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Jungling 202: Beyond The Basics
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Foreword: Opening Comment and Change Log
Thanks to everyone who voted and put both of my guides passed 90%! If you have preferences, comments, insight or criticism, I have been reading and responding to the comments. If you want more content, videos, pictures, builds, guides or anything let me know via comment or PM. I am still changing information, making edits and also updates to reflect the patches.
I created a new guide for the junglers, click these words to see it!
Sexy formatting inspired by Jhoijhoi's How To Make a Guide! You can find out how to do this here: Making a Guide
This guide is in the process of being proofread, revamped, expanded and formatted. Check back soon for the .pdf version!
Small changes, meta notes and updates are in gold (unless it looks like ****). You can find the gold or new posts by searching for || (shift and \ two times) if you want to see just the changes from last time! These notes will remain marked until the next patch, at which time they will become "old" information.
- 01-28-2011: Updated the characters and descriptions.
- 12-4-2011: HUGE Overhaul! Videos, pics and the like to come. New site and articles coming up in the near future. Reworded and wrote things to incorporate the new jungle changes. Chapters 1-7 updated, edited and posted. New jungling changes applied to these sections! New Chapter added!
- 11-1-2011: Counter Jungling Section added!
- 10-5-2011: Ganking section (mostly) complete and posted!
- 9-1-2011: I have set my scopes back onto this guide with more experience, a fresh mind and more ideas. I changed the chapter layout, a few pieces of information and added in filler sections for some new knowledge to be added.
- 8-18-2011: Integrated old data, added a new note on when to jungle. Changed WW's blue text color.
- 8-17-2011: Added a few junglers and misc. changes.
- 8-2-2011: Added opening comment, completed the formatting for colors and appearance. Made many, many changes on the content to refresh content. Larger changes have been marked with ||.
- 7-26-2011: Updated format and change format.
- 7-21-2011: Format changed and overhauled! I will be going through the guide next for content checking again.
- 7-21-2011: Guide updated with Mobafire Chapters! More changes to come.
- 7-19-2011: Moved and reformatted the change log to make changes easier to see for repeat visitors. Added junglers Lee Sin, Fiddlesticks and Rammus to the character listings. Added in pictures/columns/formatting (still undergoing changes)
- 7-17-2011: Deleted an outdated paragraph saying that Udyr can't lane (changed with patch 18.104.22.168), Warwick couldn't lane (recently rose to popularity and was nerfed) and that full tanks such as Cho and Jarvan aren't as good in the jungle (ignorance to the EU meta under the assumption this is read mostly be US players). Also updated many comments about Udyr as they have also changed with that patch. Big thanks to Dravoth
- 6-30-2011: Revised spawn timers (thanks MaRtinZz) and added in a section about usage of red buff (thanks Bernarnar)
- 6-30-2011: Guide Posted
- 6-27-2011: Revisions, word reworkings and editing completed
- 6-15-2011: Rough draft completed
- 5-10-2011: Guide written
MMMI wrote this long, exhaustive guide because the other guides are lacking many key areas. I have found that most jungling guides are simplistic versions of jargon and routing and never fully explain what you should actually be doing. This is mostly found in the character guides for a specific jungler, which contains a brief jungling tutorial. Character guides mostly cover your route and possibly counter-jungling, however not the fundamentals that are very important with any character you choose. This guide is here to help you decide who you want to jungle with, what you need to be doing, where you should be, when you have to be there, and why. Most importantly, this guide covers how to improve your game to launch into being a valuable team asset.
MMMAs the definition of guide goes, this is meant to lead you in the right direction, to show you the way. This is not the end all be all of jungling and the information herein should be taken into consideration, not mindlessly followed. I wrote this to make you a better jungler and player, not to create jungle zombies.
MMMThis guide is also really long and always getting longer( ). Take your time and don’t be overwhelmed.
- Blue –Golem with blue buff and two small lizards
- Wolves – One large wolf and two little wolves
- Wraiths – One large wraith and three smaller wraiths
- Golems – Two large golems
- Red – One large lizard with red buff and two smaller lizards
MMMI don’t necessarily like the way tier lists are laid out, mostly due to the misunderstanding of the tiers. Stonewall’s tier list only judges a character’s ability to jungle. Just because he’s in tier 1 of his list doesn’t mean he’s right for your team, situation or play style. Shaco topped the charts for a long time and is not the right pick most of the time. To reiterate, his list does not take into consideration your situation or the character’s viability outside of the jungling aspects. TheOddOne’s list, on the other hand, takes into consideration “competitive” jungling, which is to say organized five-man jungling. His top pick (Nunu) is amazing on an organized team, but in the lower ELOs you might as well just smash your face into a keyboard trying to assist bad teammates. His choices don’t bring into consideration that your team could be awful, which is a reality for players in this game. Don’t let tier lists rule your jungling choices.
MMMFor the purposes of this guide, a jungler is someone who can reliably perform the duties of a jungler without altering their item or skill builds. Almost any character can be built to kill neutral minions, and some characters are inherently good at clearing creeps. A jungler, however, will be able to clear the entire jungle without losing much time or resource at all stages of the game. A good example of this is Corki. Corki can clear minions with near unmatched speed, devastating creep waves. Unfortunately, he has little to no sustainability in the jungle early on because of his low health and inability to regain it without altering his build (having to get lifesteal early).
MMMAnother factor in who can jungle is determined on the meta and team composition. Some of the “weaker” junglers have to jungle when the team needs their role. Typically in EU there is a full tank jungler (Rammus, Jarvan, Cho’Gath, etc.) because the combination of AD/Support bot, AP solo mid and AP top doesn’t leave room for a tank. Because of this, a few tank junglers are viable simply because the team doesn’t have a tank otherwise.
MMMAlong these same lines is having to know that some teams in unranked play do not have a jungler. This means that not only do you need a strong solo lane, you need a solo that can hold a lane against two champions. Most of the time this comes down to player skill and realization that you have to help them out. In games where do you have enemies duo laning both top and bottom, remember that your role will change. Your responsibility becomes more presence in the lane that is getting hammered by a 2v1. They will most likely keep your top lane pinned against your tower, but that is ideal for you. The farther across the river they go, the easier they are to gank. Just remember that their job is to just hold the lane and yours is to make sure it continues to be held, even if sacrifices to jungling need to be made. This is where competent friends come in handy, as trusting a stranger is a ****shoot.
