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League of Legends Champion Review: Rengar the Pridestalker

League of Legends’ latest champion has six tails, 21 claws, one sword, and 298 teeth. Oh, and those teeth are yours. He ripped them from your corpse and wears them as jewelry.

If you want a full rundown of Rengar the Pridestalker’s abilities, look at his official profile. The TLDR version: he’s a big cat-man with strong melee attacks, minor stealth and CC, and a heart that longs for the jungle.

Not unlike your standard house cat, Rengar loves to jump on things. But while your friendly pet enjoys the couch and countertops, Rengar prefers the frail skeletons of your caster/support characters.

His unique pouncing mechanic is easily the most fun aspect of the champion and the main determinate of whether or not you’re interested in buying him. When Rengar enters brush, his next auto-attack will cause him to leap at his target, within moderate range. It’s the perfect ambushing tool and fits in perfectly with his stalker gameplay.

There’s a sadistic pleasure in watching someone debate internally whether or not you’re hiding in the brush. Their character steps forward, hesitates, takes a step back, and then timidly advances. POUNCE! You jump out of the bushes laughing while he curses his curiosity.


King of the Jungle

The rest of Rengar’s abilities are more straightforward, focused on tearing through enemy HP pools with single-target melee AD damage. A self-heal using his Ferocity resource (think of it as a Rogue’s combo points in WoW that can only be spent when you have 5) gives him an amazing presence in the jungle, the perfect environment for his shrub-hugging, team-jumping ways.

But even in a lane, his hopping is great for netting last hits on minions without fully exposing yourself to harassment. I preferred Rengar as a jungler/ganker, but I had a good time in-lane too.

The biggest concern players have about a new champ on launch day is how overpowered it is. Right now, Rengar feels almost perfect in that department. He’s strong, especially early game with his brutal Q stab-stab ability and self-heals, but he’s kept in check by his big susceptibility to CC--if you can lock him down for a few seconds, you can kill him.

I’m a little concerned because it doesn’t feel like the community has unlocked his full potential yet. He feels like a champion that could easily become broken with the right build/team comp.

His unique item, Bonetooth Necklace, is a crazy good snowball item: it gives tons of AD as you level up, and gets better with every kill or assist Rengar tallies. The scary part: it stacks with other snowball items already in the game. If a team can feed Rengar kills, he could snowball faster than any other carry in the game.


Shut up and tell me what to do

Rengar is my favorite jungler right now. Not because he’s better than other melee AD junglers like Nocturne, but because of his ability make the entire enemy team paranoid of harmless plants by periodically jumping out of them, wailing like a banshee. If the psychological side of battle appeals to you, you absolutely must buy him. Otherwise, it’s a standard matter of “Do you like melee AD fighters?”.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Avoid his unique item in the early game. It’s going to be tempting, but you’ll do better sticking with standard items at first and picking up the Bonetooth Necklace when you can snowball it fast.
2. His Savagery (Q) affects turrets, unlike some similar abilities on other champions. Use it to push lanes and crush turrets quickly
3. His leap from brush can go over walls--picking the right place to ambush can provide you the opportunity to make a quick escape if things don’t go as planned.

 
Josh Augustine is a connoisseur of online games in the MMO, MOBA, and RPG style. He currently works as a game designer at Sony Online Entertainment on EverQuest. He’d love to talk with you on Twitter.

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