Prompted by a question from Joshua “Jatt” Leesman, I dug into some data about jungle-farming habits in different LoL leagues, and confirmed Jatt’s hunch that in the 2016 Spring split, Junglers in LoL Champions Korea have been farming much harder than Junglers elsewhere. Check out the average farm curves of Junglers in the LCK, NA LCS, EU LCS, LMS, and CBLoL. (LPL data is not available.)
That grey line soaring above everybody else is the LCK: at the 15-minute mark, LCK Junglers average about 6 more jungle CS than other leagues, and by 30 minutes that lead has grown to 14 or 15 CS.
Clearly the LCK is more dedicated to farming up its Junglers this split, and that means less ganking. On average, LCK Junglers have 1.4 kills+assists at 15 minutes, compared to LMS Junglers’ 2.1 K+A@15, NA’s 1.9, and CBLoL’s 1.7. Curiously, though, EU LCS Junglers roughly match the farm levels of their NA and LMS counterparts, but average just 1.3 K+A@15, lower than the LCK.
The LCK is traditionally a slower-paced league than the rest of the world, in terms of combat, so less ganking and more farming seems par for the course. But we’re seeing a trend towards the extreme, so much so that the Devourer enchantment has been picked up by 5% of LCK Junglers this split! Buying Devourer means you’re fully committed to farming your way to 30 stacks, to get your item Sated, and it’s been very rare for Junglers outside of Korea to go that route. For comparison, Devourer has been purchased just three times in the LMS, twice in the LPL, and once in the NA LCS this split, with zero pickups in the EU LCS or CBLoL. The fact that Devourer has just a 36% win rate in the LCK so far is an interesting side note, though. (Every single Devourer purchase has come on Kindred, by the way.)
As noted, though, more farming has to come at the expense of other things, and it’s not only ganks that have been less plentiful. LCK Junglers used to lead the way in ward output throughout the game, as part of their supportive style, but this split they’re in the middle of the pack, trailing the EU LCS’s Junglers in ward placements at 15 and 30 minutes.
The farm-heavy approach to Jungling in Korea is definitely a recent trend. In fact, it’s a full reversal from a year ago. In the 2015 Spring split, LCK Junglers were routinely underfarmed compared to other leagues.
In Spring 2015, LCK Junglers averaged just 42.0 jungle CS at 15 minutes. That compares to the NA LCS’s 47.0, EU LCS’s 45.3, and LMS’s 43.8.
Compare the LCK’s 42.0 last year to this split’s 56.0 and, well… Things seem just a little different, don’t they? NA, EU, and LMS Junglers have upped their 15-minute pace by 3 or 4 CS compared to a year ago, but LCK Junglers have increased their farming in the first 15 minutes by a whopping 14 jungle CS.
Things were already starting to move this direction a bit in Summer 2015 and the 2015 Regional tournaments. In the Summer split and Regionals, LCK Junglers had come up to par with the other regions, with everyone hovering around 42 to 44 jungle CS at 15 minutes. The transition had begun. But even with some trending in this direction, it would have been difficult to imagine such a drastic shift in Jungler play styles.
A year ago, LCK Junglers were second Supports, dedicated to ganking and warding to help their laners power up. This year, LCK Junglers are at the forefront of the Carry Jungler movement, hoarding their precious jungle camps and exploding into team fights with shotguns blazing, javelins flying, and casks of ale, um, getting everyone really sticky, I guess. (Gragas is weird.)
It’s become so important in the LCK for Junglers to farm and carry that teams like SK Telecom T1 are trying out rookie players as replacements for two-time world champions, since their old guard is so entrenched in the gank-first, vision-first approach of yesteryear.
It’s often the case that other regions will parallel or imitate the Korean play style, and that’s certainly been the case this year, but despite similar champion pools and an overall increase in jungle farming, the other leagues aren’t executing on the new trend with nearly as much dedication and single-mindedness as the LCK.
Once again, a new trend in play is emerging, and the Koreans are doing it better.