Rule of thumb: If you don’t feel like your team can support two solo lanes (one possibly v2), do not jungle. Junglers are specific characters with specific summoner spells. When having to lane their effectiveness is dropped, and depending on the champion they might not be able to even handle the lane. Don’t hurt your team by trying to help your team, instead communicate your intent and make sure that they understand the need for a strong laner.
MMMThe last consideration on when to jungle is your ability to lane and understanding of the game. Junglers have to help and support other character's deficiencies and in order to do that, you have to know what they are. Spend time being rounded before diving into the jungle because if you cannot lane or don't understand pushing and team objectives, you will be poor at jungling. You are able to learn these things through the jungle, but it takes a lot of time and observation that is better served laning. I would not recommend jungling before summoner level 20.
MMMHow you actually jungle is the most important part of this guide, and as such has its own section below. You have many roles to fill as a jungler, and it is your job to smooth out and glue your team together. How you go about this is explained alongside what it is you need to be doing in the sections below.
A more in-depth analysis of all the junglers here!
MMMNow that you’re intending to jungle, take some time to evaluate who you want to play. When deciding on a jungler, your individual play style and preferences do matter. If you prefer playing passively, pick a farm oriented jungler that has a strong late game. If you’re hyper aggressive, pick a strong ganking jungler. Beyond that, a jungler is often underappreciated and will not receive the spotlight or kill/death ratio of a carry. If you’re a glory hound, know that you might get a “thanks” or “good job” thrown around here or there, but you’re not going to be praised for doing a good job. Realistically, for someone with such a critical position on a team, you’re often berated for not being everywhere every time all the time. Here is a brief synopsis of the roles you can fill on a team:
MMMA tank is someone who is designed to initiate and take damage. They may not always live, however starting a good fight is necessary. You will need to protect your team to the best of your ability, so a lot of CC typically comes on tanks. These are typically the harder and less desirable roles on a team to fill, but a necessary one.
MMMSupport champions always have a lot of CC in order to control the pace of a fight and help your team. The qualifying factor is mostly low damage output, but that means they don’t need any farm to be effective. In the jungle, a support jungler is usually good at ganking and winning early skirmishes. This role is typically filled by bottom lane and can sometimes hurt a team comp if doubled up on.
MMMA Utility champion is one that brings a lot of CC. Not unlike a tank or Support, this champion provides more than one form of disruption and can be a real bother to the enemy team. This is its own category because some tanks and supports have this ability, while others do not, and a few non-supports have this as well.
MMMThis is a character that primarily does AP damage. They are necessary in the early and mid game as their base damages are typically very high. In the late game, their effectiveness is reduced, but still far from useless.
MMMThis is a character that relies primarily on AD damage and can provide enough to a team that it matters. Most characters do some form of AD damage, however an AD Carry is a different story. These characters will typically be squishy but very deadly in the late game.
MMMA team with a few of these on them can be the same as a team with a dedicated tank. Pick this when you want to try to carry your game and possibly have another tank or tanky DPS character on your team.
MMMThese characters specialize in removing someone from a fight by either heavy CC or killing them. They are important against certain team compositions and can heavily influence games by taking their strongest character out of the fight.
MMMWhile this may not be the easiest part of selecting your jungler, it isn’t as critical in the lower levels of play. You can just pick whatever you want to play and as long as you have a remotely decent team you will do just fine. If you aren’t sure who to play, just play Gangplank or Skarner as they can change the game with a well-placed ultimate and are very strong at all ELOs. In higher levels of play, coordination with your team’s intentions is completely necessary. Communicating your intent and discussing it will help you decide who is best for the team, especially if in draft mode. With that said, here’s a rundown of the characters:
MMMI consider Amumu a very strong arranged team or high level pick. He has a bucket full of utility, lives forever and still does a significant amount of damage.He fits any team because his initiation and teamfight presence is top notch.
MMMCho’Gath is a versatile jungler with various paths, recovery options and counter jungling options. His ganks are reliant on landing a Rupture, which can be frustrating. He makes up for it by having a fierce late game and toolbox.
MMMFiddlesticks has slowed down in the new jungle, but can still be played by die-hards. His ganks are pretty nasty once he hits level 6, but can be prevented by warding. Combined with other CC from laners, his ganks will net kills and he will end up doing silly late game damage.
- AP Damage
MMMFizz isn't a great jungler, but he can still do it. His ganks offer up some decent damage, but going this route doesn't take advantage of his AP ratios. A good player who likes him can still make him viable, but for most others he isn't a good choice.
- AP Damage
- Tanky DPS (if you want)
MMMHis presence in and out of the jungle is menacing. He is able to resist counter jungling very well, gives his entire team a steroid that helps push and win fights. He can also use his ultimate to secure assists from anywhere on the map, defend towers and win teamfights.
- AD Damage
- Tanky DPS
MMMJarvan can reliably perform level 2+ ganks. He is a tanky character that can dive someone at a low level and make it out most times. His primary ability is that of initiation in the mid and late game. If you want to start a fight just E+Q into some baddies and blow the earth up. Overall a strong, reliable ganker and tanker even though he isn’t very mana sustained without blue.
- Tanky DPS
MMMKayle has very high damage ganks coming out of the jungle and has a fast clear. Her sustainability and early dueling capabilities aren't great, but her damage output to a lane, usefulness in her ultimate and end game capabilities make her a solid choice.
- AD Damage
MMMThis guy can breeze through the jungle thanks to his shield, lifegain and passive increasing his attack speed. He also doesn’t have mana to worry about and can just cruise through. While his ganking is semi-dependent on landing a skill shot, his presence outside the jungle is pretty insane. He's a high skill-cap champion that is rewarding and fun.
- Tanky DPS
MMMMalphite is an excellent counter-pick to heavy AD teams. A team with an AD carry, AD based top laner (think Talon, Riven, etc.) and AD jungler (Nocturne, etc.) will be really set back with Malphite. His effectiveness outside of that is fine because his clear speed is great and sustain is high, but it won't be as ideal.
