There’s a classic mantra in Riot’s champion game design that's often forgotten yet often utilized: if your favorite champion is total trash in the lane they’re meant to be played in then maybe you should try jungling with them.
That saying rings true for a lot of cases. Graves’ rework threw him in the jungle. Lulu, now that she is out of the meta a bit, sees that jungling is an opportunity to see play. Gragas top nerfs? Jungle. Elise started to get played competitively as a top laner too. Now? Jungle.
And yes, now it’s Ezreal's turn.
First used by World Elite's Condi this season, jungle Ezreal has catapulted itself into being a very popular pick on current patches, mostly because it frees junglers from the reins of having to play the boring tank junglers that build Cinderhulk, Gargoyle Stoneplate, Locket of the Iron Solari and Knight’s Vow.
Did you see that double tower dive? It was so good from Ezreal and his bottom lane, it even beat out the in-game pause.
Why does this work?
Jungle Ezreal has one of the, if not the, fastest early clear speeds of any jungler in the current meta, which sounds insane since recent Ezreal changes have been incredibly minute. For example, the latest patch upped his Q attack damage ratio, turning it from a tickle into a very slight graze to enemy champions.
With Hunter’s Machete, Ezreal can apply the on-hit bonus damage with his auto attack and Q. Couple that with the attack speed bonus that he gets for hitting abilities and it allows him to speedily kite through camps and completely dominate your jungle...if you hit your skillshots. Seriously, if you somehow don’t hit your Qs on jungle creeps, maybe stick to the simple stuff.
Ezreal might be the best Level 3 duelist in the jungle due to his kiting ability with double buffs, E and Q completely negate the pressure that other tank junglers may face. He also has great ganking potential despite not having crowd control. With Red Buff, he can cut off a champion’s retreat, slow them down and follow their Flash with his own blink and a Flash if necessary.
With high single target damage, the best jungle routes for Ezreal are to start at Blue Buff, then go to Gromp or Wolves and straight to Red Buff after. With proper kiting, you should be done this route well under the three-minute mark. From there, the rift is your oyster. There are no bad decision as a Level 3 Ezreal with double buffs. And once you hit Level 6 and get into red smite, it will be impossible for one champion to deal with you on their own. Your 2v2 dueling will also spike as you can contribute massive amounts of damage to burst a target and use your Ultimate through their crowd control.
Because you’re an AD carry, you also have a stellar late game. And don’t cry, because no tears are involved in this version of Ezreal either! That means that you don’t delay your late game and have a weak mid game by virtue of going into Tear of the Goddess. Ezreal’s flexibility can help him maneuver teamfights and sieges extremely well, assuming you can hit your skills. This means he can scale up, help take towers with ease, and become a carry monster for his team.
- Hunter's Machete + Three Health Potions
- Skirmisher's Sabre (Warrior)
- Ionian Boots of Lucidity or Mercury Treads
- Trinity Force
- Blade of the Ruined King
- Mortal Reminder
- Maw of Malmortius or Death's Dance or Mercurial Scimitar or Guardian Angel
Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.