League of Legends Graves: how to play the Outlaw in the Jungle role
Published: August 29 2023
Last updated: August 29 2023
As the thirteenth season of League of Legends continues, the role of the Jungler remains crucial to your team's success. As the new patches introduce more changes to various Jungle champions throughout the season, one old favorite is slowly gaining popularity. Graves, the Outlaw, is back with a vengeance. Read how to play him in our guide!
When it comes to controlling Summoner’s Rift, there is no champion better at asserting its pressure than Graves. With his dual-shot shotgun in hand, the champion is ready to steal enemy resources, pick a fight at any time, and assist his team whenever needed.
While Graves looks like a simple champion at first, he has a lot of room for mastery and skill expression. One of the toughest parts is the utilization of Graves’ passive, New Destiny which changes Graves’ basic attacks into a four-bullet shotgun blast. What is so unique about it is that New Destiny allows you to hit multiple targets with each attack, requiring knowledge about movement and anticipation of your enemy's attacks.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started piloting Graves in the Jungle role, a breakdown of his abilities, Rune Setups, what items perform best in the current meta, and some tips and tricks to help you improve at this unique champion.
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The Basics of Graves - Abilities
Graves is one of the easier champions in League of Legends to learn while leaving much room for skill expression. None of Graves’ abilities are complicated, but each has some unique interactions the best players utilize. Let’s see all these abilities one by one.
Q - End of the Line
Let’s start with Q - End of the Line, which fires an ability- ‘a powder round’ - a short distance from your character, which returns after one second. The return deals significantly more damage. While the return of Graves’ Q is easy to avoid, you can play near walls or another terrain to make the round explode immediately, making it much more difficult to avoid damage for your target.
W - Smoke Screen works
Similarly, W - Smoke Screen works as a simple slow with some added damage. However, unlike what some players initially believe when they play with or against Graves, Smoke Screen blocks out vision only - outside - of the Smoke Screen. That means, unlike what many low-ranked Graves players do, you don’t want to stand on top of your Smoke Screen when fighting melee champions, as they can still see and target you.
E - Quickdraw
E - Quickdraw is easily the best and most flexible tool Graves has. The short dash allows you to cross terrain like the small walls in the river and parts of the Blue and Red buff areas. In addition, Quickdraw resets a charge of Graves’ auto-attacks, functioning as an auto-attack reset and allowing you to attack twice almost instantly. The instantaneous attacks help you pick up minions you might otherwise miss or deal additional damage to your target. If that wasn’t enough, Quickdraw reduces its cooldown whenever Graves lands an auto-attack and grants a scaling Armor buff that stacks up to eight times.
Graves's Ultimate ability, R - Collateral Damage
His Ult, R - Collateral Damage, again serves multiple purposes. The long-distance ability allows you to finish off targets who may otherwise escape and damage targets you may not otherwise reach. It also serves as an additional escape tool for yourself with the small knock-back the ability provides.
Graves’ rune setup for the Jungle Role
The Rune Setups for Graves in the Jungle position split between two Secondary Rune options, alongside the common Precision & Fleet Footwork Primary setup many champions choose.
The first option is the more popular Inspiration path, utilizing the Inspiration path with Cosmic Insight and Magical Footwear. The alternative is for the more experienced Graves Jungle players, the Domination path, opting for Zombie Ward and Treasure Hunter.
The best way to describe the difference between the two choices is that the Inspiration path is much more beginner-friendly. It suits the general farming style where you focus on clearing your jungle camps and farming until you become a menace later in the League of Legends match.
The second option, the Domination path, is much more hit-or-miss but allows for much more agency for the experienced jungle players. The additional gold provided by Treasure Hunter, from fighting the enemy jungler when invading or by attempting early game ganks, can help you snowball the game out of control quickly, with the free vision provided by Zombie Ward while you ensure your invades aren’t spotted out with your red trinket.
Unlike in previous seasons, Graves doesn’t require Presence of Mind for the Jungle role due to the changes introduced with the Season 13 Jungle update that significantly increased the mana generation for Junglers when clearing jungle camps. Below is a quick breakdown allowing you to adjust your runes before your match starts.
Precision: Fleet Footwork - Triumph - Legend: Alacrity - Coup de Grace
Inspiration: Cosmic Insight - Magical Footwear
Domination: Zombie Ward - Treasure Hunter
Additional choices: Attack Speed - Adaptive Force - Armor.
What you need to know about Graves’ itemization choices
The current build for Graves is much different than previous seasons, with the current best-performing builds utilizing the strengths of the Lethality items. Nearly every Graves Jungle starts with the new Mythic choice, the Youmuu’s Ghostblade.