- Tanky DPS
MMMMaokai excels in his ability to bring very strong, high damage ganks out of the jungle around level 4. He will carry teams if they have the ability to capitalize on this and has a good late game utility. His clear is also pretty fast with two AoE spells, but he lacks good mana sustainability.
The Super Awesome Samurai Ninja Power Guy that Wears Headgear like Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell Jungler
MMMMr. Yi is a really sweet character. I rate him as hit or miss, so if you feel like you can do well with him, you will carry games super hard. His ganks are reliant on a slowing mechanism on hit, but he makes up for it in the middle or end of a teamfight. He has scary damage and sustain and can win games by backdooring most times.
- AD Damage
MMMNasus is able to jungle fairly well, though he doesn't like ganking. It's not that he can't gank, it's just you want that Siphoning Strike farm and this leaves lanes to suffer for it. His ganks and late game are beastly if you can get there, but his early clearing speed is laughably slow.
MMMNautilus is a very strong ganking jungler that starts off slow and gets better in the late game. He has a ridiculous amount of CC and a strong kit overall. His tankiness converts to damage later on, so he is pretty handy, not to mention MASSIVE!
MMMNocturne is one of the best jungling gankers in the game. He does a ton of damage and has a spell shield to increase survivability. “The Darkness is closing in…it’s pitch black now…but I can still see him.” A strong jungler and solid pick, not to mention his badassery.
- AD Damage
MMM He can counter jungle very well and be very annoying for the enemy team. In the early to mid-game you are a fast menace around the map slowing enemies to enable ganks for your lanes. I recommend him as a starter to anyone trying to jungle as he is easier to pick up than most and has an extremely strong and fast jungle.
MMMOlaf is a complete monster, and needs to be treated as such. Your job is to be a tanky absorber of damage to initiate a fight, then pop your ultimate and murder their carries repeatedly. He has recently fallen out of the jungling limelight, but remains a strong character.
- AD Damage
- Tanky DPS
MMMRammus, oh Rammus. He has the ability to change the game and against lesser players his taunt and initiation will win games. He is the strongest ganker that doesn’t have to use an ultimate and can do it as early as level 3 or 4 (depending on skill order). He is still a strong jungler that’s also a tank.
MMMRiven has one of the highest capabilities to carry a game. She does insane damage in the early game and has a strong mid game with only a kill or two. If she manages to get fed, she will carry a game super hard.
- AD Damage
- Tanky DPS
MMMSejuani has serious early sustainability issues, but great late game utility. Her ganks are strong with a constant slow and post-level 6 her ganks become amazing. She has an AoE stun on Xerath range, so she is definitely a viable pick, but has downfalls.
MMMHe has a very unique role from other junglers, which is to be appreciated. Most of Shaco’s role is to constantly gank and harass the enemy lanes and jungle with his cloaking, Jack in the Box and mobility. Later in the game, he is an excellent backdoor character, using his twin and a creep wave to drop towers while the team defends the enemies. A well-played Shaco is a valuable asset, but a lot people aren't good.
- AD Damage
MMMShen has a great place on some teams as a decent ganker with a strong game. He isn't great at anything in particular, but has the capability to really turn a game around. A well-rounded pick in the jungle that is pretty fun to play and hyper-aware.
MMMShyvana is a tanky jungler with the fastest clear speed around. Her AoE and attack damage reset makes it so she clears the jungle silly fast. He ganks really aren't great, but if she has lane CC, you'll probably not live from one. Her area of expertise is counter-jungling because she's a strong duelist.
- Tanky DPS
- AD Damage
MMMSinged is a new pick to the jungle and a pretty strong one at that. He is able to clear fast due to his poison and his ganks are very strong. He doesn't get as much farm as top lane, but also can farm unharassed, leaving him with a good mid-game. A solid pick for Singed lovers and tank lovers alike.
MMMSkarner is a very strong pick in the jungle with quick clearing, high sustain and strong ganks. His ultimate provides great utility and can turn the tides of a game. He is also relatively simple to play and has really tanky stats.
- Tanky DPS
MMMTrundle is excellent at ganking with his pillar and is a great, tanky character. He is one of my favorites to play and can end up carrying a game if your team can help you a little.
- Tanky DPS
MMMTryndamere is a very sustained jungler with some real power in ganks. He can perform early and semi-reliable ganks, sort of like a Master Yi with a slow. He also has the ability to carry a game as a fed Tryndamere is almost completely unstoppable.
- AD Damage
MMMUdyr has a crazy amount of damage and can stun people repeatedly in fights. He is essentially a tanky DPS character that roams around fights decimating people attacking your carries. While you can go on the offensive, he does massive damage when not being kited so going after the guy charging your carry will almost always score a kill.
- Tanky DPS
MMMVolibear is ok in the jungle, but doens't have the fastest clear around. He can gank pretty strong and does good late game damage if fed, but otherwise is underwhelming. His main issue is having to be melee range and live to deal damage with his ultimate.
MMMWarwick is nearly unkillable in a fight and has one of the best ultimates in the game. Having a suppress to gank people with is invaluable and will win many, many fights. However, before you get to level 6 Warwick is really bad. He is great at causing general mayhem in teamfights while living to tell the tale.
MMM Xin is unique in that he can perform very strong, reliable ganks at any level. I have seen and done Xin bottom lane ganks right after blue if they are pressuring very hard and/or pushed up already. His three talon strike deals massive damage and has a knockup finisher, so if you time your charge right they will not escape you. He isn’t as useful in the higher ELOs because his teamfighting is ok at best and a smart players won’t extend far enough to score kills on. He has a strong presence and will quickly end games against foolish enemies.
- AD Damage
- Tanky DPS
MMMThere are many different routes that vary per character, but there are a few that are really just set in stone or used for different purposes. Certain junglers can only complete their routes with specific starting items. Other characters want to start with an item to build into others faster instead of wasting gold on “useless” starters and health potions. Some paths, runes and masteries are created around non-typical item starts in order to gain advantage. However, after a long time of playing with starting items, starting items dictate what you can do in the jungle on flexible characters and the style of game you’re going to play. Standard starts are not mandatory on most characters! Here is a run-down of the typical starting items and what they allow you to do.
