Shook on Rekkles, the new patch, and why dragon is now critical

The newest League of Legends patch changed many things, but most of all the game's jungle

The newest League of Legends patch changed many things, but most of all the game’s jungle. Almost every monster camp changed in some way, and when coupled with new items, champions, and strategies, junglers the world over have a lot of learning to do. At this weekend’s IEM San Jose, we sat down with one of Europe’s best, Alliance’s Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema, to pick his brain about the changes.

I’m excited to be playing with Rekkles.

One of the biggest was the addition of the champion Azir in September. And just four days before IEM San Jose, Azir was added to the roster of potential champions for the tournament. He’s a strong mid-lane champion with potential in the top lane as well. But will he make a splash this weekend?

“Azir is one of the best mid-laners,” Hartsema said. “If a good mid-laner masters him, he can be a real menace to everyone.” 

With Azir being added so late to the tournament, however, Hartsema doesn’t think that any team will be able to integrate him into their strategy. “We’re trying not to think about [if a team picks Azir]… it’ll take a couple of months for somebody to master him.”

Azir, the Emperor of the Sands

One thing that has changed, and that Hartsema is paying major attention to, is the changes to the jungle. Specifically, the new and improved dragon.

Traditionally, the dragon provided just a gold boost for your entire team. But with the new patch came a series of permanent buffs that make your team stronger with each and every kill. And if your team manages to kill the dragon five or more times, you’ll get a 180-second window where all those buffs get doubled—and all your attacks will burn opponents for additional damage.

To Hartsema, getting to five dragon kills before your opponent is now an extremely critical part of strategy.

“The dragon is now the most important objective in the game. As long as you can get all the dragons, you’re guaranteed to win the game, based on the buffs you get… even if you’re a better team, you have to go for the dragon.”

Another big change that arrived with the patch: the complete revamp of jungler items. Now, junglers can choose one of four possible items that each focus on what the jungler wants to do. Hartsema thinks the go-to one is “the purple one”: Ranger’s Trailblazer. The Trailblazer is meant for junglers that want to use Smite a lot to kill big monsters, and with 45-seconds less on the cooldown, expect to see a lot of purple items for junglers heading into 2015.

For Hartsema, the game’s revamp comes at the end of a much-deserve break at the end of last season. “I’ve just been taking a break from League,” he said of his offseason. “Shopping, hanging out with people.”

The dragon is now the most important objective in the game.

The break ends in January, when the LCS moves to Berlin and eases into the Spring Season. For Alliance, the biggest change is the addition of marksman Martin “Rekkles” Larsson. “I’m excited to be playing with Rekkles, ” he said. “Our team atmosphere is better now. We can talk about the game much easier, we can communicate much easier in-game. We’re gonna be better than last year.”

Photo via Riot Games