Sigbog has been playing League of Legends since Season 1 and is currently a Grandmaster level jungler.
Drakes: A Critical Early Objective
Securing drakes is a primary objective in League of Legends that can easily make or break your victory, particularly during mid to late stages of the game when the pace picks up and the benefits added start to multiply. It spawns every five minutes, so keep your eye on the timer.
Each perk offers a key strategic advantage, though not all are immediately clear.
- The Wind Drake is good for map control, rotating to help allies, minimal downtime when farming, maintain pressure, and of course chasing. When facing opponents with multiple Wind Drakes, be very cautious of lane roams and picks.
- The Mountain Drake is best for rushing objectives, split pushing, and is generally the drake you want if you're winning and need to close out. When facing opponents with multiple Mountain Drakes, WARD BARON!
- The Infernal Drake is good for high damage team comps, particularly burst comps, but is overall just good for combat, and even farming as it can help early game last hitting and lane harass. When facing opponents with multiple infernal drakes, try to play the map, get vision, and get favorable team fights, picks, or split pushing objectives.
- The Ocean Drake is good for skirmishing and pressure and is particularly effective if you have a poke comp, or are facing a poke comp. It also helps minimize downtime when farming/laning and maintaining pressure around the map. It’s a great convenience dragon. When facing opponents with multiple Ocean Drakes, fight all in or all out, don't bother poking. Disengage aggressively.
- The Elder Drake is a game-ender. It's incredibly powerful, particularly if you've slain multiple drakes already. It's short so plan to push straight from killing elder. It's so powerful you can likely force mediocre engages and win. When facing opponents with Elder Drakes, avoid fighting them like the plague. It's very short so try your best to run it out. If they've slain it twice, the buff is stronger and lasts longer, your best choice is probably to surrender. If you don't want to do that, your only option is to catch them in a sloppy rotation and make a pick or execute a Wombo faster than they can respond.
Drake Stat Bonuses
+3/4.5/6% movement speed. Tripled when out of combat.
+16/23/30% additional damage as true damage to epic monsters and turrets
+10/17/24% bonus attack damage and ability power
restores +6/9/12% of missing health and mana over 5 seconds when not damaged by champions or turrets within the past 8 seconds
Elder Drake (1st kill)
+50% to your team's current Drake buffs. Basic attacks burn your opponent for 45 true damage (+45 per drake you've slain) over 3 seconds. Lasts 150 seconds.
Elder Drake (2nd kill)
Doubles your team's current Drake buffs. Basic attacks burn your opponent for 135 true damage (+90 per drake you've slain) over 3 seconds. Lasts 300 seconds.
Season 9 Updates
In the pre-season of season 9, drakes have been tweaked a little bit to add emphasis to it as an objective. Spawn timer went from 6 minutes to 5 minutes, gold rewarded went from 25 to 100, and buffs have been adjusted. The buffs remain the same but tuning has changed. Previously, each incremental kill of an elemental drake would add the same bonus to the stat provided (so if it was +8% ad/ap for the 1st kill, the 2nd would add another +8% up to a total of +16%). Now, the stats skew to the first takedown. For example, Cloud Drakes now provides +3% movement speed on the first kill, whereas before it was 2%. However, having 3 Cloud Drakes still nets out to +6% movement speed.
The end result is that drakes are much more important to contest and require a lot more attention! So take notice of all the details in this guide to help you in season 9.
To maximize your chance at securing a dragon, you need to do a lot of preparation. You can’t go running into the vision-less river, without ultimates, potentially unhealed, just because it’s there. If you aren’t prepared, you have to just give it up and make a play elsewhere. If you don’t, you could risk losing a bunch of teammates in addition to the dragon.
Start preparing 45 seconds to 1:45 before the dragon spawns. Be careful, this is also the time to look for a pick, avoid getting picked, or generally find yourself in early forced fights when trying to make a play for the dragon control as enemy champions also look to prepare.
- Use your Scryer’s Bloom to check for any wards placed by your enemies, preferably before placing your own wards so they don't see you do it. You can also use these to scan for enemy champions looking to get control as well. Right around the dragon is priority, but entrance points to the river are important too.