MMMThere are many items in the game, and overall tons of things to get. Most characters have a “core” defined in a guide somewhere, or items they cannot live without. So I have decided to include a “jungling items core” or items you will see on almost any jungler and their best friends. The reason I choose these items is because you typically have less farm and income as a jungler. Because of this, certain expensive items aren’t viable most of the time, as you’ll be getting them extremely late in the game. Your primary function is to be an amazing utility to your team. You will not have solo lane farm, so don’t try to be the hero unless you’re crazy fed. This is a rundown of what to get, when, why and how it impacts your character. It does not include late game or completed items because that is very character dependent.
MMMThe next part of where you need to be is what happens during team fights and scuffles. This will heavily depend on the character as some are meant to be in the fray and others far from it. As a general rule, if you are coming late to a fight, flank someone through the nearest jungle. Use the fact that they don’t know you are there to secure an easy kill, even if you come from their jungle to score a last hit near their towers. Unless they are heavily warding (if they are, you’re playing high level and will have bought an Oracle anyway), they will not truly know where you are and this is an immense advantage to be taken.
MMM I don’t care if you’re in the middle of fighting your wolves or killing golems. There is no excuse aside from having no health or mana, which in that case you shouldn’t even be in your jungle. What this will do is put you in a position to either help your teammates live, secure a kill or cleanup after they unfortunately died. Now your next natural question is what constitutes a fight? Well that is determined by your distance to them. If you’re doing wraiths and their jungler runs up passed river or close to the middle of river to dive at your mid laner, that is a fight. Because you’re right next to them, you can quickly get there and coordinate with your middle lane to score a kill. If you are doing your wraiths and enemy top lane Garen plays the “jump out of the bushes and spin-to-win” game, you won’t make it in time to make a difference so continue doing your jungle. However, if the wards you are placing reveal a second or third en route to the top lane in order to gank, leave to support immediately. A quick rundown of scenarios that are and aren’t fights (certainly not set in stone) would be:
- A ward picks up someone coming to a lane. Get there to support them.
- An enemy that was MIA shows up somewhere near you on the map. You might not be able to stop their death, but if you’re fast enough and they dive hard enough, you will get a cleanup double/triple.
- A jungler pops out and starts to go at your nearest lane. You’re a jungler, too! Don’t let them have all the fun.
- Typical lane harassment. Lanes aren’t passive, especially duos. You can’t be babysitting every lane because they feel they can take their opponents down. Remind them they’re not the juggernaut and hope they calm down.
- Jungler ganks across the map. You’re not going to make it, go about your business or counter jungle.
- A laner shows up in a different spot (far away from you). Once again, you won’t make top lane in time for it to matter if you’re doing small golems. A well placed ward should help prevent this, and is a better alternative.
MMMThis entire guide is meant for you to be a thought using individual, and in no way let this rule be your steadfast play style. Think of it more like a set of training wheels that will help you determine where you need to be and whether making it to a fight is practical given your current location.
MMMAnother situation you might run into with a pre-6 ganking jungler is such that you are continuously ganking or needed and cannot keep up your level in between all of that. I used to run into this problem on Amumu frequently because I would spend all my time before level 6 walking around starting teamfights and ganks. However, if they didn’t go as planned, my late game came and I was 4-5 levels behind the highest level in the game. Get your levels in when you can and don’t forget to do it or you will fall behind and become a burden to your team.
MMMSome things you can do establish fear other than ganking lanes is harass champions, use the one lane rule and destroy their wards. If you are making your presence aware and they’re still not scared of you, they’re probably feeding your team. A lot of players thing they’re unlucky when doing something risky and you JUST HAPPEN to be there. Never be idle. Do not sit in the bushes for 2 minutes to wait for a gank. If you’re there longer than 20 seconds, you’re wasting your time. Harass someone else, go level more, go buy, kill their jungle, do something. Everyone has games where it seems like the jungler is always there when they happen to extend and do something stupid. Then they try to justify it with “OF COURSE HE WAS THERE AT THIS TIME.” That is not a coincidence, it is knowing where to be and establishing presence. After a few of those, one starts to think that anything they do will be punished by the jungler.
MMMOne thing to remember when you’re covering a lane is that most champions don’t want it to be pushed up. This means that you don’t auto attack the creeps and just let your minions charge their tower unless you feel that you can destroy or seriously damage that tower. Pushing someone’s lane up while they’re not there forces them to come back to a vulnerable position. Last hit only or push the wave out and leave the lane.
MMMBecause you will have “downtime” when fighting creeps and running between camps (time where you don’t actually have to pay attention), you are the eyes of the team. If you see someone going top/bottom passed one of your wards, call and ping it. If you spot their jungler/roamer on the move and feel that you can get him, let your team know to support you and take him down. As a jungler, map awareness is absolute key, pretend like you’re playing Shen at all times.
MMMWhen the other team decides that they don’t know what last hitting is and pushes lanes hard all day, you get free food. If an enemy and their wave is constantly pushed up passed the midpoint of any lane, you want to capitalize on this with your corresponding lane champion or even the closest lane champion as well. This is the part that everyone loves about junglers – getting those kills. Don’t listen to fools who just call for ganks on their full life duo lane that they pushed to the enemy tower. Pick and choose your opportunities to secure kills and advantage. You should already be watching all of your lanes in your “downtime” in the jungle, so knowing what lanes are low and gankable is done already. If you see that a lane is going to be gankable soon tell them to save their resources (life/mana) and “creep” your way down there. That is to say that you should kill the jungle camps in your path on the way to the bottom to buy them some time to whittle down your opponent to death range.
MMMDeath range varies greatly from jungler to jungler and lane to lane. I have, as Olaf, walked in on two full life heroes pushed up too far and butchered them. This won’t work with Nunu without the support of a carry or damage dealer. Know your character and their capabilities to maximize your effectiveness on the gank.
