In the past few months of global esports, mage junglers have taken the League of Legends pro-stage by storm. In particular, Morgana has cemented herself as one of the most powerful junglers out there. As seen in the MSI tournament that just wrapped up, some of the best teams in the world relied on Morgana’s new jungling skills to give their team comp that extra boost of damage and CC to try to have as much influence as possible over each fight.
Mage junglers aren’t always the easiest to master, though, so let’s talk about how to play Predator Morgana like the pros.
The Jungle Buff That Changed It All
To begin, the best place to start is the exact patch notes that made this classic support/mage into a viable jungler.
Changes in patch 11.8 drastically altered the game by giving Morgana one of the fastest jungle camp clearing abilities. Her W’s bonus damage to jungle camps went from 150% to 200%. After that, pros jumped at playing the mage. Between her clear times and her ability to help support the team in the current ADC meta, she skyrocketed to a top pick.
The MSI Players
During the most recent MSI, Morgana was one of the most played junglers in the game, appearing in a whopping 32 games, which meant roughly 40% of the games across MSI (Groups, Rumble, and Knockouts) had a Morgana in it.
And it wasn’t just anyone playing her, either. Some of the top junglers in the world, like DWG-Kia’s Canyon, RNG’s Wei, and PSG Talon’s River (the best junglers at MSI) were frequent Morgana fans, using her to help lock down and delete the enemy team.
So, let’s talk about how they did it.
The Build: Predator Runes and Liandry’s
A big part of making Morgana as strong as a jungler relies a lot on the runes and items you build around her. Her base kit makes her a strong CC-heavy jungler and the buffs on her W giver her that insane camp-clear, but building her right is what separates an okay Morgana from the game-changing role the pros fulfill.
Before the game even starts, there are some preferred ways to set up her runes. As far as MSI-level pros are concerned, Predator Morgana is the way to go (though Dark Harvest Morgana is fairly popular across the rest of LoL’s competitive tiers, too).
Predator is so strong for a jungle Morgana because it makes the champion noticeably faster. And, since constant ganking and roaming are her style, that boosted bonus AD from all that movement that Predator gives you is invaluable.
For the rest of the runes, they just support that heavy-damage, fast-moving style. Cheap Shot does bonus damage to champions with imapired movement, Eyeball Collection adds AD or AP for champion takedowns, and Relentless Hunter helps give Morgana even more MS the more enemies she kills. With her runes, Morgana becomes a hyper-effective jungler running through the rivers, ready to do solid damage the second she ganks a lane.
As far as jungling starts go, Morgana tends to start with Hailblade, Refillable Potion, and (sometimes) Oracle Lens. Vision and health are important, so these are great ways for Morgana players to cover their bases.
The Morgana build is fairly simple, so we’ll go over it quickly. Like many mages, she focuses on Liandry’s Torment, Zhonya’s Hourglass, and Morellonomicon as her core items. They give her survivability and increased ability to punish the enemy when she catches them out, either with her Liandry’s burn or Morellonomicon’s Grievous Wounds.
Oh yeah, and for more damage and movement speed, don’t forget some Sorcerer’s Shoes for good measure.
From there, the items you build on Morgana may vary wildly depending on the enemy team or how long the game is going.
However, a big thing to note is that River from PSG Talon, a well-known Morgana and Rumble jungler, chooses to add Dark Seal to his build path to give his mage champions a bit more damage. So, even amongst the pros there is some discrepancy on if you’d prefer to focus damage or survivability in her build.
Unlike some other junglers, Morgana’s true goal isn’t exactly jungle camps. While of course she’ll path through the jungle to level up, maximize team vision, and nab major objectives like dragon and rift herald, she’s more focused on making her presence known in lanes and catching out kills. After all, if you look at Canyon’s CS during his best Morgana game in the finals against RNG, he still only got 20 CS compared to Wei’s 39. A pro-level Morgana jungler may still get great farm, but really, it’s not what’s most important.
Morganas are best for helping protect against ADCs and ganking lanes, putting pressure around the map, and making picks. This works best with their Predator runes, anyway, because it helps build up that Predator movement speed passive that can turn into damage they can use for ganks.
When you are clearing jungle camps, though, here are a few basic tips:
It’s best to start at red or blue buff
Get scuttles to get as much vision as possible (remember, informed movement around the map is key!)
Know your dragon/rift herald/baron timers
Keep visiting your laners to look for picks or to keep up the pressure
Her CC-Filled Kit
Morgana’s greatest strength is the CC and damage she adds to the game. Between her Predator runes, her common items, and her kit, Morgana becomes a high-damage, fast-moving jungle that basically becomes a killer bonus support unit around the map whenever she shows up.
What’s so special about her kit, though? Three letters: Q, E, R.
Q- Dark Binding
A common meme among fans is that Morgana’s Q lasts forever, and they aren’t entirely wrong. At max strength, it can last 3 seconds. Mix that with her W, Tormented Shadow, and an ADC follow-up, and your champion could be evaporated before the binding even ends.
Even in a tough situation, a handful of solid Morgana Q’s can absolutely change the course of a fight. Take this fight between DWG Kia and RNG: DWG Kia was behind and in constant danger, and the Nautilus got a very good hook to start the fight. However, with one Q Morgana stunted the Nautilus' ability to fight back, and with another shortly after, Canyon was able to stop the Udyr in his tracks and take him out of the fight, permanently.
