EU LCS jungle pathing assessment

by theScore Staff Sep 29 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot esports Flickr

See the Introduction for Methodology and overview.

Compared to the LPL and LMS junglers attending the World Championship, Europe's junglers believe less in going for the enemy jungler. They are more likely to gank proactively than their LPL and LMS counterparts, but they often will exert lane presence to force summoners and leave it at that.

Aside from this, EU LCS junglers all seem to emphasize versatility. Kim "Trick" Gangyun of G2 Esports currently pulls this off best, playing a chameleon role depending on champion while Jonas "Trashy" Anderson's more cerebral style and desire to get into his opponent's head make him see where he can sometimes play more proactively.

Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski is known for focusing a lot on exerting lane pressure, but in the final series H2k-Gaming, he farmed more and split lane farm with his solo laners. All three seem to be trending toward stability, though they have vastly different approaches.

G2 Esports' Trick

Pathing sheets

The presence of two of the presumed top three junglers at the 2016 World Championship may be Group A’s largest draw. While G2’s Kim “Trick” Gangyun lacks the daring of Tigers’ Han "Peanut" Wangho, he brings surprising versatility in his playstyle and a measured sense of how to maximize farming opportunities.

"[Trick] makes a team advantage, but more than anyone in the team. He just happens to get the MVPs," G2 Esports support Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez said. "He's not really in the mindset that he has to carry."

What some consider a greedy full jungle clear in the early game (starting from Gromp or Krugs and clearing camp by camp instead of prioritizing one or two small camps and ensuring both buffs are taken), Trick stated he believes on certain champions, like Gragas, a slow full farm is "not as risky." Trick will often take the opportunity to scale well before exerting lane pressure, which allowed him to hit Level 6 before his opponents in each of the eight games G2 played on Patch 6.15 and also means he averaged a high 14.625 clears in the first 10 minutes of a game in playoffs, even without having played Nidalee. This is the highest average of any jungler from EU LCS, LMS or LPL.

That doesn’t mean Trick doesn’t exert lane pressure. In fact, G2’s solo laners frequently deliberately share lane farm with Trick after a gank, moreso than other teams from the EU LCS. The Unicorns of Love series in particular saw Trick ganking much more proactively against the more early-game oriented Unicorns of Love. Part of this was Trick’s champion selection, but overall in playoffs, Trick averaged 1.875 ganks and .625 counterganks in the first 10 minutes of his games. Trick also places emphasis on buying pink wards on his first back, giving him a 1.625 average ward kills in the first ten minutes of his games in addition to a relatively high amount of wards placed in early game as well.

Trick is a bit of a chameleon, but perhaps one of G2’s biggest struggles this split has been in finding unity between what Trick wants to do and the rest of the team. This has made them more of a split group, focusing on laning and jungling separately, and if an opponent jungler wants to contest Trick by invading with backing from his teammates, Trick could find himself incredibly vulnerable.

G2’s somewhat strong independent lanes made this less of a threat, as it’s hard to invade if the opponents can keep laners occupied. Perhaps the most surprising thing about G2, however, is that Trick is much more likely to spend time on the top side of the map, despite the reputation that they play primarily around bottom side and Jesper “Zven” Sveningsen’s high percentage of team gold.

This was reflected in Trick’s ganks priority, as in the first 10 minutes of playoffs games, Trick ganked top lane eight times, mid lane five times and bottom lane only twice. Of course, this is heavily skewed by the fact that G2 also played Unicorns of Love and Splyce in playoffs, two teams that exert the most pressure through their top laners, but it’s a trend that can be observed less rigorously in the regular season as well with Trick and Expect.

This example shows Trick, after heavily warding top red side jungle, transitioning to top for a gank. Bottom lane react independently with vision of Move, and Trick makes sure he stays competitive in farm by splitting Perkz' CS to end the play.

In integrating Expect, a lot of Trick’s attention has been tied to top lane. It’s hard to tell if this reflect criticisms of Trick that, when ganking, he can only focus on camping one lane, or if it’s simply G2’s attempt to support their rookie top laner. Trick says that his increase in top lane ganks is a reflection on top lane expanding to include, "Irelia and [other] carries."

Perhaps more coordination with mid lane and support could allow Trick to diversify his lane focus more. Trick himself said he has more synergy with mithy than G2’s previous support, Hybrid, and finds it easier to coordinate bottom side invades. Come Worlds, the team may open and catapult Trick to stardom.

H2K-Gaming's Jankos

Pathing sheets

Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski is the second heaviest gank initiator after Trick, initiating 1.75 ganks on average in the first 10 minutes of a game on Patch 6.15. H2K Gaming prioritize giving him a strong early jungle matchup so that he can begin creating pressure in lanes at Level 3 or even Level 2. As a result, some opposing European teams have heavily targeted Jankos with jungle bans.

