Tanky Jungling - A Guide with QvoFred
Thu 9th Nov 2017 - 6:58pm
Jungling has seen a lot of changes over the past season. While the map has remained consistent, the changes to items and the pace of the game has resulted in the role of the jungler changing drastically. One of the big changes has been the rise of tankier junglers. Initially, they were relegated to the pro league but their advantages have become apparent to the wider playerbase and their usage has become widespread in ranked play as well.
Even so, a lot of players have misunderstood facets of this newer kind of jungling. We asked our star jungler Anders "QvoFred" Korsbo for some tips to put together this guide to help you understand the ins and outs of this kind of jungling!
As we mentioned before, jungling is in a weird spot right now. As Qvo puts it, "Jungle is in a little bit of a strange spot right now. There is a lot of experimenting going on with both picks and builds though, so it is kind of a nice change in comparison to the last couple of splits."
The item changes that have happened this split and this season in general have lead to a lot more build experimentation in every role but especially in the jungle, the role most suited to experimentation/adaptation in the first place. It therefore makes sense that the junglers were the first to take advantage of powerful new bridge/defensive items, as well as some of the powerful changed relics.
QvoFred attributes the rise of tanky junglers to, "A lot of the top assassin junglers were nerfed as well as items adjusted so they fell out of the meta a bit. This along with the recent changes to items such as Ancile and relics such as Thorns makes warriors a lot more viable in the jungle."
So now that we have looked at the reasons they have risen in popularity, it's time to look at how to make these junglers work for you and your team. It starts, naturally, with your choice of jungler. Realistically, the three classes that work best with this playstyle are Assassins, Warriors and Guardians. Of the assassins, the ones that are most fitting are the bruiser types, designed for longer fights rather than fast ganks. The ones that have seen the most play recently are Ratatoskr, Susanoo and Nemesis. While these are certainly great choices, the stars of this role are warriors.
Ratatoskr has been the standout tankier pick when it comes to assassins. With a semi global ultimate, a good amount of CC and a lot of mobility, the Rat can easily take the role of a brusier/frontliner. Image sourced from Smite Gamepedia
Warriors are prime examples of the gods needed for this role. They're tanky, with decent base damage and good initiation abilities. A lot of the recently changed items also allow warriors to survive longer while still doing a lot of damage. Some of the more popular ones recently have been Erlang Shen, Cu Chulainn and Ravana.
Finally, the advent of tanky junglers has lead people to believe that guardians could also be well suited for the role.
However, QvoFred disagrees, saying that guardians becoming popular picks is "pretty unlikely in comparison to warriors, just due to their inability to clear jungle buffs and farm effectively. There may however be exceptions when it comes to certain picks such as Ymir or Athena. It will just depend on the player." Qvo's reasons combined with how badly guardian jungles move into the late game means that they are currently relegated to niche picks.
What this leaves us with is assassins and warriors. So now that we have our choice of gods, it's time to look at how this role plays through all the phases of the game.
Another reason to consider this type of jungling now is that "they typically remain consistently strong throughout the game due to the items and relic choices," according to QvoFred.
The relevance of the early game in any meta will lead to the presence of warriors and other tanky junglers due to their high base damage. While not as relevant as it was at the start, the early game is still extremely crucial to your team's success. Because of your aforementioned high base damage and tankiness, warriors and other bruiser-y assassins can have a big presence in early game fights and jungle/lane control. From the start, once camps have been cleared and you have moved into the midlane with your mid laner, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all is your ability to control your opponents through your poke. A lot of warriors have abilities it is very safe to poke your enemy with, such as Erlang Shen's 2 and Cu Chulainn's 1. This, combined with their high damage allows you to pressure your opponents under their tower while still keeping you and your midlaner safe.
As we can see here, starting in the solo is also a possibility. The same tips apply, but there might be a lot more fighting involved due to all four gods in the lane being bruisers.