NOTE: A gank is succeeded if they use their summoner abilities (Flash, Ghost, etc.) and NOT NECESSARILY if you kill them. If you gank mid lane and they have to flash out, congratulations. Don’t dive them, don’t be a reckless, bloodthirsty scrub, let them be. They now have to deal with the fact that you’re still there and they don’t have a way to escape you anymore. That is powerful. See the ganking section for more information on ganking do’s and don’ts
MMMThere is a very overlooked and important part of this idea not found lower level games. If you do a gank and they flash out, escape or just walk away but stick near their tower, DO NOT STAY IN THE LANE. The person(s) in that lane need the gold and experience in order to bring themselves into the late game. Nobody can stand a jungler who comes up, fails a gank and then steals all of the minion kills. That is an awful crime and should be avoided. This is not taking into consideration when the enemy champ isn’t there and you feel that you, your buddy and your wave can seriously damage or take a tower down. In that case, by all means, stay in the lane and take the tower. However, don’t be that guy that rolls in, last hits the carry’s minions and leaves or I will unlearn this guide from you.
- The jungler is constantly watching the lanes for opportunity to gank or assist anyway.
- You are watching all lanes at all times with your down time, not just focusing on your lane and ward revealing a jungle gank incoming.
- You generally don’t have someone against you trying to kill you at all times, not to mention you don’t have to worry about last hitting. This allows you to “gawk” unlike laners who get killed for this.
- Most junglers have enough utility to be able to start, maintain or finish a fight.
- The fact that you are anywhere at any given time can have a strong impact on the game if you call out their weakness right away. An example is a solo lane recalling and upon seeing that, pinging the mid and top laners to group up and hit the tower quickly.
- You don’t have a lane to maintain or worry about it being pushed. This allows you to just ignore your camps if you need to.
- Your lane is dominating and has either good CC or damage to assist you in a dive. This is when your lane is just making life hard for the opposite laner and you feel you can take advantage of this. This is typically reserved for the tankier junglers, but you can wait for your wave to push up and then jump onto them with your ally. This will yield a kill, summoner wasting, significant damage to a tower or a combination of any of those. Overall, this is the highest risk gank to perform, but often yields lane superiority and a tower.
- There is significant pressure or poke on your laner. This one will usually just relieve the pressure instead of securing a kill. Your overall goal here is to get a summoner, waste their mana or do some damage so that they can no longer fearlessly harass your laner. You don’t have to necessarily get a kill or cover the lane, you’re just trying to instill some respect into the opponent. You will perform this a lot if the enemy team has no jungler and you have to support top’s 1v2.
- The opponent is hyper-aggressive. Sometimes their AP carry or top laner is an insanely aggressive player. In this case, they will often run a high-risk style of play that has to be approached carefully. As the jungler, this is candy to you. You want your ally to start fighting or bait the opponent right before you’re in range to make it impossible to escape. This should typically be done when you know that this person will fall for the bait and is overall just playing too aggressively.
- You have confidence and a character that can perform an early gank. This one is a bit trickier because you have to be pretty ballsy and need great coordination, however the reward is vast. If you are playing Lee Sin or Maokai and perform a level 2 gank on a lane and it succeeds, there is a really high chance that lane will win. If you score a kill this early, they will be 2 levels behind all game. Unless your laner is awful, this is a won lane.
Importance to the Game
Opponent passed river midpoint: Low Risk / (Low-Medium) Reward
Relieves lane pressure, you get fed.
MMMThis is quintessential gank. It is really straightforward, pretty hard to mess up and if it happens often enough will lead to a fed jungler. It has a pretty big impact on the game because in order for someone to be pushed up, your lane ally will likely be getting deprived of last hits and farm. Helping your laner get off the tower to secure more last hits while killing his opponent creates massive advantage. This type of gank is very reliable, though it is a bit scarce in good matches.
Your lane is dominating: High Risk / (Medium-High) Reward
Secures advantage, denies opponent, damages a tower and forces an enemy jungler to respond.
MMMThis is a really risky move, typically, but often pays off big time. I find myself doing this only when the other lanes are doing fine and their jungler has been spotted somewhere else and/or I know they’re a non-issue. What I typically do is engage a fight with intent to dive (I only do this on voice chat so my laner knows) and then I go in, take a few tower hits and get out. This allows my laner to get in there, secure a kill and we both get out without death. If it is against a solo lane, you can then deal damage to the tower and likely take it. This provides massive advantage, but takes coordination, skill and risk. If this fails, your advantage fizzles.
Massive pressure on your team: Medium Risk / Medium Reward
Relieves lane pressure.
MMMYou will likely have to do this if they don’t have a jungler and it’s a 2v1 on top. You’re not really guaranteed a kill in this, but it can really help your laner do well in their lane. The basic principle is that someone at half-health will not be as aggressive as someone with full life. So you’re lowering their health, mana or summoner’s in order to make their laning pressure relent. You’re also reminding them that you’re there and they should calm down. You want to land some champion damage, as pushing the lane forward more will set up your team for failure instead of helping them.
Crazy aggression: Medium Risk / (Low-Medium) Reward
Relieves lane pressure, puts the aggressor in check, gives power to your ally.
MMMWe have all seen that character (usually AP carry mid) that is going absolutely berserk. They’re zoning the hell out of your lane, pushing the minions and denying last hits. They’re also poking and harassing you at every opportunity, which is overall making your lane really rough to deal with. This situation is extremely hard to pull off correctly for the aggressor. Not only do they have to be very aggressive and bold in their harassment, they have to know when and where you’re coming. Since they won’t always know when they’re in danger, you have your teammate engage them, and quickly come in afterward. This allows for their cooldowns to be blown or for them to overextend to get the kill. Ganks of this nature take away their means of early advantage (early AP/AD runes, early kills, snowball items) and secures at least a stalemate for your lane.
Early Ganks: Low Risk/High Reward
Gives a large, early advantage to a lane, provides early feed, scares the **** out of laners.
MMMThese are some of the hardest things to pull off because they’re so matchup and character dependant, however they can have an absolutely gigantic impact. I have lost a ranked game at 3 minutes because my top laner (Nasus) was ganked by Lee Sin at level 2 and gave Akali a kill. This led Nasus to being 1v1 with an Akali 2 levels higher than him with a kill. Akali proceeded to take Nasus out of the game while snowballing herself to win. If you can pull off a level 1-4 gank and have it secure a kill, there is a good chance that lane is won without any more help from you.
