Jungle has long been regarded as the most important role in League of Legends. While it’s possible for other roles to carry, having a good jungler is an essential part of getting through the lane phase and securing objectives on the map. Without a strong jungler, teams fall apart.
There are obvious standout players like Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie and Kim “Canyon” Geon-bu, but many of the world’s best junglers have gone under the radar. This list is all about junglers that fell short in 2021 but have a ton of potential going into 2022.
5. Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir
Immortals’ 2021 was overwhelmingly… meh. They were a mid-tier team at best in what’s regarded as the weakest major region in the World. However, Xerxe was a clear standout. With a champion pool that seemingly includes almost every viable jungler, it was hard to predict what Xerxe would choose to play. From early game powerhouse like Xin Zhao to late game hypercarries like Kayn, Xerxe showed his prowess on a multitude of playstyles and picks through 2021.
It’s fair to say Xerxe is the carry for Immortals. If he gets a lead, he’s going to use it. With Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran on the roster in 2022, Immortals have generated some hype going into the next season. But not nearly enough. Xerxe is one of the most underrated and unpredictable players in the LCS, and he’s going to give someone like Kacper “Inspired” Słoma some competition next season.
4. Lee “Dread” Jin-hyeok
Afreeca Freecs roster overhaul has been seen as a massive upgrade during the off-season, seeing as Kim “Kiin” Gi-in, their top laner, was carrying the entire roster. Or, at least, that’s how things may have looked on a surface level. In reality, Dread was a pivotal part of Kiin’s success, and his top lane focus was a boon for Afreeca through their Summer Split resurgence. That said, what else makes Dread stand out?
Mechanically, Dread is a monster, up there with the likes of Canyon and Clid, and he knows it. Those mechanics give Dread the confidence to make early game plays and create opportunities most other junglers would be too scared to go for. Additionally, Dread is really strong on off-meta jungle tanks like Zac and Sejuani. His confident and aggressive playstyle will surely be a boon for Nongshim, and it makes him one of the strongest junglers in the LCK.
3. Mingyi “Spica” Lu
With big EU names like Inspired, Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, and Can “Closer” Çelik dominating the list of projected top LCS junglers, it’s hard to find an NA player worth rooting for in the role. Though Spica was born in China, he’s not just some player that got imported from the LPL or LDL. No, Spica got his start in the US as a pro player. After almost two years of Academy experience as well as being on and off the main roster of TSM, he finally kept his starting spot in 2020 and got his chance to show off what he could do.
As far as individual play goes, Spica could be the best player in the LCS. Camera movement, jungle macro, mechanics, a diverse champion pool: it’s all there. His pro view could be used as a way to reliably spectate the game without missing a detail, owing to Spica’s ability to find opportunities for himself and do well regardless of what his teammates are up to. That said, Spica’s awareness doubles as a way to create opportunities for his team, and TSM’s improved synergy late into the Summer Split can be attributed to Spica.
With TSM picking up two Chinese players, Spica’s individual strength will be a boon for the team that will evolve into a way to keep the team together once TSM’s new roster develops some synergy. Spica and coach Chawy are the sole way TSM’s roster will be able to overcome the language barrier, so there’s a lot on Spica’s shoulders going into 2022.
2. Yan “Wei” Yang-Wei
Wei isn’t the first name that comes to mind when talking about RNG. Xiaohu and GALA are the two carries who often steal the spotlight. Wei’s role has been diminished as a result, and he feels like one of the most slept-on junglers in the LPL. Xiaohu was a really good player, but he wouldn’t have had that level of success without Wei focusing on the top side of the map.
Wei’s playstyle and champion pool are in-line with most of the other top LPL junglers. It’s all about early game aggression and starting fights, and the combo of Wei and Xiaohu made their topside combo a nightmare to deal with.
1. Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong
The king of the jungle himself, Tarzan lives up to his name. From extremely efficient farm pathing and oppressive jungle presence to fantastic decision making and target prioritization in teamfights, Tarzan is the carry on whichever team he plays on. He maintains a delicate balance between getting enough farm to stay even with the enemy jungler and giving away enough farm to put his team in the lead. But there’s more to Tarzan than strong macro.
Mechanically strong and mentally stronger. Tarzan always finds a lead, and always does his best to spearhead the sort of all-in plays that are sometimes to either snowball a game or close out a game that’s gone too long. Tarzan’s up there with the best junglers in the world like Canyon and Jiejie, yet he’s never managed to make it far enough at an international event to prove he’s the best in the world.
Now, LNG have Kim “DoinB” Tae-sang on their side. Mixed with Ale’s strong Worlds performance, this makes LNG’s topside look like one of the scariest in the world. Tarzan has the skill to be the best jungler in the world, and he has a super team that can help him prove it.
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Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.