With the recent update coming toLeague of Legends in patch 6.9 and beyond, just in time for summersplit of 2016, Junglers were given a wealth of new objectives andchoices to take as the game progressed. Mages, Dragons, the jungleitself, and everything in between are only a few of the changesthat will take place over the weeks to come, but whether thechanges themselves are good or bad has still yet to bedecided.
With Riot trying to find newways to make mid game objectives other than towers relevant,dragons were given another change in recent history in the form ofthe newly announced Elemental Dragons. I have to wonder though, whyis it that Riot felt it would be a good idea to bring in a randomnumber generator for dragons? (For those unaware of what a RandomNumber Generator is, also known as RNG for short, it is basically aprogram that determines which item, or in this case a particulardragon, gets dropped for the player to collect orfight.)
For those that do not know, thefour new dragons are based on the elements of fire, water, earth,and air who each give different stackable buffs for the duration ofthe game with the inclusion of an Elder Dragon spawning in the lategame. But why? Why did Riot see this as the next step to take in agame like League of Legends, which is so heavily influenced by aplayer’s skill and decision-making on a particular champion in thegame at hand. Especially with the Jungler position, whichrelies a lot on objective taking with these players sometimeshaving to prioritise certain objectives at the loss ofothers.
Some professional Junglers havecome forward with their opinions on the dragon changes, withOrigen’s Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneiderbringing out the biggest criticism at the time of its announcementon twitter. He had this to say:
“Riot is trying waytoo hard to achieve unique solutions to certain game mechanicsinstead of just going back to the roots. Give dragon gold; buffturrets-. -Every pro will tell you that the constant changes killthe incentive to prepare for a split. We never know what’s going tostick. Might as well just get to playoffs and peak there. Justadmit you done goofed and stop trying to be fancy with thechanges.” Maurice“Amazing” Stückenschneider April 20th,2016
So then, why bring in an elementof luck to the game? It seems trivial to me at least. It’s a cool concept and a sound idea but was executedpoorly because of the random factor the dragons have when spawningall the way up to the 35-minute mark when the Elder Dragon appears.Perhaps if there was a particular order for the elemental dragonsto spawn in it would make more sense, but I imagine some dragonswill be prioritised for certain team compositions if this idea ofmine were to become a reality. Meaning certain dragons wouldonly be taken to continue the cycle while they wait for a new typeto appear. Not really because they want the buff that comeswith the kill, but because they have no choice but to take it inorder to try to acquire a new stack from the dragon they doactually want when it appears before the elder dragon finally makesan appearance.
It is also worth mentioning thatat the time of writing, some colour-blind players are finding itincreasingly hard to tell the difference of the dragons. I hope tosee riot fix this issue in the future to help players who arestruggling.
Bring on the Herald
Dragons aren’t the only bigchange to come from the mid-season announcement; the Rift Herald ishaving a big change mid-season. For the longest time, the RiftHerald was not considered a priority option,which is an objectivethat has only become relevant in the past month or so. However,this portion of the game has now changed dramatically. The RiftHerald is now a one-time 20-minute buff that stays with thechampion even after death. This gives the champion damagereduction against enemy champions as well as aiding the building ofCorruption stacks. At 100 stacks, the champion with thebuff’s next attack will discharge all the acquired stacks todeal bonus magic damage. The Corruption’s stack rate anddamage are scaled to the champion’s level.
Once the Herald is gone it isgone. Junglers could, therefore, begin to prioritize thisbuff over all else because of what it brings to the table. Itcould be seen as a win all objective allowing junglers to gank morefrequently or allowing allied champions to win their lanesoutright. It is now a buff worth fighting for. A buffthat can make or break a game.
This buff alone, in my opinion,is simply overpowered. It is a buff that is for split-pushing;there is no other way of really looking at it. In the long run itinvites split-pushers to just keep pushing because even if they diethey retain the buff. You as a player are guaranteed to keep thisbuff no matter what with the only risk being gold gained to anenemy champion. A big risk sure if the gold is given tospecific champions or if a bounty is claimed, but most splitpushers will not care if you get a kill or two off of them whenthey have a buff that is sticking around for the long run. They are looking to maximise the buffs efficiency before timeruns out. Give this buff to a Jax or a Marksmen and see how longyou can keep your towers alive, let alone other objectives on themap.
Management, Monsters, and Mages
With all these changes cominginto the mid-game, management of the jungle, prioritization, andoverall vision control will be very important for Junglers. It will test the very limits and mental strain of the prosgoing into the summer split. Which objectives to prioritise, how toprepare for each game, who gets what buffs, and jungling as a wholewill see routes change and counter jungling heightened in order tobe one step ahead of the other. In short, I believe the Junglerposition will be an even more vital role going into the split as wehead towards the 2016 world championships, for even one slip upcould be costly in the long run.
This is because jungle monstershave also received an increase in Experience given for kills. Howthis will affect hard farming junglers is hard to tell at thispoint in time, but some have theorized that this could lead to hardfarming jungle champions being an impossible to play (obsolete?)concept if most Junglers now are able to gank over and over withlittle farming time invested and yet still be the same level assomeone who has farmed efficiently all game in other lanes. Thenagain, this is not to say that hard farming Junglers cannot takeadvantage of the new jungling system. They could possibly farm, outlevel your opponents in their lanes, gank lanes, and profit fromthe overwhelming level advantage.
With all of the changesspecifically in the jungle, there is still one major change to themid-season that I feel needs to be discussed: Mages. The enticementfor Junglers to play mages since the recent buffs, as well as theintroduction of many new mage items (along with the deletion ofdevourer), can only entice players back to the days of fiddlesticksand co. wreaking havoc on summoner’s rift. As we have grown into atank based jungle meta in recent splits, the prospect of highability power mages excites me more than it should.
Regardless, the changes thatcome into effect with the recent 6.9 patch and many patches to comewill probably not remain the same. Buffs will be nerfed, thingswill change, and I am almost certain that a lot of the currentchoices such as Rift Herald and ability power item buffs will benerfed or removed eventually as the outcry of the community flowsfar and wide. It goes without saying though that Junglers have alot to look forward to in the recent patches, and I for one lookforward to see how the LCS changes as a whole to encompass thesenew objectives and challenges that Junglers face.