Hecarim Build Guide by legacyraider
Not Updated For Current Season
Standard Hecarim Jungle
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
THIS GUIDE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION. I have finished everything except the items section, which I will finish within a few days. If you downvote, comment and tell me in a constructive way how this guide can be made better.
Who is Hecarim?
Hecarim is a jungler that possesses an unique combination of farming and ganking abilities. He is one of the mobile champions in the game, and excels in chasing, escaping, and supporting the team in ambushes while maintaining an acceptable farm rate, especially mid-late game. Hecarim is classified as a bruiser-type jungler, but with much more crowd control and utility in a trade with a little less single-target damage. Because of his teamfight prowess, he especially shines in mid-late game, where such teamfights occur commonly. His initiation ability is simply godly, and can be thought of as an Amumu on steroids, and while he may lack in the lockdown Amumu’s ultimate provides he brings much more versatility, mobility and damage than the mummy.
Hecarim is often regarded as not a top-tier pick due to his inherent lack of single-target damage, and thus his weakness to early-game duelist junglers. However, because of his extreme mobility and advantageous kit late game, he avoids falling off in damage and utility unlike such duelists, and can oftentimes carry games. Hecarim is a champion that needs much more strategising and map awareness compared to the more popular junglers such as Vi, Lee Sin or Nocturne to avoid direct confrontations in the early game, but if used correctly he is definitely a force to contend with, and a very viable pick in all ELOs.
Pros / Cons
Hecarim excels in:
Chasing. His Q allows him to stay alongside enemies while constantly damaging them. Furthermore, he has multiple abilities that can stop enemies from escaping you with his E and R, meaning if Hecarim decides to kill you the only real option left for you is to duel him, since he'll melt you otherwise.
Ganking. Hecarim possesses multiple ways of ensuring a kill during a gank. His E allows him to bypass wards simply by charging over them before the enemy can react, and the knockback is useful on hindering any escape attempts by the enemy. Red Buff can also severely hinder retreating enemies once they get into range of your Q. Finally, his Ult can easily catch up to enemies and displace them towards your fellow laners. He's also excellent at diving due to an escape ability in his Ult, as well as clutch healing from his W.
Mobility. Our favorite pony's most defining trait in my opinion is his ability to charge straight across the map and aid most fights that break out with good positioning and map awareness. His E combined with Homeguard boots give him a movement speed of upward 1000 for about 2-3 seconds before falling, allowing him to help laners near instantly after recalling. This is also great for other things, such as checking Baron and Dragon without wasting a majority of his time. He also is great for escaping from ambushes due to his E and R.
Initiation. Scratch the last paragraph; this is his MOST DEFINING trait. His Ult-E combo allows him to separate a whole enemy team and keep them off you with the fear while your team demolishes the one enemy you knocked into your team, making most successfully initiated fights 5v4s. Hecarim excels in both small-scale skirmishes and large-scale teamfights; as long as he has his ult, he can win it.
Teamfighting. Though this really should be in initiation, I feel this deserves a different spot. His W sustain allows him to soak up more damage than a fed Nasus, while unlike the latter he can output massive AOE damage allowing the ADCs and APCs to clean up the fight.
Hecarim struggles in:
1v1 Duels. Despite his teamfight ability, he really lacks single target damage. Because of this, he falls to champions specialised for this, such as Lee Sin, Nasus and Jax. Always be in a position where a) you can escape easily or b) have teammates close by to turn the tides of battle.
Being Counterjungled. This is where the brainwork comes in. Hecarim absolutely cannot afford to be counterjungled, which is what many of the common junglers like to do. If you have someone that likes to do this on the enemy team, a) make him waste his time by starting at an unexpected buff or b) put more effort into ganking and reduce your reliance on smaller jungle mobs. Always ward your buffs and make sure your teammates are close by when you attempt them, and remove any wards the opponent may have there.
