LCS teams haven’t been able to make Nidalee work so far in the Summer Split.
During the first week of the 2020 LCS summer split, Nidalee was picked three times, becoming a new AP option in the jungle. However, each time the Bestial Huntress was selected, the respective team lost the game. Let’s look at the North American fascination with Nidalee and why it hasn’t been working.
Nidalee was chosen in every case as a counter pick to Trundle, as the Troll King was often blind picked. Trundle is widely regarded as a relatively safe jungle pick, holding his own in the early game, while securing objectives with his increased attack speed and tankiness. To counter this, the idea behind the Nidalee counter pick is her ability to out-farm Trundle throughout every stage of the game, securing a level advantage that can be exploited with the removal of catch up experience.
In all of these games, Nidalee did end up gaining a level advantage in the jungle, but failed to turn that into anything besides an individual lead. In general, the lead that Nidalee acquires naturally in the matchup should transfer into Rift Herald and drake captures, helping the lead snowball to the rest of the team.
Unfortunately, the only game where this was the case was Team Liquid vs Golden Guardians, where Can “Closer” Çelik used his constant two-level lead on Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen to capture ocean soul. They still lost the game, but the Nidalee pick was perhaps the only reason for them being in the game in the first place.
Ideally, teams pick Nidalee for a high AP damage source from the jungle, with the ability to set the pace of the game. However, along with poor play from North American junglers, the compositions that she was picked in did not allow her to excel.
In their game against Evil Geniuses, in which they were perfect-gamed, CLG picked Nidalee in a composition of Jayce, Cassiopeia, Ezreal, and Yuumi. CLG was clearly going for an ultra-poke team, but with the majority of their damage being magic, Evil Geniuses, with Poppy and Trundle, easily prioritized magic resistance to stomp their opponents. In the end, Raymond “Wiggily” Griffin did 9.1% of his team’s damage on Nidalee, far below the desired mark.
Then, Dignitas’ Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham picked the huntress against TSM, with a composition of Sett, Oriana, Ezreal, and Lulu. Picking Nidalee here made the team very magic damage heavy once again, allowing the enemy Aatrox, Trundle, and even Miss Fortune to prioritize magic resistance easily. Along with this, Akaadian was simply outpaced by the enemy Trundle, failing to keep up with his early game presence.
Although we’ve seen Nidalee pop up around the world in the beginning of the Summer Split (except in the LEC), the LCS has failed to both pilot the champion and pick her in drafts where she can showcase her strengths. Nidalee is highly mechanical champion that succeeds in the hands of the best junglers in the world. If you’re not that, there’s no reason to pick her.