The jungle is playing a massive role in the upcoming World Championship. Speculation ranks this year's talent pool as one of the deepest jungle pools at a major League of Legends event in history.
But exploring how junglers work within a team is difficult and nuanced. The days where junglers were solely rated on their ability to impact their lanes have waned. Using junglers as a more integrated part of the team has become the norm, and assessing what decisions a jungler makes and what style he plays can give an individual insight into how a team operates.
As an experiment, I looked at the junglers from three regions (the EU LCS, the League of Legends Pro League and the League of Legends Master Series) that will attend the World Championship. I went over and took pathing notes based on the decisions and types of actions each jungler made for the first 10 minutes of every game on Patch 6.15 (the region's playoffs and Regional Qualifiers). There was a focus on the first 10 minutes, since it is at this point in the game that the junglers are generally on an even footing. The early game also provides the most insight into a player's jungling style, as opposed to after more turrets fall, and the jungler's role more resembles that of his teammates
Due to the time required to path these junglers, I limited my approach to the junglers I was most familiar with and LMS junglers. As a next step, one would want to expand the sample to NA LCS, Korean, and Wild Card junglers.
This exercise helped me better understand how each jungler works with his team and also how the patch may have started impacting how teams play around their junglers.
Each jungler's decision-making was tracked in Google Sheets, and then gone over to note what the jungler did in tandem with his opponent. Qualitative assessments will be discussed by jungler along with simple quantitative notes.
In a somewhat crude attempt to quantify jungler decision-making, types of actions were counted. This is mostly supplemental to the exercise of pathing and observing junglers from more qualitative perspective, but it’s a guide that can help one judge subtle differences in what a player prioritizes.
An action is mapped as “farm” if a jungler clears a camp or clears a wave in a lane. If a jungler only gets part of a camp or a wave due to splitting it with another player on his team or counterjungling, this is half a clear.
An action is mapped as “vision” if a player places a ward or kills an enemy ward. Securing a scuttle crab is counted as a warding and not a farm action because it provides relatively less experience. An action is a “buy” action if the jungler backs to base to buy, but not if he dies first.
Confrontational actions include initiating a gank, hovering around a lane as if to look for a gank, or answer an opponent jungler if he ganks first. Ganks can be simple entries into lanes to force a laner to back off or surprise ganks with the obvious intent to go for a kill, but won’t include simple “pass through” actions.
All data are subject to interpretation and recording error, which is why these measures should only be considered crude observations supplemented by analyst observations. Detailed pathing sheets will be linked in each jungler’s section for further observation. Note that, because of limited data, some observations will be more complete than others (for instance, junglers with only five games on the new patch vs. junglers with 20 games). Observations will also be supplemented with general notes on jungler tendencies from the regular season.
Average amount of action lines in the first 10 minutes by category for EU LCS, LPL and LMS junglers at Worlds
These values will be discussed in more detail, especially pertaining to proportion of jungler actions, in each individual player's section.
Image credit: 刘一村
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.