Once in a blue (buff) moon, Riot decides to really buckle down and create a jungle-specific champion. The last ones we got were Kindred and Rek’Sai, and the time before that, well, let’s just say jungle was the role for rejected top lane champions. But with League’s newest jungler, Ivern, we are getting arguably the most unique champion Riot has ever released.
Ivern is a tree-man (man-tree?), who roams the jungle and farms without actually harming any of the cuddly monsters napping in their groves. Ivern takes the jungle mechanic of speed-clear, gank, farm, gank, and completely flips it on its head. Ivern is also what Riot is calling its first “Support Jungler,” meaning he does relatively low damage and enables his teammates to make big plays.
In a year of amazing champion releases, Ivern is the icing on the cake and a perfect way to send out the year. From his interesting play style, to his weird look (and creepy/cool release skin), to his completely jovial personality, Ivern is truly one of League’s most fun champions to date. So let’s take a look at what he actually does, shall we?
Passive - Friend of the Forest
How it works:
When right-clicking a jungle camp (as long as it is not Baron, Rift Herald, or one of the various dragons), Ivern will not auto-attack. Instead, Ivern will sacrifice some of his health and mana to plant a small grove, which appears as a wreath around the jungle camp. Over time, this grove will grow and eventually blossom, allowing Ivern to “set the jungle camp free” by right-clicking it again. Doing so will grant Ivern gold and experience. Smiting a camp while the grove is growing will free the camp immediately. “Freeing” a blue or red buff will leave a copy of that buff on the ground, which can be picked up by allies.
This ability is central to Ivern’s kit and what makes him so very unique. The important thing to note here is that Ivern can actually leave the jungle while he is farming. While the early game cost to clearing camps is quite high, if you have enough potions you could plant a grove or two and then execute a early game gank, catching your enemies off-guard.
This passive allows Ivern to be completely unpredictable when it comes to his jungle path. Moreover, it make his opening clear very flexible due to every camp costing the same amount of health and mana. As the game progresses, the cost of farming goes up by a relatively minimal amount and the time that a grove takes to mature goes down drastically. So mid to late game, when it becomes much harder for the jungler to just dedicate their time to farming, Ivern can plant groves before a big team fight, and collect when he has the time.
Q - Rootcaller (Level 2nd, Max 2nd)
How it works:
Ivern shoots out a long-range skill-shot root in a target direction. If this root comes into contact with an enemy, they will be rooted in place and take damage. When allies, including Ivern, right-click on a rooted enemy, they will dash into their max auto-attack range of said enemy.
This is Ivern’s main gank tool. Because Ivern has lower damage than most other junglers, he relies on his allies to secure kills for him. Rootcaller allows Ivern to turn even the most immobile champions into mobile ones. All of a sudden, outrunning Darius isn’t an option if you get hit by Rootcaller.
This skill-shot has a very long range but it also pretty narrow and travels slowly. Getting used to this ability will take time and dedication on behalf of the Ivern player, but should allow for a very flexible team composition in terms of mobility. When combined with Ivern’s W, Rootcaller can be used to make pick comps even scarier than before. The Fnatic kill brush just got more dangerous.
W - Brushmaker (Level 3rd, Max 3rd)
How it works:
On an ammo system, Ivern is able to plant a brush anywhere on the map, allowing anything and everything to hide within it. This brush acts like any other brush on the map, aside from the fact that nothing will be hidden from sight for the first three seconds of the brush’s existence, and it only lasts for 30 seconds. By growing patches closely together, Ivern can grow one large/long patch. Passively, Brushmaker will cause Ivern’s auto-attacks to become ranged and deal bonus magic damage while he is in a brush and shortly after he exits a brush.
This ability has a lot of versatility to it. Most of its usefulness is going to be situational, but you may end up finding several places throughout the game where the brushes you make could save a life or create an amazing pick. High skill Iverns will be able to plant brush during teamfights in strategic places that allow their teammates to dive in and out of enemy visibility while also maintaining Ivern’s own ranged auto-attack buff. Be conservative with your brush use, however: remember that enemies can use them as well.
E - Triggerseed (Level 1st, Max 1st)
How it works:
Ivern places a shield on himself, his ally, or his ultimate companion, Daisy. When this shield expires, it will deal magic damage to all enemies around the host and slow enemies significantly.
Triggerseed is Ivern’s most powerful and most important ability (aside from his passive). This is Ivern’s main source of damage as well as his main defensive tool for himself and for his allies. Ivern doesn’t do a lot of damage on his own, so learning how to get damage out wherever you can is key to mastering the champion. Triggerseed does more damage than you think a shield should do, by quite a bit, and so learning who to use it on is very important.
In teamfights, Ivern plays like a mix between a dive-oriented support like Leona and a defensive support like Braum. Using Triggerseed on your teammates on the frontline will allow for maximum damage and enhanced survivability for them. However, saving Triggerseed to save a carry could help more in the long run.
