King and Queen of the jungle: Lee Sin and Elise
Tue 10th Jun 2014 - 7:01pm
This article will discuss the top two most picked junglers in week one of NA LCS summer split. The junglers that were most picked were Elise and Lee Sin, which is surprising seeing as both have received nerfs in some shape or form within the past two months in patches 4.4 and 4.5. What is it exactly that allows for these champions to continually dominate? Why are these champions preferred over other jungle champions? I will try and answer these questions.
First, let’s take a look at the queen of the jungle, Elise. In week one alone, Elise was picked in 12/16 games in the NA LCS. Let us dive into why Elise has been such a dominant pick in the LCS. Elise is a mechanically challenging champion to play because she offers six skills instead of the conventional four. This in itself is a huge advantage already because she is allowed usage of all her skills after hitting level 3. This in turn allows for early gank pressure of lanes because she has the extra three skills to outplay her opponents with. This early gank pressure is added with her excellent skill set to punish and gank enemy laners that are too pushed up in lane. Her skill set includes an execute for low health targets, a long range stun, and a long range leap.
With only half her skill set, she can already guarantee a successful gank if the enemy is pushed up in lane. Another advantage Elise has over other junglers is her sustain. With her “W” skill (Skittering Frenzy) Elise is given a lot of innate sustain while clearing jungle camps. This allows her to be able to clear early jungle camps and still have the health to make safe ganks - something that is not common with many junglers. This in turn gives her team a lot of pressure on the map because enemies have to be wary of an Elise ganking around level 3-4 whereas the enemy jungler is most likely back at base buying and healing up. With all these early game advantages in Elise’s kit, she is one of the most dominant early game junglers.
Her early game potential was deemed overwhelming by both Riot and many players so changes were made to set her back in line with the other junglers. In patch 4.4, Elise had some substantial changes in her skill set. First of all her early game damage was reduced in trade for higher late game scaling. Secondly, her stun duration was reduced early game but increased to two seconds late game. Despite these changes, Elise is still a dominant force on the map in the early game, but now there is more counter play against her. Revaluating her new strengths, junglers decided to itemize her with cooldown reduction (CDR) instead of Magic Penetration. Another thing the players started doing was leveling up her “E” skill (Cocoon/rappel) first, and her “W” skill (Skittering Frenzy/ Volatile Spiderling) second.
Leveling up the E skill first allows for a shorter cooldown and longer stun duration of the cocoon. The cooldown reduction combined with maxing E before W allows her to throw out a two second stun every six seconds. This allows for a lot of plays to be made during late game team fights/ rotations. Her higher late game scaling allows for her spider form “Q” execute (Venomous Bite) combined with a well-timed smite to help steal/secure late game dragons and barons. After evaluating the above changes, Elise still has many benefits over other junglers available to the pro players thus revealing why she remains heavily picked in the NA LCS.
Let us now take a look at the king of the jungle, Lee sin. In week one of NA LCS, Lee Sin was picked 9/16 games. Lee Sin has always been a top tier pick in Korea and now a staple in every competitive league. What is it that makes Lee Sin a standard pick throughout every single competitive region? Lee Sin is a mechanically intense champion that involves a lot of risk and reward. His early game power can lead to effective early level ganks in solo lanes. Lee Sin has reasonable clear speed and sustain in the early game. The second cast of his “W” skill gives him bonus life steal and spell vamp which allows him to heal up damage taken from the jungle camp.
The changes done to Lee Sin in patch 4.5 allow him to turn on his “W” around twice every jungle camp thus giving him a good amount of sustain. Similar to Elise, Lee Sin can use this skill to stay relatively healthy in the early game allowing him the potential of early ganks. When picking Lee Sin, players are trading late game scaling for early game prowess. The pressure of playing against an enemy Lee Sin is immense. Without proper ward coverage, laners have to play very safe against Lee Sin because of his high early game damage. One mistake against Lee Sin can easily lead to a free kill or a forced back.
Lee Sin is also a great champion to counter jungle with. His high base damage allows him to out duel most junglers in the current meta. Therefore, he can counter jungle knowing that he will most likely win the fight if he were to meet up with the enemy jungler. This advantage can lead to early leads in experience and early vision in the enemy jungle. Therefore, having him on your team gives overall pressure in the entire map.
Another benefit of picking Lee Sin is the versatility he offers to his team. Lee Sin’s skill set grants him a shield, a kick back, slow, true vision, a dash and gap closer. These are all tools that could help in many aspects during the game. The dash and kick back (also popularly known as the “insec”) is often comboed together to kick an enemy back into his team (shown on the picture bellow). The true vision allows for Lee Sin to easily catch up to invisible targets such as Vayne or Twitch. The dash comboed with his slow can be used to catch out low mobility champions during ganks or team fights. These are just several examples of the many plays that can be made with Lee Sin’s unique skill set.
Lee Sin is also very versatile in the way that he can be built. If he is fed early game, he can proceed to build full damage and do an insane amount of damage to squishy targets. If Lee Sin falls behind, he can decide to go for a safer build. Lee Sin’s utility allows him to remain relevant in the game even if he itemizes for tanky items. The reasons provided above reveal that Lee Sin is a safe all around jungler that offers great early game damage and unique utilities to the team. Therefore, Lee Sin is highly played in competitive games because teams can often make good use of his skill set and the early game pressure he provides.
What separates these two champions from the rest of the other junglers is the unparalleled early pressure they put out and utility they provide. Their skill set offers a lot more to their teams than any other jungler in the current meta. They do not have major flaws or weaknesses that enemies can take advantage of. These two champions can be placed into almost any type of team comp because of the different kinds of utility they provide. The fact that they provide such great benefits to the team with little to no drawbacks encourages the professional teams to pick them over any other jungler any day!