Help Support

Our Growing Community

MOBAFire is a community that lives to help every LoL player take their game to the next level by having open access to all our tools and resources. Please consider supporting us by whitelisting us in your ad blocker!

Want to support MOBAFire with an ad-free experience? You can support us ad-free for less than $1 a month!

Go Ad-Free
Mobafire League of Legends Build Guides Mobafire League of Legends Build Guides

Nocturne Build Guide by PsiGuard

Jungle The Nocturnomicon

By PsiGuard | Updated on March 18, 2020
22,081,122 Views
3,940 Votes
1,001 Comments
x
Did this guide help you? If so please give them a vote or leave a comment. You can even win prizes by doing so!
Vote
Comment

You must be logged in to comment. Please login or register.

I liked this Guide
I didn't like this Guide
Commenting is required to vote!

Thank You!

Your votes and comments encourage our guide authors to continue
creating helpful guides for the League of Legends community.


Runes: Recommended

Precision
Lethal Tempo
Triumph
Legend: Alacrity
Coup de Grace

Domination
Eyeball Collection
Ultimate Hunter
Bonus:

+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor

Spells:

Mandatory
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Smite

Smite

LeagueSpy Logo
Jungle Role
Ranked #39 in
Jungle Role
Win 52%
Get More Stats

Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies


Hi, I'm PsiGuard and welcome to my Nocturne guide. I've been playing League of Legends since November 2010 in Season 1 and have been maining jungle since the start of Season 3. The top rank I've achieved is Diamond III in solo queue. I have experience against Diamond, Master and Challenger players through solo queue, ranked teams and tournament games. If you have any questions about the guide, feel free to leave me a comment! Without further ado, let's get into the guide.


Nocturne is an assassin/diver with respectable burst damage and DPS. He excels at picking off isolated targets and diving vulnerable enemies with limited durability or mobility. Nocturne works well as a followup to allies who can lock down enemies for him to finish off and can support his team through map pressure once he unlocks Paranoia. His ability to quickly rotate with his ultimate also allows him to punish split-pushers and enemies who are farming while isolated.

Nocturne's main weaknesses are his lack of utility and tankiness. He makes for a fairly mediocre frontliner and lacks reliable crowd control to lock down enemies or initiate fights himself. These weaknesses make him an unreliable team fighter, as he can only really go all-in on a backliner and doesn't offer anything else to his team. Against teams with high peel or mobility, Nocturne can have trouble securing kills and impacting the game. Nocturne's early game ganks are also unremarkable, as he relies mostly on his ultimate to reliably reach his targets.


You can one-trick Nocturne if you want, but picking him every game will sometimes put you in a disadvantageous situation. Nocturne works well as a counterpick to the enemy team composition and/or as a part of a team composition that focuses on picks and global pressure. In this chapter I'll cover the factors you should consider before locking in Nocturne.

An ideal team comp with Nocturne jungle includes (at least some of) the following factors:
  • 1-3 magic damage threats
  • Multiple sources of crowd control
  • At least one frontline champion
  • At least one source of primary engage
  • Bonus: Global abilities
  • Bonus: 1-2 split-pushers
With these factors in mind, let's go over a few examples of strong team compositions with Nocturne.

In this example, Lissandra and Kennen provide a lot of engage, magic damage and team fight lockdown so Nocturne and Lucian have time to deal damage without being focused by the enemy team. Braum provides the frontline for the team and can tank Baron when needed. This comp has weaker split-pushing and no special global abilities, but Kennen and Lissandra can both take Teleport and push out side waves before grouping to win 5v5 fights.

This comp includes a strong global presence with Paranoia and Destiny threatening side laners while Jax becomes an unstoppable split-pusher. Alistar and Jax are both good front-liners in case of a 5v5 fight. Jax and Ezreal also deal a fair amount of magic damage, which helps to offset Twisted Fate's lower magic damage output. All 3 lanes have solid engage to take advantage of Nocturne's ganks and lock down enemies who've been out-rotated.