W- Tormented Shadow
While it’s obvious, Tormented Shadow is the most important Morgana ability outside of combat. Without it, she wouldn’t have the clear times that make her such a viable jungler. However, it also can be useful under a well-placed Dark Binding or Soul Shackles, and can be an effective wave-clearing ability, so remember to let it do some work on your enemies, too.
E- Black Shield
Another major ability that makes Morgana jungle such a strong contender is her E, Black Shield. It protects the chosen ally target from an ability attack, giving that person a better shot at surviving a fight.
In a fight against RNG, DWG Kia’s Canyon was doing his best to protect his teammates and, specifically, Ghost’s Tristana. Using the black shield near the end of the fight, he took away RNG’s ability to all-in on Ghost and denied them that possible shut-down gold.
Similarly, Canyon uses the black shield to give Ghost the chance to ace RNG without worrying about getting deleted himself, putting the final touch on their powerful, second-game victory.
While it might be tempting to use this ability for yourself, it’s better saved for the ADC. However, if the ADC isn’t in sight or is perfectly safe, feel free to protect yourself from incoming abilities/CC.
R- Soul Shackles
Morgana’s abilities can also be vital in protecting objectives, not just winning games. Knowing that they have an advantage up top, RNG brought up their jungler and top laner to try to pressure Khan and either kill him or take tower plates. Canyon swung up for the gank, using his Dark Binding, Tormenting Pool, and Soul Shackles ult to intimidate them enough to leave lane, alleviating that deep pressure up top and giving Khan a chance to catch up.
Many people can get precious about using their ults, especially in lower competitive tiers. Pros aren’t so scared and, many times, will use level 6 or 7 as signs to go all-in on their enemy. Even if you’re afraid they might walk out of your Soul Shackles, it might be worth it just to support your team. And who knows, sometimes they can’t get out and you catch someone by surprise, which means you’re doing your Predator Morgana job right.
The Pro Stats
When it comes to mage damage, Morgana is a heavyweight. If you look at DWG Kia in the final games of the MSI tournament, it’s clear how much work she does across the map. Note that ShowMaker is considered one of the best mid-laners in the league, and Canyon’s Morgana was out-damaging him.
In their second game, Canyon’s Morgana did 110 Damage Per Minute (DPM) to ShowMaker's Xerath doing 106. Similarly, the game after that, Morgana did 112 DPM compared to 99 from ShowMaker’s Syndra. The only time the Morgana/mid-lane comparison didn’t work out that way was when ShowMaker played an AD assassin, Akali, in their first game against RNG.
Morgana is a support jungler, but she’s doing the damage of an AP mid carry. That can be game-changing for some teams, to have a serious damage-dealer in their jungle coming around to gank, ensnare, and destroy the enemy team.
RNG’s Wei and PSG Talon’s River are both all about Morgana jungle, and it’s easy to see why:
What if Morgana’s Banned?
The name of the game these last few patches has been AP damage and CC. If the other team is looking for assassination picks, the kind of heavy-damage CC and support you get from jungle picks like Morgana is invaluable, and since she’s an effective jungler, you aren’t taking away from a tankier support that could help bot, or a more burst-y mid laner. You can get some really solid team comp augmentation from her.
However, if she gets banned and you need a pick that can fill her shoes, here are some options:
While they have less of the CC, the same kind of damage logic comes from the popularity of junglers like Rumble or Nidalee. If the ADC meta concerns you, they can be great help in trying to make sure the ADC can’t scale the way they want to, giving your team a better shot at winning.
If you feel like a beefier champion is what your team could need, champs like Udyr, Olaf, and Volibear are solid substitutes. They each have their own small forms of CC, they can still make early, damaging picks to put an ADC behind, and they do scale super well to late game. You just have to make sure your team survives that long, in this race-to-25-minutes-and-bulldoze style meta.
Patch 11.11 and The Rise of Support Junglers
In the most recent LoL patch 11.11, Riot Games nerfed her incredible jungling power to give her less of an aggressive edge. Her W’s 185% bonus damage to jungle camps will be reduced to 155%. Also nerfed Rumble’s passive, Junkyard Titan, decreasing his on-hit damage cap to jungle monsters from 120 damage to 80.
However, despite the nerf, mage junglers are still very strong. This will decrease their absolute and astonishing supremacy (see MSI, where Morgana was picked in 40% of games), but they haven’t been nerfed enough to make them any less solid, damage-heavy champions.
The real point of interest, though, is the impending rise of support junglers. Much like Morgana before him, patch 11.11 gave Nautilus a buff that makes him a viable champ in the jungle. HisE, Riptide, now does 150% bonus damage to monsters.
Previously, other support junglers included some off-meta powerhouses, like Leona, or junglers rooted in support concepts, like Ivern or Nunu. In a world with heavy-power ADCs, these style junglers can help pin down ADCs but also protect their teammates against speedy, AD attacks. In the coming weeks, then, also look for more supports like Morgana to become the perfect fit around the jungle.
But for now, why not take your new Predator Morgana skills out for a spin?