"Each trophy, a victory" : A guide on playing Rengar, the Pridestalker
Alternative name: Learning how to deal with your anger issues by giving yourself more anger issues.
Best Overall Runes
Best Overall Build
Hello, and welcome to my Rengar jungle guide. I am VicGal, a Rengar main since 2014, who, since returning to the game in 2019, has achieved Diamond in 2 different accounts (Buff the Cat Plz and Cat without Paws) for the last 3 seasons, with my current peak being Diamond II. This is not my first guide, but since all of them are out of date, I thought I might as well share my knowledge once again, for all of you who have always been interested in Rengar but have never learnt the ways of the hunt until now. So, without further ado, let's get on to it!
Ok, so first thing's first: your rune setup will vary from game to game and from build to build. One thing the cat has going for him is that he is one of the most versatile champs when it comes to build options, to the point where you could go Zhonya's to waste enemies' time and acting as a pseudoengage / tank. However, those styles are a bit tricky to master for a beginner and depend on learning Rengar's quirks pretty well to execute properly, so we are going to stick with the usual for now:
The absolute best at the moment, in my opinion. It gives you a bit of everything, helps a lot with the early game because of the increased skirmish power (regardless of you going Conqueror / LT), and it helps you stay alive in fights thanks to Triumph. Alacrity is also a great rune that scales very early on, while you can change around Coup and Last Stand depending on preference. The only downside is a lack of immediate burst, but since you should be able to kill most squishies unless they itemize against you, having some stuff to help with extended fights is NEVER bad. Secondary runes are down to preference, both Domination and Inspiration work well enough, but I find Inspiration to be more reliable overall.
The best assassin setup for jungle, by far. The thing about First Strike is that, while it's harder to use properly than electrocute, gives you a FAR bigger reward: extra damage + gold according to said dealt damage is insane. What truly makes this tree strong however, is the fact that the tree gives you a LOT of free resources that ensure that once you start rolling, you won't stop rolling (and they won't stop coming and they won't sto- sorry.) I mean, free boots, a small amount of free gold, and reduced summoner and item cdr! What's not to love? To be honest though, the real star here is Future's Market: because of this rune you can get item spikes significantly earlier, and combined with the free gold from FS itself, you won't be stopped once you get a decent advantage going. For the secondary tree, Sorcery, Domination and Precision all work decently well, but Domination gives by far the most damage, which you kind of want if you plan on going assassin.
The good old OG assassin rune. Reliable, good at what it does, scales decently, but has the problem of being just that: damage. Domination also depends on a heavy snowball to make full use of the tree, since it asks you to get kills in order to make good use of Eyeball, or good vision control to get the max value out of Ghost Poro, Zombie Ward, and the Hunter rune variants. It's more reliable than First Strike in regards to doing damage, though, since it only depends on you landing 3 attacks / abilities, but there is no reason to get it at the moment when First Strike speeds your tempo so much. If you want to try it though, go nuts. It works well with Inspiration, Precision and Sorcery, similarly to FS.
As for the Rune Shards, you will ALWAYS want the Attack Speed and Attack Damage shards, since the first one speeds up your clear and grants you faster autoattacks, while the latter is, well, AD. Last shard is down to personal preference; I find HP to work very well against mixed damage comps, and it scales the best out of the 3, but Armor and MR both have their uses.
- Precision Tree
- First Strike
Flash + Smite 99.9% of the time. You really want Flash since you don't have on demand mobility and it helps a lot in many situations, and you have to take smite because you are the jungler. If you feel confident on your skills with Rengar and you feel you need to be more aggressive early on, ignite and exhaust are both options, but I can't recommend them over Flash, since you are giving up on a free escape.
- Summ options
You will always want to max Q first in jungle, regardless of matchup, since it's your bread and butter skill and you will need it for any sort of fight. Which ability you might want to max second depends on what you want to do that game: W max second is more reliable most of the time since it gives you increased survivability thanks to the fact that its cooldown actually gets reduced the more points you invest on it, whereas E max second is good if you REALLY want to burst people down asap, which might not always happen My advice is to go with W max second, because it helps a lot in skirmishes and gives you a tiny bit of mixed damage that sometimes comes in valuable.