For this comp, the name of the game is picking off enemies in choke points. Malzahar's Nether Grasp is a reliable tool for pick potential in the mid-game and Sion can provide all of the frontline and engage for the team. Miss Fortune and Zyra supplement the team's relatively low AoE damage and will destroy any enemies that funnel into choke points in the jungle. Paranoia will also disrupt enemy vision which makes it harder for the enemy team to coordinate jungle fights. Since this team's 5v5 and jungle control is so strong, the enemy team will likely want to push lanes to split up your team, which is when Nocturne can punish isolated enemies for pushing minions alone.


Peelers

Enemies with crowd control, shields and defensive abilities can make it difficult to kill enemy carries when they're around. Keep an eye out for spells like Wild Growth and Devour which ruin your kill potential on their nearby allies. If the enemy team drafts a team that's very effective at peeling, you may have trouble finding picks in the mid game and you'll be much less useful in team fights.

Slippery Champions

Champions with high mobility, untargetability or other methods of self-defense can be especially difficult to deal with. Nocturne needs to be able to kill isolated carries, so if the carry is too slippery to catch, you can run out of options to make plays without allied CC to set you up. If the enemy team includes, tanky champions, strong duelists and/or slippery carries, it might be better to pick a different champion.

Paranoia's extreme range as a gap-closer gives Nocturne unrivaled target selection and rotational power. If your target has few options for mobility or defense, they'll be a sitting duck whenever you have your ult up. Look for squishy enemies that don't have much in the way of dashes, movement speed or crowd control. Some champions like Twisted Fate, Ashe and Nami do have CC, but their spells are easily blockable or can be removed with Quicksilver Sash if necessary.



Lethal Tempo is my recommended keystone for its dueling power and high DPS compared to other runes. Since my build includes a lot of damage but not much attack speed, this rune will help take care of any enemies that can survive long enough for Unspeakable Horror to go off.

A viable rune that increases your burst damage. Works a lot better against squishy targets than tanky ones. In most cases you won't need the burst damage to do your job, but it can help you get closer to actually one-shotting carries.

Presence of Mind's mana restore isn't necessary, since Hunter's Talisman will refill mana. Triumph is the only good option for this row for jungle Nocturne.

Attack speed is a valuable stat that's hard to build in items for Nocturne. It's important to pick it up here, so I don't recommend substituting this rune for anything else.

This is definitely the best of the three options for this row. You're an assassin, so obviously you'll want the damage against low health targets.

This page is great for snowballing since both runes stack up to a lot of value if you're able to pick up kills. Lowering your ult cooldown is valuable in solo queue since it lets you get picks and join fights more often. I prefer Eyeball Collection over Sudden Impact since it provides a more consistent damage bonus (rather than relying on Paranoia's cooldown).


This spell is essential for jungling. Use your Smite to secure Scuttles, enemy large monsters and epic monsters. You can use it on your own camps, but other than your first clear, try to only use it if you're low on health or you have 2 charges available. In combat, use Challenging Smite right before your first attack on the target. Challenging Smite is most useful against enemies that are high HP and/or are tanky enough to survive your initial burst. It can be used to ensure the kill against high priority targets in case they Flash away with low HP.
Flash is mandatory on Nocturne. The main uses for this spell are as follows:
  • Following an enemy after they use Flash or another escape spell.
  • Escaping lethal situations by creating distance or blinking over a wall.
  • Closing distance to secure a kill or a guaranteed Unspeakable Horror fear.
  • Outplaying enemies in 1v1s by avoiding a key CC or damage spell.
  • Blinking over a wall to steal an epic monster with Smite.
Do not use Flash in situations where you are likely to die anyway, as the cooldown is very long. Avoid using Flash against enemies that have multiple tools to escape you. Flash is best used against enemies that have just used their last escape tool and will be vulnerable once you close the gap.


> > >


1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
W Q E Q Q R Q E Q E R E E W W R W W


Starting Order
Start W at level 1. The passive attack speed will give you the best clear for your first camp. If there's a level 1 fight, you can start Duskbringer instead.
Take Q at level 2. This is your main damage steroid so you'll need it to clear the other camps. If you took Q at level 1, take W at level 2.
Take E at level 3. You'll want a point in all 3 abilities so you have the tools to fight enemy champions. Taking a second point in Q at level 3 is not worth it as it limits your options and it takes 6 camps to reach level 4.