Triggerseed is also Ivern’s main ability for dueling. While not an awesome duel champion, Ivern can hold his own when allowed to use his ultimate in conjunction with Triggerseed. Keeping yourself safe while also dealing damage to allies is how Ivern win’s duels, as infrequently as that might happen.
R - Daisy! (Level at levels 6, 11, 16)
How it works: When Ivern casts his ultimate, a giant rock sentinel named Daisy pops out of the ground to hit stuff for him. Daisy is controllable by recasting Ivern’s ultimate to direct her focus. Daisy will auto her target repeatedly. When Daisy stacks up autos enough times on a single Champion, she will release a giant rock fissure (Braum style) in a single direction, which will knock up and deal damage to all enemies hit by it.
Daisy is Ivern’s big, scary friend who deals quite a bit of damage. Choosing when to use Daisy can make a huge difference for ganks and for teamfights. Daisy has a lot of health and a relatively short fuse (she only lasts maybe thirty seconds), so she isn't permanent time-wise, but she can take a beating. Using her for ganks can add some extra damage and CC as well as providing opportunities for tower dives.
Using Daisy in teamfights provides a brand new frontline for your team that also happens to have an ability to knock up the entire enemy team. In these situations, it is also important to keep in mind that Daisy is fast, and will make a beeline for whoever you tell her to focus on. Setting Daisy to go for the enemy ADC or Mid laner could cause your enemies to burn crucial CC abilities on your pet instead of on your teammates. Keep in mind that you can also place Triggerseed on Daisy, allowing for an awesome, tanky rock monster with an explosive shield that slows.
Ivern’s build path is a little strange, because he doesn't attack Jungle monsters. Because of this, I would recommend not building a jungle item on Ivern at all. We are going to look at an opener and some suggestions for item builds. I have a feeling that we are going to see a lot of weird and interesting builds for Ivern in the coming months before we settle into a regular build path. So keep in mind that this is just one guy’s weird build path suggestion.
On most junglers you would want to start with a Hunter’s Machete or a Hunter’s Talisman. However, Ivern doesn't actually attack camps in the jungle, so a lot of the stats and passives on these items are completely wasted. Instead, I would suggest building a little health and mana sustain to start out. So start your game by buying yourself a Refillable Potion and two Faerie Charms.
Just Starting Out
When you return from gallivanting through the jungle, setting critters free and killing your ally’s enemies, like a tree-man does, you are going to want to turn those Faerie Charms into something useful. So we are building Athene’s Unholy Grail. This will give Ivern some crazy self sustain in the jungle for both his health and mana, letting him stay out all day long. Moreover, it will also turn your shield into a powerful heal, making Ivern into a even better team player.
Next you want to look into building Rylai’s Crystal Scepter. Ivern’s damaging abilities, including Daisy, scale off of AP and giving him some extra health lets him focus less on shielding himself and more on shielding allies. Moreover, the explosion from Triggerseed, Daisy’s knockups, Rootcaller’s damage, and Ivern’s empowered ranged auto-attacks all apply the Rylai’s slow. With Rylai’s, Ivern is very stick and extremely hard to get rid of compared to some other junglers.
Gotta Go Fast
Speed is pretty efficient on Ivern, as it allows him to farm quickly as well as help his ganks out. We are going to look into two awesome items to keep him speedy. The first are Boots of Mobility, for pretty obvious reasons. These are usually good on junglers, but great on Ivern. When moving through the jungle and farming Ivern will not lose the movement speed for planting a grove or picking it up (he will lose it when smiting a camp). This keeps Ivern rolling the whole way through his route and allows for very quick map movement.
Next we are looking into building something a little defensive. Dead Man’s Plate is a very powerful armor and health item that also grants speed. The momentum damage bonus is also not lost while Ivern is farming, meaning that he can roll into lane with some extra potent auto-attacks. With both Boots of Mobility and Dead Man’s Plate, Ivern should keep a near constant speed of 490: that is fast.
The final items that I recommend on Ivern are utility based. So first we are looking at building a Ruby Sightstone. This really depends on your playstyle, but it will always help out your team. The extra vision is helpful, but so is big boost to health and therefore survivability. Getting this early could also benefit a Ivern jungler who really wanted to try a solid counter-jungle strategy.
Finally, look into building a Locket of the Iron Solari. This will provide your team with some really helpful Magic Resistance as well as giving Ivern another shielding tool to keep all of his friends, woodland or otherwise, safe from harm.
Ivern is a crazy champion, and he is a little weird. Trying to get used to playing him is going to take some time in itself, but waiting for other players on your team to understand him will take even longer. That being said, he houses so much potential in his weird, tall body. It is a shame to see him come out as Worlds is just beginning, because I cannot wait to see what he bring to the pro scene. Holding out for All-Stars I guess.
When I look at Ivern I see something so special. He is that perfect blend of look, personality, and kit that all flow together with complete synergy. In that way, Ivern falls into the amazing company of champions like Gnar and Jinx. He is truly a special snowflake and I am so excited for people to get their hands on him.