The arrival of Cinderhulk
After the patching of Cinderhulk we’ve seen tank junglers rise in popularity and begin scoring consistent 50%+ win ratios with champions like Sejuani and Gragas. Though these champions are strong in themselves with the crowd control they bring to solo queue, their success is mainly in part to Cinderhulk’s strength.
Add in the weakening of warrior build jungles like Vi and Rek’sai, there are very little early game counters to the tank jungler. Even Rek’sai with her strong map presence may soon be forced into the cinder build path with the angle of her recent nerfs. Its clear this is an extremely strong path right now making heavy cc based champion’s long since absent from the jungle (Zac, Amumu and Nautilus) return triumphant.
At the same time we see an emerging trend from solo queue and the eastern region’s particularly LPL. A new combination of running Smite/Teleport top lane, no this isn’t double jungle this is definitely top lane. Using a Cinderhulk enchanted Skirmisher’s Sabre and the power of challenging smite to maintain a one versus one presence. All while attempting to deny the enemy jungle creeps where possible. Enhancing your own score with the boosted gold that smite brings you when killing large monsters, and generally boosting the top lane map presence past river.
This could be considered the natural progression from the current trend of laning champions taking a camp to reach level two. Now they smite the camp grab its buff head up, push the wave in and go clear another camp when smites back up, usually counter jungling the enemy if possible.
Most recently this combination was ran in the LCK by KT Rolster’s Ssumday on Hecarim, but it has been seen used by LPL squad Snake by top lane player Flandre running Shyvana. A good example of the offensive capability this build can bring was shown in the NA Challenger scene set between Enemy eSports and Team Dragon Knights as TDK’s Seraph. Rushing straight into a blade of the ruined king, combined with challenging smite we saw the formidable power of this combination in both one versus one duels and aggressive back line dives.
Looking around for more variety on the style I managed to find through solo queue and browsing high elo streams alongside LCS top lanes that have been experimenting with the changes. There have also been a few differing combinations with champions like Mundo and Sion in making an appearance solo queue, alongside the usual Hecarim, Shyvana, even appearing on already potent duelists like Irelia.
Benefits and when to run Teleport/Smite
One of the obvious benefits of doing this start is that the new Bami’s cinder builds out of such a low cost item (Ruby Crystal), allowing you to grab this and jungle a camp for level 2. Then if needed return to base and grabs pots, and lane with the level 2 advantage thereby easing the burden of missing an offensive summoner in the early game. Leading into a rush of Bami’s for pushing and then grabbing the sabre smite early.
What this allows is for a hard push early to roam and gather more gold, thereby lessening the damage of any weaker early games and allowing the top lane to push towards better one versus ones early.
Secondly every jungle camp you deny is worth essentially double gold in the grand scheme of the game, not only are you earning increased gold from the camp but also you are denying possible creeps from the enemy jungle. In a team or duo composition I would suggest orientating your jungle to focus on the bottom half of the map where possible, thereby you are reasonably guaranteed success. If your jungle is disrupted by the enemy jungles arrival, your top lane can counter jungle and punish, creating a one two punch scenario. Against weak early jungles this is a safe way of mitigating their power in the mid game and delaying their power spike.
Finally the back line dive of the red smite top lanes cannot be ignored they bring high damage against any marksman who can’t react quickly enough. Have a stronger mid game usually in comparison to their jungle as they naturally earn more gold and therefore have a better stat pool.
“Challenging Smite can target enemy champions, marking them for 6 seconds. Marked enemies are revealed (does not reveal stealth), take (54 + 6 x level) true damage over 3 seconds from your basic attacks and deal 20% reduced damage to you”
In addition to this miniature exhaust and true damage supplement include the damage of thornmail in the late game, gromp buff plus cinderhulk and we see that even hypercarries are going to struggle killing you, let alone surviving the onslaught once a tank reaches them.
Possible factors for picking a Teleport/Smite top lane in solo queue
- Does your champion have an easily accessible escape?
- Can your champion split push or counter jungle well?
- Ability to one versus one either the enemy top lane or the enemy marksman
- Do they actually benefit from Cinderhulk? (Lets be frank mages this isn’t for you)