It is worth noting that keeping the enemy pressured is extra important for this kind of jungling because of how difficult it is to come back from a deficit. It can be very hard to carry games or swing them in your favour, so getting an early lead is instrumental to your victory, which makes it imperative for you to do everything in your power to ensure your team is ahead from the first minute.
One of the big mistakes people make while playing tankier junglers is playing too passively. Passive play allows the enemy team to stay even, which is not what you want. One big way this mistake is made is through positioning. The passive protections offered by these gods are often overlooked and it allows them to take a lot more damage than other jungle picks could. An easy way to control the lane is to decline your opponent's access by simply blocking them. In the early levels, they are not going to want to waste too much mana on trying to kill you, so you moving forward while also poking them will allow you to control the lane just through your presence. Naturally, this is still dangerous and a balance should be kept between maintaining an aggressive position and overextending. Furthermore, stringent warding is recommended, as it will stop you from getting ganked due to your forward positioning.
After establishing dominance in the early game, your role through the mid game changes slightly. The challenge of the mid game for this kind of jungler is balancing farm and ganking. Because of this, a common mistake is being tied to the midlane in an attempt to keep up.
The reasoning behind this is often stated as there not being enough farm in the jungle. However, QvoFred disagrees. "The amount of farm junglers receive right now is not a problem for me. I don't think you need to be tied to mid either, you still have plenty of time to gank and pressure other lanes if needed."
Staying in one lane for too long will not only mean allowing the enemy jungler full control of the rest of the map, but will also steal farm away from that laner, which can put them drastically behind. The trick to maintaining this balance is to always be moving and always applying pressure to some part of the map. If you do stay in a lane, it should only be for 1 or 2 waves to ensure that you aren't leeching away too much experience.
Near the final stages of the mid game, you are most likely going to start roaming around the map with your mid and support. During this phase, your role is going to be to initiate fights and front line for the other two players, making sure to maintain your control around the map. During this time, you may find yourself falling behind in levels, but this is to be expected and at this point doesn't matter any more. Once you hit level 13-14, the only ability that you don't have at a high level will most likely be your escape so levels for base damage won't really matter anymore and your core build will either be complete or very close. Therefore, slowing down your experience and gold gain is a non-issue, as long as you make effective gains while roaming around with your mid and support.
As you can see here, by the time a midgame level is reached on a god like Erlang Shen, the only abilities lacking levels is his escape.
The delicate balance of the mid game is the most difficult aspect of this kind of jungling but, if you can make it through, the late game opens up a whole new set of opportunities for you. Your playstyle now becomes like more of a bruiser, almost like a second solo laner. Initiating fights, peeling for your carries, securing objectives and generally setting the pace of fights for your team. While your ability to do damage takes a back seat, if you're able to keep your ADC and midlaner alive it won't matter, as the damage they'll do will make up for it. However, it is important to understand that you aren't a full tank. Due to the items that you're going to have to build, you won't have the same level of tankiness as a support or a solo laner, so good positioning is paramount to your success.
The most vital role you will have in the late game is to take the fight to the enemy's backline. Mid laners and ADCs will often stay at the back of their teams where it's safest for them to put out the massive amounts of damage they do. If you can dive into the enemy team and make sure the enemy's backline doesn't get to put out damage freely, you can swing teamfights into your favor. Even if you aren't doing that much damage, the point is disruption and not letting them cast freely into your team.
A god like Erlang Shen has the perfect kit for disrupting the enemy team in the late game. A lot of crowd control, damage and sustainability means that he can stay in the enemy team for a long time and ruin any plans they may have. Image sourced from Smite Gamepedia
The items you choose play a big role in your success. Because the playstyle requires so much on the fly adaptation, bridge items make up most of its core. This is actually one of the reasons why it's been so popular recently, as most bridge items have seen buffs and improvements recently. Let's look at some of the most powerful ones.