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Mark of Lethality
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
greater mark of armor penetration These are the best marks on Hecarim, period. Since you won't be building damage on him anyway after Iceborn Gauntlet and Spirit of the Elder Lizard, this will allow you to shred through low-armor ADCs in teamfights. Furthermore, these help a lot early game since jungle monsters have armor as well, meaning flat armor pen will work very well on dealing good damage to them.
Greater Seal of Armor Absolutely mandatory for any jungler. These reduce jungle mob damage on your first several clears (before you start building defense) drastically. Without these, the 5 pots won't be enough to carry you to level 4 for your first back.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist The eternal battle between flat and scaling MRes Glyphs. I personally prefer Scaling ones, since they'll balance of at about level 9 and for half of those levels you'll be powerfarming anyway. However, if they have an aggressive AP jungler like Elise and the rare Katarina, feel free to go Greater Glyph of Magic Resist instead.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed These are probably the best Quints for Hecarim. Firstly, they give you more AD in the beginning due to his passive. These also give him drastically improved chasing, escaping, and ganking ability, while slightly increasing your jungle clear efficiency due to the shortening of time between camps. Furthermore, with this and your E you can carry Q stacks between Wolves and Wraiths.
Double-Edged Sword is necessary for Hecarim because it helps raise his otherwise underwhelming damage. Though the 1% damage taken increase does hurt, it's neccesary to give him any teamfight presence.
Sorcery gives him his much-needed CDR early-game, which allows him to spam his Q more often while giving him more mobility due to shorter E cooldowns. All in all definitely worth the 4 points, as Hecarim doesn't need the attack speed from Fury .
Brute Force does the same job as Double-Edged Sword ; namely increase his damage output while being incredibly tanky from his items.
Martial Mastery is the equivalent of 4 greater marks of attack damage, and really helps on your jungle clears at level 1-5. This will round off the Offense tree masteries, as we need to invest on more defense.
Block is very useful for bot lane / top lane ganks early, as it reduces the chance of you getting AA'ed to death by the adc. It may seem small, but it really adds up.
Enchanted Armor possibly the best basic defensive mastery late-game. It gives you free defense as you build more defense, and allows for better teamfight potential.
Tough Skin reduces jungle mob damage; quite straightforwardly put, it helps clears. Definitely worth the 2 points.
Unyielding works in tandem with block to give you better survivability in ganks.
Veteran Scars is free health! Really helps on your first clears, and allows for higher-health ganks early game, though the 36 health becomes insignificant late game.
Bladed Armor gives you much faster clearing time by giving you a bleed effect that applies 1% of their health as damage. What's not to like?
Juggernaut possibly the most major of the defense masteries. It gives you 3% health, which is simply massive late game; that's 100+ health at level 18, full build, and really helps your survivability.
Hardiness once again, free armor, for early jungle clears.
Swiftness really helps against pesky Ashes and Teemos; and it reducing the effectiveness of kiting much more.
Legendary Guardian is a free 20 armor and 10 magic resist in a 5v5 teamfight, which really helps against the burst at the start of skirmishes.
Tenacious , with Merc Treads, gives you a ridiculous amount of tenacity, which allows you to spend more times in teamfights and have more successful ganks. Definitely worth!
Skill Sequence and Description
Hecarim ignores unit collision and gains bonus attack damage equal to 10 / 12.5 / 15 / 17.5 / 20 / 22.5 / 25 % of his bonus movement speed.
This is a great passive because of the multitude of movement speed bonuses Hecarim can recieve. It gives Hecarim drastically improved damage with his full speed Devastating Charge, which helps burst down laners much faster. Homeguard boots also give him an edge in combat near base. In fact, with Homeguard and Devastating Charge, he gains a temporary +150 attack damage, which may be just enough to scare away the adc trying to destroy your Nexus.
Furthermore, the unit collision nullification allows Hecarim to chase without getting minion-blocked in lane.