One thing to take into account as well is combos. The usual one you will do with Rengar for burst is the following:
-Emp Q+Use E midair + W while you land + AA + Q + W
There is also another few combos you can do though:
-Leap + E mid air + Q once landing + AA + W + Emp Q
-Emp E midair + Q + W + E (+ Emp Q if inside a bush)
-(IF INSIDE A BUSH): AA+ Q+E+W+ Emp Q/W/E depending on what is needed
- W Max Second
- E Max Second
- All-rounder (Good damage and resistances)
- Assassin (Crit oriented)
Ok, so this is where it gets beefy.
Rengar's itemization will change from game to game, depending on what you want to play as (assassin or bruiser), what they are playing (if they are heavy on AD / AP, have a lot of shields), and what you feel the team needs the most that particular game. Because of this, I will be dividing this section in various different subsections, each of them covering a specific build path.
-Emberknife + potion + control ward: You will want this every game. The reason for this is that Emberknife is just way too good for a champion who needs to stick around in fights, and it excels at 1v1s, which Rengar loves. As for the Control ward + Pot instead of refillable potion, this is because thanks to Rengar's W your sustain is stupidly good at most points of the game, being only a tiny bit "low" during your first clear. The control ward also allows you to either jump to Krugs inmediately without having to walk all around the wall, or you can also use it to give you a pocket of vision in the river / enemy jungle, should you manage to place it there (which is also invaluable for scuttle fights). It's just the most efficient set of items to get for the first 5 minutes of the game.
-Boots: You have 3 options here: Plated Steelcaps, Ionian Boots of Lucidity, and Mercury Threads. Being completely honest, your choice of boots depends entirely on what you feel you need that game: Steelcaps excel against AA heavy teams, Ionians are just a good all-rounder that reduce your flash CD to absurd levels if you take Cosmic Insight (230 seconds), and Mercury are good when they have a huge amount of cc with not a heavy amount of AD, or they rely too much on magic damage. What i am trying to get to here is that it will simply change from game to game, albeit Ionians is a decent pick if you don't want to think too much about it.
-Serrated Dirk: The best first item you can get if you plan on getting a Lethality Mythic. It's somply very cost efficient from very early on and it builds into two items Rengar really likes. The only downside, if you want to call it that, is that it's just raw damage - but taking into account that you want to burst people ASAP, is it really a bad thing?
-Caulfield's Warhammer: A very good item to buy first if you are planning on going with the bruiser build, alongside maybe a Sheen and 2 longswords. It's more utility focused than Dirk, but taking into account that you will be wanting as much CDR as possible if you are planning on going bruiser, that's just another thing going for the item. Do NOT get this first if you are planning on going Drakthar however, Dirk outclasses early on in damage, by far.
-Sheen: Good first purchase if you plan on rushing Divine Sunderer and you have less than 1400 gold when backing. Rengar makes good use of Sheen early on (since his base AD is one of the highest at the first levels) and it builds into items Rengar loves using, regardless of build path (ER, TF and DS are all great). You can also purchase it second after Dirk if you plan on getting an early Essence Reaver, but it can be risky.
-Ironspike Whip: Only buy it if you plan on getting Goredrinker instead of Divine Sunderer when going bruiser; it's not worth it otherwise. Gives you the absolute best clear possible, though.
-Vampiric Scepter: Good if you back with less than 1100 gold and you plan on getting Eclipse. It's cheap, gives a hefty amount of AD, and the Lifesteal is always useful, but do not expect to have a huge amount of damage early on.
-Eclipse / Divine Sunderer: The two absolute best mythics you can choose from at the moment, no question. Eclipse is just a great all-rounder, and it's perfect for Rengar because he has to stay in fights for longer than other assassins, especially if they are not all squishies and Draktharr's invisibility wouldn't be enough. The omnivamp is always useful, the lethality makes sure squishy targets will die faster, and the passives of the item, both the shield and the mythic one, are huge lifesavers, especially the latter because of what you tend to build nowadays. Divine Sunderer is also great, but it's not as much of a jack-of-all-trades as Eclipse is; DS excels when they have 2+ heavy frontliners you need to chunk as much as possible, or when you feel you will have to act as a pseudofrontline and tank as much as your fur can. You honestly can't go wrong with either of them, but if I had to give the edge to one in regards of being useful in the most situations, it would go to Eclipse.
