In terms of unique abilities, League of Legends has plenty of champions equipped with iconic mechanics and skills, but very few are as simple yet effective as Skarner’s Ultimate, Impale.
Although nowadays we rarely see The Crystal Vanguard on Summoner’s Rift, every now and then a player chooses to remind us all about just how powerful Skarner really is. Not that many Tanks have been go-to picks in the previous Bruiser-oriented meta, but with the Preseason’s item changes, we predict this number to increase, with Skarner being expected to reach near mainstream popularity.
While in the past we’ve seen Skarner played with on-hit builds, we find that the most effective and consistent path to take when playing The Crystal Vanguard is the Tank approach, but more on that later.
Given his kit, Skarner is a natural Jungler, capable of effectively clearing both solo and multi-mob camps, with potential for easy and successful ganks. But prior to that, we need to take a look at the primary focus of today’s guide, Jungle pathing with Skarner. As a core Jungler Tank, his routing revolves around continuously clearing the camps and ganking whenever an opportunity shows up, or whenever your Ultimate ability is up.
For now, let’s take a look at the best Jungle pathing for Skarner, with some additional tips and tricks to get you carrying games!
Flash / Ghost + Smite
Players can give up on Flash in favor of Ghost, as it provides quite a lot of value to Skarner’s kit, especially when paired with Predator. Flash can indeed prove useful, but only in a limited number of scenarios, whereas Ghost is universally fitting whenever you have to run down an enemy champion.
The Best Skarner Runes
The ideal keystone for Skarner is Predator, unlike some would initially believe. Conqueror and other offensive options may still work, but the current meta has Skarner building towards a full Tank, and Predator synergizes beautifully with his kit, providing some additional kill pressure.
After the keystone, players want to take Cheap Shot, Zombie Ward and Ultimate Hunter, being left with quite a lot of room for flexibility in terms of the secondary Runes. For those, Nimbus Cloak and Waterwalking will do the trick, as Skarner players want to be able to run down enemy carries in order to Impale them.
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The Best Skarner Items
Starting Items: Hailblade + Refillable Potion
Mythic Item: Frostfire Gauntlet / Turbo Chemtank
Core Items: Fimbulwinter, Dead Man’s Plate, Force of Nature
Additional picks: Titanic Hydra, Frozen Heart
Skarner’s items have to focus solely on resistances, with his damage output originating from Frostfire’s passives combined with repeated Qs, while Titanic Hydra adds bonus damage onto his basic attacks, which further stacks with Frostfire’s Mythic passive.
The defensive items should be adapted according to the enemy team’s composition, considering who the highest scaling carries are. Virtually every defensive item which provides raw Armor, Magic Resist, and Health works just fine with Skarner, thanks to Frostfire’s mechanics.
The Best Skill Order For Skarner
Q > E > W > R
The Best Jungle Paths for Skarner
Transitioning into the main topic of today’s article, Skarner’s ideal Jungle pathing. As a preliminary note, players often times discredit the importance of the Crystal Spires, which is one of the most common mistakes when playing Skarner. The bonus stats granted by the beacon effect are incredibly valuable, and by simply being in range, Skarner players can confidently face any counter-jungling attempts, acting as an additional safety net for players who fear invades.
We are going to cover the most advantageous starts from each side, but players should keep a few factors in mind when deciding upon where their Jungle pathing should start. These are:
- Which laners are going to provide more help in clearing the first camp?
- Counter-jungle opportunities, based on where the enemy Jungler is likely to start.
- Which lane would you like to gank first, depending on both the allied and enemy champions.
Skarner players want to collect a reasonable amount of early gold so that they can get their Boots of Speed at the first back, enabling the use of Predator as soon as possible. In order to keep up with the tempo of some of the more meta Junglers, Skarner can skip doing the Krugs during his first clear, depending on where he starts.
What this also means is that players can choose between a Full Clear or a 5 Camp Clear, so let us cover both scenarios.
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Red Side, Red Clear
From the Red Side, starting at the Red Buff is going to come with some advantages. Having the assistance of two allies will make clearing the first camp considerably easier, and the effects of the buff itself are also going to help with Skarner’s sustain and damage until he reaches LVL 3.
As mentioned, skip over the Krugs from this starting position, and head straight towards the Raptors and Wolves, which pose little-to-no threat to Skarner, as his AOE damage from Q and Exoskeleton work particularly well against multi-mob camps. Note that Skarner prefers keeping one charge of Smite for the Scuttler, and the other one for Blue, so the first three camps will all be slain without it.
The fourth camp is going to be the Blue Buff, which you can gladly use Smite on to recover some of the tempo lost while doing the first three camps. From Blue, comfortably clear the Gromp, regenerating plenty of Health and Mana in the process, before heading into the River.
