Return of Shen: A Jungle Shen Guide
Wed 7th Oct 2020 - 7:09pm
While Shen jungle isn't the original version of River Shen, and some might even argue it's a different thing altogether. Perhaps when TSM picked Shen jungle during playoffs they spawned River Shen 2.0 or maybe we're still waiting on the "offical" name for this beast. Regardless of where you stand on that debate, the fact remains that Shen jungle is a legitimate threat when locked in.
For the primary keystone, we’re going to take Press The Attack. After three auto-attacks, you’ll make the enemy vulnerable and deal more damage to them. This works well with Shen’s Q (also auto-attack based) and lets you hit extremely hard in the early game, assuming you get all three autos off. We’re taking Triumph over Presence of Mind, because we want the HP restore to keep us fighting/farming longer in the early game and the bonus gold will boost us towards our items quicker. Legend Tenacity is just an amazing tank rune, we gain permanent Tenacity with our takedowns. Finally we’re taking Last Stand to deal extra damage when under 60% HP. Because you’ll be frontlining and losing HP every fight, you’ll get a decent boost in damage with this rune.
We’ve opted into the Domination tree rather than the Sorcery tree. Cheap Shot is great because with your E taunt, you’ll get plenty of time to smack the enemy and utilize that bonus damage before they can do anything. Ultimate Hunter is probably the most important rune in the build, because for each unique takedown you get, you’ll reduce the cooldown on your ult, the global teleport and shield.
Ki Barrier (Passive): After completing an ability’s effects Shen will shield himself (60-110 per level + 14% bonus HP) for 2.5 seconds. If Shen hits an enemy with the ability triggering Ki Barrier, it will reduce Ki Barrier’s cooldown by 4-7.5 seconds based on level.
Ki Barrier is an underrated passive ability, especially outside of lane. When you’re taking Shen into the jungle, the passive shield is extremely useful for early clears and maintaining your HP bar. You’ll usually be able to trigger it twice on the Buffs and Gromp in during your first clear.
Twilight Assault (Q): Active - Shen recalls his Spirit Blade to him, any enemies passed through are slowed, by 15-35% based on level, for 2 seconds when moving away from Shen.
Upon arrival, Shen’s next 3 basic attacks become empowered and deals 10-40 (based on level) plus 2-4% (+ 1.5% per 100 AP) of target's maximum health. If the Spirit Blade passed through an enemy when returning to Shen the bonus magic damage is increased to 5-7% (+ 2% per 100 AP) of target's maximum health and Shen gains 50% bonus attack speed.
The empowered damage against monsters is always 100%, but the maximum damage is capped.
The empowered auto-attacks will carry Shen through the early clears. While the damage isn’t insane, you get enough shielding to make the initial clears decent enough. By the time the damage falls off, you’ll have Cinderhulk and be clearing even faster. You'll also do pretty noticable damage to the enemy champions during the early game.
Spirit’s Refuge (W): Active - Shen primes his Spirit Blade creating a protective area around it. For the next 1.75 second all non-turret basic attacks will be blocked for both Shen and his Allies.
Since the only thing Jungle camps can do is basic attack, this negates all of the damage from camps for 1.75 seconds. This is especially useful against Gromp, as it’s attack speed decreases over time in combat and Raptors as you block a ton of autos. Outside of the jungle, the amount of value you get going bot lane with this ability is crazy.
Shadow Dash (E): Passive - Damage from Shadow Dash and Twilight Assault recover 30-40 energy based on level.
Active - Shen dashes to the target area, dealing 60-160 plus 15% of his bonus HP to all enemy champions and monsters in his path, taunting them for 1.5 seconds.
This is your only crowd control ability, but it is certainly a good one. You get a dash and CC all in one, making hitting it (or missing it) impactful in every fight. In the jungle you can use this for both damage and to activate the Cinderhulk AOE passive.
Stand United (R): Active - Shen channels for 3 seconds shielding his targeted ally during the cast and up to 5 seconds, for 0-60% of their missing HP (with a minimum of 175-525 + 135% AP). After the channel, Shen and his Spirit Blade blink to the ally, placing himself and the Blade between the ally and nearest enemy.
This is Shen’s most iconic ability and what you’re picking him for. While the Shadow Dash taunt is a great early lockdown tool, this is what your team knows you’re going to carry with. Once you hit level 6, no fight is ever even or an advantage for the enemy team, as you can always ult there. You can use this defensively or offensively and move across the map in an instant.
Overview: Shen is both an early game threat and a tank. Unlike some tank junglers, Shen has opportunities to cheese gank at level 2 with Red buff. You can burn through the early health bars very easily with Twilight Assault/Red Buff autos and Shadow Dash lockdown. This allows him to have a gank-heavy early game, as opposed to a strictly farm orientated one. However, you want to get to level 6 as quickly as possible, because even if you don’t need to use Stand United right away or often, forcing the enemy to play around the ability will give your team a ton of pressure.
Early Game: Your early game is basically entirely up to you. You can focus on farming to 6 or ganking and getting your lanes ahead, so you can catch up and farm later on. Some matchups, such as Graves will outpace you in terms of farming and may try and push you out of your jungle. In these cases, you can either focus on ganking the side of the map the enemy jungler isn’t on or calling your lanes to collapse. Due to your taunt, doing either option has a high chance of netting enemy summoner spells and kills.