- Place Control wards in the dragon pit to clear any vision. If they don’t know if you’re on a dragon or not, they may make a poor decision and face check a bush or make a desperate engage. Control points in the river bush and river entry points are also useful, but second priority. Take note if you drop the control ward on dragon it could bounce a little and leave the backside of the dragon uncovered by your control ward.
- Scuttle is critical in granting vision and speed if there is a fight. The Scuttle speed shrine lasts 75 seconds, so be sure to get it with the dragon 1 minute away at most.
Take Control to Get a Favorable Position in the Team Fight
- Top lane is critical for a dragon fight, particularly if the first turret blood is still up. If top joins the dragon fight, you risk losing top tower. If the top doesn’t join, you risk a 5v4. The best way to handle this is to ensure the top is pushing to your opponent’s side before top joins you, and have your top’s teleport spell ready. You could get a 5v4 advantage, or an even 5v5 with a side lane pushing. Your advantage either way. If the top does have lane priority but does not join you, and their top does, you do have to deal with a 5v4, but they could claim top tower as a result. This could still be net positive depending on the drake and whether or not the first turret blood is still available.
- It goes without saying your smite should be off cooldown if you plan to take a dragon. But you should also save a skill (particularly an execute with % health damage) to use in combo with your smite to minimize the chance of stealing.
- Be sure to grab your buffs 1:30 or more before the dragon spawns and don’t risk poor dragon control for 1 buff. Buffs are very valuable in combat, but they aren't worth putting yourself at a disadvantage in the upcoming team fight or losing dragon altogether due to the enemy team rotating faster.
- Beyond the Scryers Bloom granting vision, you need to account for the other plants. Pop your enemy’s blast cones to avoid letting them get into a more favorable position. Likewise, check and see if your blast cones are available and be ready to use them. The one that is most critical is the one behind the dragon pit. Also, if someone is low and needs to B, check for honeyfruit for them to heal from your team doesn’t risk engaging a fight with them at the base.
It's Time to Fight!
- Be mindful of chokepoints entering the river, do you want enemies there, or not? What are the team comps? If they have massive AoE damage you want to fight in the river. Using your vision and poke should let you force them to where you want them as long as you establish control first.
- Don’t aggro dragon as a forcing function! It creates chaos in your team being unsure if you should rush dragon, peel off it to drop aggro, or let it attack you as you engage the enemy team. Also, only force if you know you can win the smite fight. Champions like Nunu will rarely lose a smite fight with an enemy jungler, but champions like Amumu almost always will. Be mindful of champions with mobility and executes like Lee Sin, Kha'zix, or Shaco.
- The right time to force dragon is to aggro it against your enemies if they are closer to the pit if you think you can burn it down fast enough before they can really react. Or, if you plan to aggro it, pull it out, back off, and then re-engage when it turns on enemy champions. Or of course, if you're just strong enough to kill them if they come close.
- Pull the dragon out of its pit if you want to avoid risking a steal or use more space to avoid grouping too closely.
- Don’t forget that dragon attacks have some secondary things to consider.
- Infernal Drake causes splash damage so don't stand with allies when you're fighting it.
- Ocean Drake slows a lot so it can be tough to escape from, but nasty if you can force it to aggro your opponent.
- Mountain Drakes are slow and overall have low DPS but hit harder and have a lot of health. They are the easiest to solo kill.
- Wind Drakes are fast and overall have very high DPS but much weaker. They are the hardest to solo kill.
Champions That Will Definitely Steal Your Kill!
Leave a question or comment if you want me to cover anything else or if you just want to say it's been helpful! Good luck on the rift!
What's Your Favorite?
sigbog (author) from USA on October 23, 2018:
Thank you! Sorry for being 11 months late lol but I completely agree. I will update this article and include your feedback, and pull in elder too!
Liam Soo from Sydney, Australia on October 29, 2017:
Wow, extensive guide! However, you should include the repercussions of letting the enemy team have the more powerful dragons ie. infernal, elder so that the reader has a better idea of which dragons are more highly contested. Overall, great job!