Max Order
Max Q first. Both the skillshot and the AD steroid are important enough that you need it maxed to keep up in damage.
Max E second. This is the most reliable setup since it nearly doubles the CC duration and still adds some damage. Maxing W second is also viable if you can't reliably get the full E duration off.
Max W last. It offers most of its value (the spell shield and 3/5 of the potential steroid value) at rank 1.
Max R whenever possible. As is the case with most champions, your ultimate is always worth a point.

Umbra Blades (Passive): Nocturne's passive causes his next attack to deal AoE damage and heal him based on the number of enemies hit. Basic attacks reduce the cooldown of this effect. This improves your sustain in the jungle and helps you push minion waves and clear multi-target camps like Raptors and Wolves more efficiently. The damage is also a bit higher than a normal basic attack, so it'll add a bit of extra burst to your first hit in a fight.

Tips & Tricks
  • Hit all the monsters in each camp with Umbra Blades to maximize your sustain.
  • Use Duskbringer before triggering Umbra Blades when possible in order to increase the amount of AoE damage using Duskbringer's steroid.
  • A single attack in a large minion wave can help you heal up after a gank.
  • Umbra Blades only applies on-hit effects to the primary attack target.
Duskbringer (Q): Nocturne's Q is a skillshot that deals damage and passes through all enemies, leaving behind a trail that increases your AD and movement speed and allows you to pass through units. Any enemy champions hit will leave behind a trail for a few seconds. Standing on the trail grants a lot of AD so you're much more powerful when you fight on it. Hitting an enemy champion is key to letting you chase them down with the movement speed boost.

Tips & Tricks
  • Stand on the trail whenever you're clearing jungle camps, pushing minion waves or hitting towers.
  • Get close to enemies before casting Q when possible in order to prevent them from dodging the skillshot.
  • If your target is very likely to use a movement ability soon, you may want to save Q until after they blink/dash so you don't miss.
  • The dusk trail is visible through stealth and fog of war. You won't have direct vision, but you can track unseen targets for as long as the trail lasts.
Shroud of Darkness (W): Nocturne's W passively grants you attack speed. Activating W creates a spell shield for 1.5 seconds that will block a single spell that hits you. If you successfully block a spell, the passive attack speed is doubled for 5 seconds. You should be able to block a spell in most fights to get the enhanced attack speed bonus, so it's usually worth saving the cooldown for the most important enemy spells.

Tips & Tricks
  • Try to block crowd control or high damage spells when possible.
  • You can use your spell shield to block dangerous skillshots ( ) for your teammates.
  • At close range, you'll need to read your opponent and predict when they will cast certain abilities. At longer ranges you can wait until you see the ability before pressing W.
  • Certain spells like Requiem and Death Mark are super telegraphed and easy to block if you save the cooldown for them.
  • When chasing an enemy, watch for their character model to turns towards you. This is a good indicator that they're about to cast an ability on you.
  • The spell shield lasts for almost the full tether duration of Unspeakable Horror (1.5s shield, 2s tether).
  • Some spells like Hemoplague and Death Mark can only be blocked if you shield the initial spell hit. Others like Requiem and Time Bomb can only be blocked if you shield the detonation. Still others like Wall of Pain and Glacial Storm can't be blocked at all. Check LoL Wiki and click the Ability Details tab on any ability to see if you can spell shield it.
  • Shroud of Darkness has no cast time and can be freely cast without interrupting movement, attacks or other spells.
I let Jayce hit me with Shock Blast and save my W to block his Thundering Blow once he switches to melee form (turn on sound if you have trouble seeing the shield timing).

Unspeakable Horror (E): Nocturne's E creates a 465 range tether to the target enemy that deals damage over 2 seconds. If the tether isn't broken before this time, the target is forced to Flee for a short duration. Nocturne also passively gains 335 movement speed towards Fleeing targets. This is Nocturne's only source of crowd control and makes him much harder to 1v1 if the enemy doesn't break the tether.