-Black Cleaver / Essence Reaver: The best choices for second item if the game is even, both of them give you a lot of what you want. Black Cleaver is just a jack of all trades, because it gives you armor shred, MS on hit, huge amounts of CDR, and a tiny bit of HP, which ensures you will win most mid-game duels. Essence Reaver, on the other hand, is more raw burst, and forces you to get Lord Dominic's to make the most use of it, but it excels against squishy teams, it's very cheap, and scales pretty well the longer the game goes on thanks to your passive. It's down to personal choice, but you can pick either and do well enough in most games. If you want a cliff notes version, however: BC is great against most teams while ER is the way to go if they don't have any hard frontline or peel whatsoever.
-Death's Dance: You will ALWAYS want this item, and you will only not rush it if they have so very little AD to the point the armor would be useless; hell, you can even get it second if you really need to tank some damage early on. The item is one of the most expensive in the game, yes, but it gives you SO much that it deserves the pricetag: CDR, Armor, AD, Healing that scales off your bonus AD (which is crucial because Bonetooth Necklace's AD is all counted as bonus AD), and % damage reduction against MAGIC AND PHYSICAL DAMAGE. If you get this item + Tabis, their AD champs will barely do anything to you until they get penetration, and you will last way longer in fights, much more than you actually should. It's just a great item with no drawbacks whatsoever, and as long as it's in its current state, you should make good use of it.
-Maw of Malmortius: The absolute best item you can get against APs at the moment. It's cheap, gives you stats you make great use of, and the lifeline passive is actually good for once after so many years of being outclassed by Steraks. Plus, since the shield scales off your bonus AD (again), this means that, as long as you are doing well enough in-game, AP burst will rarely ever kill you as long as the shield is up, which is invaluable against most meta Crown users / meta mages (Viktor, Veigar, Diana, etc). It also combos extremely well with Death's Dance, to the point it feels unfair how much magic damage you can tank. It's only "but" is that it feels pretty bad to get early if they have +2 ADs, but you can always sit on Hexdrinker early on and finish it later once you really need the bigger shield.
-The last item in this build is situational, and you can choose from a wide range of options. While most of them will get covered in other sections, I will explain the key ones here. Said items are Serylda's (good final item if they have been stacking too much armor AND you really need to burst them down yourself), Guardian Angel (Good finisher against heavy AD teams, especially if you need to act as a pseudoengage so you can go ham knowing you will revive later), and Spirit Visage (good against heavy APs, and almost invaluable if you have a healing support in your team, but not strictly needed). Other options are Lord Dominic's Regards, Edge of Night, Serpent's Fang, and Anathemas.
-Draktharr / Eclipse: Eclipse's the same as described earlier, while Draktharr is both more utility (the increased AH from the mythic passive and the invisibility on takedown grant you a significant amount of tools in fights) and raw damage (the proc on the item is very strong on squishy enemies and the fact that it resets on takedown means that if you are on a roll, you won't stop.) Basically, the choice boils down to this: Draktharr if you want pure damage, and Eclipse if you feel like you need the sustain in fights more.
-Essence Reaver: Same as described previously, only it will hit harder now because of all the extra AD + crit you will be getting.
-Yoummu's Ghostblade: An alternative to Essence Reaver as your second item. While it won't give you as much raw damage as ER will do, it will still deal a similar amount, thanks to the heavy amount of AD, the 18 lethality, and the similar amount of AH. It also has way more utility thanks to the active and passive, which ensures you will catch up to anyone during ult. Do note you can get both ER and Yoummu's, but it will only work if you are ahead enough for you to just want more damage, them being very squishy, and your general playstyle. So, for the most part in games, you will have to choose between this and ER, and it's honestly down to personal preference.
