Tired of the jungle? Try these odd LoL jungler picks!

Bending the Meta: 5 unusual LoL pre-season jungler picks

League of Legends
LoL jungler Poppy  thumbnail image

Image credit: Riot Games

With the new LoL season upon us and plenty of changes to the way League of Legends is played, here are five odd LoL jungler picks you can prowl with that will surprise your opponents.

What is a jungler?

In the default LoL metagame, junglers have often been the odd champion out. It is usually the role that requires the most flexibility and map knowledge. This is because they have to roam on the map and show up where they will be the most beneficial for the team. The role has some requirements for the champion as well. A jungler needs to be somewhat independent and clear jungle camps quickly. They must also have some way to make an impact in a skirmish or a 5-on-5 teamfight.

Often, jungle champions will be bruisers with a fair bit of speed and some crowd control. However, that’s far from universal. Some of the most popular jungle champions are magic-based prowlers like Elise or Evelynn. Here are a few others you do not often see in the role. But don’t be fooled, they can also pull their weight in the Rift’s jungle:

1. Cho’Gath

Odd LoL jungler picks Cho'Gath

LoL jungler Cho'Gath (Image credit: Riot Games)

LoL's big void monster has a big bite to match. Several of his skills both have decent starting damage and scale well with levels. His skills are a mix of control and damage, and the passive brings a welcome extra source of health and mana in the jungle.

Cho becomes an even better jungler later on. His ultimate ability – Feast – brings a big burst of damage. It is perfect to secure an objective alongside a Smite spell, or even when Smite is on cooldown. Even better, Feast stacks from epic monsters like dragons or barons do not count towards the normal cap on health granted by this ability. This means a successful jungler Cho’Gath becomes a true behemoth.

When ganking, Cho'gath has to land his knock-up from Rupture (Q) or find another way to get up close and personal. Then, the silence from Feral Scream (E), the slow from Vorpal Spikes (W) and the true damage from Feast will help secure a kill. It’s not all fun and games, of course. This champion does not have any dash or good escape ability. His ganks rely on crowd control from his laners or landing a telegraphed skillshot. Besides, his early skirmishing power is nothing to write home about. Yet, if he gets rolling, Cho’gath is a true monster as a jungler.

Works best with: Compositions with crowd control, playing around an objective

Avoid taking into: Multiple mobile opponents, heavy poke

Runes and items: In most situations, you are going for a full tank build. Resolve is your best primary tree, with Inspiration or Sorcery as possible secondaries. Start with Hunter’s Talisman, then move to a Stalker’s Blade with a Cinderhulk enchant. Get a Rod of Ages if you are ahead, a Warmog’s Armor and a Gargoyle Stoneplate.

2. Poppy

Odd LoL jungler picks Poppy

LoL jungler Poppy (Image credit: Riot Games)

LoL's valiant yordle is a staple tank top laner. However, she can bring her mallet reasonably well as a jungler.

Her early clear is not great but not too bad either. You can easily guarantee the double proc of Hammer Shock (Q) against targets that stay in the zone and stun monsters against the walls. The shield from the passive can keep you healthy. Poppy’s early gank is about average. It requires landing a Heroic Charge (E) to either stun an enemy against terrain or drive them to your allies, but it has a limited range. Still, against champions that rely on mobility from abilities, denying them with Steadfast Presence (W) is quite handy.

Her ultimate can be used in two ways. First, it works as a short-range brief knock-up to keep an enemy from escaping. It can also be a big displacement ability: with some extra channeling, it launches an inconvenient LoL champion or three back to their base. Helpful if you need to escape or remove an enemy from the fight! Poppy’s good AD scaling makes for an interesting lethality damage build. If you like to play it safe as a jungler, though, you are usually better off building tanky.

Works best with: Compositions that already have some engage and need a tank or disengage, champions that can create terrain

Avoid taking into: Compositions with easy disengage or long-range crowd control

Runes and items: Usually, you will be going tanky with Resolve and Inspiration. However, you have the option to go for damage with Precision and Domination if your team is already quite tanky. A defensive build can use Stalker’s Blade with Cinderhulk, Dead Man’s Plate and Iceborn Gauntlet. Going on the offensive one can build either Warrior or Cinderhulk enchant followed by Black Cleaver, Titanic Hydra and Trinity Force.

