The predator rune and the preseason jungle meta

Gragas. League of Legends.
Gragas. League of Legends. /

Preseason has finally arrived in League of Legends following the latest release of Patch 8.23. The preseason’s first patch has focused primarily on revamping the overall play dynamic of the battlegrounds themselves, as opposed to heavy champion reworks, buffs and nerfs, with efforts focused on changes to the bounty system, turrets, runes, and jungle experience.

Time and playtesting will tell how the preseason patch will impact the current meta as, without any major champion changes, it isn’t so crystal clear if any one champion will suddenly become stronger.

So, does that mean the same champions from the last couple of patches will still dominate the current metagame? Not necessarily, and the rune changes we’ve seen so far will largely be responsible for that.

One rune, which wasn’t yet touched on this patch that is making a noteworthy impact in the metagame, is Predator.

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The Domination keystone has seen a recent surge in ranked play after the use of it by World’s 2018 winners Invictus Gaming and their jungler, Ning.

Champions like Gragas and Hecarim who can optimally utilize the movement speed boost are thus seeing some more spotlight in the jungle, creating a potential opportunity for a shift in the current jungle meta which has largely stayed the same in recent patches.

The success these champions are having in the jungle all stem from multiple different factors which all deserve recognition.

First, is the clear and jungle route Ning and other high-level junglers are using. Smiteless Red Buff,  Raptors and  Krugs with Smite, then recall. Doing this exact order will leave you with level 3 and enough gold to purchase your predator boots.

Once you’ve purchased your boots, it’s honestly quite self-explanatory. You want to gank a lane as fast as possible and score that tasty first-blood gold.

The increased movement speed on Predator, mixed with the added Adaptive Damage on first auto-attack combine to form an unrelenting combo.

The reason the rune is so dominant – no pun intended – is because champions like the ones mentioned all have one thing in common, which is that they have fail-safe gank mechanisms which allow for almost guaranteed kills on an out of position or unsuspecting victim. Gragas with his bodyslam flash combo and Hecarim’s devastating charge are just some examples. Amumu and Olaf are other champions which come to mind due to their “run at you with crowd control” mentality.

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Riot may decide to nerf the keystone if predator junglers run rampant in competitive play, but for now, during preseason, predator junglers should just offer a nice niche pick to perhaps counter some of the more traditional junglers like Graves and Evelynn by not allowing them a chance to snowball from the early game.

Feel free to discuss your thoughts about the current meta and on the future of which preseason changes we’ve seen so far you believe will have the most impact on competitive play.