nasus - Relatively bad as far as actual jungling goes – clears very slowly (even slower if he wants to farm his Q) and is a bit too reliant on buffs early game. He can easily fall victim to aggressive counter junglers early on, but there is no denying his utility in team fights, both mid and late game. Nasus turns super-Saiyan, runs at the enemy ADC, Withers them, and shreds the rest of the team’s armour. He can absorb a lot of punishment and zone extremely effectively. He also works very well with a budget build, and although his early game is not his strong point, his ganks can be quite good too with the simplicity of his Wither. The new Masteries have made Nasus scarier, though this affects him more in top lane than in the jungle.
Volibear - Voli is a very solid jungler, and in the right hands is very similar to an Udyr (must be something about Bear genes). Tanky, high damage early, strong ganks, good at soaking damage, and in mid game can effectively assassinate enemy carries with his Ulti and W. If a Volibear gets ahead, be very afraid. He is one of the best junglers in this section and is knocking on the doors of Tier 1.
Rammus - Rammus is an OK jungler (hah). Ganking wise his speed allows him to sneak up on people or even gank through wards without an enemy counter play. He doesn’t have great CC though and relies on getting a good taunt off in order to be useful in teamfights. If your team is ahead, Rammus is 10x more effective than if you’re behind, because he gives you relatively nothing in terms of team protection or disengage (unless you count the “every man for himself!” tactic as disengage, in which case he’s amazing because he can never be caught). Also, if you’re ahead you can Powerball+Taunt anyone out of position and make endless picks. Knowing this, try to snowball and gank as much as you can early. The jungle changes, specifically the lower Smite CD, have made Rammus slightly stronger. However, you can no longer buy a Shurelya’s on him because of the clash between new jungle items and other gold items.
Zac - The nerfs from Patch 3.10 hurt Zac a bit more than first anticipated. His clear speeds (though still decent) have suffered enough to bump him down to 1B. This has also caused him to take more damage in the jungle (slower clear speeds = more time spent clearing = more damage taken), but he is still a very good jungler who has GREAT ganks with his engage range and CC (even more powerful at level 6), has a good variety of builds and roles (tanky initiator or magic damage off-tank), and unmatched late game teamfight power. He can set up plays for your team, engage on enemies from crazy distances, and CC the crap out of multiple targets.
Amumu - The Sad Mummy can fall prey to the enemy jungler if they’re overly aggressive, but with the new Spectral Wraith he can endlessly power farm the jungle. This makes him more reliable and also makes it harder to completely shut him out of the game. As long as Amumu has his Ult and doesn’t instantly die, he will be useful. His ganks aren’t bad pre-6, but they reach a next level once that Ult is acquired. He still needs to be careful of unfavourable duels.
Kayle - High burst, decent clearing, great utility, and a mental team fight Ultimate. Kayle is good throughout the early stages of the game, but falls back as a pretty support orientated jungler when it comes to team fights. That’s not necessarily bad, however, if your team has a decent front line and engage. She has a good CC, heal/speed buff, and the godly invulnerability Ultimate. She does have to be careful of early aggresssion, however, as her sustain really isn’t that good and stronger junglers can have their way with her. The new Spectral Wraith really helped lessen Kayle’s frailty in the early jungle while also making her fairly scary. The recent nerfs to her Q definitely hurt her as a champion, however jungle Kayle’s build would often see less AP than usual and as such is not effected as much as a mid Kayle.
Nautilus - No one in the game has more CC than Nautilus. He boasts a whopping 4 forms of CC – his Passive, Q, E, and Ultimate. And these aren’t crappy little slows like Trundle’s Q has, these are solid and reliable slows/snares/knockups/hooks. These make his ganking and late game engages amazing. Naut clears pretty quickly and has a fair amount of gank damage when his W is up, but without it has abyssmally pathetic DPS. He isn’t great at counter jungling and can be a bit vulnerable to more aggressive invaders like Lee Sin and Udyr, but by building full tank (as you should when playing Naut), he’ll always be useful come late game and in mid-game skirmishes. The reason for his drop in Tiers is because the current popular junglers will eat Naut for breakfast if you’re not careful. Similarly, the high damage assassin mids will obliterate a weak jungler, making it imperative to be able to hold your own in the jungle. The new Smite cooldown helps Nautilus power through his jungle faster, softening his weaknesses and enabling him to have more pressure.
