Mostly, people are playing carry junglers these days and the top tier junglers have strong early games that keep the enemies out of their side of the map.
The top tier junglers lately have been: Elise, Olaf, Lee Sin, Vi, Wukong, Kha’zix, and Pantheon. Kha’zix was nerfed this last patch, so we’ll see if he’s played as much, he might fall from favor down to tier two, from tier one.
There are a few junglers the pros aren’t playing that don’t get banned and are probably worth taking a second look at:
She has a gap closer, a shield, and fantastic damage. She is occasionally played at high elo and is successful. Yes, her Q takes some practice to land and many people are good at dodging it at max range, but when it flies out of a bush… well, not so much dodging going on. She fell out of favor with the last nerf to her shield, but mostly because she was played in the mid lane. With the changes to the spirt line of jungler items, she sustains well against neutral camps and actually fills the original role she was designed for well. I think she’s the forgotten jungler that really deserves some play.
The pros aren’t playing her, but people in high elo solo queue are. He feeds off of confusion and poor communication — which pretty much describes solo queue. He’s an assassin that adds very little to team fights and is most useful for picking off people in the jungle. He is great during the laning phase, but struggles with objective control because he doesn’t do as well with massive team fights in the open where he and his clone can get CC’d and burst down. Still, a jungler that could easily carry you through lower elo and is still viable at high elo in the right team comps where there are other people to initiate and tank while you pick off stragglers.
There has been a resurgence of this jungle duelist at high elo and even some in high elo play. Last season, when the junglers needed to be tanky, they took this bruiser and built him with all sorts of armor. He was never top tier in that environment because he wasn’t a real tank — nothing on him scales with health, armor, or magic resist. Now that junglers are mostly carries, people seem to have forgotten that he is one of the older true carry junglers. Well, some people are starting to remember. He’s good at chasing people down or initiating from half of the map away. He’s also a decent counter to Pantheon.
Other, more tentative, possibilities to consider
If an assassin like Kha’zix or Shaco can make it in top elos, I expect that Fizz might be one of those unconsidered assassin-junglers just waiting to burst onto the scene, if people just figured out how to make it work. He can hop walls for sneaky ganks, and he does bazillions of damage. I think he relies as heavily on the right team comp as other assassin junglers, and seem him fitting the same mold as Kha’zix even more closely than Shaco. I see his greatest weakness being fending off early game invades — a problem that Kha’zix didn’t really have, even though he wasn’t the strongest early game champion.
Xin Zhao is a melee ADC with knock-up and knock-back that was in every game early season two when tanks were all the rage. He’s been nerfed a few times, but I don’t think he’s done seeing play in solo queue. He has great jungle sustain and a gap closer, which are both plusses. His greatest flaw is that his ganks aren’t as convincing as they used to be after the cool down on his gap closer was increased, and he doesn’t add as much to team fights as somebody like Vi or Wukong. Still, he’s a good duelist and worthy of consideration.