The item provides Graves fantastic value for his gold between the flat 60 Attack damage, lethality, and ability haste stats. However, the item's biggest strength is in its effect, Haunt. Youmuu’s Ghostblade’s Haunt is a new passive similar to Fleet Footwork, stacking up to 100 “Spectral Shards” while moving around. While you are at 100 stacks of the Spectral Shards, in addition to out-of-combat movement speed, the item provides a significant amount of Lethality that drops off shortly after you damage an enemy character. The passive is perfect for Graves to utilize as it drastically increases the punch of his first attacks in a fight.
The Collector - Feast or Famine
After Youmuu’s Ghostblade, the most common option is The Collector, which allows Graves to execute low-health targets, in addition to various stats Graves is happy to have. Unlike many Jungle champions in League of Legends, Graves aims to become THE champion that controls the rift. While many champions can still provide utility when they are behind or even, Graves is just not one of them. Feast or famine. As such, the execution passive and associated additional gold generation of Triumph, Treasure Hunter, and The Collector itself can help you stay far enough ahead to play the game the way Graves wants.
The third item choice for Graves in the Jungle
While many games will result in surrender (for your team or the opponents) before you reach your third item, knowing our options and when each is worth consideration is still relevant.
The Black Cleaver is the go-to that shines in most situations. The most notable ones are against one or more strong Tank champions that utilize Armor, or when your team relies on multiple AD champions for their damage output.
The Guardian Angel
While this item seems great on paper, it isn’t nearly as useful as it used to be with Graves’ previous strong periods. As the champion no longer relies on the lifesteal-heavy build of Immortal Shieldbow and The Bloodthirster, you don’t have the same chance of survival as it used to provide. The moment you die, you are likely just going to die again four seconds later.
Lord Dominik’s Regards
The Lord Dominik’s Regards is an old favorite of Graves that still finds its uses. The stats Lord Dominik’s Regards provides are still highly beneficial and make a great choice when faced with two or more champions with large health pools. Great examples of these champions in the current meta include Malphite, Nasus, Ornn, and Cho’Gath. Depending on the strength of these champions in the game, you can consider purchasing the item even ahead of, or in place of, The Collector.
What are the starting items and boots for Graves
Graves Jungle is one of the most flexible Jungle champions available regarding the choice of starting item. All three jungle items see a lot of play at all ranks for Graves, with Sorchclaw Pup (red) taking the lead in popularity because it is the left-most suggested item option.
Regarding boots, the choice is even easier for Graves, although you tend not to upgrade your boots too early in the match. The two (by far) most popular options are Plated Steelcaps and Mercury’s Treads. Plated Steelcaps is the default, with Mercury’s Treads being a response against a specific threat. Some examples can include a good Leona player on the enemy team providing too much crowd control or a specific CC ability you are looking to survive, such as Sejuani’s ultimate.
How to approach a game as Graves: game plan overview
While many League of Legends champions are simple enough to start practicing right away in normal games, Graves is one of the few worth exploring in the practice tool. There are a lot of small mechanics that you need to keep track of that are too distracting to learn while you are focusing on everything else. First and foremost, Graves’ positioning.
One of the main aspects differentiating a good Graves player from a great one is their use of New Destiny, the multishot passive. Finding the correct distance and angle between yourself and the minions or jungle creatures you are attacking takes some practice, but getting the hang of how many minions you hit with each attack is extremely important. Notably, Graves cannot hit through other minions, as the bullets from his shotgun hit the first targets they come across.
One simple way to speed up clearing the jungle camps or melee minions as Jungle Graves is to step slightly to the side when you walk away from the minions or monsters following you. Then, by attacking, you hit multiple targets due to New Destiny, even if the units are very close to your character.
Graves’ passive Armor buff, tips, and tricks
One of the most forgotten aspects of Graves is the armor buff he gains from Quickdraw, which can significantly reduce the damage you take throughout clearing your jungle. Ensuring you stay in combat while you move around your jungle camps and upkeep your passive can mean the difference between winning or losing that fight when you find the enemy jungler throughout the match.
Similarly, Quickdraw reloads one shot for New Destiny which requires some timing to optimize. One mistake that bothers me a lot when I see my teammates try out Graves is that they’ll be halfway through reloading their weapon when they cast Quickdraw, essentially losing as much as a second on an animation that restarts after their next attack. The way to use Quickdraw is to cast it immediately as your second shot is leaving your gun, allowing you to shoot again instantly. With some practice, you can even incorporate the movement from Quickdraw to improve your positioning or move toward your next objective's direction. To continue briefly on moving around the jungle, you’ll want to ensure you are always moving away while reloading with New Destiny or that you are using that time to cast your abilities. Standing around only causes you to take damage you don’t need to, so keep those feet off the ground!
As a final note, while many of you will instinctively learn this as you play Graves, try and use the structures around the map to your advantage with End of the Line. Especially while clearing jungle camps, you should always ensure the ability hits a wall to explode the powder round immediately. Though exploding the round immediately seems unimportant, consistently doing so can speed up your jungle clear by up to several seconds between the passive burn from your Jungle item and the damage registering faster if you use it to deal the final damage.
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