Nunu - Oh how the mighty have fallen. Nunu is a broken champ. The fate of all broken champs is really quite one dimensional – either they’re way too strong, or way too weak. The biggest reason why Nunu is so much worse now is due to the exp changes on the buff camps: the mini creeps now hold a larger portion of experience granted and the buff itself gives less. This is bad news for Nunu as he can no longer Consume+Smite steal a buff and instantly get level 2, making it hard for him to snowball (no pun intended) that advantage. It also means that the junglers who are counter jungled have an easier time getting back in to the game as the leftovers (mini creeps) are now more valuable. Yeti boy can still be effective at controlling the jungle and has pretty effective ganks, but he is no where near as strong as he used to be. In my opinion, Vi and Shyvana do what Nunu does but to more effectiveness.
Malphite - This rock can’t cook (and probably can’t smell either); he clears too slowly and doesn’t have much damage. Similar to Amumu, he is too reliant on his Ultimate to be useful. However, his ganks are pretty good and very easy to execute, and if he gets some extra levels in his Q he can put out a fair bit of pain early. The attack speed debuff on his E is very useful in team fights but surprisingly underutilised by Malphite players as far as the priority targets they use it on (personal observation, doesn’t affect his Tier placement). Malphite is one of those champions that is always pretty useful, as he can build tanky and carry with a good Ulti.
Shen - A particularly slow jungler but very effective in ganks (if you can hit the Taunt) and late game, due to his global Ulti. He has great sustain thanks to the Health Regen on his Q and shield on his W. His damage is not great and it’s not particularly sustained either.
Trundle - One of the best actual junglers in the game (opposite of Nasus, who kinda sucks as an ‘actual jungler’). Good clear speeds and great sustain. Trundle is also an amazing duelist because he has a plethora of steroids/buffs and shreds/debuffs. His Q gives him AD and shreds it from the enemy, his W gives him Movespeed and Attack Speed, and his Ulti steals both Health and Resists. In a 1v1 situation, Trundle is really hard to beat. To this extent, he can bully you as much as he wants and steal all of your jungle. However, he really lacks in mid game or late game fights. His Pillar is extremely unreliable, varying from amazing to useless. He’s very good in poke comps because he can Pillar the enemy and disengage if they try to engage on to you (typically hard engages are poke comp’s biggest nightmare). Due to the limited gold he receives, he really only works as a full tank or off tank, which doesn’t unlock his true potential as a high threat duelist.
Fiddlesticks - A very unique champion, similar to Shaco. AP junglers very rarely find their way in to a jungle meta that is dominated by bruisers, but Fiddle is always an exception. He requires a very specific play style in order to be effective that requires a lot of practice to master. He can snowball games quite hard and punishes the denizens of solo queue by exploiting their carelessness and lack of awareness. His sustain is obviously top notch due to his Drain, and he can tear teams apart with carefully constructed Ultimate positions. His Fear is one of the scariest (hah) CC abilities in the game. On the other hand, he doesn’t clear all to quickly and can be easily bullied around by certain junglers – namely anyone that can interrupt his Drain.
Skarner - Skarner excelled in the Season 2 jungle when AoE clearing was more important, and bruisers with good CC and team utility were less favourable. His rework did very little to change his power in my opinion. He still struggles from the same fundamental issues as before, but he lost his perma slow. His E feels very underwhelming and Skarner now faces a large ‘opportunity cost’ disadvantage as far as his skill order goes. Q needs to be maxed first, but W and E BOTH want to be maxed 2nd. He wants a larger shield and faster move speed, but he also wants a more impactful slow. Still, the rework is relatively young and Riot will no doubt add a few tweaks in the near future that may make Skarner a very decent champion. His potential item routes are decent with Elder Lizard + Frozen Fist making him very scary.