MMMFrom what I’ve just said, ganking sounds like a godsend and like something you should do always and forever. Of course this isn’t the case, as it’s easy to go overboard with your ganks. Unless you have a really volatile lane, you likely shouldn’t be ganking unless one of the above situations arise. If you are ganking lanes without the conditions listed above, you’re wasting your time. If you are ganking too often, you will fall behind even if you succeed in some of them. Because of the way experience works, you can be behind in levels, which could negate any early advantage you may have gained. Another thing to watch out for in ganking is improper timing. If you gank at the wrong times and don’t succeed, you’ve wasted not only your time, but your laner’s time and resource as well. This counts doubly so if you have died and fed the opposing laner.
MMMTo put a final note and recap what ganking accomplishes, I would like to say that if you do not see one of the above situations creating opportunity for a gank, your time is better spent counter jungling, farming or setting up wards. If the other team is constantly overextending or presenting scenarios in which you can capitalize on, do so and win hard.
MMMHave someone leash it for you, generally your midlane. “Leashing” is when a person on your team (usually the center laner) attacks the golem first and then leaves immediately. This pulls its attention away from you while you smash on it. If done properly, this sets up a perfect situation for you. The large golem will run from his spawning location to about the bushes attached to the tree line. If you auto attack him the entire time you will get some free damage in as well as set yourself up for fighting the golem in the bush. This has distinct advantages when considering counter jungling and invasion, so always fight the golem while in the bush. This is to say that if someone pokes in and you’re all in the bush, they will not see you, the golem or his buddies until he/she physically enters the bushes.
MMMYou will always want to have control of your blue buff, and possibly theirs. If their team does not have a jungler, absolutely go and steal it (making sure to ward the river behind you so that you don’t get jumped). When they do not have a jungler my path is altered to include picking up their buff. This can be done before or after ganking a lane and will help you while hurting their team.
MMMIn the later game, you are not master and commander of the buffs. Please don’t be the jungler that insists on taking blue buff over Anivia on your team. After you can clear the jungle without wasting much or any mana, give the blue buffs to your friendly casters. I absolutely guarantee that Anivia, Zilean or some other mana intensive monster will make better work of that blue buff than you.
MMMAs good practice, call out in team chat when the next blue buff is going to spawn. This will help you monitor where you want and need to be at different times in the game. An idea of this is “Our blue 7:53~”. This lets not only you but your team know when blue is coming back and should be gotten again. Don’t waste time getting it if it’s not necessary to do so.
MMMAs with the blue buff, you are usually not the master of the red buff later game. It is much better to put this on Corki than Nunu. If you are an AD carry (Olaf, Nocturne), feel free to take this for the duration of the game. Once again, calling out your buff respawn helps you and your team secure them immediately.
When to get it and why (Thanks to Bernarnar)
MMMMany new junglers mistake buffs for something that just needs to be done, much like CS. The reality is that buffs, especially red buff, are something that need to be coveted an used properly, otherwise don't bother getting them right away. This is seen a lot easier in red buff because, unlike the blue buff, which is always useful, the red buff is only useful for ganks early on. For this reason, I sometimes skip getting the red buff at the end of my route and instead recall, buy boots and then return to red looking to gank. This accomplishes many things such as being at full life, moving faster as well as having the slow for the incoming ganks. The red buff should not be taken at the end of your route simply because you can or because smite is up. Take it and use it properly in order to succeed on a higher level.
MMMAn important consideration for red buff is how bad the enemy jungler and yourself needs it. Some junglers do not pass off the blue buff, so keeping tabs on it is easy. However, junglers such as Master Yi and Shyvanna need red buff in order to gank properly. This means that counter jungling their red buff is much more powerful than blue buff, as they don’t need blue anyway. Find out how bad they need whichever buff and control it in order to control the game.
MMMDragon should be warded at all times. I would even go as far as to say pink warded all the time, but if they are not warding it (low levels) that becomes a waste. Not only does warding dragon provide you with information as to whether the enemy team is doing it, but is a common thruway for the mid and jungler to come to the bottom lane as well as providing sight to the river entrance into a blue buff area. This is one of the most useful wards to have for most of the game.
Solo Dragon v. Team Dragon
MMMIn the lower skill level games, dragon can be done by yourself. I really hesitate to say that, but the reality is that most of the junglers can handle dragon solo after they get Madred’s Razors. Because of this, you can pop in and kill the dragon with relative ease and speed, and I indeed did that for a long time. In the higher skill ranges, dragon is always a team adventure, mostly because it will always be warded. Keep in mind they might be warding dragon in low level play as well, so be very careful that you don’t get killed. When doing dragon alone, you have to be paranoid of where the middle and bottom laners are. If you are halfway into dragon and they haven’t even started to move towards you, chances are they are unaware it’s happening.
MMMThe team dragon is a far safer and more effective route. While you can take down a dragon by yourself with relative ease, it will take a while. The dragon applies an attack speed debuff on you, so even characters with high attack speeds (Warwick, Xin Zhao) will take a while to kill it as well as get low on health. Because of this, get someone from bottom lane or mid lane to come help you kill the dragon. Not only will this make it safer for you to do, but will make it so that you don’t have to recall when you’re finished and can instead gank a lane or return to the jungle.
MMMYou should always make dragon a team objective. The advantages to be had outweigh those of going at it alone. Typically after a tower is taken or gank is done on bottom or mid lanes, Dragon can be done. This allows you to pull laners away and pick up kills or at least deny them farm. You have to watch for teleporting and teamfights, as many of them will happen around dragon. Keeping your team aware of dragon will give a lot more cooperation with your team, and is your job to do.
Asking for Help
MMMBefore your character is level 6 or 7 with razors, have a teammate help you, even if you can solo it just fine. If you dip below a certain health threshold, you risk not only death from a straggler, but losing the dragon kill for your team that you worked so hard for.
