A history, current overview and analysis of the Spirit items

First of all i’d like to introduce myself as a new content producer for LJTD. I aim to bring quality, jungle related content and give a detailed explanation on current and upcoming changes, the impact of specific champions being introduced to competitive play in the jungle. I’ll also keep an updated tier list, try to show the thought process in some niche picks and break down the runes and masteries i prefer to use when i jungle. Hopefully at times, i’ll try break down the runes and masteries junglers use at LCS games if they’re interesting picks, such as Crumbzz’ AP fiddle we saw recently. I’m Gladiator Murloc, or you can call me Gelm if you think thats a mouthful. It probably is.

The spirit items and their history

Spirit_Stone_itemSpirit_of_the_Elder_Lizard_itemSpirit_of_the_Ancient_Golem_itemSpirit_of_the_Spectral_Wraith_item

When these 4 ghostly jungle items were introduced, junglers were pretty excited. We finally had something to add to our set of core builds, some options. Finally! Yet something was off. Mostly, the balance of the center two, Elder Lizard and Ancient Golem. At the start of season 3, Riot deemed Elder Lizard as pretty ridiculous, the burn damage was very high and a lot of laners were tempted by the item due to the qualities it gave. It had a BF sword’s worth of AD, Cooldown Reduction and health and mana regen. It was basically a glorified Brutalizer without having the drawback of having to build into Black Cleaver. Kha’Zix players had a strong alternative, Ezreal players sought it into their core build, tank junglers such as Hecarim and Nasus were dealing hilarious AOE damage using the Lizard with barely any drawbacks due to their innate tankiness and the fact Hecarim’s W was pretty ridiculous at this point. Once the nerfs came into effect, it was swept under the carpet for the majority of the season, the stats it gave didn’t really have a large power spike and the item was outclassed. Being a tank was back, Ancient Golem offered exactly that.

But what made Ancient Golem so good that the other two were deemed completely obsolete? First of all, its build path. A ruby crystal is always a perfect investment for every tank, there isn’t really a drawback. Kindlegem having a 375 gold combine cost is perfect for junglers, especially when their income was incredibly low for most of season 3.  Ancient Golem also gives you 35% tenacity without specialization, a laner is forced to get tenacity from a limited amount of sources, those being of course Mercury Treads and Zephyr. Mercs force you to build into MR, something you don’t really want if their team has a lack of magic damage but good CC. It also denies you any other form of boots, of which there is plenty useful to whatever champion you choose. Zephyr is just plain weird and only built for the tenacity component in very weird situations, or you’re an Udyr player. The benefits were too good for Ancient Golem, there wasn’t enough gold in the jungle at that point to specialize for high damage. The item also received some nerfs in the preseason, but not enough to really dethrone it.Then, in shining glory (and some ugly turret changes), patch 4.1 appeared. Lets start off with our baby stone first, the core of these 3.

What changed this patch?

Spirit_Stone_item

The changes this patch really helped our baby stone out. Health regeneration and Mana regeneration were removed, as well as the Maim passive. Then they added to the Stone’s passive, Butcher. “Against monsters, deal 20% bonus damage and restore 8% of damage dealt as health and 4% as mana (half effect for area of effect spells)”. Sounds pretty lovely right? With the health and mana regeneration removed, we won’t have any issues with laners buying spirit items anymore. Great, these are items for junglers and junglers only. Finally. This passive is an improved version of what was on Spirit of the Spectral Wraith, as that one only accounted for spells. With autoattacks giving mana, junglers such as Udyr relish the change. With abilities giving mana, Fiddle has no mana issues. It also benefits those who have a fast clear, or those who benefit from taking camps inbetween ganks. The passive helps frail junglers after their first clear and makes those with mana issues after their clear with blue buff feel better about walking into that jungle and taking a few camps again without having to back for mana, or waste gold purchasing mana pots. The earlygame is improved for junglers. The camps don’t beat us up that hard due to the sustain and we can use the gold we saved from our second set of pots. We also have more health to gank with. I barely see a jungler this patch walk out to gank with half hp only to get his ass beat cause the other jungler backed to heal, then counterganked and punished the other jungler for his greed. All in all, the spirit stone change is 100% positive for the majority of jungle picks. Now, lets look at that previously broken then nerfed to obscurity Elder Lizard.

