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I've been puzzling over the new jungle for a while now, and I think I've more or less got it figured out by now.
Here with this guide, I'll show you how I use Cho'Gath in the new jungle, where there's a bit of a shortage of gold, but where a crafty player can take advantage of certain champion mechanics to still find themselves a high impact player in the game; often times a player will be even higher impact than they ever could have been in the old jungle.
Let's discuss the reasons why I've decided to write this guide, and how and why I think it works.
A moment of background.
So with the recent jungle rework, a lot of things have changed fairly drastically for League of Legends.
Lots of junglers who were successful, and even top tier in the old jungle, are now only "Fairly good" in the new jungle.
The most surprising development was that many previously terrible junglers rose to the very top of the food chain during the expanse of the jungle rework. Shaco, Maokai, Rammus, and even Singed are finding lots of jungle play time and are proving to be among the very strongest choices available.
However, in the face of all that, there are still LOTS of junglers that are yet undiscovered and lurking about. Also, many of the old junglers who were top tier before are still very strong picks, Udyr and Shyvana for example can clear so fast that they can gank more frequently than some more average junglers might be able.
Cho'Gath is an example of both of those things. He's an under rated jungler, and always has been, but that does NOT mean he is not effective.
It's that he is misunderstood. The central issue behind the unpopularity of Cho'Gath in the jungle, is that people are using the wrong builds when they try to jungle Cho'Gath. Because of this they fail to utilize his optimal speeds, and thusly fail to use him to his full potential.
In a jungle where successfully ganking is so important, clear speeds are also paramount to maximize efficiency.
Here in this guide, we will solve the issue of improperly building our jungle Cho'Gath, and thusly we will bring ourselves one step closer to being successful in the jungle with Cho'Gath.
The prime rule in the new jungle.
You are going to be hungry for gold, and there's very little you can do about it.
What impact has this had on our variety of junglers?
You might notice, almost all of the top picks for junglers are now full tanks, or hard gankers. There are some exceptions such as Udyr and Shyvana, who can power clear, counter jungle and land objectives, and gank often due to their clear speed. Yet for the most part we're seeing full tanks who build utility, and hard gankers in the new jungle. In the previous jungle, they were mostly bruisers or fast clears. Why the sudden shift?
This is because hard farming the jungle always leaves you short on cash now. Bruisers like to farm, and power farming is now less effective.
Full tanks have a way to cheat this shortage of gold. Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold build into strong items that a full tank can use to great effect. Shurelya's Reverie and Randuin's Omen are among the best items in the game, provide great Cool Down Reduction (CDR) which a tank uses well, and good stats "cheap" because of the income of gold from the Philo/HoG combo.
Tanks tend to have good Crowd Control (CC) skills, which means that when they gank they should be fairly effective in setting up your lane partners to land the kills. Take Maokai for example, with his targeted snare. Singed with his fling and slow, Rammus with his taunt, etc.
Also, as I've always said, full tanks have almost no place in this game except for in the jungle. This is because you want the heavy gold concentration from lanes going into damage. Damage is what really wins the game. However, it is very beneficial to have a "Set up" or an initiator of fights. Someone who can go in, take a beating, and get the fight started right, and on your team's terms. There IS enough gold in the jungle to do this effectively, but just BARELY enough. Often times your tank jungler will die in the big 5v5 fights where there's lots of firepower, and that's okay, as long as your team is able to win the fight as a result.
However, certain champions have skills which make the gold available in the jungle more comfortable for the role of fight initiating and tanking. Champions like Cho'Gath, Singed, Shyvana, and Rammus for example, who gain defensive stats for free, are particularly well suited for the jungle. Where other champions would feel starved for gold, they can build HP and lean on their skills for resistances (And/or vice-versa), resulting in a very cheap, cost effective tank.
It is because of these reasons that yes, tanks who can use CDR in their gear, are probably the very best picks in the new jungle.
Oh, and guess what?
Cho'Gath can be a great tank, who uses CDR well, if you choose to build him to be.
You might remember I also mentioned that strong and mobile gankers like Shaco and Lee Sin are shining as well. These junglers are successful when they put their lanes at an advantage by landing kills on the opposition and covering a lot of map very quickly, leaving your enemy a step behind whenever you can. They can jungle quickly enough, they can counter jungle, they can gank, and they do it all well. They often times can build Wriggle's, which means they can generally secure things like Dragon and whatnot. These kinds of junglers are picked less for team comps, and more fore the lane phase, where you intend to snowball the game - one kill and one objective at a time - out of control and land an early victory.
