The metagame report: Abusing new jungle paths

The midseason patch hasn’t impacted jungle routing much, if at all, but time with the new jungle has opened up new and innovative paths that exploit conventional wisdom on what is optimal.

One path in particular has seen a lot of praise from commentators and analysts. Three out of five of the opening games in the LCK feature this path, and led to great early game starts from the jungler who proactively participated in them.

What is this path?

This midseason 7 jungle path is an evolution of the standard route that emerged after the changes to raptors in 7.1. It involves less immediate farming of your jungle in favor of exploiting the blind spots of an optimal raptors start. As you clear that side, you open up your Krugs as the only uncleared portion of your red jungle quadrant. The path is:

  1. Raptors
  2. Red
  3. Blue
  4. Scuttle
  5. Take blast cone to enemy Krugs

From here, you have many options. Ganks mid or onto the closest side lane are possible, and the ones in a side lane are particularly potent due to you avoiding all vision in river or tri brush. Going back up and warding and taking the enemy Scryer’s bloom is another great option, and falling back to your own Gromp or Wolves is perfectly fine. The fantastic part about falling back into farming your own jungle is that by the time you are done with your blue quadrant, raptors should respawn, giving you a camp tempo advantage and gold advantage.

Why is it so good?

This path is fantastic to match other junglers who seek to have the same start. By going Raptors and then Red Buff, they are more likely to go to their blue side and not be able to counter-jungle your blue side as punishment for this aggressive maneuver. At best, the enemy can match this path and trade Krugs and a gank attempt. At worst, the enemy falls behind on a gank attempt or clearing by trying to full clear and missing their Krugs or even Raptors afterward.

In the opening affair of the LCK 2017 Summer Split, KT Rolster’s Go “Score” Dong-bin does this path, and gains tempo advantage in two distinct ways. Firstly, he has a quicker gank attempt on the bottom side, blowing a summoner spell and maintaining his health and mana. Secondly, he is able to make it back to his red side right on time for the spawn of his second Raptors camp. This gives him a camp advantage overall as the game continues, until some mistakes by his mid and bot lane open up the game in favor of Longzhu.

What beats it?

Beating this path is both simple and difficult. The key flashpoint of the efficacy of the path is the invade into the red side quadrant. If those are cleared beforehand, the entire path becomes a lot of wasted movement.

Another way this path can be punished is a traditional early blue side invade. Going from Raptors or small Raptors straight to the enemy Blue Buff gives you an advantage as it forces the enemy to clear their remaining blue quadrant instead of having the mana or experience advantage to be able to make a safe play on the map.

Disrupting the Raptors start is a third way to completely shut down the aggression of this path. If you do this, the enemy jungler attempting the path becomes a lot less healthy for a Krugs attempt, especially if you’re able to steal a raptor.

Examples

More examples include the second game of the Longzhu and KT Rolster series, as well as the first game of MVP versus Jin Air Green Wings. In each of these games, the invade yields a camp steal and an advantage on collapsing onto a lane or a tempo advantage as the attempt to contest the camp by the enemy team becomes wasted time.

In the MVP versus JAG series, Game 1 saw Eom "UmTi" Seong-hyeon's Ivern get punished by Kim "Beyond" Kyu-seok's Graves as he used this path to get to Ivern's red jungle quadrant as his Raptors camp was about to mature. He stole the camp and set Ivern behind substantially, which is a common thread across all instances where this path was used to exploit the comfort of junglers starting raptors and clearing downward without punishment.

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.

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