The Summoner's Guidebook: Evelynn, League of Legends' new top jungler

It shouldn't be a surprise that Evelynn is one of my favorite characters in League of Legends. Before the 3.14 patch, she was one of my go-to picks in the jungle. Now, I have not yet played a normal or ranked game in 3.14 that was on a character other than Evelynn save for one game where I was stuck playing mid (and lost horribly). I probably could have played Eve there too. Every game thus far I've gone 5/1 or better in the laning phase. She's just that good now.

While there are a few other junglers that are considered to be very strong, I feel that Evelynn is the best of the best right now. She clears fast, deals tons of damage, and scales well with items. But more importantly, she can do what few other junglers do well: gank.

World of wardcraft

Wards everywhere. That's the reality of 3.14. Ward trinkets cut down on the overall expenditure of stealth wards, and a strong lead in any lane often lets a lane freely deploy wards in the enemy jungle that would previously be spent warding that lane or the river. Pink wards are riskier, and there is no Oracle, so both teams can more safely deploy stealth wards and get vision.

In most of my recent games, this expanded vision has completely nerfed my enemy junglers. I've seen even sneaky junglers like Kha'Zix (who is quite strong right now) walk through a random ward placed in his jungle or just at his river entrances. With just a quick ping, my laners became safe and/or worse, the enemy jungler became dead. Wards are harder to counter and stronger than ever.

How powerful, then, is a character who is completely invisible to wards?

Evelynn doesn't care about you

If I have even a reasonable guess about where the enemy jungler is, I can use the opportunity to completely crap on him. With a faster cooldown Smite and just one minute alone in the enemy jungle, I can counter-jungle two camps and greatly weaken a farm jungler's rotation, essentially forcing him to attempt a gank that I almost certainly know is coming. More than once I've done this and ended up with a triple kill for my team, with my mid lane and me roaming down to bottom lane to kill the jungler first, then diving the enemy bottom lane's turret and killing both the marksman and support. Again, I can do this because I can place wards that tell me where the enemy jungler is, when he has no idea where I am and cannot possibly know unless he wards his own jungle camps.

In lower-level (below platinum) level play, Evelynn isn't that much stronger because people didn't really use pink wards in Season 3 to counter her that much. It happened every now and then, but she could counter with pink wards of her own or just gank other lanes that didn't buy pink wards. If I caught wind that the enemy support bought pinks, I would just camp mid or top lane or look for the enemy jungler and kill him.

However, that counter-strategy is completely gone. There is no more "defend against Evelynn with pinks" strategy. There is only one strategy now, and that's to play completely safe because Eve could be coming to kill you at any moment. In ranked play, it's probably best just to ban her, and her ban rate has skyrocketed to a massive 57% in ranked games. She's the second most-banned character right now after Kassadin, at 85.1%.

Unfortunately, she's a crutch

I guess the worst of it is that Eve basically lets me play the jungle as it used to be played, where you could look at inventories and guess when people were placing wards. If you saw midlane go to base, you could hawk his inventory when he first appeared back in lane and check to see if he had wards. If he didn't buy them, you could then use that information to set up a sure-kill gank with a lot of junglers, like Vi or Elise. Now I don't even have to guess, but it's basically the same gameplay. I just look for opportunities on the minimap and sprint down the map if I see one.

On the other hand, I really haven't figured out how to play a normal jungler. I've messed around in co-op games, but I end up getting behind in XP in most of them. I vaguely understand that as Shyvana, I'm supposed to clear everything and then immediately gank or invade, regardless of whether there's an opportunity or not. I imagine fast-clearing junglers are more or less similar in that regard, but I've never really played that kind of jungler much, so it is sort of a foreign concept to me.

As I mentioned last week, I really don't understand what to do as other junglers because ganking is so much less certain. Wards are so overwhelmingly powerful, and the sweeper trinket is so gimpy that there's no real counter and you just have to expect that the enemy has some kind of vision. You use pink wards now only to deny vision of key objectives when you're fishing to take them, and the rest of the time the enemy team gets to place wards normally. Because warding is so ridiculous, ganking is just too weak. Instead of waiting for opportunities, you pretty much just want to go for it and dive in. Hopefully you'll get lucky.

Evelynn is the only jungler who retains the same level of fear that old junglers did. I really liked the Season 3 jungle, and it's one of the reasons I switched to being a jungler. Now I feel as if I can't do anything without "cheating," assuming that playing the second most banned character in League is cheating.

Ban rate doesn't actually mean OP

It's worth mentioning that I think Evelynn is OP right now mostly because her interactions are too strong. I wouldn't say that her ban rate is an indication that she's OP; rather, it's an indication that something is up with her.

For instance, Riven is the third-most banned champion at 56% (nearly the same as Eve), but I don't feel that she has anywhere near the same game impact. Kassadin, the most-banned character in LoL, doesn't actually feel game-breaking to me the same way Evelynn does.

Kassadin is strong; he has a lot of good matchups, his roaming is powerful, and he scales really well into the lategame. Those are understatements. He's really good right now. However, he doesn't completely ignore a critical part of the game. Kassadin has lane counters that can keep him from really accomplishing anything in the early game, too. He can still be spotted by wards, even if spotting him doesn't really guarantee a kill on him. Kassadin can't completely force the enemy jungler out of playing, and he can't lull the enemy into a false sense of security by avoiding wards.

Evelynn does all these things. Perhaps the most frustrating thing of all is that I'm not sure how Riot will fix this. Maybe make the new pink wards much cheaper? Obviously weakening wards in general (by buffing counters to wards) will make other junglers comparatively better, which might help too. I just don't know. I'm not really upset that Evelynn is too good, just that other junglers aren't as good as she is.

We understand what it's like to climb the skill ladder in League of Legends. The Summoner's Guidebook teaches you the tools you need to get a competitive edge. Whether you're climbing the ranked ladder, playing Draft Dominion, or getting crushed by intermediate bots, every enemy has a weakness. And every Thursday, Patrick Mackey shows how you can improve improve on yours.

This article was originally published on Massively.