Patch 12.3 Challenger(NA) Nidalee Guide
Best Overall Build
Hi, I'm Warring, a Challenger Nidalee player on the NA server. I've been playing Nidalee for 5 seasons now and I have 1000's of games on her. In Season 12 I believe Nidalee to be one of the strongest junglers in the meta. She is well known for her high skill kit that many have come to know and love. She is fairly difficult to play but there are some serious misconceptions in the league community regarding Nidalee that I wish to clear up to start. Nidalee is indeed an early game jungler, but she is not useless late game - don't give up if early game is not going well! Secondly, she is not just an invading jungler - so you don't need to force invades with her, her gank presence is her best trait. I highly recommend playing her just because she is one of the most fun& rewarding champions in the game once you learn her.
The 4 rune setups you can go are Electrocute, Dark Harvest, Conqueror and First Strike. I will explain the minor runes as well.
In my opinion you can go Electrocute setup almost every game as it is a very consistent source of damage.
2. Dark Harvest
Go Dark Harvest if you are confident in snowballing the game and getting a lot of stacks.
You want to go Conqueror when your opponents are TANKY, have a lot of cc, but usually both.
4. First Strike
First Strike is also viable, but I would not recommend it due to lack of early game damage.
Minor Runes for Main Setup(Dark Harvest/Electrocute):
In the red tree we get sudden impact and eyeball collection because those are the best damage options. In the 4th row of the red tree you can go Ravenous Hunter or Relentless Hunter, but due to nerfs to Ravenous hunter from Season 10-11, I think Relentless is better because it allows you to get around the map faster. Even rotating to a fight 1 second faster can make a big difference. You do not need ravenous healing because you can heal from Red buff, Gromp, smite, refillable potion and your jungle item passive.
In the secondary path, we get transcendence because free cdr is OP and waterwalking gives even more mobility around crab fights.
Finally, we choose 1 attack speed and 1 adaptive over 2 adaptive because Nidalee makes use of her ranged auto attacks a lot, especially early game. It feels a lot smoother to play with attack speed rather than 2 adaptive, but you can opt into 2 adaptive if you really like it. Go armor vs most comps, go mr vs heavy ap comps(3 or more ap threats). Mathematically, hp runes are very good but I don't opt into them because the early armor helps me a ton level 1-6 which I find to be more valuable.
- Dark Harvest
- First Strike
You need flash to make plays and you can't jungle without smite.
Max Q, then E, then W as AP Nidalee.
- Skill Path
There are only a couple of item setups that I would recommend. Either you go Night Harvester as your mythic, or Hextech Protobelt. Hextech is slightly better but harder to use. Pick one based upon your preference.
Early game you want to rush sorc boots, dark seal and your first AP item asap. Dark seal is a very efficient item. Go mejai if you get 8 or more stacks dark seals and you are confident that you will not lose the stacks. Try to build mejai with a stopwatch/zhonya to protect your stakcs. It's fine to not go mejai too even if you are sitting on 10 dark seal stacks. As a side note, don't buy too many pinks(I get 3-5 a game). Later in the game you buy AP legendaries based on what the enemy comp is. Choose from void staff(vs. high mr), rabadon, banshee's(vs high ap), lichbane(when snowballing) and on rare ocassions morello(avoid this item if possible).
- Protobelt build.
- Harvester build.
Nidalee's synergies are pretty simple - physical damage and crowd-control teammates are beneficial to you. I have listed all the champs you want on your team as a Nidalee below under "Synergies". Jungle matchups are also explained below( 1 being the easiest matchup and 10 being the hardest matchup) but keep in mind you are fighting the entire enemy team so what matters more is the totality of your team comp vs the enemy team comp. On 12.3 most of the jungle matchups are about even so there's lots of room to show you are the superior jungler. Remember that if you just run at the enemy jungler meele range you will almost always lose, Nidalee has to abuse her auto range and poke before taking fights.
When it comes to gameplay, there is a lot that I cannot explain within the short confides of this guide. You have play a solid volume of games to learn your damage, enemy damage, where to position(generally, backline as Nidalee), how to smite combo drake etc. I can't teach you all the fundamentals, but I can give you a basic gameplan that works even in Challenger.
You need to get very ahead as Nidalee to maximize your usefulness. The way to consistently do that is to do a full clear path(if red buff side, red-krugs-raptors to start and if blue buff side, blue-gromp-wolves to start) towards a lane based on the lane matchup's :
1. cc set up - makes it very easy to hit your spear which gives you access to your full cougar combo (e.g you have Renekton top). hold your spears for hard cc if you have it. Note that spear has a travel time you have to adjust for as well.
2. early damage/trading patterns - if the lanes trade a lot or your laner does a lot of damage then you have an easier kill
3. snowballing potential - If the lane has a lot of snowballing potential both ways, that is the lane you want to path to(E.g. Fiora vs Darius)
4. win cons - if you identify the win condition of a particular game to depend upon 1 lane(your only late game damage is an aphelios and the rest of your team is supporty champions)
The key is to drop your camps in order to get to a high percentage gank when you see it. Get as many ganks off early especially level 1-6 and transition your lead into objectives(drakes, herald, baron, towers). Abuse Nidalee's insane early damage and mobility while being aware of her squishiness. In early fights, always try to get the jump on the enemy. Use your ranged autos as much as you can before jumping onto your target after hitting Q. Note that at level 6 you get a bunch of stat boosts so don't be afraid to fight against other level 6 spiked champions.
So when do you invade? You need to consider 3 conditions.
1. Do you have priority/push in at least one lane at the time you're invading?
2. How strong the enemy jungler is early
3. How the enemy jungler paths
You can tell where the enemy jungler starts by dropping a ward on a buff or by checking which enemy lane comes to lane first. The enemy lane that comes the latest to lane, tends to be the lane that leashed. Generally invade weak early junglers like Zac and Fiddlesticks and avoid hard counters like Rengar unless you know they will be low on their clear at a certain point. Respect lane priority and don't force invades without it.
Note that level 1 invading is VERY strong when you have a superior 5v5 so call for it whenever possible.
When it comes to combos you generally do humanQ->cougarW->cougarE->cougarQ. All the combos and animation cancels are better explained through video (linked below) rather than words. :
A good tip is to use whichever execute combo(cougar Q-E vs. cougar E-Q) that is more guaranteed to go off, which will often be cougar Q-E.
For your clear check out mabarry3 on youtube(linked below). The rhythm for your first clear in general is two autos into spear then full cougar combo, swap form and repeat.
(Credit to mabarry3)
Thanks for reading my short guide, if you have any questions feel free to drop by to my stream at twitch.tv/warringkingdoms1 and ask anything!
Challenger Nidalee OTP from NA server// https://www.twitch.tv/warring1