posted by EskayDota,
History of the jungle
Many moons ago, the jungle in Dota 2 was a lively place. The meta lent itself to greedy junglers, and roaming heroes to put the pressure on. It changed the landscape of the laning phase drastically. Since those days, deforestation and the extinction of Iron Talons and Poor Man’s Shields, the jungle is a desolate place.
There was even a patch where the jungle only respawned once every two minutes, leaving large areas of the map even more bare and less rewarding to visit. Gradually, the role of the jungler has whittled away, and almost disappeared entirely. Jungling items aren’t cheap or efficient to buy any more, and even with the last patch, early stats items aren’t as effective as they were in helping you farm up those sleeping camps.
An enjoyable moment from a jungling hero
King of the Jungle
There are still a few heroes who can find their footing in the jungle, however they’re few and far between. Jungling heroes are traditionally ones who have some form of self-sustain; Nature’s Prophet as he doesn’t have to tank creep damage, or, previously, Legion Commander because of her proc-ed heal.
This hasn’t changed; according to Dotabuff, the most successful jungling heroes are Wraith King, Ursa, Crystal Maiden and Enigma. However, the winrate of these heroes in the jungle is rather dire, as opposed to radiant. Wraith King’s winrate is the highest, with just a 53.29% winrate when in the jungle. Only 7 heroes have positive winrates jungling… the rest do not.
So realistically, even the statistics state that jungling isn’t viable. It’s not even just a case of the meta; which heroes people are playing, but rather the actual mechanics of the game. Right now, jungling is possible, but by no means ideal. However…
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Puppey’s jungling Doom, or any kind of jungling Chen. Historically, on occasion the state of the game hasn’t deterred teams from picking pocket strats that go against the accepted meta. Do the pro games reflect the same statistics on jungling?
Not all jungle Legions were useless...
Jungling in Pro Games
The big question must come first: how many pro games in this patch have had junglers? In the 2200+ pro games datdota has analysed for the current patch, only 365 of them had junglers. With two heroes in the offlane, one in mid and safe with a jungler, the winrate is a lacking 45%. On the counterside to this, with two in the safelane and one in the off, having a jungler has a 60% success rate.
With at least a single positive statistic, these numbers could potentially show that situationally, picking a jungler could be acceptable given the right circumstances. Although, it is likely, that the hero chosen does not resemble that of the heroes picked to jungle in pub games - we’re more likely to see Alliance reform than we are to see Puppey’s afk jungle Wraith King.
Puppey's Jungle Doom in the finals of the Shanghai Major, many years ago.
What does IceFrog want for the jungle?
Usually IceFrog’s changes indirectly suggest some kind of desired change for gameplay or meta. Removing Iron Talon was likely done to make the offlane a less farm-friendly place, and an indirect nerf to the secondary jungle. Progressively, the game moved away from the jungle, and we saw a long lasting emphasis on roaming supports.
But with this long phase over, what’s the replacement? Originally, the meta sat nicely on dual lanes, followed by trilanes, followed hard by the roaming support. These days most things can be viable, but there isn’t necessarily a direct replacement for any of these. The real question is, what will be the next long trend?
Header image credit: Valve's Equine Emissary Loading Screen