Jungling in League of Legends is no easy task. There’s a lot of facets that go into being a decent jungler, which includes a focus on macro-play and capitalizing on enemy mistakes whenever you have the opportunity. Because of this, there’s a multitude of junglers to choose from that can fit practically anyone’s play style. Whether you’re trying to get ahead early and win the game before the 20-minute mark (like Nidalee) or stealth around and pick off some early kills to snowball to the victory screen (like Kha’zix or Evelynn), there’s sure to be a jungler that fits you or your team comp.
Udyr is one of the oldest junglers that Riot put out, and, because of this, he has remained pretty much in the meta since his debut in December of 2009. There’s a lot of pros that play Udyr, and not that many champs have enough of the damage in the early game to kill him or the mobility to catch him if they give chase. This makes him great at evading enemy junglers and getting away from high-risk skirmishes. His incredibly spammable kit makes it easy for him to clear jungle camps quickly, even early on. It becomes even easier if he builds Tiamat for the AoE clear. His attack speed, his shield, and his movement speed make him a force to be reckoned with, especially if he’s ahead, giving him the ability to get up close and personal against enemies with his stun and getting off a barrage of autos while in his tiger stance. His split push potential is also crazy good because of his attack speed. If he has a few items already, like a sheen, for example, then that tower or inhibitor is going to go down whether the enemy team likes it or not.
Despite all the things that make Udyr a great pick in the jungle because of his versatility and the likelihood that you’re gonna get ahead, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a major weakness. Crowd control, referred to as CC, is basically self-explanatory. It can be described as having abilities that can stun, root, slow, knockup, blind, silence, or in any way, disorient a target. Because Udyr has to get up close and personal, it’s very easy to see him coming if he ganks you. Of course, he’ll be moving at a million miles a minute when he finally shows himself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stun or root him. A lot of champions in League have CC, especially support type champs, so it’s sometimes impossible for Udyr to engage without getting enemy CC dumped all over his body. Another weakness of Udyr is that it’s possible to kite him out. One example of this would be with Jax, who is a tank/bruiser champ who can not only nullify Udyr’s tiger stance, but can also go toe to toe with him as a fellow melee character because he can kite Udyr so well. Kiting can basically mean to dance around, waiting for someone’s ability to run out, and then deciding when it’s best to re-engage.
When it comes to the challenges that people face when playing Udyr without enemy interference, mana is definitely one of them. Udyr’s constant stance switches eat up A LOT of mana for the first few minutes of the game. Having a blue buff can help to rectify that, but it won’t always be up all the time, so you can’t entirely rely on it. To play Udyr successfully, you have to be thinking a little bit ahead about the clear route you’re going to go so that you can estimate how much mana you’re going to actually be using. Also, just like with any jungler, if you get behind, it’s really hard to come back. This is especially true in Udyr’s case because he isn’t the tank damage-dealing bruiser that he has the potential to be early. He’s actually very squishy before he gets any items besides for his shield, and enemy junglers will be looking to shut him down before he can get the ball rolling. That’s why it’s common for enemy teams to invade together and look for a cheeky early kill if there’s an Udyr.
So, now we know Udyr’s pros and cons. Why does he need a rework? It doesn’t sound like he’s too bad of a champ. That’s because he isn’t. But, if you take a look at Udyr’s player in-game model and his splash art on some of his skins, it’s obvious that his look is a little outdated. Visual reworks happen where a champ is modernized, but their kit isn’t touched. Morgana is an example of this, whereas her sister Kayle had a full overhaul with her looks and her abilities. If Udyr were to just get touched up visually, it’d merely make him easier to look at and more fulfilling to play. He’d also be up for a new skin or two if he’s lucky, which would make all those that play him pretty happy since he hasn’t had a decent skin in a while after Dragon Oracle Udyr was released.
Mark Yetter, Riot’s Lead Champion Designer, tweeted out to fans asking for their input at the end of August. A lot of commenters agreed that Udyr mainly just needed a visual rework and that, in all honesty, there wasn’t really anything wrong with his kit that made him unplayable like some champs coughSIVIRcough. However, I do believe that sticking to Udyr’s core concept, much like what happened to Fiddlesticks, would be very interesting to see. I’m curious as to how they’d work Udyr as a champ by keeping his original shaman lore that makes his abilities work. This means that he’d still be channeling those animal spirits which dictate the stats for his attacks and that he won’t lose his uniqueness as League’s only stance changing champion.
I personally believe that Udyr’s abilities shouldn’t be touched. There’s nothing really wrong with him as a jungler or as a fighter. More than likely, Riot will just tweak his numbers a little bit where they see him as too weak or too strong, but that’s what they’d do during patches anyway. To uproot and overhaul Udyr’s entire core, much like they did Sion, would make all of the people who enjoy him very upset. It isn’t like the Mordekaiser mains who were begging for a rework of Mordekaiser (which Riot delivered beautifully if I must say so myself) and who genuinely enjoyed seeing the character modernized and completely flipped off his original play style. Udyr is so distinctly unique that there’s not really any other champ that has his amount of versatility in the game. Riot made him extremely well, and people are still satisfied with him even now. That speaks volumes and I trust that the design team working on Udyr will stay true to what the fans want.