- Upcoming CS changes will hurt Jungle Tracking
- Why that's a big deal
- How we can prevent this
In a recent Dev Post, Riot Sotere announced a number of updates to the jungle in Patch 7.22, including a change to jungle camps and creep score:
“Jungle camps are all worth the same creep score. One consistent issue in judging the impact of a jungler v. jungler match-up is that creep score can mean vastly different things. This is especially true if one champion specializes in single target camps while the other is an AoE monster. Now each camp in its entirety will grant 4 creep score, which generally matches the camps’ value and should provide for easier comparison of a jungler to their direct opponent.”
Why is this important?
Firstly, it’s important to understand what Jungle Tracking is.
Jungle Tracking is using available information to predict the moves of an enemy jungler, and in the early game, much of this is done using CS numbers.
Whenever a jungler is spotted, you’ll see his updated CS numbers. Before CS numbers get too high, you can use them to figure out what camps the enemy has cleared and thus, where he will likely go next. You can then use that information to avoid ganks, invade, or place vision.
For a more concrete example of how a jungler uses CS numbers for tracking, check out 3:47 of this breakdown of NV’s jungler LirA.
But why is everyone arguing about Jungle Tracking?
If this proposed change goes through, and every camp grants 4 CS, Jungle Tracking won’t be nearly as effective as it is currently. The varying CS counts earned from each camp is what makes tracking like this possible, and losing this tool lowers the skill cap (and interest) of the jungle role.
But not everyone agrees on this point. Let’s tackle some of the arguments players and coaches have against jungle tracking via CS:
“You can track a jungler without CS tracking”
This is very true. A team can use level 1 invades to figure out a jungler’s initial path, and a Master/Challenger jungler has played hundreds of games and thus might have a good idea of what camps were cleared based on the timing of a gank. In these cases, CS tracking works as a reassurance, the option to identify an unusual path or an inefficient clear. The more tools a jungler has and uses, the more accurate read he’s going to have on his opponent's next move.
“Doing basic math and adding up camps takes no skill”
Probably not, but using that math to make difficult decisions is what makes it skillful.
Jungling is a cerebral role that is all about decision making -- using the information at your disposal to coordinate map-wide actions, be it ganking, clearing, or invading to counter. Jungle tracking is a part of what makes these moves interesting and interactive.
Without this information, we may see more passive early games in the professional scene, where junglers won’t risk invades nearly as much. Invading only to find an empty camp is a loss in tempo, and junglers will often resort to farming their own side instead.
“A jungler or team is getting information for free, or information they didn’t work for, when the CS counter updates”
The CS counter only updates if you spot the enemy jungler. If you get that CS information, you probably worked for it by invading or warding properly. Alternatively, the enemy jungler surrendered that information in return for a gank opportunity.
The information isn’t given for free, there’s always a trade off. If the enemy jungler is potentially killing your laner, forcing him out of lane, or blowing his flash, you can use that moment to predict a future gank or steal a camp.
On the other hand, giving everyone access to red and blue buff timers one minute before they spawn is much closer to ‘free’ information. In many cases, the player stealing the buff didn’t work to secure vision and figure out the camp respawn timer.
If buff timers exist and are relatively free information, then it seems contradictory to find CS tracking problematic.
The reason Riot wants to change jungle CS numbers is not because the current system is ‘unfair’ or because it gives ‘free information’. They want to change it because:
“(...) It should be understandable how and why a lead exists and less of a mystery when an opponent overcomes their early disadvantage to draw even.”
For spectating and esports, this is something that can be fixed in a much better manner than changing jungle CS.
If you watch a match live via watch.lolesports.com, you get a sidebar next to your stream that tracks a multitude of live stats and where you can check a given player’s runes and masteries. It also tracks how much gold a player has and, in between players, a number tracks the gold difference between each role.
Riot tried to introduce a very similar HUD to the broadcast over a year ago, but the response was largely negative. Viewers thought the new system felt too alien, so it was only used on the website.
With that said, that doesn’t mean the current HUD can’t be changed while keeping a similar and likeable design.
Adding the gold difference tracker for each role to the scoreboard would improve clarity and make it easier for a spectator to understand who is ahead, for both junglers and laners.
Ultimately, Riot wants easier comparison between junglers, but changing camps to universally grant 4 CS will severely handicap jungle tracking, a vital tool for those looking to master the role.
Smart changes to spectator mode can bring clarity without affecting gameplay, and should be our goal.