Cho'Gath is a very unique champion. His monstrous clear time with the proper runes, skilling order, and gear, will enable him to counter jungle if you choose to when you see your opponent ganking a lane. His excellent disables and massive burst damage make him a VERY high threat ganker. If the laner doesn't flash out of your properly aimed Rupture, chances are that they will very likely die, and sometimes before they even hit the ground. Land the pop up, and if they reach within the right HP range, a Flash / Feast combo can be death of any laner. Silence means that a target can't flash if you time it correctly.
All things considered, Cho'Gath is a very above average and underrated ganker, particularly when paired with a champion like Ashe or Ryze, Taric, or perhaps Sion, who can set your Rupture up with their targeted CC's.
Cho'Gath fulfills all the most important qualifications for being a successful jungler, with great clear times, great ganks, gear efficiency to take the sting out of the shallow pool of gold in the jungle, and he is capable of using the strongest gear for the new jungle in that the combination of Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold is effective on him because he can use the finalized versions of the items, and he wants the GP10 as well.
In the next chapter we'll go over the least understood, the least recognized, but NOT the least important qualification for being a strong and successful jungler...
Gear independence, or gear efficiency.
Gear independence, and Cho'gath
Gear independence is one of the more important attributes a jungler can have.
When we look at the better junglers, we see that gear independence is a fairly common factor in all the best junglers at the moment.
What does that mean?
It might mean having skills who's primary effects are not damage, but rather utility.
Amumu for example. When you pick Amumu, it's not because he deals lots of damage. It's because of the great effect of his ultimate and his decent stun and reasonable sustained DPS. He also clears well enough with just his skills, and viola, we have a champion who is successful without need of gear to do his job.
The same is relatively true of all the better junglers at the moment. Maokai, Singed, Rammus, Udyr, etc. All of these champions do the important aspects of the job without gear. They tank, they CC, they initiate, they peel, but none of that needs gear to facilitate the function.
To give an example of a champion who cannot do their job without gold, (Meaning a gear dependent champion) There is no better example than the AD carry role.
Look at Corki, or Vayne, or Caitlyn, or Graves, or any other AD carry. When they are geared, they are strong. When they are not geared, they are useless.
So, the million dollar question...
Is Cho'Gath gear independent?
The answer is that he is, "Almost" gear independent.
Cho'Gath is gear "Efficient" if you will. He uses the gear that he gets very well, and generally can use every piece of the gear that he gets.
This means that while he's not immediately as strong or fast as other junglers, he will -surpass- most of those junglers in strength and level of influence rather quickly.
A good comparison might be Udyr. Udyr and Cho'Gath are more similar than many players realize. They both have AoE clearing magic damage and tankiness in their skills, and they both disable opponents mid fight. Udyr however is undeniably stronger without gear. Cho'Gath is, in my opinion, stronger once he does get geared, although that can be argued and does vary depending on allied and enemy team comps.
Both champions can use the exact same builds to a good effect, but due to Cho's monstrous utility, I am of the opinion that he is the higher influence champion in fights. A giant AoE silence and a pop up every now and again is not to be trifled with, not to mention a true damage nuke when you need it and good sustained damage when right clicking (That is not reliant on you landing 3 consecutive hits)
Using the proper blend of items, you can make the most out of your Vorpal Spikes and your health pool from Feast, mix in some CDR, and your end result is a very tanky Cho'Gath, with good CDR, meaning lots of skill spamming, disabling, and tanking, and a deceptively powerful right click which will be very influential, albeit subtle at times, in teamfights.
Due to how EFFICIENT Cho'Gath is with his gear, I actually give him a strong mark in the category of gear "Independence" because the result is the same. He gets strong fast and early if you know what to build and when, and that's what you need in the new jungle.
The -only- problem with Cho'Gath jungle in my opinion, is until you have resistances (Which you don't want to buy before your philo and your hog) you will be squishy even with stacks of ultimate ticking up. Udyr for example would be much stronger than you at this early point of the game. This is your one weak point, which is -very- quickly compensated for with some quick resistances, and you'll immediately become a beast.
