Hey folks! Riot Jag, Design Manager for the Summoner's Rift Team here guest-writing this week's Quick Gameplay Thoughts.
Patch 11.8, which shipped this week, included changes to help Darius, Diana, Mordekaiser, Zed, and Morgana jungle more viably. These are all champions who primarily see play in lanes, and we've seen questions around why we chose these champs versus others. We want to share a bit about our thought process here.
Right now, the jungle is very intimidating to a lot of our players, especially in lower MMRs. We are currently considering systemic changes to help this, but in the meantime we saw an opportunity to ease in players to the jungle with champions they’re already familiar with playing. By doing this, an unfamiliar jungle player can just focus on learning the specifics of the role, without also having to learn a new champion at the same time.
Additionally, we always look to increase diversity to the experience of the game, and having a new set of junglers helps a lot in that regard. That being said, we’re not trying to shift these champions’ primary role—just add to the possibilities available.
We target champions that we feel have a good chance of being able to off-role as junglers without boosting the power of their lane roles. Additionally, we try to stay away from champions that have a lot of pro viability already, as adding flex potential tends to make them very high priority in the pick/ban phase. Finally, we want to make sure we pick champions that retain their weaknesses and counterplay even when coming out of the jungle.
If we nerfed a champion out of the jungle it was probably on purpose. Maybe they were overly dominant in pro (Sylas), or maybe they had an unhealthy pattern when in the jungle (Camille). Unless things have drastically changed (eg. updates to the kits/items/runes that were problematic), these picks are not likely to come back.
We try to keep total buffs and nerfs to the game relatively even to prevent patch-by-patch power creep, which means even if we weren't doing jungle changes for lane champs, we still wouldn't just straight up buff a ton of main junglers. Jungle accessibility changes actually don't factor as directly into buff/nerf calculations for jungle overall since the champs aren't currently seeing play there: Adding more champs to the role doesn't necessarily make it stronger or weaker relative to lanes.That said, in cases where we are forced to choose between buffing exceptionally weak main junglers and making more lane champs jungle-viable—available dev time on the team, for example—we'll still prioritize buffing those main-role junglers. (No, 48% is not 'exceptionally' weak.) As recent examples, we buffed Zac, Rammus, Amumu, and Kindred in the past month.
We're looking forward to seeing the results of our 11.8 changes. If they turn out well, we’ll look to add even more champions to the jungle. In the meantime, expect more systemic jungle changes in 11.10, aimed at raising the jungle floor, and not the ceiling.
Yetter jungle wins,