Inven Global Awards: The best junglers of 2021 (nominees)

 

With the conclusion of the 2021 Season in League of Legends, the Inven Global team (as well as some other strong League of Legends minds) got together to reflect on the standouts throughout the year. It was a great season of entertaining casts, memorable games, and stellar play. What better way to celebrate than with some end-of-season awards?

 

We're excited to present the second year of the Inven Global Awards (IGA). Voted by the editorial crew of Inven Global, along with some other experienced journalists and analysts, the IGAs celebrate the many strong facets of League of Legends in 2021 — the best teams, players, talent, and stories.

 

Today, we look at the best junglers of 2021, among those who delivered the strongest performances throughout the entire year (and not just Worlds 2021). Fans can also vote for the player who they think deserves it the most, and the player with the most votes will receive the IGA Community Award.

Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu 

Though he didn’t win an international tournament in 2021, no jungler commanded more respect and attention than Canyon. For almost the entire year, him being the best in the world at his position was undisputed. Even after suffering two heartbreaking losses at MSI and Worlds finals, he still has the best resume of anyone in his position. 

 

His performance in 2021 is everything you’d expect from an elite player. Domestically, he won two titles, was voted First All-Pro in Spring and Second All-Pro in Summer, and won the Regular Season MVP for Spring. 

 

From the eye test, it’s difficult to argue a case for a better jungler than Canyon. His synergy with his team — particularly with Heo "ShowMaker" Su — was always buttery smooth; his jungle pathing always seemed several steps ahead of his opponents; and his playmaking ability surpassed what most people considered possible for a jungler. Another excellent year for on history’s greatest jungle talents. 

Kim "Clid" Tae-min

Clid didn’t excite people the way other junglers did in 2021. Like the rest of his team, he usually played to his opponents’ level. He didn’t make crazy plays, and didn’t make as much of an impact as some of the other junglers here. He just didn’t seem as important as other junglers.

 

What he did do well, though, was allow his mid-laner Gwak "Bdd" Bo-seong to shine. Bdd came into his own as the strongest player on the team and Clid was one of the most important factors in getting him there, assisting him in lane, and setting him up well for fights.

Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie

Jiejie has done something almost no other player in the scene has done: He’s put himself in contention for his role’s best player based on one series

 

That’s not to discount his performance throughout the year, but let’s be honest: no one was talking about how good of a jungler Jiejie was. He always took a back seat to his teammates with his playstyle focused less on flashy plays and more consistent setups for his team. Wei, Tian, and Tarzan were all seen as much more important to their team, something reflected in Jiejie’s failure to make an LPL All-Pro team in both splits.

 

His reputation hinges on a single series — but what a set of games it was. At the Worlds finals, against the man considered by far the strongest jungler alive, Jiejie made his mark. He did more than stand up to Canyon; he forced him down in a headlock. His gapping of Canyon was one of the primary conditions to bring EDG the Summoner’s Cup. 

Lee "Tarzan" Seung-yong

Throughout the year, Tarzan was so strong he could probably beat most junglers with one of his hands tied behind his back. The problem, though, was it seemed like he had to, as not much help came from the rest of LNG. It was one of the most impressive yet frustrating carry jobs this year. 

 

Once considered the best jungler in the world before the breakup of Griffin, Tarzan didn’t join another top team after the fallout. Finding himself on LNG with a group of rookies, his presence on a top level was uncertain. In their LPL Spring performance, most of his teammates showed little promise, and they didn’t have a defined style.

 

Eventually, though, Tarzan squeezed that lemon of a team into sweet lemonade. Going from a has-been on a middling team to being voted All-Pro First Team while carrying your team to Worlds is a trajectory few players have. Tarzan did so with brilliant jungle pathing, excellent navigation of teamfights, and the determination to carry every game. 

Yan "Wei" Yang-Wei

It was overall a very impressive year for RNG’s Wei. The year was glittered for him individually — being voted to the LPL All-Pro First Team in Spring, the Second All-Pro team in Summer. Looking to his team, he helped them dominate the first half of the year, cruising through LPL Spring and winning MSI. While RNG had a rougher time in LPL Summer, Wei was one of the best performing players on the team in their struggles and helped them win the LPL’s Regional Finals. Even in their disappointing Worlds performance, they were one game away from beating the eventual tournament winners.

 

Wei’s consistency came from his preference to play safer in the game’s earlier stages. He wouldn’t go for big plays early on, he was always an intimidating force as it went on to the mid-late game. He showed great ability in securing objectives, and was a powerful weapon when RNG began teamfighting.

Honorable mention: Moon "Oner" Hyeon-joon

Though it was overall a challenging year for T1, Oner helped the squad have a strong finish. Though several of his teammates could be considered more important to the team, his aggressive playstyle brought tremendous value to T1.

 

More from the Inven Global Awards

Best top laner
Best jungler
Best mid laner (Dec. 8)
Best ADC (Dec. 9)
Best support (Dec. 10)
Best rookie (Dec. 11)
Best minor region player (Dec. 12)
Player of the year (Dec. 13)
Best coaching staff (Dec. 14)
Best play-by-play caster (Dec. 15)
Best color caster (Dec. 16)
Best story of the year (Dec. 17)
Biggest controversy of the year (Dec. 18)
Best in-game moment (Dec. 19)
Best content piece or series (Dec. 20)
Off-season winner (Dec. 21)

 

Awards announcement: Player categories (Dec. 29)
Awards announcement: Caster and community categories (Dec. 30)


Inven Global Awards panelists:

Nick Geracie /// @NickGeracie
Daniel "Quest" Kwon /// @LoLQuestKR
David "Viion" Jang /// @David_Viion
John "OddBall" Popko /// @OddballCreator
Kim "Haao" Byung-ho /// @Inven_Haao
Jang "Irro" Min-young
Carver Fisher /// @Carver_Fisher
Josh Tyler /// @joshtyler
Andre Gonzalez Rodriguez /// @Vulv_
Tom Matthiesen /// @TomMatthiesen
Adel Chouadria /// @AdelChouadria
Yohan Markov /// @Esports_Person

 

All images via: Riot Games

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