-Lord Dominic's Regards: This will be your 3rd item in most assassin games unless you went heavy lethality, because by the time you get it, most priority targets will have at least either gotten some armor or have just leveled up enough for their base stats to matter. This item elevates your burst through the roof, and since it gives you crit, it synergizes tremendously with ER, and it gives the biggest amount of armor penetration out of any item in the game, while also being cheaper than Serylda's. It also allows you to go for Infinity Edge later on, in case you truly want to one shot everything in sight.
-Infinity Edge: You will want this item as your last or second-to last. It's simply the biggest powerspike in terms of damage you can get, and if you are going assassin, you WILL want the extra damage, unless you need extra defense or utility for whatever reason.
-Last item choice varies between games, or simply on what you feel you need to carry the game. Your choices are: Edge of Night (invaluable item against teams with heavy cc, since it gives you one chance to kill someone before getting pinned down) Bloodthirstier (Raw damage and heals, which is great if you went Draktharr), Serpent's Fang (absolutely necessary if they are heavy on shields, since you can't tank as much as you would with the bruiser build to grind through them) and Mortal Reminder (only if you really, really REALLY need the antiheal and not enough people in your team can get similar items)
-The core mythics here are Divine Sunderer or Goredrinker. DS works as explained above, whereas Goredrinker is a bit harder to use properly since the heal depends heavily on your missing HP. You can also use it for the damage, but it tends to be lower than DS unless their entire team is VERY squishy. I would honestly recommend Divine Sunderer over Gore all the time, but you should try and check out both to see which one fits your playstyle better.
-The remaining items (GA, BC, SV, DD, Maw, etc) are shared with the meta build, with a few exceptions, which are the following:
1. Thornmail: Good last item against heavy AD teams with sustain that you 100% need to tank (because of the lack of a frontline other than yourself.)
2. Force of Nature: As with Thornmail above, except for heavy AP teams.
3. Randuin's Omen: Situationally good against heavy crit teams (think Yasuo + Tyrn top with a botlane Cait, for example)
4. Anathema's Chains: Very situational; namely, it's good when you 100% need to make sure a priority target is locked down as much as possible, or when they only have one heavy AD/AP carry you won't itemize a lot for. If you have to act as a frontline and you 100% need that bastard out ASAP, it will do the job; else stay away from it.
The matchups have been divided in the following categories according to their difficulty, which are the ones shown below, alongside a small explanation for each matchup.
- Very Hard
The most notable synergies Rengar has are the following:
The pathing you will follow will be mostly the same from game to game. However, do note that you don't ALWAYS have to do this exactly as described; sometimes, you might find a chance for an early lvl 3 gank, you need to help your bot after doing one of your buffs, or you simply find a chance to invade their jungle early. That decision making, however is too complex to explain fully in detail, and since what we want from this guide is to make sure you get the ropes for this champ, we will leave that decision making down to personal judgement.
(Note: Both pathings apply to either red or blue side; just invert the map mentally to get an idea of what you must do.)
-Starting at red:
1. Always start with the red camp, since you are pretty much unable to start with anything other than Q, so a raptors start is out of the question.
2. Jump from the red buff bush to Krugs (place either a normal trinket ward or a pinkward to do so, or ask your teammates to walk through the camp). It is important that you KITE the last group of small krugs so you can keep 4 stacks before going to raptors.
3. Kill raptors. If you managed to hold on to your 4 stacks, you will do this a lot faster, giving you a bit of leeway for Blue Buff side.
4. Go to wolves. Try to keep 4 stacks when you are done so you can finish up Blue and gromp faster.
5. You can now either do both Blue and Gromp at the same time, kiting both to the middle of the area using your bola on Gromp, and reach lvl 4 around 3:15-3:20...
5.5/6. ...Or you can just do blue, go to Scuttle, kill it ASAP and go back to Gromp, in case you want to deny the early scuttle to their jungler if they are on that side.