ACTIVE: Hecarim cleaves nearby enemies, dealing physical damage. This skill deals only 66% damage to minions and monsters. If Hecarim damages at least one enemy unit with this attack, he gains a stack of Rampage for 8 seconds, reducing the base cooldown of this ability by 1 second. This effect can stack up to 2 times.
Hecarim's main damage spell. It gives him an AOE damage source for faster jungle clears, while dealing consistent damage in teamfights. Because of the stack system, it's often good to finish off a jungle camp with Rampage and run over to the closest one and use it first, thus maintaining the 2 sec cooldown. This can drastically improve his clear time. This ability also doesn't stop movement when used, meaning it can be used when running alongside an enemy during a chase, keeping damage on them while not stopping to autoattack.
Max this first due to the good AOE damage this provides; compared to the other skills, this is very useful early-game as well due to the farming ability this provides.
Spirit of Dread
ACTIVE: Hecarim surrounds himself with the spirit of dread for 4 seconds, dealing magic damage per second to all enemies within its reach. Additionally, Hecarim is healed for 20% of the damage dealt by any source to enemies within the area. Healing from damage dealt to minions or monsters are capped per cast.
This gives Hecarim his insane sustain in large teamfights. If the ADC keeps outputting damage onto enemies within your AOE field, it can keep Hecarim healthy even if focused. The duration is also deceptively long, as 4 seconds is usually enough to decide teamfights. This also gives you jungle sustain with your Q. Because this also works with Smite, using Spirit of Dread and using Smite on a minion while escaping can give you enough health to escape more often than not.
Max this second due to the increasing damage and lower cooldowns, giving you drastically better sustain in teamfights and skirmishes.
ACTIVE: Hecarim gains 75% movement speed over the course of 3 seconds, starting with initial 25% upon cast, and ending one second afterward. While Hecarim is charging, he gains 150 extra attack range (325 total). His next attack knocks the target back, dealing physical damage based on how far Hecarim has traveled during Devastating Charge's duration.
This is what makes his ganks so potent. This allows Hecarim to simply ignore wards by dashing over them and hitting the enemy before they have time to react. The knockback can be good or bad depending on your use of it; if chasing, make sure to dash in front of them and then attack them to send them flying into your team. Furthermore, hitting them against a wall will stop their movement completely, allowing you to prey on them easier if it was a 1-man chase. Don't be scared to use this for mobility purposes; however, since the mana cost and cooldown is quite high, make sure you won't be needing it soon.
The only real benefit to levelling this skill is the lower cooldowns and the higher damage. Since we use this for ganking purposes early game, max this last but put a point in it at level 3-4 for the speed boost, since it remains constant.
Onslaught of Shadows
ACTIVE: Hecarim summons spectral riders and charges forward with them in a line, dealing magic damage to enemies in their path. Enemies within range of where Hecarim stops will flee in terror for 1 second. The wave of spectral riders will travel the maximum distance possible in the direction of the cast, regardless of where Hecarim himself stops.
THE ULTIMATE INITIATION SKILL. Once you dive into the midst of the enemy, the fear and possibly your Devastating Charge knockback allows you to separate enemies easily. This is also a great escape ability due to the ability to just hop walls with it. Remember that the shadows travel the full distance; because of this, you can "snipe" very low health opponents that are getting away under their tower by using this at your feet. Because the width is quite large, you will usually kill them.
Absolutely mandatory for junglers. Smite gives you great finishing power of buffs and monsters, and allow you to secure jungle mob kills as well. Always Smite both buffs; the cooldown is short enough to allow you to do both with 1-2 mini-camps in between.
This spell and Hecarim is a match made in heaven. The bonus movespeed gives Hecarim bonus AD which may help in clutch situations. Ghost also gives you the ability to dash in extremely fast with your Devastating Charge for ganks, as well as chasing very effectively. Unlike Flash, Ghost also allows you to dash across the map to save towers and aid fights easily due to the lower cooldown compared to the former.