Break the Scuttler’s shield using E and keep hitting it with repeated Qs and auto-attacks until you’ve taken it low enough to Smite, activating Nimbus Cloak. That Nimbus Cloak is going to enable Skarner players to simply run towards either Mid or Bot for an early gank, since your enemies are unlikely to expect a Skarner’s tempo to be so fast.
Red Side – Full Clear
Given the particularities surrounding Skarner’s Crystal Spires, Red Side clears should almost always begin with the Red Buff, the only difference being in the number of camps cleared, and the targets we want to be keeping Smite for.
After the buff, instead of rushing the Raptors and Wolves, take the extra time and clear the Krugs first, using Smite on the largest one to accelerate the process. Continue clearing the multi-mob camps as usual, with the order being Raptors and Wolves, which leaves us at the Blue Buff as the fifth camp.
Secure your second buff using Smite and lastly turn your attention towards the Gromp. This pathing may be a bit slower, but will still leave you with plenty of Health to take down the Scuttler with in relative safety, opening up the Bottom side River for you to gank Mid or Bot through it.
Blue Side, Full Clear
From the Blue Side, your clears will once again start at the Red Buff, with the added advantage of having two allies assisting you with it, as opposed to doing the same on the Red Side.
Take down the Red with the help of your Bot and immediately charge towards the Krugs, again casting the first stack of Smite on the large one, while clearing the rest with Qs.
Now head towards the Raptors and Wolves, mitigating part of their damage through W and clearing the multi-mobs effectively with repeated Qs. With four camps under your belt, time to finish the full clear with Blue and Gromp.
Spend the second charge of Smite on Blue to keep things efficient and take your time with the Gromp, as now for the cherry on top you’ll want to also secure the Top side Scuttler, for just a bit more gold, experience, and the bonus vision. From this point, you’ll have the freedom to either force a gank on Mid or Top, or to get a quick first reset.
Blue Side, 5 Camp Red Clear
As perhaps the fastest clear tactic, Blue side’s five camp pathing is going to enable Skarner to do a very early gank, which can easily convert into a takedown for the team.
Start by clearing the Red Buff, Raptor, and Wolves all without Smite. This may require you to use the Refillable Potion at least once, but given the shielding on your W and the regeneration from Red Buff, players shouldn’t worry about holding on to Smite too much.
Cast the first charge on Blue to start picking up more momentum, finishing your Top side Jungle by slaying the Gromp as your fifth camp. Now, with one Smite charge left and plenty of tempo, head into the River to secure the Scuttler using Smite, and head straight towards Mid or Top for an early gank attempt, hoping it converts into a takedown.
Following your gank attempt, recall and pick up your Boots of Speed, instantly improving the conversion rate of your ganks!
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The Best Tips and Tricks For Skarner Jungle
- Always contest and capture the Crystal Spires across the map, trying to force fights while inside the radius of their effects. The bonus movement speed, attack speed, and Mana regeneration granted by Crystal Charge all add up to valuable stats, which players should always make use of.
- If you are looking to carry games as Skarner, your duty is to charge into the enemy team and Impale their carries, dragging them back into your allies. Do not worry about committing to the play, as the resistances granted by your items, especially Fimbulwinter’s passive, will be enough to keep you healthy while charging in.
- Skarner’s Ultimate allows for some devastating combos, such as the infamous Impale + Thresh lantern, so do not hesitate to play with a duo partner in order to execute such maneuvers.
- When ganking, always aim to land your E on the least-mobile target. Successfully triggering the stun from Crystal Venom is the key ganking tool in Skarner’s early game arsenal.
- Lastly, remember that W scales with Max Health, which you also stack from Frostfire’s Mythic passive, as well as from your standard items. These will eventually add up to a considerable amount of shielding, capable of mitigating large amounts of damage.
Despite not being one of the more popular champions, Skarner is an incredibly impactful Tank, whose entire kit relies on disrupting your enemies’ team fighting by isolating their carry. Often times you’ll find yourself surrounded by enemies, but thanks to the shielding on your W and damage mitigation granted by Fimbulwinter, you’ll rarely have to worry about dying in fights.
Until that point, building up the necessary gold and experience is going to require you to continuously clear your Jungle camps, as well as to gank in-between recalls. Unlike Assassins, you do not need to find an early lead in order to snowball the game, allowing you to take the safe route and slowly farm up until your resistances outweigh the enemy offensive.
As a safe, consistent champion, The Crystal Vanguard makes for a perfect pick whenever your team lacks a solid engage tool and Tank, without needing too many resources to reach his power spike. Skarner can effectively peel for his team, securing objectives and feeding kills into his carries, leveraging any window into a small win condition!
Finally, remember to always use Ghost in combination with Predator and Smite to accelerate to ridiculous speeds, leaving your target essentially helpless as you close in on them to use R.
With that we conclude today’s guide, hoping you’ve found some useful information to build your games on. Make sure to follow our website and check back frequently, as we continuously upload new League of Legends content every week!