-Starting at blue:
1. Do Blue buff normally. Once it’s low, smite Gromp so it starts walking to you.
2. Do Gromp, while making sure the leash doesn’t reset. Try to get 4 stacks from it.
3. Do Wolves. It’s fairly easy to keep 4 stacks after doing this camp but as long as you keep 3, you should be good.
4. Go to Raptors, use everything on them to kill them ASAP. Kite them towards Red.
5. Do Red buff.
6. You have two choices here. Either a) jump to krugs so you can reach level 4, or go to the scuttle to deny it in case their jungler is in that side.
For the most part, focus on clearing your camps until you get lvl 4 for the first 5-to-6 minutes. Depending on what jungler you are up against, you might want to go to scuttle to force a fight or try to invade their side of the jungle if you see them ganking with less than 20 CS (since that means there is at least a camp they haven’t cleared). You can try to go for early ganks, but it’s only worth it if you are already rotating towards that side and your camps in said side are respawning soon enough. In summary, while you should be seeking chances to get ahead, do not be afraid to just be patient until you hit lvl 6.
We will consider early game to take place from the beginning of the game until the turret plates fall. Your main objectives are clear: you want to get your lanes ahead as possible, secure an early dragon, and, if possible, take herald to get some extra gold. While having a rough early game won't mean the game is lost, it does mean that your job later will be much harder, and thus you should try to secure a lead soon. Try to look for lane ganks, ult lanes who are not respecting your pressure, and, most important of all, time your backs accordingly; recall when you have a lot of gold, for example, but do not leave when you know your laners are getting ganked and you can do something about it.
Now this is where Rengar shines. You should have at least your first item almost done, and the pressure you can enforce with your ult is enormous. From now on, you have two choices: you can either try to lane gank if you know they have no vision if they are pushed, and wait for them to overcommit, or just try to gank with your ult if they are pushing too hard and don’t have a good set up to escape. Do note that your ult has a VERY long CD early on, so use it carefully.
Another thing you should take into account is that Rengar, once he gets at the very least two item components (say, dirk + vamp scepter, or sheen + Caulfield’s), can do objectives fairly reliably, so you might want to sneak an early dragon if you have a good idea of where their jungler is and / or you are 100% sure they have no vision of the area. However, do note that unless it’s mountain drake, said maneuver is risky (specially with Ocean Drake), and can leave you very low- and very vulnerable. Another thing to look for is an early herald to force down turrets in a leading lane, again, making sure beforehand you are in the clear in regards to vision.
ALWAYS check your minimap before doing anything. You need to keep track of everyone in case they try to collapse on a lane, or even worse, on you, and any mistake can mean the end of the game right there. Try to keep track on where their jungler is all the time, and what they might try to do at any given moment. Do also remember that while you being ahead is important, so is the fact that your team is strong alongside you, cause if you don’t, they will just focus you down and make mincemeat of your team shortly after.
This is the trickiest part. Rengar has good objective control, and pretty decent splitpushing, but he won’t end the game on his own unless the enemy team utterly ignores him – which will rarely, if ever, happen. Focus on taking down drakes ASAP, and trying to pick off priority targets before they spawn so you can secure them. Because you are the jungler, you need to stay alive until the objective is done, or else it’s all but lost. Do remember your damage is very high at this point if you got 3+ stacks of your passive, so don’t be afraid to jump into an objective pit if you think you have a good chance to steal it.
Your late game performance will also depend on what teamcomp you have: if you are playing with, say, a tank top with a decent engage (i.e Ornn) and a good control mage mid (Orianna, Veigar, Viktor), you can force teamfights without issue; but if you have, instead, a poke top and a mid lane assassin, you will have to play significantly more carefully, and seek skirmishes at choke points so you can force objectives and take down turrets. There is no cookie cutter strat: you will have to adapt. However, what is key is what we mentioned previously: focus on objectives, getting priority targets, and try to splitpush if there are none to be taken at the moment, so you can keep lanes pushed.
Well, that's the end of the guide. I hope you found it useful for learning the ways of the OG Kitty Kat (yes, we do hate Yuumi in these parts), and if not, well, at least I hope you found it enjoyable. I will be updating the guide every now and then to add important stuff that might pop up from patch to patch. Do try to take it calmly though; you won't achieve much by rushing through your climb. As Rengar himself would say: "Focus."