Riven - In my personal opinion Riven is overpowered as a laner. She has too much damage and utility for her kit, and her resourcelessness means she can be extremely relentless in her dominance. An AD scaling shield and great kit synergy make it extremely hard to shut her down, too. As a jungler, Riven has great clear speeds and fairly good (but not great) ganks. She can also be fairly formidable at dueling other junglers, but this is usually only if she is somewhat ahead in either items or levels. At the end of the day Riven is a carry champion, and carries do not fare so well in the jungle due to the limited gold/levels they receive in comparison to the laners. When snowballing, however, her potential can match and exceed that of lane Riven and she can wreak total havoc.
Maokai - Good ganking and good team fighting. His ulti helps soak up a lot of damage late game, but he doesn’t have much damage of his own at any stage in the game. He isn’t that fast at clearing, especially without blue buff, and can fall victim to some forceful counter jungling. If Maokai gets invaded early, it can be hard to come back in to the game. Luckily for him, however, he is not a carry jungler and can still be useful despite being behind due to not needing very many items. The type of junglers that benefit from the new jungle changes (fast clearers, those who like items) are very different to Maokai and as such he finds himself left behind a bit. The new Smite CD does help him, however.
Cho’Gath - One of the most reliable and stereotypical junglers in the game. As far as any jungling criteria goes, Cho’Gath meets them all (and to a pretty decent standard too). He is, however, a master of none of those criteria (save for sustain, which becomes less valuable the later the game goes on) and as such gets outmatched by junglers that specialise in only a few of those criteria (Elise, for example). Still, he is a very solid jungler and always worth adding to your repertoire. The issues he now faces are similar to that of Maokai.
Diana – More of a brusier/farmer/duelist than an actual mage, Diana is actually very potent in the jungle. Her ability to clear the jungle is relatively unrivalled thanks to her passive. She doesn’t have many (if any) sustain issues due to her W, blocking most damage before it can get through to her. Diana needs to be constantly battling an enemy in order to beat them, and whereas this is no problem for immobile jungle creeps, it can get tricky when enemy players turn tail and run. Diana’s only form of CC is her E and this doesn’t do too much to help her chase down opponents. However, it is very good in certain situations such as engages – Diana can Ulti in to a crowd of enemies and cast her E, mimicking a small Ori Ult. Pretty much all the new jungle changes have benefited Diana – new Spectral Wraith, new jungle camp, increased gold flow, lower Smite CD.
Jax - It is commonly believed that Jax would be a very powerful jungler. To be honest, he is really not that bad but he doesn’t meet his potential when put in to the jungle. His biggest issue is that he scales extremely well with items, and in the jungle he does not have the opportunity to build that many. That being said, his clearing is not that bad if you use your W correctly as an Auto attack reset, and his passive (especially in combination with his Ult passive once he hits 6) means that he takes away buffs pretty quickly. Later on, however, if he lacks items he is fairly useless in teamfights because he won’t have enough damage to really pressure the enemy carries. He can be very threatening if snowballing, however.
Zed - Zed is a farm/control jungler with upside in small skirmishes (post 6) and late game. Few junglers are scarier with a full item build than Zed. However, he can really struggle to make an impact in the early game due to low consistent damage and no CC for ganks. Although the new jungle item changes helped his sustain, he still finds himself bruised while clearing the jungle; luckily lifesteal is a common build path with Zed thanks to the integration of Blade of the Ruined with his Ulti. He can really struggle if he falls behind, but he has decent clear speeds that allow him to power up through the jungle instead of PvP pressure. This is both a good and a bad thing: it is a fairly reliable way to guarantee late game strength, but it also leaves your laners vulnerable to enemy junglers and unfavourable match ups (that’s t say, if you laners are struggling, Zed can offer minimal benefit to help them).
Yasuo – The newest champion in the League is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, stupid. Any way you look at it his champion concept is just… crazy. He fairs very well as a laner and is VERY good in late game, but as a jungler he leaves a lot to be desired. His passive gives him a nice shield to avoid jungle damage, but he still gets low on occasion. His speeds are decent with a spammable Q, but he has one fundamental flaw. He cannot use his Ulti by himself in ganks. If your laners provide no trigger for your ult, you cannot use it. Simple as that. You will not have the time to gather 3 Q stacks during a gank and you cannot save charges from clearing the jungle, as they expire after a few seconds. This means you have to either rely on team synergy (never that good of an idea in solo queue) or you play with no Ulti. You don’t necessarily need your Ult to be effective if you’re opportunistic, but you will undoubtedly feel it when going in to small skirmishes.