3. Malphite

Odd LoL jungler picks Malphite

LoL jungler Malphite (Image credit: Riot Games)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: tanky champions with area damage can easily be flexed as junglers in LoL. In addition to that, Malphite offers a great engage ability in his ultimate, the aptly named Unstoppable Force. It takes very good reflexes and a flash to get away from it.

Malphite’s ultimate is nearly unrivaled in ganks. It does damage and knocks enemies up in a radius, but that is not all. It also puts the jungler in a good position to follow up with the rest of his kit and help his laners secure the kill. A tanky build is the more universal choice. However, if your LoL team lacks magic damage you can also specialize in ability power and try to assassinate a carry in the backline.

He does have his share of issues, however. First, his early clear is still relatively slow, especially without a blue buff. Second, his ganks before Level 6 are not the best as he only has a slowing projectile in his Seismic Shard (Q) and two melee abilities. Also, he is not exactly the best one-on-one duelist. You just have to survive the bad early game.

Works best with: Compositions that need a guaranteed engage or can follow up on his knock-up. Yasuo is a staple combo pick.

Avoid taking into: Compositions with lots of magic damage, aggressive early counter-junglers

Runes and items: The tanky route involves taking Resolve first followed by either Inspiration or Sorcery. You’ll have to build Stalker’s Blade with Cinderhulk, Dead Man’s Plate, and Warmog’s Armor. Also go for Abyssal Mark if your opponents have more magic damage. The AP option will involve taking Runic Echoes, Zhonya’s Hourglass, Morellonomicon and Rabadon’s Deathcap.

4. Fiddlesticks

Odd LoL jungler picks Fiddlesticks

LoL jungler Fiddlesticks (Image credit: Riot Games)

Runeterra’s creepiest scarecrow has been moving in and out of LoL's jungler meta. While this champion is rather squishy compared to most of the competition, Drain (W) is a great way to keep yourself healthy while clearing camps. Terrify (Q) is good for getting a little extra protection in the jungle and disabling a nosy enemy.

His ultimate works great for a jungler. You can hide the channeling and suddenly appear in the midst of the enemies to wreak havoc. Dark Wind (E) speeds up considerably your clearing of camps with multiple monsters. Not to mention that the bouncing silence can be very disruptive in a LoL teamfight. Still, Dark Wind is not that good against single-target camps. It also doesn’t have Drain’s valuable heal or the point-and-click disable of Terrify. This usually makes it a lower priority.

Making the most of a jungler Fiddlesticks in LoL takes some learning, especially against the more aggressive junglers who will try to get in his face. The damage and disruption he brings with a well-executed entrance in a teamfight, however, make it well worth it.

Works best with: Compositions with good crowd control and enough presence to ensure vision dominance

Avoid taking into: Aggressive counter-junglers, compositions with good disengage

Runes and items: Either Sorcery or Domination work best for a primary tree. Choose your priority and get the other one or Insight as secondary. For items, go for Stalker’s Blade with Runic Echoes followed by Zhonya’s Hourglass and Rylai’s Crystal Scepter.

5. Rumble

Odd LoL jungler picks Rumble

LoL jungler Rumble (Image credit: Riot Games)

The diminutive squirt and his trusty battle mech usually come out to play in the top lane of LoL, but they can do a pretty solid job in the jungler role. Flamespitter (Q) will be your farming staple. It will give you the extra damage to have at least a somewhat respectable clear. Meanwhile, Scrap Shield (W) makes the clear a bit safer while your passive ups the damage further.

Rumble’s issues are mostly in LoL's early game. In the beginning, he’s not a great duelist and has limited ganking presence before Level 6 when his ultimate comes online. The Equalizer (R) is good for both small skirmishes and large teamfights. It provides a big zone with a strong damage-over-time effect and extra slow to boot.

While Rumble is usually not a great fighter when caught in a 1v1 fight, he brings very respectful mid-game magic damage to the team. Bring out the barbecue and take some wins!

Works best with: Compositions that need extra magic damage or a lot of hard control/lockdown

Avoid taking into: Mobile enemies, enemies who will stack MR, aggressive early counter-junglers

Runes and items: Domination makes the best choice for a primary, followed closely by Sorcery. Once again, you will start by going for a Stalker’s Blade with Runic Echoes as your first major. Follow with Oblivion Orb and complete the Morellonomicon. Later, depending on the opponents, you can get Rylai’s Crystal Scepter and Liandry’s Torment.

Have you already tried some of these jungler picks in LoL? Let us know what you think!

Boyan Penev

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