The same can be said of junglers that thrive on early ganks, such as Elise. If she’s pressuring your lanes heavily, you can have them play safer until you get 6 and then turn things around afterwards or you can try and win through counter ganks. Your taunt is great CC and can hit any number of champions. More importantly though, is your Spirit’s Refuge zone, which will protect from auto attacks and abilities that act as empowered auto attacks. Your kit makes it hard to win fights early and once you have access to your ultimate, your team becomes even harder to kill.
Mid Game: Since you have full access to your kit, this is where you really want to start forcing the issue. You can have your lanes play more aggressively AND you can apply pressure to the opposite side of the map (as long as your ultimate is up) because you can switch sides in an instant.
Similarly, making Dragon and Herald plays should also be in your favor due your disruptive abilities for fights. If your team gets engaged, then you can taunt and use your ultimate to keep a carry alive. If your team are the aggressors then you can do the same thing, either using your ultimate on the teammate that’s going in first or initiate yourself with your Shadow Dash (and potentially Flash). You’ll still hit squishy champions hard enough for them to want to get away from you and an enemy tank doesn’t have a good chance of taking you down.
Alternatively, if your team decides they want to change lane assignments and put 4 mid and have a solo laner split push, that works amazingly for you too. If the enemy jungler decides to leave and force the issue in the side lane, then you can either go aggressive with your team in an uneven fight OR follow up in the side lane and probably win due to the shield and CC you’re bringing.
Late Game: Your game plan is pretty similar to the mid game, you want to either be starting fights yourself, ulting your team’s initiation or saving your ult to protect your carries. At this point you’ve traded damage for tankiness and utility. Depending on the game, you’ll have shields and possibly some heals for your team, making you a richer support in some sense, but when your carry gets almost one shot and you shield then for double their HP bar to win the fight, that’ll feel just as good as getting a Penta.
The most unique thing about playing jungle Shen is that you don’t have to be on the same side of the map as the Neutral Objectives. You can shadow a split pusher and 2v1 the enemy as long as your team keeps up vision and position near those objectives. Afterwards you can ult over and contest those objectives while your split pusher is safe to knock down the enemy’s base.
Core Build: Your core build should revolve around Cinderhulk, Gargoyle Stoneplate and Locket of the Iron Solari. These three items give you a little bit of everything for just about every scenario.
- Cinderhulk gives you bonus HP, which can provide you with bonus shield amounts and damage on your Shadow Assault. Not to mention the AoE passive helps immensely with clearing jungle camps as your damage falls off.
- Gargoyle Stoneplate will give you both armor and magic resistance, which increases passively if 3 or more enemy champions are near you. Additionally, the active increases your maximum health by 40% and if near 3 or more enemies, these bonuses will be increased to 100%. Your damage dealt will be reduced to 60%, but your survivability will be through the roof. A pure tank item designed to let your run amok in teamfights.
- Locket of the Iron Solari gives you some more resistances, but is really just for the team shielding. Sometimes your team will need a shield before you can ult (if you’re with them) or afterwards and this lets them survive a bit longer without that resource.
Your boots will usually either be Ninja Tabi or Mercury Treads, depending on what the game is looking like. Entirely up to you as either of the stat sets benefit you greatly.
From this point you can pivot into two different secondary cores, a support one or pure tank one. Depending on what your team needs and what you feel your role should be.
Supportive Core: If you think that your frontline is good enough with your items as is, then you can invest your remaining item slots into a more support style. You can purchase Knight’s Vow and Redemption to further protect and buff your carries.
- Knight’s Vow will allow you to direct some damage dealt to a selected carry to yourself and provide you with healing based on the damage your carry is outputting. A great tool to protect someone while not committing your entire ultimate.
- Redemption is great for everyone on the team, you included. While it’s unfortunate that you won’t benefit from the bonus mana regeneration, you can benefit from the cooldown reduction and AoE healing effect. This will help negate poke, burst or give you an edge when trying for a Neutral Objective or tower after fights.
Tank Core: If you think that your Support is covering your carries well enough or if you need to be the sole/main frontline or engage champion then you should consider going for the tank core. Essentially buy more armor or magic resistance as needed to survive better in fights. Things like Warmog’s Armor, Thornmail or Spirit Visage.
- Spirit Visage gives you magic resistance, cooldown reduce and extra HP. A great item to deal with general AP threats. Can be easily swapped for Adaptive Helm if you’re against someone like Cassiopeia who deals damage through primary one ability.
- Warmog’s Armor is a great item to add to a ton of resistances as it gives you an insane amount of HP. Plus the out of combat regeneration can keep you frontlining forever.
- Thornmail is amazing for dealing with threats that primarily auto attack, as it’ll reflect some damage back to them and reduce their healing. This synergizes superbly with Shen’s taunt as it force’s enemies to auto attack him.
Tips and Tricks:
- You can Dash (E) and Flash near the end to extend the range of the taunt and catch more champions out. Furthermore you can Dash in on direction and flash to a side to catch champions not standing in a lane.
- Because Twilight Assault is what calls Shen’s Spirit Blade to him, you can set your Blade up next to your team and use your AoE shield (W) to protect them while you’re threatening from a different angle.
- Because of how the passive shield works, if Spirit’s Refuge is the ability to activate Ki Barrier, you’ll receive the shield after the W shield disappears preventing you from wasting overlapping protection
- When using your Stand United on stealth based champions, such as Twitch you can sneakily teleport into fights, as your shield won’t give away their position.
- Tower diving with Shen is interesting because you can engage, get out of range and then shield your teammate with Stand United to keep them completely healthy during the fight.