Kassadin – I don’t know why I even included him in this list. Kassadin might as well not exist. If he’s open and you get to pick him, he is best suited to the midlane where he is basically a free win champ. Still, as a jungler he can be a lot of fun. His W allows him to get through an otherwise tough lane phase and work towards the mid/late game where he can be more useful. His item choices are not ideal and he can easily fall prey to enemy invades.
Talon – He takes a huge amount of damage from the jungle early, even with the Spirit Stone and Elder Lizard sustain buffs. His clear speeds aren’t horrendous and his damage is fairly good, especially later on. Aside from that, he plays like a standard Talon in teamfights. Good at taking out priority targets but vulnerable to hard CC.
Cassiopeia – Her clear speeds are very strong but she heavily suffers from a lack of sustain, both with health and mana. In order to not completely fall out of mana, she needs effective management of her passive (this means casting spells in between camps just to keep 5 stacks). Upon getting Spirit Stone and Spectral Wraith her sustain issues ease somewhat, but they are still prevalent – enough to affect her. I found Spell Vamp quints were very useful. Her sustained damage is very nice and teamfight presence is decent with her Ult. Outside of that, however, she suffers from similar things that lane Cass struggles with: she has no mobility to help her in a meta dominated by gap closers and speed boosts and can’t peel anything off of her. This can make her very vulnerable.
Taric – Taric has never really been considered a jungler. Recently, Taric had completely fallen out of favour and was replaced by people such as Thresh and Leona. He received a reworked passive that really helps his jungling and ganking – it’s basically a mini Sheen affect that scales with your armour. Because you now get more items as both a support and jungler, Taric has become a bit of a fabulous beast. Iceborn Gauntlet is ridiculously strong on him and grants a large power spike when acquired. His clears are undoubtedly weak, yet his ganking, support style and overall beefyness is where he truly, truly, truly shines.
Jinx - In the actual jungle Jinx fares fairly well for an ADC, similar to Ezreal. Her utility is what makes her slightly better than Ez, but the fact remains that ADCs do not belong in the jungle. As with every other carry jungler, Jinx does not get enough farm to make her consistently reliable and threatening. If allowed to snowball early or lane tax heavily then she can be as strong as any other AD late game, but it’s not realistic to rely on such conditions. Another reasons why ADCs struggle as junglers is because of the lack of a second summoner spell – ideally, two combat summoners are needed to position properly in team fights and Smite can’t contribute to that. However, her clear speeds aren’t too bad and her lack of sustain is easily remedied by a standard ADC build. Her ganks aren’t great due to an unreliable skillshot CC, though with red buff they become significantly more powerful due to the long range application of her rocket launcher. Tougher junglers will be able to destroy Jinx in straight up duels but she can hold her own adequately in most situations. Her mid game team fights and skirmishes are her shining point, as her traps can turn fights around on their own. If you want to check out my in-depth Jinx jungle guide, take a look at the video below!
Karma - Karma may or may not be a good jungler for LCS, but as far as solo queue goes, she is very vulnerable to the enemy jungler. She has good utility, ganks, and team fight presence, but she struggles to hold her own versus powerful junglers. To this extent, she needs help from her laners. In competitive play, this situation is not that big of a deal, but when you are playing with 4 randoms, it’s risky to put yourself in that position. If you play versus a jungler that doesn’t punish you, or you pick later after a weak invade-jungler has already been taken, then you can have good results with Karma.
Yorick - Similar to Karma, it was a surprise when Yorick was picked up in the OGN. The reason he was picked was because it was a good idea for the team comp at hand. In that specific game, Yorick actually did pretty well. As far as his overall jungling goes, he leaves a fair bit to be desired, but can still be useful. A big problem with him is that he really offers very little in the mid and late game team fights unless he can take full advantage of his Ultimate – that’s to say, you have a very good and fed ADC. Junglers with more reliable CC will usually out class Yorick, and whereas he can hold his own relatively well, don’t expect to be able to launch any major counter jungling efforts of your own.
