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How to discover good off-meta picks

Just ... think outside the box.

This preseason I’ve been playing quite a bit of Galio, Ornn and, of course, Tahm jungle. All of these picks have merit in one way or another. Galio has a way better Shen ult that he can take into the jungle and permanent CC for gank. Ornn can self-sustain with a Hunter’s Potion and never have to base. Not to mention that his ultimate is incredible for ganks. Tahm is just a genuinely powerful jungler at the moment.

These are not the picks you think of when we talk about junglers. If someone in your game picks any of these three with smite, maybe you don’t stand up and walk away in disgust, but you certainly cock your head a bit. I’ve had mixed results with all of them (except for Tahm, who I still have about a 70 percent win rate within 12 games or something), but none of them are bad picks.

But how do you figure this out? How do you find that weird pick and make it work? I’ve seen weird things over the course of the preseason. I’ve seen Xerath ADC for God’s sake. Lots of people want to find something weird and try and make it work, but it takes more than being weird. It takes understanding what the role needs and executing it well.

When you pick Ornn jungle, there is an understanding that you need to farm up for a while. He has decent ganks pre-six and he isn’t overloaded with easy to land CC, but you can farm and build items in the jungle to make that farm even faster. Once you get your ult, you can take it to bot lane and get a double every time. He’s a power farmer, much like Warwick or Shyvanna. He can duel if he needs to but more often than not the goal is to farm up and be a beast at 10 minutes.

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Galio is the opposite. He has a very slow clear speed but godly ganks. Galio can run in, throw a Justice Punch, hit a taunt and everyone dies. If you have a team that is pushing the enemy really hard, you don’t want to have Galio. If he doesn’t have a gank path he will fall behind in farm. He’s an aggressive jungler, similar to tanks like Zac or assassins like Kha’Zix.

You have to identify a champion and the strengths they have and then combine them with the strengths of the role. If you just try to play them without a plan, you won’t get anywhere.

Runes are part of the reason people want to try out all this new nonsense. They want to get in and make something kooky that just happens to work out for them. This can be done, but not with everyone. Finding the perfect rune combo is done very similarly to selecting a role. What is the champion’s strength? Can you double down on it with a good rune selection?

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Let’s look at Tahm Kench jungle as a quick example. I take a weird rune on Tahm jungle, Fleet Footwork. This is in the Precision tree, something you don’t necessarily think about when considering Tahm, but Fleet Footwork is a perfect rune for him. It heals the user, making him a better tank, but most importantly, it speeds the user up. What does Tahm struggle with? Keeping up with his enemies, getting kited. Fleet Footwork combined with the attack speed bonus from taking the Precision tree essentially guarantees that the first auto from Tahm is a death sentence.

If you play mid lane but love Gnar, find a keystone that will help him do what you need. Mid lane is a short lane, meaning you are in the face of the enemy all the time. What would be a good rune to harass with on Gnar. Lethal Tempo perhaps? Maybe Fleet Footwork? Experiment using Practice Tool, figure out what you want to do.

There is a big difference between picking off-meta and trolling. Trolling implies that you intend to lose. If you don’t want your allies to think you’re trolling, make sure your idea is a good one before going into a match. League is a very flexible game, just make sure you do your homework before ruining the match for someone else.

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