The good news is that I have listed some good core builds, that are all strong in their own right, and accomplish good goals that tanky junglers want to accomplish coming out of the new jungle.
Let's discuss the function of the items chosen above.
Items, some of those look a bit strange, Duff.
Well yes, yes they do, if we're considering the previously accepted Cho'Gath builds.
However, to take advantage of the new jungle, your previous (And even my own previous) Cho'Gath jungle builds won't be the optimal builds anymore, I'm afraid.
Cho'Gath has NEVER been optimal with AP items. Not in jungle, not in lane, never has, never will. Those builds are simply inefficient, mathematics and functional strength BOTH tell you that those AP builds have always been inferior. I don't care how hard your AP buffed Cho'Gath ultimate nukes with True damage, stop it. You're only tricking yourself. AP Cho'Gath is crippling himself. Why, you ask? Cho'Gath has decent AP ratios, why not build AP?
Well the answer is simple, there are two reasons. The fantastic CC and disable of Rupture and Feral Scream mean that you want to hold these skills until the right time. If you're building AP, holding them means you aren't using your items, since you spent gold on AP. If you build AP, you need to use your skills to use your items, and to use your skills prematurely and just for damage is to waste Cho's utility. You're effectively building against your own strengths.
The best build I had conceived, attempted to save your CC's and utility in your skills for just that, CC's and disables, and you would lean on Vorpal Spikes for your damage output.
The previous optimal core for lane Cho'Gath was simple. Frozen Heart, Wit's End, done. That was your core. Jungle Cho'Gath was different. Wit's End, Guardian Angel, done, that was your core.
Now, while the lane build remains effective and is also superior to AP builds for Cho'Gath, with the new jungle, that old jungle build falls short long term. You really need the income of gold from Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold if you want to compete late game, because you simply cannot out gank the hard gankers like Shaco and whatnot. You need to have some trump card up your sleeve as a champion stuck somewhere in the middle, or you'll be outshined by the competition.
The solution is so simple it sounds silly, but this is where we are blessed by Cho'Gath's amazing versatility.
Simply add the Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold, buy a Recurve Bow before the Guardian Angel, and there you have it. Cho'Gath is versatile enough that he can use the changed build order and new items to a great effect as well.
He is -so- versatile in fact, that he can even use Shurelya's Reverie and Randuin's Omen just as well as all the other tanky junglers can. If you don't believe me, TRY IT.
If you can't remember to actually use your actives, such as Shurelya's and Randuin's, then this may not be the right build for you. This is designed for a higher level of player who will be able to use Shurelya's without a second thought. If you aren't that player, be patient. These things come with time and practice.
If that is the case, consider replacing those items later with items like a Frozen Heart and/or a Force of Nature. Randuin's and Shurelya's need to be USED to reach their item potential, and if you're not going to use them, you're wasting item potential.
As a side note, you won't need sustain or life steal items like Wriggle's, your passive will do the heavy lifting for you as you clear the camps. This is what really allows us to follow the build path suggested here, and is just part of what makes Cho such a viable jungle choice.
You can get the general idea of each build by looking at them. They are constructed to reach a certain level of tankiness, and offer a certain level of strong utility, via item actives and passives, and a high amount of CDR for skill use.
They also use Cho's Feast for HP well, and use his Vorpal Spikes for damage by stacking solid resistances and attack speed, and sometimes on hit effects or even Sheen and Trinity Force procs.
How much CDR will we have at 18? We'll have 20 from Shurelya's and Randuin's if we buy both, 8% from our masteries, and with a blue pot, we'll have 38% CDR, which is 2% short of max. In terms of item efficiency, nothing is wasted, which is perfect. If we skip one or the other, it's to accomplish a different goal, and the sacrifice is okay. You -do not- need to have max CDR on Cho, and it's not a priority, it's a very nice thing to have though.
Let's touch on a few major items of great importance, shall we?
Philosopher's Stone Solution #1 to the new jungle. Buy this early and sit on it for a while.
Heart of Gold Solution #2 for the new jungle, but this after the Philo and sit on it for a while as well.
Mercury's Treads The obvious choice. MR, CCR, etc. You can't go wrong here.