Though Ghost is a much better choice in most cases due to the overall synergy with Hecarim's kit and increased chase/escape potential, Flash can work well in specific circumstances where the opponent has a large amount of blink champions. However, your Onslaught of Shadows usually does the same in desperate situations, so think carefully before choosing Flash.
This is a very situational spell. Though it gives Hecarim even better splitpushing potential, it should only be used when you need to carry in terms of damage. Furthermore, Hecarim has so much mobility already it would be overkill to use Teleport in most circumstances.
Main Jungle Order for Purple (with little jungle pressure)
Ancient Golem (Blue Buff) -> Wolves -> Wraiths -> Lizard Elder (Red Buff) -> Double Golems -> Wraiths -> Wolves -> Wight
This should carry you to just before level 5. Recall, and start ganking. Remember, if the opponent has a lot of jungle pressure, skip the first wolves and wraiths and head straight over to Red Buff.
Main Jungle order for Blue (with little jungle pressure)
Lizard Elder (Red Buff) -> Wraiths -> Wolves -> Ancient Golem (Blue Buff) -> Gank Bot Lane OR Wight -> Wolves -> Wraiths -> Double Golems
A little slower, but still gets you a massive level advantage over the laners.
Main Jungle order for Purple (with a lot of jungle pressure)
Ancient Golem (Blue Buff) -> Lizard Elder (Red Buff) -> Wraiths -> Wolves -> Wight -> Recall/Gank Bot
Always make sure to get the two buffs first if they have an invade jungler.
Main Jungle Order for Blue (with a lot of jungle pressure)
Lizard Elder (Red Buff) -> Ancient Golem (Blue Buff) -> Wolves -> Wraiths -> Double Golems -> Recall/Gank Top
Once again, this will only get you to the end of Level 3, but grab a mini camp on your way to gank after recall and you'll be fine.
Make sure to switch up your routes depending on the jungler. For Shaco, for example, I'll start at Red and take my Blue, then focus on ganking while watching for counterganks.
The Way of the Warhorse
As with most champions, I can't tell you how to play Hecarim; you'll need to learn from experience, not by reading a guide. However, I can attempt to teach you the basics of playing him.
First, to play Hecarim correctly you'll need to be in the correct mindset. One of the best ways I've found to think about him is to think about him like a warhorse. As a warhorse, you lead the cavalry charge, and lead your team into battle. Compared to ground troops, the warhorse has much more mobility; make sure that you help as many teammates as physically possible. Never retreat unless there is a sound reason to do so. However, it's also important to know when to back off with Hecarim. To help you understand the way of the warhorse, I've compiled a list of guidelines for him.
- Thou shalt always be in the front lines when the army charges. Make sure that you are always at the forefront of an frontal attack. Always be thinking about if this is a good time to initiate; use your R -> E combo to drag the enemy towards you.
- Thou shall never take kills from the ADC. No matter how tempting it is; if it's not certain the enemy will get away during a gank, let the ADC take it; they'll need it for later. However, feel free to take some kills during a mid gank or top gank, and of course, the opponent jungler is all yours!
- Thou shall farm until Level 4, but gank if they desperately need it. Hecarim's core early gameplay depends on him getting a level advantage early, and pressing it with frequent ganks to snowball your laners, Take the whole jungle early, but be ready to help a laner if it means them not feeding before level 4.
- Thou shall constantly surprise the enemy. After level 4, unless you die in the process constantly gank two lanes that are most likely to snowball that are adjacent to each other; oftentimes mid/bot. If the enemy on both lanes are pulled to tower, feel free to farm the jungle a little more or help the remaining lane.
- Thou shall never die. A behind Hecarim is a useless Hecarim. You need to have enough damage to be relevant early game. Since he doesn't build damage apart from Spirit of the Elder Lizard, his main way of staying ahead in damage is a level advantage. If you die, it's all gone. Keep the momentum from your first gank to transition into a flowing pattern of frenzically ganking and keeping pressure by farming jungle. Don't risk a gank if you're low, or there's a possibility of a countergank.
