Udyr has risen back to the top of League of Legends in Season 11 after years on the sideline. Despite his simple kit, pros and casual alike are flocking to the Spirit Walker, and he’s dominating the jungle.
Udyr isn’t a champion associated with high-level League of Legends gameplay. The jungler wasn’t even really played by anyone for years. He was struggling so hard that Riot penned him in for a potential VGU in Season 11.
However, now he’s the King of the Jungle — literally. Thanks to the League Season 11 item rework, Udyr is now a popular pick with a surprisingly powerful kit. How did we get here after years of mediocrity? Well, there’s a few factors at play.
Why is Udyr so popular in League Season 11?
There’s primarily three reasons why Udyr is so popular in League of Legends right now. One is the item rework. Udyr’s build path for years has been a bit odd — he was lost between being a bruiser, a duelist, and a full-on tank. While he had bits and bobs like Trinity Force and Dead Man’s Plate, there wasn’t any synergy.
Now, he has the perfect Mythic — Turbo Chemtank. The Righteous Glory replacement has given him the tank stats he needs to live, with a kick of extra damage from the Immolate passive, and the big speed-up to charge at enemies.
He also received a handful of buffs at the end of Season 10. His Phoenix Stance ultimate — arguably the worst of his four forms for a long time — got huge buffs to bring his jungle clear back to par. Now, he has one of the fastest clears, giving him more time to run around and gank.
Finally — and we have to bring this up — but the “MoonStaff” combo enables him perfectly. Champions like Seraphine who can build it, or Orianna who can speed up Udyr, make him even more of a threat, running around the map at a million miles an hour.
All of these factors have increased Udyr’s win rate in solo queue from below 50% to up to 53% in Season 11. Plus, his playrate has exploded ten-fold, from under 1% to nearly 7%, according to stats site OP.GG.
From a pro players standpoint, it’s even more outstanding. Udyr hadn’t been picked in a “Big 4” league (LCS, LEC, LCK, and LPL) since 2018 when Charly ‘Djoko’ Guillard did so for Giants in the EU LCS as a once-off. He hasn’t even been meta since Season 6.
In 2021, he’s been picked 24 times in the Big 4. Udyr pioneer Hong ‘Pyosik’ Chang-hyeon of DRX inspired junglers globally to play him, and while he only has a win rate of 9-15 right now, it seems like the pick is only on the up.
This is despite planned nerfs to his Phoenix Stance in patch 11.3. However, Udyr’s place in the meta has evolved past his fast clear. His easy-to-execute kit, with a point-and-click stun, makes him key for locking down hyper-mobile carries. He’s impossible to kite, and so teams just get rundown once he pops Turbo Chemtank.
Watch DRX’s Pyosik surprise everyone with Udyr against Nongshim Redforce in LCK Spring 2021.
How to play Udyr like the League pros
You don’t have to be a pro to play Udyr. The champion is one of the easiest in the game to pick up even. If you are a rookie in the jungle or are looking for a new pick to try out, you can do no wrong with Udyr.
There’s a few things you need to be wary of though. You need to take Tiger Stance (Q) first for your first camp, but after that, Phoenix Stance (R) will be your primary clear tool. Be sure to switch between stances often to take advantage of your passive too.
Maxing Phoenix and then Bear Stance (E) gives you all the clear and lockdown you need. Taking Turtle Stance (W) afterwards is a little bit of extra safety, before finally maxing out your Q last.
The goal is to fast-clear your jungle — and the enemy’s jungle — to get Turbo Chemtank. Udyr’s fast clear speed makes him conducive to just going in and invading the enemy’s camps. He has good escape tools, and this is only amplified once you start hitting your power spikes.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity allows you to buy Hailblade and steal enemy movement speed more often with Smite and is always a solid pickup. Likewise, things like Dead Man’s Plate, Force of Nature, Warmog’s Armor, and Thornmail are great items to flesh out your build with.
For that extra bit of movement speed too, don’t forget to take Phase Rush in your runes. Waterwalking is super strong on junglers in the river, while you can opt into either a defensive path with Resolve Secondary, or more offensive with Precision to help with your clear.
Ideally, you’ll be able to dance around teamfights, baiting out enemy utility, before jumping forward and latching onto a carry. If you can hit the Bear Stance stun on a squishy target, your team should be able to follow up and nuke them down with almost no counterplay.
You can also soak up a lot of damage with your builds later on, and if the situation calls for it, you can peel for your carries instead. If enemy assassins are diving onto your backline, all it takes is one Bear Stance auto to stop them in their tracks.
If pros are making such a simple champion like Udyr work, he should be a piece of cake for you too as well. Be sure to take advantage of the jungler while he’s strong, as he may not remain this way for long.