Ninja Tabi If a team has a super carry like Vayne or a problem melee like Tryndamere, Ninja Tabi are cheap and effective.
Berserker's Greaves It sounds troll, but it improves clear speeds and damage output, and if your opponent is low on CC's it's a legitimate option to boost damage output early. You'll always sell them later, however.
Guardian Angel Cost effective Survivability. No single item offers more resistances, and the passive is amazingly strong early game, when 750 HP is a lot. Pair this with Feast stacks and a defensive boot, and your Cho'Gath starts to look very tanky for not much gold. This is the perfect item for making our jungle Cho as strong as possible for the least inversion of gold. It makes up for the invested gold in our philo and hog.
Shurelya's Reverie Really good item, good CDR, good active, cheap, and builds from our GP10 which is now so important.
Randuin's Omen This is the best counter to right clickers now that dodge is gone. As a tank, it's almost not arguable that you buy this now, which is handy, because we need the GP10 from HoG anyway. This is one of your best items, with a game changing active.
Ionic Spark It's a decent pick up which offers a subtle boost to HP, a strong boost to attack speed and a noticeable boost to damage with the bouncing magic damage passive. All around good item synergy with Cho, even if the item does suck. I buy this when trolling generally speaking, and use it with a Wit's end, Warmogg's, GA, and Madred's.
Wit's End Everything that makes Ionic Spark good for Cho also makes Wit's End even better for Cho. Resistances for your feast stacks, attack speed and more on hit for your Vorpal Spikes, this is what allows you to zone squishy champions in fights while saving your CC's for clutch pop ups and silences.
Frozen Mallet Do I really need to explain how good Cho with Frozen Mallet is? I... I don't think I'm going to even try. If you must, try this item in combination with a Wit's end. It's horrifying. Tag on a GA, and you're a fearless tanky CC machine with above average damage for a "Tank".
Atma's Impaler This is a very underrated pick up on Cho. I feel that people put themselves into boxes often times when considering a champion and that champion's potential applications. Atma's is a cost effective boost to Cho's damage. It gives armor to abuse his natural HP steroid, and uses his HP steroid for damage as well. He also has the highest base AD in the game, and when you put all of that through the crit multipliers, you've got a pretty beastly right click. Squishy champions beware, you will stomp them with a bit of crit chance on cho gath. The synergy between this item and Cho is undeniable, particularly when paired with Trinity Force and a green pot. If you're a skeptic, just try it. You'll be amazed at how quickly you can down a carry just by yourself, and the carry might be amazed as well.
Trinity Force This item is not a troll item. You have the highest base AD in the game, meaning your 150% damage boosted Sheen proc HURTS. Is that enough to merit the purchase of this item? Of course not, but thankfully the attack speed, AD, AP, HP, mana, Move speed, slowing procs, and all the good stuff in this item is. Cho REALLY would love to move faster than his opponents, and if you can do this without buying FoN, more power to ya.
Force of Nature Undeniably good as an item. However, it's undeniably better if you don't have to devote an entire item slot JUST to defense and MR. Generally speaking, stacking HP is a better option than FoN, but I am in no way shape or form saying the item is bad, use your judgement.
Warmog's Armor I used to advocate this item heavily, but incredibly, the small nerf they gave to this item, alongside the removal of dodge, brought this item from an "Every game pick up" and made it a situational "Sometimes" item. Tag on the fact that it's hard to farm it, expensive to buy it, and hard to stack it out of the jungle, and I would say this is an "Almost ever buy" item for jungle Cho. Warmogg's is better for lane Cho, but even still it's questionable now. Frozen Mallet is really what you want. It can be paired with Atma's and Triforce however.
When do I use which build, Duff?
Ah, the classic question.
Many of you asked me this for my Tryn guide as well, and in that case I am able to clearly state when to use what build. It's easy, it's straightforward, there's no confusing scenarios.
However, as a tank, you really can't go into a game with a planned build. You're going to have to judge on the fly when to use which builds.
Armor and Randuin's of course when a scary right clicker if a big problem.
Mallet to pin people down in your CC.
Even Force of Nature and BV have their place, as does a Frozen Heart.
You'll need to use your judgement, the builds offered are to help get your brain jogging about items and potential build paths, but what separates a good tank from a great one is know the perfect spot for an item.
