We’ve all been there. You or someone on your team gets autofilled to the jungle, and without realizing it, they load into the game having forgotten to take Smite. The rest of the game feels like an agonizing four-vs-five as the jungler struggles to clear even the weakest camps without a jungle item.
But that all might change soon. In a post on the Riot forums, a player expressed that Smite should be automatically assigned to junglers in champion select. The first comment came from another player who sarcastically indicated that, because this would improve the game, Riot would not implement the feature.
Then Richard “Maple” Henkel, a product lead on Riot’s live gameplay team, unexpectedly replied, indicating his agreement and teasing that the change might actually be in the works already. His comment was definitely tongue-in-cheek: the exact words were “Agreed! Especially in the next patch, that would be bonkers ;).” But if this does indeed ship in the next patch, it would be a huge quality-of-life improvement for the game.
Riot has experimented with enforcing Smite on junglers in the ongoing alpha test of Nexus Blitz, a new, experimental game mode. Unlike the other common game modes, Nexus Blitz features two junglers. In order to reduce confusion in champion select, the game automatically chooses Smite for the two junglers in champion select. Perhaps seeing how effective and painless that was for programmers and players gave Riot the green light to push this through to other game modes as well.
The new change will definitely help you avoid those catastrophic jungle games where you can’t even clear a buff without dying. Whether it will help your autofilled jungler to not feed is another question altogether. The next update, Patch 8.18, is expected to be released next week.
UPDATE: Riot design director Andrei “Meddler” van Roon confirmed in his weekly forum post that junglers will automatically get Smite in champion select. They will have the ability to change which key it’s on or even swap it out entirely.