QvoFred already mentioned a big one, Ancile. Ancile was picked up by almost every jungler in the Super Regionals and it's easy to see why. Providing power, magical protections and cooldown reductions, it's already a powerful item without it's passive, which casts an AoE silence when you're hit by magical damage. This makes it a great item for going onto mages, especially in the early game. Picking it as a first or second item after boots allows you to fulfil your early game role of pressuring out the enemy mid laner a lot better.
In a very similar vein, Gladiator's Shield provides the same set of stats except with physical protection. However, it's passive is very different. Being healed every time you hit an enemy with an ability may seem like it might not be worth it early on but a thing to consider is the rise of ADCs in the midlane. One thing ADCs excel at is poke and Gladiator's Shield allows you to counteract that, at least in the early phases of the game.
Ancile and Gladiator's Shield are items that personify the role. Multi use and adaptable, they allow you to have multiple responses to any situation. Images sourced from Smite Gamepedia
As well as bridge items, a few pure power items can help you make a bigger impact. A good item to pick up is Titan's Bane, as the penetration it gives you can help you do more damage just with your base ability damage. Combine this with the fact that the item is fairly cheap means that you can pick it up easily in the early phases of the game and let it carry you damage wise.
Another fairly niche item that has seen some success is The Crusher. Popular with assassins playing the tankier role, the wealth of stats combined with the passive that allows you to fire off more abilities in fights as long as you can basic attack means that this item is perfect for keeping you in fights and disrupting the enemy team as long as possible.
Titan's Bane and The Crusher are both items that work well as damage items by themselves in a build due to their wealth of stats. Images sourced from Smite Gamepedia
Finally, a few pure tanky items can really help your survivability. A very popular item recently has been Genji's Guard. The passive is great, allowing you to use more abilities but the true value of the item comes from the wealth of stats that it provides. It gives magical protection, mp5, health and cooldown reduction and all in vast quantities. Genji's is a perfect item to ensure that you can bring the fight to the mages even through the late game.
On the physical side, another stat rich item to consider is Spectral Armour. As well as the stats, Spectral Armour has an extremely powerful passive. Fear is a very powerful crowd control effect and can change the course of teamfights.
Genji's Guard and Spectral Armour are both great picks because of the massive amount of stats they provide. Because of how little build space you have while using this playstyle, build efficiency is the most important thing to consider when picking what items to build. Images sourced from Smite Gamepedia
A controversial item this split was Hide of the Urchin as it was considered to be grossly overpowered. HiRez agreed and the item was nerfed, leaving many to wonder if it was no longer worth picking up in the tanky jungle role.
However, QvoFred doesn't agree. "I don't think so, there are plenty of good defensive items right now. If anything it could become stronger since Hide of the Urchin is no longer really viable on squishy characters."
As mentioned above, active items are another big reason for the rise in prominence of this playstyle. The biggest one has been Thorns, but especially it's upgraded version, which reflects 50% of all damage taken and reduces enemy lifesteal by 50% for 5 seconds. It allows you to reduce the damage you take in a fight significantly, while also doing a lot of damage in return, especially to gods with big bursty abilities like Thoth and Scylla.
Thorns is often combined with Sprint, to allow you to charge into the enemy team while also taking minimal damage. Sprint also helps you disengage if your team takes a bad fight. Furthermore, giving your ADCs the Fatalis effect with the upgraded version of Sprint will allow them to follow you into fights more effectively.
Thorns and Sprint allow you to push into enemy teams while also making yourself a non-target. If the enemy team can't focus on you while you're forcing yourself into their team, you can make sure your team wins the fight. Images sourced from Smite Gamepedia
The meta can potentially shift every patch, so the prevalence of this type of jungling could be temporary. However, there are a lot of things contributing to its popularity right now so it would take a massive change for it to be entirely non-viable. As long as you remember to adapt, this playstyle will always work for you
I hope you enjoyed the guide and found it useful. Thank you to QvoFred for taking time to offer his insight and thank you for reading!