It may take you some time, but it's worth it to learn when to buy what on your own and make sense of it all. Keep at it, it will become another game winning tool in your arsenal when you've mastered it, and only practice and experience will truly teach you when to buy what.
Use the builds in the guide as your stencil :)
Woah, what the heck are those mastery choices?
Again, same story the item build. I've offered you a couple generic sets, but you'll want to play with it and find what's best for you, the individual.
Do keep in mind that with the defensive mastery
, Shurelya's Reverie, and Randuin's Omen, and the purchase of a blue pot, you will hit 38% CDR, just 2% short of max CDR, and not waste much item space getting there. This is the main reason that I don't include a Frozen Heart in any of the main builds.
But test a couple things out, see for yourself what you like. a 21 in defense will be great end game, while a 14/16/0 will make your jungle speeds improve and afford some more safety in the jungle if you're scared of early invasions from a Shaco or a Shyvanna perhaps.
Please, take this to heart before you continue reading.
There is no jungle path.
The new jungle is free form, you will know this if you watch any competitive jungle player on their stream.
However, I like to do wolves - blue - wraiths etc, full clearing the jungle, going back to wraiths and wolves before basing.
You can choose to start with a regrowth pendent instead of boots if you feel that no lanes are gankable, so that after your first clear you can finish a philo stone and get your gold ticking in earlier. A second clear will afford you boots.
After your first 2-3 clears, you should be paying keen attention to lanes, and ganking at proper times, or simply ganking whenever you've cleared your jungle.
If there are no objectives like blue or red buff up, then don't be too concerned with counter jungling. Counter jungling is just something to do when there's nothing better to do on the map. No lanes can be ganked, you see the enemy jungler ganking top, and the most you can manage is a pick on his wraiths or wolves. Truly, consider how little gold those camps offer. you're effectively taking about 50 gold for effectively counter jungling the big creeps in a camp, leave a small one, and get out quickly.
If you can't see the enemy jungler, don't bother with counterjungling, it is -not- worth the risk of getting caught and killed for 50 gold. The only exception being of course if you're hunting the enemy jungler and you want to find him, because he or the enemy mid lane is too weak to fight perhaps.
Recap, this is a general jungling tip for the newer players, counter jungling small creep camps is just something small to do to try to punish an enemy jungler who is making plays on your lanes. It's really not a brutal hit, don't go crazy with it.
If you can steal a blue or a red buff when an enemy is ganking, now -that- is a really hard punish, and your opponent loses out hard. Even if they get the kill, if you can steal a buff then I consider that it's a fairly even trade early on in most cases.
Jungle path is impossible to describe, just continue to clear camps and gank when opportunity presents itself, and secure your teams objectives like blue and red before showing too much of yourself on the map.
General playstyle of jungle Cho.
You have some good disables, and a true damage spike with Feast. You also have a fairly substantial boost to your right click damage in Vorpal Spikes. You have an HP steroid.
When building into your strengths properly, and following this build, it lands you somewhere between a full tank and "bruiser"; you're an offtank Cho'Gath, if you will.
This is unique, but ideal for a few reasons.
Zone control of squishy champions is potent, even without use of CC's, simply due to your right click threat. Sometimes I'll see a squishy thinking they are safe to DPS my team near me... Not the case, and they soon discover that as you right click them and they get chunked. This means you can choose how to use pop ups and silences. Do you pop up forwards to chase, silence backwards? Do you walk forward and silence and pop up backwards? Do you pop up AND silence forwards or use them both backwards? You have the liberty to choose how you apply your kit and your skills, for defense - to protect your team, or for offense - to endanger your opponents.
Gear efficient tankyness means you can build some damage, and you should! Use it, beat up the enemy AP carry, or beat up their AD carry or their support. If the enemy is afraid of your team's tank, they have a serious problem. Cho'Gath is naturally aggressive, and you'll need to play accordingly.
Keep in mind, you need your STACKS on your ultimate to properly teamfight. Each stack is very important, 3 stacks is 450 HP, whereas 6 stacks is 900! Don't underestimate the importance of having 6 stacks on your ulti. Take advantage of your early game "downtime" while you're trying to buy your Philo and Hog. You will be a bit weaker any way, and get as many stacks on your Feast during this time as you can.
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And that's about it!
Hope you enjoy guys!
Duff here, signing off~