Lissandra - Again, this is one of my sweetheart jungle picks. I play jungle Lissandra fairly frequently, and whereas I love playing her, I recognise that she isn’t the best jungler around, to say the least. Her clears are pretty good because she can spam her Q, but she will run out of mana, even with the new Spectral Wraith sustain changes. Late game is where she really shines as her engage potential and her Ultimate are simply amazing. Itemisation wise, someone like Lissandra is pretty bad for the jungle because she needs to build mana regen in order to stay competitive with her clears. I like to get a bit of CDR on her because then at the very least you’ll be a useful support-ish champion, as her slows and roots are pretty sustainable. But again, when invaded she can really fall struggle, like most mages will. She is better than a lot of other mages in the jungle, however.
Thresh - I love playing jungle Thresh. Unfortunately for me, he was nerfed in Patch 3.10. I’m not disgruntled about it because Riot is balancing Thresh with his lane domination in mind, rather than his jungling (similar to Zed). Ever since they made Thresh’s extra-damage passive work off his E rather than his Q, Thresh has been a pretty decent jungler. His clears aren’t that bad when maxing E, his ganking is pretty remarkable (it’s Thresh after all) and his team fight pressure is very high. He also works very well as just a support, meaning he doesn’t need any gold to be effective, which is perfect for junglers. On the other hand, he really lacks sustain and can easily fall victim to a particularly nasty enemy jungler.
Darius - I’m of the opinion that Darius is a sleeper champion for solo queue. Not as a jungler, but his overall potency leans in his favour for when he is placed in the jungle. Darius’s clears are pretty good due to his Q, passive bleed, and the extra damage+auto attack reset combo on his W. He can almost spam his abilities while clearing as his mana issues are relatively low. To most peoples’ surprise, he’s also very good at dueling other champions and his ganking is not so bad with Mobi boots or red buff. He’s powerful in small skirmishes and can easily catch vulnerable targets off guard with a Flash+E combo. Finally, his item builds are very favourable for junglers – he can build full tank or hybrid, all at a budget.
Brand - You wouldn’t normally want fire going anywhere near a forest, but Brand is an exception. Mages are at worst awful junglers and at best sub-par. Brand is the latter. His clear speeds and ganks can be pretty nifty if he has the mana to supply it, but he (as with all mages) is extremely vulnerable to jungle invades. A powerful jungler on the enemy team will make your life a complete misery. With that in mind and the fact that there isn’t much upside to an under-farmed Brand, it is risky to play him. If you take that risk and are successful, however, Brand can cause huge pains for the enemy team in mid game skirmishes and late game team fights.
Alistar - Mess with the bull and you get… well, probably 300 gold. Ali’s not a bad jungler if you totally ignore farm and can snowball lanes with his great ganking kit, unfortunately Ali’s ganks are all he reallly has. It’s never a great tactic for solo queue (especially lower elo) to pick a jungler that can’t actually carry themselves, and if for whatever reason your lanes aren’t snowballing by the 20 minute mark, you’re going to be in a sticky situation. In the same vein, Ali is at the mercy of the enemy jungler. I personally like to run 5 GP10 yellows and GP10 quints, rush Mobi boots and just gank gank gank. He can tower dive quite effectively at level 6 and his Flash Q->W back combo can secure a lot of kills, both in lane phase and in team fights. Seeing how pivotal Flash is to Ali, I like to get the Distortion boots enchant to reduce the cooldown.
Warwick - Ironically the purest ‘jungle’ champion in the game. Unfortunately for Ralph there are many more elements to playing jungle outside living in the jungle. Slow clear, bad ganks, little to no team fight presence, no benefit to the team. But hey, at least he can solo Dragon at level 8. His sustain is unmatched, but innate sustain is becoming less and less value thanks to the new jungle items that provide their own sustain (this is good news for most junglers, bad news for chaps like Warwick) – this means that whereas WW didn’t get any weaker, a lot of others got comparatively stronger. Not set back, just left behind.