Pantheon Jungle WTF? (Troll Pick Since 2012)
I'm going to leave this title the same, although Pantheon Jungle has now seen wide competitive play at the professional level. The truth is, I've been jungling Pantheon for years. It's true, back in Season 2 it was pretty difficult to pull off, and arguably viable, and I just could not get a relief from the troll callers in solo queue whenenever I picked him. But things have gotten quite a bit brighter for the shishkabob chef these days.
In Season 4 it's not only viable - it's a top tier pick. I see him more in the jungle than I do top or mid lane. IMO he was always a poor pick top lane, since his Grand Skyfall range only barely reaches mid lane. Pantheon was *always* ideal in the jungle because of the incredible potential for counter ganks made possible by jungler roam. The addition of the heal mechanic to jungler items has significantly improved his mana problems, and the use of his Aegis of Zeonia in the jungle has given him a sustain mechanic as well as extra mobility, as with a ward he can now jump to camps over the jungle walls. Season 4 itself has been overall kind to Pantheon. Instead of building straight tank, it is now possible to build him as a carry. In fact, as jungle carries go, he's one of the best! In that line of reasoning, I've updated this build to the ideal carry build I'd imagine for solo queue. Of course, there are a lot of other ways of building, but I hope you'll appreciate that this build reflects the current state of the S4 meta in NA. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
In judging Pantheon as a jungler, ultimately, you have to look at what he offers in that role. The jungler role is all about map coverage. If you can be in the right lanes at the right times then you are doing your job as a jungler. What makes Pantheon so good at this is his Grand Skyfall. With this ability you have the kind of map coverage Shen or Twisted Fate get with their teleports, but you also deal big damage when you land. This little extra edge can make a HUGE difference for your team.
When to Pick The Panth
So when should you pick Pantheon as jungler? This has changed quite a bit in S4. Things you should know about him - he is a great pick, all the time, any time - this is due to his incredible ult, Grand Skyfall, and the power it gives him to cover the map while he heavily farms the jungle, as well as his initiate - Aegis of Zeonia, which makes it possible successfully carry your team against the widely varying comps you will encounter in solo queue. There's one thing for sure - a stun always wins - against anything. He also is a close combat fighter, which means to survive the team fight phase you'll need to build him at least a little tanky - think, a more offensive Vi build, or a Lee Sin or Xin Zhao carry build. His build is similar. He's a bit weaker in the jungle than champions like Lee Sin, but thankfully scales much better than his counterparts, in part due to his high burst combos and critical hits with Spear Shot and Heartseeker Strike. Play him as an off tank. You'll need someone like Renekton, Dr. Mundo, or any of the other tanky tops to take the brunt of the damage, but he also supplements excellent tanks such as Shyvana who suffer from a lack of CC. To me, Pantheon Jungle and Shyvana Top is an ideal pairing.
Strengths and Weaknesses
I'll do my standard breakdown for you guys.
First Clear (Level 3) - 8 / 10
Pantheon's first clear has significantly improved since Aegis of Zeonia became useable on minions. That, the jungle masteries, and Hunter's Machete should be all you need.
Average Clear Times - 7 / 10
Pantheon's clear times unfortunately lag behind a little in the early game. Even with Spirit of the Elder Lizard he clears kind've slow. Once you pick up Infinity Edge you will destroy the jungle, but that won't be for a while.
Sustain - 7 / 10
Spirit of the Elder Lizard basically solves his sustain issues. He still only has average sustain, and if your blue buff gets stolen / given away you *will* have to stock up on mana pots to stay out, but this is no longer a deal breaker for him.
Ganking - 9 / 10
He's not a ganking God, but Pantheon's ganks are nothing to scoff at. His Aegis of Zeonia can keep an opponent around long enough to deal the mortal damage, and he can often secure kills with his Spear Shot. All in all, superb ganking potential.
Counter Ganks - 10 / 10
Grand Skyfall. Need I say more? This ult has gotten me *soooooo* many triple kills on bot, I can't even count. My god. Seriously. It's garbage. Nerf it. No, but seriously. Nerf it.
Tower Dives - 8 / 10
Have you seen Grand Skyfall?
Have you seen Aegis Protection?
Have you seen Aegis of Zeonia?