- Thou shall rely on your own judgement. You are a general of the team, whether they admit it or not. Your competence decides their laning advantage; your awareness keeps them snowballing; and your teamfight initiations win them games. Even if a feeding top is crying at you to come gank, dont; that 5-0 Riven will probably instagib you. Instead, snowball bot or mid and help them carry that top.
Early game, as Hecarim your main focus should be gaining yourself a level advantage by farming hard until level 4. Though you’re not level dependent in terms of skills like Warwick, an advantage is always appreciated in the early levels as you’re less likely to take fatal damage in a bank. Furthermore, farming until 4 (or 3 if you get behind because the opposing jungler invaded etc) gives you an opportunity to survey the current flow of the game. Assess the current advantage in each lane. If a laner is feeding, think about the opponent that is getting fed. Are they a hyper-carry? Or are they an early-game bruiser that would naturally scale down late game? You need to balance trying to snowball the winning lane with trying to stop or slow down the carries. Think about the team composition on each side. Do they have an early game comp with aggressive champions like Corki or Lee Sin? Make sure to save losing lanes rather than snowballing winning ones, because mid-late those lanes will snowball automatically. Do they have a late-game composition with Nasus etc? Make sure to camp their lane and dominate them each time they come back in lane. With Hecarim (or just about any other jungler) it’s vitally important to predict the flow of the game and respond accurately with your first several ganking locations.
Now that you’ve decided on the best lane to gank (make sure to put distance from your location and push/pull situation into account) you need to swiftly strike before the enemy realizes you’re near. It’s usually best to do this after your first back, since you’ll be selling your Warding Totem with a Sweeping Lens, and will be able to delete/bypass wards. The timing on your E is crucial; especially in the early game where you haven’t maxed your Rampage yet, the extra collision damage on your Devastating Charge is often the difference between a kill and the laner escaping with a sliver of health. Make sure to approach them from the back, so you can knock them towards your laner for an easy kill. If they start fleeing, start chasing by running alongside them while spamming your Rampage. Don’t go in for auto attacks unless you’re in front of them. The pause while you attack may potentially get them outside the range of your Rampage and let them escape. Don’t underestimate your damage in a chase; if the lane is pushed, you can often single-handedly kill a fleeing enemy.
If your first gank is to help a losing lane, the first thing you should do is to make sure your laner won’t be killed in the process. If the enemy kills your laner and you kill them, that’s an overall gold disadvantage for your teammate. Hecarim has a great kiting ability; use it. Rather than knocking them towards your low-health laner, try to knock them against a wall to immobilise them and secure the kill. After that, assess the situation. Is it better if you take the kill, or does the team benefit more from the laner taking it? If he hasn’t died yet and it’s a snowball champion, by all means give it to them if possible; they’ll start dominating their lane, reducing the need for you to come gank again. Since it’s only possible to efficiently gank two adjacent lanes, try to give the third a boost at the start and get them to win lane themselves after.
After Level 6 comes another major turning point in your gameplay. Your Onslaught of Shadows is usually a guaranteed kill on any pushed lane. Use this pressure to your advantage while deciding to transition into a gank-reliant jungler or to “charge up” your level and item advantage by farming, as then you have much more potent ganks after you’ve finished farming. Oftentimes, if I die before level 6 or have multiple failed ganks I’ll try to farm up a bit to avoid getting instagibbed by the enemy laner, then attempt to snowball by ganking again. When playing, you need to always think about how much momentum you have. Momentum, in this context, is how much of an advantage you have compared to the enemy jungler/laners and how well you can use it. For example, if you’ve just stolen Red Buff from the enemy, keep the momentum going by repeatedly ganking lanes with it. Remember; an advantage unused is no advantage at all. In its core, momentum is the skill to maximise your advantage and sustain it. If Hecarim gets behind, you’re much less useful than a behind Nautilus; keep that in mind. Hecarim is also a very gold-dependent jungler. If they’re not the type who rages if you take a single minion, try to farm up 2 or 3 minions to make up for the lack of farm you have after a gank; especially if you gave the laner a kill. That, as well, keeps you from falling behind and lets you maintain momentum.
