Unite Might Be Ready For A Double Jungler Map
A new license was added to Pokemon Unite this week, Dragapult, and it’s a lot of fun. Dragapult is a ranged attacker that has a lot in common with auto-attack specialists like Cinderace and Greninja. It is team reliant in that it isn’t particularly equipped for quick takedowns or survivability, but once it starts to build up some momentum with a kill or two, Dragapult can become a deadly threat in a team fight. In MOBA terms, Dragapult is best thought of as an Attack Damage Carry character, or ADC, because of its ability to deal continuous attack damage and carry a team with its high kill count.
Dragapult feels fairly balanced and I recommend trying it out if you enjoy that playstyle, but I can’t help but feel like it loses a couple of points on the tier list because of its role. Like Cinderace and Greninja, Dragapult finds its strength later in the game. In order to win fights as early as possible and start the snowball effect for its team, Dragapult needs to gain levels quickly. If you’re playing a Pokemon that needs levels quickly, ideally you want them to farm the jungle. The problem with Unite right now is that there are a lot of other Pokemon that need that too.
Ranged attackers, with the exception of Delphox, Mew, Alolan Ninetales, Pikachu, and Cramorant, need the middle lane. All speedsters need the middle lane too, with Absol being the only exception, maybe. All-Rounders are the same story. You can play almost all of them in lane (not Tyranitar) but, with the exception of Lucario, you’re better off playing them in the jungle. Even the Pokemon I’ve listed as exceptions can still benefit from farming the center lane. The only Pokemon you definitely want to play in lane are Supporters and Defenders, but there are exceptions there too, like Greedent. These are hard and fast rules, and you aren’t necessarily throwing if you play a Pokemon in the wrong lane, but out of the 47 Pokemon currently in the Unite roster, at least 28 of them are better in the jungle.
That ratio presents a problem. There are five players on each team, but only one of them plays in the jungle. Yet, half of the Pokemon are better in the jungle. The numbers just don’t add up. This has created a problem where teammates are constantly fighting over the middle during the character select phase. Anyone that has selected the jungle pre-game has had many, many encounters with teammates that don’t respect their call and fight over the jungle with them, essentially throwing the game. There are just too many Pokemon that feel underpowered if they don’t get to farm the middle and earn extra levels early on, and it’s hard to blame people for wanting to play whatever Pokemon they prefer.
Some have experimented with sharing the jungle on the new Theia Sky Ruins map, and while we might see this strategy play out in the upcoming World Championship Series, it’s not really a viable plan when playing with random people online. Communication is difficult, and players have found it easiest for one person to claim the middle and clear it out by themselves. That meta could shift over time, but realistically, Unite might just need a map that better facilitates multiple junglers at this point.
A map with a bigger, more complex jungle could create opportunities for teams to run two people in the middle and leave one lane with a solo defender. There’s also some suggestion that a three-team game mode could be coming, which might create an opportunity for a bigger central area to fight over too. Every other MOBA has meta that includes a single jungler, but Pokemon Unite does so many things different from other MOBAs. This could be another way Unite separates itself from the pack.
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