Spirit_of_the_Elder_Lizard_item

Elder Lizard didn’t especially get much this patch apart from the same changes spirit stone went through, which is great, that sustain continues for AD junglers. What did help it recently though, was some Ancient Golem nerfs, an increase in jungle gold and the conservation passive added in 3.15. If you get Elder Lizard on for example Vi, you are guaranteed to clear faster than an Ancient Golem Vi. You can gank, get your passive to 80 gold. Clear 2 camps, get that 80 gold. Gank again. As you do that faster than an Ancient Golem Vi you are having more impact on the game. Elder Lizard has its benefits over Ancient Golem in clear speed and power spike. When you get Elder Lizard you feel that damage working and that burn passive (which was buffed at patch 3.14) shredding targets and waves. Having that damage output increases your chances of successful ganks. If you’re behind though and build this item too late, you’re going to get crushed. Its a very good item, but if you don’t have the clear speed to get up to another power spike, or get the item early enough to make it matter, you will fall behind.

Spirit_of_the_Ancient_Golem_item

Oh look, its this guy, the item which was kind of our only option for most of season 3. Though junglers liked the spirit items, just having one item working far better than the rest was frustrating. Lets look at the changes. Ancient Golem went through the same changes Elder Lizard did for 4.1, basically increasing the strength of standard jungle play even more, especially in the earlygame. One thing the changes did help with though was with removing some of the power hard camping a lane had. You could gank, lose 3/4 of your hp and then sit in an un-warded bush regenerating off of the stats the item gave. Then as the laner(s) came back, you go to town on them again, creating more pressure. At least with the health and mana regen removed, those sort of plays are harder to pull off. In 3.14, Ancient Golem took a health nerf, slicing the HP gave from the item down to 350. That didn’t really go unnoticed, you definitely got chunked more in 3.14 with that health gone on some of the more frail champions in the jungle lineup. Ancient Golem is still the safest jungle item to build on a game to game basis, but with these recent changes combined with 3.14, the item isn’t disgustingly stronger than its brothers.

Spirit_of_the_Spectral_Wraith_item

I’ve always had a soft spot for Spirit of the Spectral Wraith, the spellvamp it gave when it was first released was very interesting for some laners and junglers, combined with a high amount of mana regen compared to the rest of the spirit family. Toplaners such as Vlad saw the item as a gold efficient route for lane sustain and it saw some fringe play on Anivia for a time. Otherwise it wasn’t really used. Now for the changes.

The changes Spectral Wraith were a lot more broad compared to its brothers. The sustain passive the Wraith had was updated along with the rest of the family, but removing the Mana Regen. Like the Elder Lizard changes, the item is now purely for the jungle which will help the balance of the item in the future. Great! They also added a scaling passive, for every jungle camp you farm, you get 2 AP, up to a maximum of 30. When fully farmed, the item offers 80 AP! Thats a Needlessly Large Rod. This item powerspikes incredibly well once fully farmed, as you can usually have another item in combination with it when farmed. If that item is Rabadon’s Deathcap, you’re looking at around 300 ap. From the jungler! On average this build can be complete around 18 minutes into the game. Bit of a disgusting powerspike, right? Thats more than what midlaners usually get! Like Elder Lizard, this item can be a bit of a bummer if you’re behind. But with its farming passive, you can farm and scale to a point where you can overcome the earlygame. I feel the item is in a similar situation to what Elder Lizard used to be, but with scaling. The item gives a strong amount of stats and allows for some gameplay based around hitting that powerspike, in result hitting hard. If you’re looking to get this item, you’re going to want to farm. If the passive isn’t complete by 20 minutes or at least at 20 stacks it can be a bit rough i feel. Conservation helps massively though, and with the combination of the Conservation passive, the farming passive and the flat AP , it’s the most gold efficient of the 3 items.

Lets have a look at some of the meta junglers and some who are making a return or their first showings, or those who have been hurt a bit, to value their power with these new items. Lets look at those looking stronger this patch.

Who got better?

