The LEC had some holes to fill in the 2022 Spring Split. With top-tier talent such as Kacper "Inspired" Słoma and Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau — remember his successful one-split stint as a jungler? — crossing the Atlantic to play in the LCS, new blood had to be brought in. Most of Europe’s junglers had a rough time finding their footing in the Spring Split.
However, there were still a few standouts, and there still are some sleeping giants who should be ready to wake up. Heading into the 2022 LEC Summer Split, here are the top five junglers competing for the trophy.
5. Jakub "Cinkrof" Rokicki — Team BDS
A quick glance at the standings of the Spring Split this year might make you wonder what Cinkrof is doing on this list. His team only scooped up four wins throughout the regular season and ended in a disappointing ninth place. Cinkrof was a shining light on the squad though. With solid pathing, Cinkrof was often ahead of the enemy jungler in the early game. He would convert his early leads to stable game states for his laners in the first few minutes, and BDS built a solid early game plan throughout the Spring Split.
BDS struggled from the mid-game onward, where a lack of team coordination and no apparent game plan caused the five-man unit to crumble. But Cinkrof isn’t to blame for that. You can’t expect him to stop the bleeding of his teammates, still be ahead in the jungle, and then also bind together and shotcall for a team that isn’t on the same page. BDS have lined up a new top laner and a new support for the Summer Split. Hopefully, it will alleviate some of the pressure on Cinkrof, and his solid jungling will reap better rewards for his team.
4. Javier "Elyoya" Prades — MAD Lions
The beginning of 2022 was quite a cold shower for Elyoya. The young Spaniard, who made his LEC debut last year and immediately scooped up back-to-back championships, now was at the center of a struggling team. Without the in-game leadership of Marek "Humanoid" Brázda, MAD Lions packed a much weaker punch. The role of shotcaller fell on Elyoya’s shoulders and, it being his sophomore year, that weight was unexpectedly heavy to carry.
Although MAD Lions was drowning in the Spring Split, the team stayed in the race for a ticket to the Playoffs. The glue holding the team together in their victories: Elyoya. Similar to Cinkrof, Elyoya simply had too much to do to live up to his 2021 standards. With MAD Lions bringing in Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer to share the shotcalling roles, Elyoya’s shackles will loosen. While there will be an adjustment period still, as he learns to dance with his new mid laner, expect Elyoya to play much closer to his level of last year.
3. Iván "Razork" Martín — Fnatic
Razork didn’t have to be the big carry and shotcaller on Fnatic. In fact, his biggest hurdle was quite the opposite. On Misfits, Razork stood out as a playmaker, someone who would lead the charge and show his team the path to victory. When he was recruited by Fnatic for the 2022 season, Razork found himself surrounded by superstars. Suddenly, he was the least experienced player on the lineup again.
It took Razork time to adjust. After a 3-0 opening weekend by his team, in which Razork was able to prey on the chaos of newly built rosters, the jungler fell quiet for a few weeks. He didn’t seem to know what was required of him and wandered around aimlessly. But after a few weeks, the puzzle pieces came together. As Fnatic rose and hunted for the first place, Razork too flourished once again. When he needed to carry, Razork stepped up, and when he needed to be a facilitator, Razork fulfilled that task perfectly fine too. Fnatic started shaking and ultimately fell apart in the LEC Playoffs. With a break and learnings from the Spring Split under their belt, however, the team is bound to aim for the trophy again. And Razork, now understanding his role in the team much better, will be a key factor in that.
2. Kim "Malrang" Geun-seong — Rogue
Rogue’s signing of Malrang was met with widespread skepticism. A substitute player from DWG KIA to replace 2022 LEC Summer Split MVP Inspired? Surely, it would be a downgrade for Rogue. But Malrang proved more than ever that building a team isn’t just about sticking good players together: they also need to align in their views. Malrang was brought into Rogue to shift the style from a carry jungler to a jungler who would play for his laners. After just a few games, it became abundantly clear that Malrang had received that message.
The South Korean jungler constantly sacrifices farming his own camps in order to gank whichever lane needs assistance. It leads to him being quite far behind, but his laners are well ahead of their respective opponents. When people thought that Malrang’s unorthodoxly sacrificial playing style would be figured out at some point, he showed that he had multiple tricks up his sleeves by finding innovative ways to keep surprising his enemies. Come Summer Split, Malrang will once again run up and down to keep his buddies safe and fed. We’re just waiting to see how he’ll outsmart his opponents next.
1. Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski
Jankos saw almost his entire team being scraped in the offseason at the end of 2021, as only his mid lane buddy Rasmus “caPs” Winther remained on G2. With new coaches, a new top laner, and a new bot lane duo to work with, Jankos was at the center of G2’s revamped lineup. He understood his role within the team perfectly. At first, it was his job to make sure that all the other players found their time to fit into the team. Once the fundamental team vision had been brought into place, it was time to refine the execution.
Jankos has every positive trait all the aforementioned junglers possess and more. Like Malrang, he’s a player who will give up his own resources in order to help his teammates. But if need be, he can also step up to be the carry player. Throughout the LEC Spring Split, Jankos adapted as his team evolved and meticulously paced along the process. Furthermore, as attested by his Head Coach Dylan Falco, Jankos is a true leader within the game, taking his teammates by the hand. With unwavering consistency, that extended into MSI even when G2 went on its losing streak, Jankos is the best jungler the LEC has to offer.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.