Mid Game/Late Game
Mid game, you should focus much more on ganking, scouting, and acting as a personal bodyguard to your teammates after laning phase has ended. With your E and your tier 2 boots, you can dash around the map incredibly fast. Equip yourself with some wards, and dash around the map warding key locations. Because of your speed, you can also dash to the aid of any fight relatively near you. Make sure to do so.
Midgame is also where the first teamfight usually breaks out. Though charging in with your ultimate is perfectly fine, with a smaller fight (3v3 or 2v2), use a ganking style initiation to make sure the opponent can't say "no" to fighting; charge in with your Devastating Charge and have your teammates follow up to have a successful teamfight without usage of your ult.
With Hecarim, the teamfight style you employ is a little different to similar initiation-based junglers such as Amumu and Vi. Your main goal is to displace the opposing ADC and knock him towards your team; while keeping the opposing team from stopping you. Your ultimate fear combined with the knockback from your Devastating Charge can easily achieve this. Wait for the opponent to misposition, and take your opportunity; thus creating a 4v5 easily won. Hecarim's greatest fear in these situations is for the opposing team to initiate first. Because you're not an assassin you can't go into the backlines and kill the adc quickly; you need your team to do that. In these circumstances, try to keep the opposing adc off your team by using your ult and E to knock them away from the team. With your Spirit of Dread, you should be able to resist the ADC long enough for your ADC to kill the others and come to your aid. Remember what I said about never dying as Hecarim? Scratch that; often strategic sacrifices are necessary for teamfights to go well.
Tips and Tricks
Dashing to a lane. The combination of Homeguard boots and a maxed E gives you upwards 1000 movespeed for a surprisingly long time. Combine that with Ghost and you can easily clean up a teamfight which you were too far away to support. Oftentimes, it's faster to recall then dash rather than go there manually to protect a tower etc.
You are a splitpush GOD.With your movement speed, AOE abilities and multiple escape abilities you can splitpush effectively if your team doesn't have enough damage to do well in teamfights.
You steal extremely well. Your ult has a deceptively long 1 second fear. By Ulting into the Baron pit, you gain a timeframe where the opponent jungler is effectively disabled; giving you time to Smite Baron away for your team.
Use your ult in other ways than initiating. Use it to snipe enemies after an almost-successful gank! Use it to juke enemies while being chased; the fear will keep the back line off you long enough for you to Devastating Charge away.
Use your W during an escape! The combination of Smite and your Spirit of Dread gives you a small amount of health; this might be the difference between an escape and a death from an Ezreal Q.
Keep your Rampage stacks up! By moving quickly between Blue -> Wolves, Red -> Wraiths, or even Wraiths -> Wolves (by using your Devastating Charge you can keep your stacks at a maximum, giving Rampage its minimum cooldown at 2 secs.
Hecarim is an underrated but incredibly powerful jungler that can singlehandedly carry games. He seems like the perfect incarnation of the concept of a jungler. Help laners snowball, control the map, while having good initiation and tankiness late game.
I leave you with these words. Think like a warhorse, act like a warhorse. You control the battlefield. You decide which lanes win, which lanes lose, and ultimately if the game is won or not. Become the perfect general atop his ghostly horse; and I assure you victory.
Change Log and To-Do List
- Created guide.
- Re-wrote Introduction.
- Re-wrote Early Game.
- Added Guardian Angel as a build item.
- Write up the Items section of the guide.
- Improve visual elements of the guide.
- I've planned a complete revamp of the gameplay sections of this guide; stay tuned.