GragasSquare

“Need some Wraiths”

Gragas has entered the jungle this patch with praise from players such as Dexter and Crumbzz. Its hard to see a fault of him in the jungle at the moment. His clear is incredibly fast, body slam on a 5 second cooldown dealing around 120 damage per slap is pretty obserd. You can take drunken rage next level, have damage reduction, more mana and more damage added to the scaling of body slam as well. His early ganks have incredibly high damage, he scales well into all stages of the game and has very good waveclear making him a good candidate for lane cover or a siege. He’d be picked all the time for sure, if his Midlane wasn’t so ridiculous. There is one benefit of a jungle Gragas in soloque at least though, in that he gets more ap from the jungle than he does midlane. You can deal more damage than a midlane Gragas and there isn’t really any drawbacks from it. Obviously with current LCS game pace, Gragas can’t scale as well as he does in soloque where the pace is slower. I see him slowly having more LCS play in the jungle though after some nerfs to his lane, unless they’re things like removing the body slam cooldown reduction. That would probably slow Gragas’ clears down a lot in the earlygame, making him vulnerable to invades from those with top tier clears.

AmumuSquare

“I thought you’d never pick me. Seriously. ):”

Though he still suffers from first clear invasion issues, a lot of this is rectified mostly due to how people play the earlygame at the moment. Its like “Oh you invaded blue! Okay, we’ll go to yours and trade”. People are in the habit of trading buffs now which really helps out the lil’ mummy. With the new spirit item sustain, his mana problems are mostly gone and he doesn’t really lose health in the jungle. He also has multiple build options, he can go for a tank build with Golem, or farm and scale with Wraith and scale into a high damage offtank. Everyone knows his utility, his teamfight power always a force. Amumu is looking much better off as of late.

PantheonSquare

“My profession? You know, i always wanted to be a jungler.”

You got your wish buddy, as did every Pantheon fan. With his passive, he can block most of the autoattacks being thrown at him, making his clear incredibly resilient. The latest spirit changes gave him enough mana to gank and fight, as well as spam spells most of the time in the jungle for a reasonable clear speed. Pantheon is the new craze when it comes to ganking junglers. A point and click stun, massive damage, a wide range of build options, the guy doesn’t really have much of a drawback when it comes to his ganks. He can dive incredibly well too. His only issue lies in his lack of escape. Once he’s in the fray, he’s staying there unless you can pull of some tricks using W. Pantheon is one to look out for competitively too, teams like Curse, Millennium, Roccat, all giving the spearman play. I see more of Pantheon appearing in the upcoming LCS weeks.

EliseSquare

“Only the spider is safe at her Wolves. Wait, what?”

Already a god tier jungler with pretty much zero drawbacks, Elise gets even better. The new spirit stone passive basically lets her have no mana issues. Her human form Q gives some mana back, as with W. Then, She regains it all back in spider form, her abilities being manaless afterall. She’s a half decent candidate for spectral wraith due to having a solid clear, but Ancient Golem got so much better for her with the new passive. There is no drawback to her buying Ancient Golem. She can easily solo the Dragon with Ancient Golem and i think she can do it quite scrappy with spirit stone + some levels. All in all, she just gets put farther away from the rest of the pack, into Elise Tier. At least last patch a well played Lee was on par with her competitively. Now nothings stopping her apart from the nerfhammer or a massive shift in the metagame.

Who got worse?

RammusSquare

“OK. I’m not OK. Shit.”

I loved the Armordillo last season, even though his clear was poor he could make up for that with one of the best ganks in the game. He could get a supporty build and be your teams best buddy. Now though, that isn’t enough. His clear is even worse than previous cause the jungle got stronger, and beats him up.  Because his clear his so slow, his sustain is pretty horrible. All he can do is gank nowadays. His lategame is still strong, but its just going to take him forever to get to a useable state.

LeeSinSquare

I can’t come up with a half decent jungle-related quote for Lee but still. He had some positives from this patch, Elder Lizard and Ancient Golem are both stronger options for him, but theres just something about him lately which i don’t find incredibly useful. Compared to other physical dps junglers like Vi, Pantheon, who are much easier to play, with a more reliable gank and damage output, why Lee? In what situation are Vi and Pantheon banned nowadays? If you still want early pressure, you could take Gragas, who scales and offers a lot more. Where does Lee fit in when these champions are here? I just don’t see why i’d play a more taxing champion mechanically with a pretty average/poor lategame and resort to mostly a supportive/tank build which doesn’t really offer much unless you create some DanDy level engages.

Thanks for reading this far, i hope you enjoyed my Views/Insight. I’d like to thank LJTD again for letting me write for them and encourage you to check out their LoL Jungle Timer Deluxe. Its a useful, legal feature and can benefit your timekeeping ingame. Thanks again.

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