Ah, the European jungler. 2021 was an interesting year for the role: seeing the rise and carrying heroics of Kacper "Inspired" Słoma, Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau shocking everyone with his successful transition to the position, and young bucks like Mark "Markoon" van Woensel and Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla displaying a promising future for the role in the LEC.
The European jungler lineup has been shaken to its core. Bwipo and Inspired both left the league in search of greener pastures in the LCS, and the rest of the top junglers in Europe now must contend with very different rosters than last year. With all these changes, it may present an opportunity for someone new to ascend to the top of the region, though the former best will no doubt try their best to prevent that.
Here are Inven Global's ranking of the best top laners for the 2022 LEC Spring Season:
5. Kim "Malrang" Geun-seong — Rogue
Though Rogue no longer have the talents of Inspired to rely on, they’ve replaced him with a former jungler of DWG KIA: Malrang. While it may not have been the preferred jungle pick from the Korean powerhouse, it has the potential to be a solid addition to the team. Malrang is still young, has excellent mechanics, and had strong showings in his most recent spurts filling in on DWG KIA. Though his play on Jin Air Green Wings and KT Rolster was never that impressive, spending the entire year under the best team in Korea may have rubbed off on him.
Still, there is a lot of worry about this move. One of the main reasons Inspired worked so well with the team is he had some of the best game sense of any western jungler. From what we’ve seen on Malrang, this isn’t his strong suit. He’ll either farm like a tractor with a brick on the gas pedal or gank lanes until his arm falls off. Paired with the communication issues Rogue will no doubt have, there are definite challenges in his way towards the top.
4. Iván "Razork" Díaz — Fnatic
Iván "Razork" Martín Díaz was the least exciting pickup for Fnatic this offseason — not an insult considering the talent of the rest of the roster. It’s been a quiet road for Razork, who's been providing strong, consistent play as stars like Inspired absorbed all the limelight. The question many fans have wanted to know is how good could he be with a stronger team.
There are some considerations with this point, though. Most of his former teammates on Misfits were skilled players as well, yet were the only top LEC team without a defined style (even then, they were one game away from defeating Fnatic in a best-of-5). Razork is good, but he doesn’t take charge of the game the same way some of his best competitors do. His success on this new team comes more from the rest of the lineup. If players like Marek "Humanoid" Brázda and Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov provide the proper leadership, Razork could contend with the best in Europe. As of now, it’s yet to be proven.
3. Oskar "Selfmade" Boderek — Vitality
It feels like deja vu being excited for Oskar "Selfmade" Boderek. It was only a few months back when he left Fnatic for the hyped-up Team Vitality. Fnatic went on to qualify for Worlds with a brand-new jungler and top lane, while Vitality circled the LEC’s drain. We’re here once again: Selfmade in contention for the best jungler in Europe, again playing on a “super-charged” Vitality.
It does feel different this time, though. The signings have been extraordinary and Selfmade has always proven to be a formidable opponent in the jungle. If the roster clicks and puts him in a position to succeed, this may be his year to be the best. The biggest question is if they’ll do that. Though the bot lane should work nicely for his preferred playstyle, Barney “Alphari” Morris and Luka "Perkz" Perković spent the last year pampered by their junglers. Selfmade has always been known to opt for his own pockets rather than his team, so it will require a big adjustment either on his own part, or his solo laners for him to succeed.
2. Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski — G2 Esports
It’s Jankos, what more do you need to know? A player some consider to be the best jungler of all time, even after all these years Jankos is still turning out great performances. In an all-time meltdown year for G2, he stood as arguably the strongest player on the team. With an exciting young team, we may once again see Jankos return as the undisputed best jungler in Europe.
If history repeats itself — which it has for pretty much every year of Jankos’ career — we can assume that he will be a contender for the best in his role. He’s been a contender through all the good years of G2, and he was a contender for the worst of it. Although players like Razork and Selfmade look to have an easier time with more talented lineups, Jankos’ track record of success no matter the circumstances put him ahead. Only one jungler has the track record, momentum, and team behind him to be considered better.
1. Javier "Elyoya" Prades — MAD Lions
Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla did pretty much everything possible for a rookie jungler. He won Rookie of the Split in LEC 2021 Spring, won both LEC titles, and had solid performances even against the best junglers in the world. His aggressive stylings were a cornerstone to MAD Lions’ success last year, and he now has a year of experience under his belt to demonstrate even more.
Obviously, the biggest consideration for Elyoya is losing two of his star teammates. Even if MAD Lions have some growing pains with their new roster, we can expect different from Elyoya, who maintained ace form even during MAD's struggle days. William "UNF0RGIVEN" Nieminen and Steven "Reeker" Chen might very different playstyles from what he’s used to, but Elyoya has demonstrated not only the versatility to succeed but also the ability to will his team to victory.
MAD Lions’ coach expressed it well: “We played our first game in the playoffs against Rogue in Spring. And we played it really passively, we were indecisive, we were taking too long to make decisions. We weren't on the same page. And after the game. Elyoya came off stage and was like, ‘We're diving bot next game, I don't give a s**t. Make sure you have the wave ready, I'm gonna go kill these guys.’ And then he did it.”
And he can do it again.
|Top 5 players per position in the West|
|Top laners||Top laners|
|Junglers||Junglers (Coming soon)|
|Mid laners (Jan. 11)||Mid laners (Jan. 11)|
|Bot laners (Jan. 12)||Bot laners (Jan. 12)|
|Supports (Jan. 13)||Supports (Jan. 13)|
All photos by: Riot Games
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