Despite an emphasis on ganking, Jankos rarely falls behind in experience. With the exception of H2K’s third game against Fnatic, Jankos achieved level six only slightly after Lee “Spirit” Dayoon, and against Jonas “Trashy” Anderson, a jungler more concerned with sacrificing farm for lane pressure, Jankos acquired Level 6 first in three of five games, and was either even or ahead of Move in experience against Unicorns of Love in the third-place match.

A major change in Jankos’ patterns since Spring split has been that he spends much less time hovering around lanes looking for gank opportunities. As soon as Jankos approached lanes in summer playoffs, more often than not, his lanes would already have a gank prepared. This ganking style is part of what allows Jankos to stay competitive in farm totals, but it also results in fewer secured kills. Despite his “First Blood King” status, only 38 percent of the ganks Jankos initiated in the first 10 minutes of games in the EU LCS playoffs resulted in kills for himself or his teammates, but his ganks often burn summoner spells. This gives H2K’s laners an ability to play aggressively relative to their opposition.

Since Jankos is often the one ganking first, it also means that he has fewer opportunities for counterganks. It hasn’t gotten him into too much trouble as, even with H2K’s losses, Jankos suffered 0 deaths in the first 10 minutes of games played on the new patch, making him unique among Worlds competitors.

Though a small sample size, Jankos ganked less proactively in the third-place match against Unicorns of Love. There were also more instances of H2K’s laners making deliberate choices to back early and cede lane farm to the jungler. It’s not clear whether this signals an adaptation in Jankos’ style that resulted from the team’s loss to Splyce or if it was a particular adaptation against Move, who has a reputation for falling behind in farm.

Rather than highlight an example of the first blood king, here's an instance where Ryu backs and allows Jankos more than a full wave of CS.

It’s worth noting Jankos’ highest clear games were his Nidalee games with 17 and 18 clear actions. Removing these still gives him an average of 13.3 per game, above any LPL junglers, but lower than his European counterparts. These were also the games where he made fewer gank attempts, which is typical of Nidalee play overall.

Splyce's Trashy

Pathing sheets

“I pick matchups that probably are not super decisive in jungle," Trashy said. "I don't care much about [my opponents' champion being stronger than mine] because I can counteract that by doing moves that he's not going to see coming... When it happens, I think it's one of the most beautiful things about jungle.”

Because Splyce heavily favored red side, there are only three games available to assess Jonas "Trashy" Andersen’s blue side pathing. Splyce and Trashy believe in some instances that securing a counterpick support is very important, as they can gain control of the bottom side and combine this with a strong jungler to take the first turret more easily.

Despite this philosophy, Trashy said “we haven't been the greatest at playing around bot” and stressed the team would look to fix this at the bootcamp. Rather, Splyce go for an approach of exerting pressure by getting control in the top lane and mid. During playoffs and regionals, Trashy ganked top six times and mid five times in the first ten minutes of his games. He also spent a lot of time hovering around top lane looking for ganks, especially in the H2K series where Splyce used Martin "Wunder" Hansen to exert pressure.

Comparatively, Trashy still ganked bottom lane a total of eight times, but he spent less time looking for bottom lane gank opportunities. Instead, there were instances where Splyce’s bottom lane backed and ceded waves to Trashy, which is something Splyce have plans to try to coordinate more, according to Trashy, having observed G2 Esports' success in donating farm to Kim “Trick” Gangyun.

Rather than being characterized as a more proactive ganking jungler, however, Trashy is much better at the more reactive, counter jungling style. He has a reputation for figuring out his opponents, which is something to which commentators have attributed Splyce’s successes in series. After a thorough clear, Trashy will go for wards and look for opportunities to steal camps from his opponent junglers. According to Trashy, he excels at “being the reactive one and being annoying for the enemy jungler.” He devotes a lot of time to studying VODs of his opponents and noting their habits.

Watch the mini-map to see Trashy capitalize on his ward less than a minute after placing it to steal krugs and escape through dragon pit.

In 14 games, Trashy only looked for a gank or ganked first in five of them. Part of this comes as a result of playing Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and Kang "Move" Minsu, known for taking action early. Still others come from the team’s outlook. When they aren’t picking support last, they save their solo laners for counterpick. This allows Trashy to play a weaker jungle matchup, farm, and avoid detection by using vision and pathing. If solo laners lose early, Splyce can rely on adapting their approach to scale and come back in the late game.

Trashy is a more calculated jungler who would prefer not to risk falling behind in farm for early ganks if the laning matchups don’t necessitate his interference. He devotes slightly more of his time to camp clears than the other seven junglers in the sample — with the exception of Trick. Trashy values his laners’ ability to win matchups they should win, but he may be thrown off by more unpredictable opponents that gank counter-intuitively, and he requires ramp up time to react well, which might be a difficult point for Splyce in a best-of-one scenario.

Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.