MMMIt is the bottom lane’s responsibility to keep tabs on the dragon. If something is happening on or around dragon, one or both of the bottom laners should be there to help kill the dragon or any players doing it. Though many people do not know their role, bottom always has 2 people for this exact reason. Make sure you ask your bottom lane to check dragon periodically and/or to help you with it. While it is technically their responsibility, you can’t rely on someone to know this automatically.
MMMYou want to call out the next dragon in order to maximize your team’s gold. If you did the dragon solo, you still want to say it in chat just so you have record of when you want to go back and do it.
- Your lane champions have gotten their pushing power all together. This is different for a lot of characters, but examples of this would be old Vladimir hitting level 9, Corki hitting level 6, etc. Though these champions are able to solo a lane pretty well after this point, characters such as Irelia will want the extra support in there to quickly drop a tower.
- Your team is performing split pushing, where one or two lanes are either pushed or being held by a single champion while you and the rest of your team is pressuring a single tower. This sets up something like a fork in Chess, where they have to choose between defending this tower and losing the other tower or defending the other tower to have this one fall. You want to be there for your team in this instance because if they just choose to defend the pressured tower and you aren’t there, it could result in a wipe for your team.
- Many team fights and ganks are starting to happen. At a certain time, some games devolve into bloodbaths where everyone is travelling in 2-4 man squads gunning down your allies. My term for this is “clump-humping” because of Dodgeball’s “Like a bunch of ******s trying to hump a doorknob,” or in this case kill your team. In the case of clump-humping, you will want to stick with a teammate or two in order to stop them from causing too much destruction. You will not want to be the team starting the roving gank squads as the midgame needs to be about getting towers, positional advantage and map control. Getting towers and map control wins games, not killing people like a bunch of FPS junkies worried about your K/D.
- Though it was not explicitly addressed, certain champions will want leave the jungle earlier than others. Amumu will want to be out of the jungle and tanking/ganking lanes and supporting his team at level 6 because he has to do so. Shaco will want to be constantly picking on all the lanes and setting up counter jungle boxes as early as level 2. Sometimes your lanes are pushed up to enemy towers with strong defensive champions, leaving you no ganking opportunity and you just turtle around your jungle. Certain games have tons and tons of early action (20 kills before 10 minutes or something) and the lanes are very volatile. In that case, you want to maximize your team’s advantage by leaving the jungle earlier to help them out. Though these things might happen to you, as long as you’re not idle you’re doing an ok job. Use trial and error to find when to be in or out of the jungle and the one lane rule starts to become much more used and the radius widened.
MMMRemember, though, you still are a jungler at heart. If you have down time, are heading back to base or anything of the sort, do a quick route or camp. Recalling near wraiths? Score a quick 50-60 gold since you’re clearing time at this point should be legendary. You will still want to control the buffs and dragon throughout the game, keep that in mind when roaming later and make it a team effort to get it done quickly and safely.
MMMCounter jungling is an extremely strong set of skills and awareness to have. Counter jungling is also one of the single hardest things to do in the game due to the high amount of uncertainty and variability in the game. If you play AP carries and solo mid, you will just have to learn the matchups and you’re done. But when you’re a jungler and going against another jungler, the matchup is just the beginning. Counter jungling, when done right, provides a massive advantage and mind game that is very difficult to lose with.
MMMThe first consideration and the most important realization in your decision to counter jungling are the risks and rewards of the entire process. When you are first learning how to counter jungle, first take safe practices and no risk. If you go too gung-ho on getting someone else down, you will get punished and lose any advantage you are trying to gain. The risks in counter jungling are pretty high, as you can feed an enemy laner, jungler, give away buffs and set yourself behind irreparably. Since you’ve read this far, you’re obviously set on doing it, so the advantages you can gain are also vast. If you are successful in your endeavor, you will set their jungler behind, potentially kill their laners, steal their buffs and establish a certain amount of fear of being in their own territory. Because of the high risk/high reward nature of counter jungling, it is important that you take any information I am about to give you with the knowledge that failing can be very detrimental to your team.
MMMAside from that disclaimer, warding is one of the most important aspects of counter jungling. Of course everyone harps on warding and all that, but vision of what is going on in the jungle removes a huge amount of uncertainty, which makes your task much safer. Counter jungling is all about maximizing safety, and you will see this touched on again and again. The safer you can get in and out of the jungle, the better. Just because something is safe does not mean it is not effective, also. Don’t think I’m telling you to formally announce the fact that you’re “kindly entering this gentleman’s jungle and please can my entire team come with me to secure their wraiths.” With proper warding you know for a fact that someone is in or not in a location. This is because most times an Oracle’s comes later in the game and the enemy doesn’t know you’re warding their stuff. This makes it a sure event for you and a complete surprise on them, therefore safe for you! The wards you are putting down for this task are a bit different than the typical locations, so they are detailed below with a description of why to put them there.
<insert map when I’m not lazy>
MMMThese locations apply to every jungler or laner in the game. They are great locations, but not the only ones, in order to maximize your sight in their jungle.
MMMSo now that you’re placing counter jungling wards, I have good news for you: the current jungler meta is totally amazing. In the past, junglers like Olaf, Nunu and Warwick would gain advantage through ganking sometimes and mostly map awareness and security. This was modified into a roamer meta, which required a jungler to have a strong ability to deflect invasion, which weeded out Olaf and Warwick for a while and gave rise to Trundle and other picks. This was then abandoned to the EU meta of a jungle tank and AD/Support bottom. At this time Nunu, Rammus and Amumu and became very popular in the jungle and very strong until the current jungler meta arose – the OP jungler meta. I mark Gangplank’s rework as the rise of the counter jungler meta we are currently in. All of your main, popular junglers are extremely strong counter junglers and duelists that provide huge influence to the team. Picks like Gangplank, Lee Sin, Nocturne and Fiddlesticks have become very common and strong. This is because when you matchup someone like Amumu to Lee Sin, he will be crushed and destroyed with no help from his team. This essentially turns a game into a 4v5 because their jungler is either very behind, feeding or unable to do anything about what is happening. Currently, the best junglers are overpowered war machines that will obliterate lesser junglers and their teams. This is not to say they are actually overpowered, but jungler picks are much stronger characters than ever before.
