Ever since the buffs to Elder Lizard, we’ve seen almost exclusively carry-style junglers with strong early-game dueling potential, especially those who can gank even across wards. The junglers that have dominated are Evelynn, Elise, Lee Sin, and Kha’Zix. Today, I’ll take a look at why that is, and what changes could be made to those champions or their common items to fix it.
The interesting thing is that tank junglers aren’t completely dead. Jarvan IV and Lee Sin (who are weird tank/fighter/assassins) have been played in the LCS recently, and are of course very strong in solo queue. And while the Vi was built — by CLG Dexter — very damage oriented, the Jarvan was built — by SK Svenskeren — with a nearly purely tank build. So in my changes, I will take some inspiration from what both of those junglers have.
Jarvan and Vi are both strong junglers, pre and post-6. So this is not what they have over pure tanks like Maokai. They do tend to perform better in 2v2 ganks, thanks to having damage of their own. However, this was the case in previous seasons as well. So what changed? Jungle items.
More specifically, Elder Lizard got buffed. But the way it got buffed actually doubled down on its strengths. Let’s look at what Elder Lizard — as opposed to Ancient Golem — gets.
Elder Lizard costs 580 gold to upgrade, and for that upgrade, you get the Butcher Passive, Incinerate, 10 AD, and 10% CDR.
Ancient Golem costs 450 gold to upgrade, and for that upgrade, you get the Butcher Passive, Tenacity and 150 health.
150 health costs 400 gold, and Tenacity costs 115 gold elsewhere. This means you gain about 65 gold on Ancient Golem.
10 AD costs 360 gold, and 10% CDR costs around 300 gold. This means you gain about 80 gold on Elder Lizard. Not counting the Incinerate Passive. Incinerate is hard to value, since it’s true damage over time that doesn’t stack, but it’s quite clear from this that Elder Lizard is giving significantly more value.
But that’s not the entirety of what’s making Ancient Golem weaker. Butcher actually synergizes directly with the stats on Elder Lizard. Yes, you’re getting 25 AD. But whenever you damage minions with that 25 AD, you deal 20% bonus damage, bringing that AD up to closer to 30. And any future damage items you build will synergize with the Butcher passive to ensure your clear speed ramps up quickly.
Tank junglers, on the other hand, will always clear a bit more slowly, which gives them less gold. So the real secret to Elder Lizard’s strength is that it gives you more gold in the long run. The way I see it, there’s an easy way to fix this, and it involves targeting the Butcher passive.
Here is my new proposed Butcher Passive: Against monsters, deal X% Current Health as damage and restore Y% of damage dealt to monsters as health and (Y/2)% as mana.
Elder Lizard junglers will still clear more quickly, of course. After all, they’ll have AD as opposed to health. But they won’t get to double down on clear speed. This will close the gap between damage junglers and tank junglers enough to allow tank junglers to break even.