League’s little helpers: Why Riot devs wanted to add new Jungle Pets as soon as possible

The cute companions make jungling a lot clearer.

This years League of Legends preseason added and changed plenty of aspects of gameplay, including alterations to items, champions, and certain positions. The biggest changes to the Rift came in between the lanes, with the jungle receiving a mountain of relative tweaks.

The most obvious of these is jungle pets: companions who follow and assist you in performing jungle-related tasks throughout the course of a game.

Jungle pets make playing jungle a lot simpler than it had been in the past, and the dumbing-down of the position (which includes the additions of optimal jungle routes and objective voting) has left many League fans and players on the fence about its impact.

So, League developer Matt Leung-Harrison took to Twitter earlier today to explain why Riot added jungle pets to the game with the launch of the 2023 preseason. 

Inpreseason, we set out to make jungle more accessible to newer players (and existing), Leung-Harrison said on Twitter. Newer junglers playing the game don’t understand any of the wall-of-text mechanics on the previous jungle items.

Coming into the year, Riot made it a priority to revamp the jungle role, as it has traditionally been one of the most difficult-to-grasp roles on the Rift, especially for newer players. While solo and duo lanes are mostly straightforward in their PvP-focused, pushing-and-laning-oriented gameplay, the mixture of PvE and PvP for junglers (and optimizing that balance effectively), has often turned players away from the role entirely.

Related: The best jungle champions in League of Legends

Jungle pets were among the sweeping changes that came to the role ahead of the new ranked League season in an effort to make the position easier for new players. 

Pet gives an understandable metaphor for why camps are getting damaged, why you get healed, why [jungle] gets bonuses from clearing camps, and an understandable metaphor for why the unlocks happen when they do (evolution), catchup mechanics (pet is starving) rather than some arbitrary rules Leung-Harrison said. For newer players, this is far easier to understand.

And so far in 2023, the changes that have come to the jungle seem to be working quite well. The effectiveness of players at the position is higher than ever and, according to the stats, junglers are having more of an influence on individual League games than ever before in the early portion of the 2023 ranked season.

Per League stats site op.gg, nine different jungle champions hold winrates over 53 percentthe second-most among all positions (mid leads the way there). Additionally, 33 of the 47 champions with sufficient data at the jungle position have positive winrates in solo queue games played in Platinum Elo or higher.

Furthermore, jungle is the second-most popular role to start 2023, with over 21 percent of all players maining the position, according to League stats site League of Graphs. Meanwhile, at Master rank and above, jungle is the most popular position in the game.

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