MMMNow, you may ask, why do I still see Rammus and Amumu and other junglers weak to invasion in games? The answer is a bit complex, but really boils down to teamwork, unskilled counter junglers and communication. Counter jungling is very team oriented, and it can be done by anyone whether it be a jungler or a laner. So when you are CV’d doing your red on bot side and the enemy AD carry comes to clean you up, you have been counter jungled. In situations like this, you get a better understanding of how important teamwork is. I picture counter jungling as opportunity. I create opportunity for my laners to come participate in early teamfights to gain advantage. This is all reliant on teamwork, and with good teamwork weak-deflection junglers are viable. If you are Amumu and Lee Sin comes at you, if you have a quick response from your lanes Lee Sin will be taken down easily in the 2+v1. I also have to say it, but a lot of people don’t counter jungle you in solo queue, so play who you want.
MMMGeneralities aside, let’s get into specifics on when you want to be counter jungling. As with any advice, this is not a code of action, it is a suggestion. If you find success doing something else, by all means do that. If one of these times pops up and you don’t seize the opportunity, don’t sweat it. This should be your thought process when making decisions about what you want to do:
MMMThe hard conditions are situations and things that always need to be considered first. They may change from game to game, however they will not ever change relative to your character and game state. If you lock in Tryndamere, you’re playing Tryndamere. If you purchased an item and someone else has not, this is a fact and non-variable, and therefore a hard condition. These will change within the course of a game, but are the pre-requisite thought processes in order to continue on the soft conditions and counter jungle someone.
MMMThese are the things that are highly variable and change from game to game and times within each game. None of these are mandatory for counter-jungling, and should be taken as a more general sense of timing and awareness.
MMMThese are conditional to the timings and considerations above, of course, but there are certain ways to go about actually doing the counter jungle. I have listed below from safest to most dangerous, the things you want to do in order to maximize your jungling potential.
MMMThrough this entire portion of the guide I have been talking about lane involvement, and this is here to summarize what you can and could be doing as a laner and what to possibly expect from as a jungler.
Take control of your lesser camps
MMMStart to ward your jungle entrances. Even though this will initially “set you back,” you have to get the comfort of knowing they are not coming and if they are, you will be able to take advantage of it. You will need to power out your lesser camps and perhaps theirs for a bit in order to stabilize yourself.
Grab a little experience from each lane
MMMWhile puffing out your chest and pretending that you’re actually harassing the enemy, get a little experience from another lane to get that edge back. It won’t take much, so don’t be a freeloader. This can lead to an early push opportunity and may end up in your favor in the end. Do not overstay your welcome, and only do this if they are doing ok or bad in a lane. Don’t walk into a pushed lane and start taking the experience, have some reason to be there.
Buy more health potions
MMMThis might sound like awkward advice, but being able to stay in the jungle or a lane longer than the enemy is crucial when crawling back from a loss. Most of the time you won’t be at a giant loss, but health potions are a win. If you don’t need them you can sell them back at about a 12 gold loss per potion, which is miniscule. Overall, though, you’ll want to be sustaining yourself at full life through the jungle ready to kill anyone you encounter.
This section is also undergoing construction. I hope to have much more information here soon.
MMMHere is where the jungler is really effective. There are considerations that need to be taken when playing this game at a higher level. Here is a list of new considerations in premade teams and mid to high ELO games:
- |In premade teams, there will most likely be a team fight at level 1. You will all be defending your buff or getting their buff and they aren’t going to like that. Either way, they know where you and your team are going to be at the start of the match (relatively, you can juke them out and do their red, etc.) and will try to get some kills. This affects your jungling in a variety of ways depending on your character selection. If you are Olaf or Warwick, your first skill pick of Q is your best skill for a level 1 team fight and jungling. However on a character like Nunu, who takes consume first, you will want to wait to level up an ability until you’ve confirmed that a fight isn’t happening. If you have to take the Nunu’s ice blast at level 1, you will need assistance taking down blue buff, without question.
This consideration lowers the effectiveness of a few junglers, such as Shaco and Amumu, heavily. If you are unable to secure a first buff for your champion, they become very hard to recover and do well with, especially if they repeatedly invade and counter you. At that point, you will have to make your jungling nearly a team process.
- |On the same token of doing things as a team, aspects such as Dragon, Baron and the Blue and Red buffs are now team adventures. You will not want to wander anywhere alone if there are people missing, even if it’s your own jungle. If there is a point of interest such as a buff or global gold source, there is more risk in going there with enemies missing. A good team will have Clairvoyance and will spot you where you are likely to be and send in a team to take care of business. If you do these buffs alone, you will need callouts of any MIAs as well as knowledge of where everyone on their team is at the time. Dragon is no longer something you can solo, despite whether your character can handle it. Dragon is a commonly warded and patrolled area, and it’s best if you dragon when the other team is nowhere near it (pushing top lane) as a group of 2-4 people.
- |Your team is your most valuable asset at the higher levels. No longer can you carry the game with your amazing jungling skills that I provided to you, but will need to instead rely on teamwork (gasp!). You will need your lane partners to keep a keen eye out for MIAs and call them immediately. If they see someone coming to you in the jungle, they must come and help not simply tell you to get out. Buffs, dragon and baron are to be warded and watched by the entire team and after a certain point your solo jungling will stop and you will be with the team doing pushing and buff securing.
- |Clairvoyance is a singleton must on a team. This will help you accomplish many things in the jungling and ganking world, so coordinate with your clairvoyance teammate in order to give yourself security in the jungle or to make them feel vulnerable. CV is outright frightening if you are jungling. If I see that eye pop above my head and there is a missing, I immediately leave the area. This includes being halfway through a golem buff or whatever, it is not worth your life. For that reason, it is best to use your team’s CV early and often to not only keep yourself safe but get those other junglin’ fools.
- You will not get the development that you want or need most times. At the professional level, League of Legends is a pretty passive game where taking risks could cost you the game. Because of this you will generally build tankier, safer and take much less risks. Much of your game will be floating around getting wards here and there and preventing things from happening. Because of this and the fact that there are less ganking situations available, you won’t get the sort of development you’ll see in normals against worse players.