Lane Shoving - 6 / 10
It might even be worth it to build Ravenous Hydra. Pantheon's lane shoving potential is just not very good because of the mechanics of Heartseeker Strike. As you get fed this changes, but it's not until mid to late game that his shoving potential really gets any good. That's ok. You can still do it - it's just, you're probably not going to be the one split pushing in the mid game.
Defending Towers - 6 / 10
Pantheon can manage here, but again it's not his strong suit. If he had a decent AoE clear that worked well on minions (damn you, Heartseeker Strike!), he'd be ok. But unless you wanna take heavy poke, you'll be limited to Spear Shot and physical attacks, and perhaps hopping away from poke with Aegis of Zeonia.
Carry Potential - 9 / 10
A fed Pantheon can just do it, man. It's dem Aegis of Zeonias. The gap closer and stun make it so in early to mid game skirmishes you can build straight up attack power and crit and you will *dominate*. You'll need to build a little tanky in the late game to continue to swing, but Randuin's Omen just makes it that much easier for you to destroy face after you land a Grand Skyfall. The spear is real - get what I'm saying?
Late Game Scaling - 7 / 10
Try to finish the game early. Being a close range fighter, he *will* eventually lose out to the potential that AD carries bring to the table when properly peeled for. He's a carry - but he's an early to mid game carry.
Solo Dragon - 6 / 10
Can't do it very well until mid game. Could do it easily with The Bloodthirster, but it's not worth. Just get your bot lane to help you. Or do it in a pinch and then
- Can be counter jungled hard early on when he is very mana dependent
- Somewhat squishy, though his Passive Aegis Protection and Aegis of Zeonia make up for this quite a bit
- Great in a teamfight, but can be dropped easily before he gets fed by strong 1v1ers like like Udyr and Lee Sin
Here's some tips:
- When you attack, chain your physical attack in between abilities. A good combo is:
Grand Skyfall -> Aegis of Zeonia -> Physical Attack -> Spear Shot -> Physical Attack
Then, continue to move up and repeat the following:
Move Up -> Physical Attack -> Spear Shot -> Physical Attack -> Aegis of Zeonia
Finish with Heartseeker Strike.
- Always use your Heartseeker Strike to finish. It really has a longer range than you think! You do not want to use your Heartseeker Strike early on because it requires that you stay planted on the spot, and it will give the target a huge opportunity to get away. Plus, if you move, it cancels, and you have to wait for cooldown again. This effect is worsened when your opponents begin to build tenacity. Yet another reason to save for last is because it will crit when they are at low HPs. As your attack power scales up this will become more and more effective.
- Lay off of your Heartseeker Strike in the jungle. You can jungle almost as fast with Spear Shot alone and it's much less mana spammy, giving you more mana to use in ganking and helping your teammates defend lanes.
- Constantly search the map for opportunities to make use of Grand Skyfall. Don't jump the gun though. You want to make it worth it. It stinks when you have to use it to defend someone's lane when they die, but, that's just the way it is - it's a team game. Remember, you can cancel it by moving within a few seconds if the opportunity vanishes, and it goes on short cooldown.
- When you use Grand Skyfall you can also cast Aegis of Zeonia on a target before you even land, ensuring that you will leap the moment you land, as long as you're in range.
- Use your Grand Skyfall -> Aegis of Zeonia combo to stomp weak champions hugging their towers. Make sure you signal your team and they know what you're about to do or they won't know to push the tower.
- A Flash -> Aegis of Zeonia can stop fleeing champions in their tracks and secure a kill for you or your team.
- When ganking don't always initiate with Aegis of Zeonia. You are more effective if stay behind them and throw your spear and zone them into a situation where they have to run either towards you, or the champion in their lane. If they choose you, then engage at melee range and burn Aegis of Zeonia when they try to Flash. If they choose the lane champion they will give up a lot of position, and you should immediately use Aegis of Zeonia to protect your teammate.
- Protip: It's actually possible to hit skillshots on Pantheon while he is still up in the air during Grand Skyfall. This an lead to embarrassing situations. Don't get yourself into a bad situation with your Grand Skyfall. You should try to surprise with it whenever possible.
Thanks guys! Pantheon's been tearing it up in the jungle for a while now. Glad you guys are finally on board :)