Tips & Tricks
  • Nocturne gains 335 movement speed towards any Fleeing enemy, even if he isn't the source of the CC. If you have a Fiddlesticks, Urgot or Hecarim, you can take advantage of their Flee effects as well.
  • Fearing the large monster in a jungle camp will lower the damage you take while jungling, but it's mana-intensive. It's generally only worth it if you have a blue buff or at least a Hunter's Talisman.
  • Epic monsters like Baron and Dragon are not disabled by this spell.
  • It's easier to maintain the tether during an allied CC spell. Try to coordinate with your teammates and have them use their CC to help you get your Flee off.
  • Unspeakable Horror has no cast time and can be freely cast without interrupting movement, attacks or other spells.
  • Spell shields will block the initial cast of the spell but not the Flee effect if the target is already tethered.
  • It takes about 0.25 seconds after the target leaves the tether range for the tether to break. If the target leaves the tether range in the last split-second of the spell, they can still be CCd.
  • Take account of your target's mobility spells, CCs and knockbacks. Use Shroud of Darkness and/or Flash to outplay your target and stay close enough for the tether to finish.
Untargetability does not break tethers, so you can still fear Vladimir during his Sanguine Pool, or Xayah during her Featherstorm. Also works on stasis effects like Stopwatch and Zhonya's Hourglass.

Be prepared to pre- Flash targets to guarantee your fear. Annie's only way to escape is to Flash to break the tether, so I Flash early to get on top of her before she uses hers.

Paranoia (R): Nocturne's ultimate is a two-part ability. The first cast disables enemy vision from minions, wards, towers, abilities and their allied champions for 6 seconds. Enemies will only be able to see a short distance around their champion for the duration. The second cast (during those 6 seconds) causes Nocturne to dash towards a target enemy champion (within range) and deal some physical damage on arrival. This is Nocturne's main ganking tool and allows him to reposition in team fights or keep up with enemies that use mobility spells. Make sure to check the range on this ability before activating it by resting your cursor over the button. Note that this ability does not provide vision of enemy champions, so make sure your target is in sight.

Tips & Tricks
  • You have the most kill potential if you dash to an enemy champion that has already used their mobility spells.
  • The global vision reduction can prevent the enemy team from coordinating when team fighting near brushes. They will also lose all ward vision, including Control Wards.
  • The dash cannot be interrupted by CC, but you may still be CCd upon arrival if the duration of the CC is long enough.
  • You can cast any spell during the Paranoia dash, including all of your basic abilities, items and summoner spells. Cast Q right before you hit your target to avoid the Q cast time.
  • Both parts of the spell can be blocked by spell shields. This means you can break an enemy spell shield with the first cast and then engage on them with the second cast.
One of the best uses of Paranoia is to shut down aggressive enemies. This Volibear burns a lot of his cooldowns to engage on Yasuo and isn't prepared to fight 1v2.

Paranoia deals a lot of burst damage, so you may need to use it to win close 1v1s. Here I burst Cho'Gath with R before he can kill me with Feast.



Starting Items & Trinkets

Start with these two items every game. Hunter's Machete provides the most jungle clear power for Nocturne and Refillable Potion quickly pays for itself (better than 3 potions after your first recall).

Start the game with a Warding Totem for early game vision. You can switch to Oracle Lens on one of your early recalls for more gank pressure, but I sometimes stick with the Warding Totem during the early game on Nocturne since you can use Paranoia to gank any lane regardless of vision.

Oracle Lens improves your gank pressure when you don't have your ultimate, and it's a must-have for controlling vision around Baron and Dragon. You can switch to Oracle any time after your first recall, but it's basically mandatory to carry this trinket once Baron spawns at 20:00. Check the Warding & Trinkets chapter for more information about swapping trinkets.

Farsight Alteration can occasionally be useful, but usually it's best if your teammates pick it up instead. Consider switching to it temporarily if your trinket is fully off cooldown and you need it to check if the enemy is doing Baron.


First Back Priority
Get Skirmisher's Sabre as quickly as possible since you'll need the extra health and mana sustain while you farm your camps. Double Long Sword comes next in priority for the extra clear speed and dueling power. I recommend prioritizing Control Wards over early boots since you'll mostly be farming in the early game rather than roaming all over the map and repeat ganking.

Stalker's Blade is also viable and it's better for early ganks, but I prefer Skirmisher's Sabre's dueling power at all stages of the game in most cases. Go with whatever option works best for you, but if you're not sure, I'd recommend Skirmisher's. One situation where Stalker's can be really nice is if all 5 of the enemy champions will try to kite you rather than stand and fight (usually this means a lot of squishy ranged champions).

1 Control Ward per recall is fine for the early game, but once you have your full Warrior enchantment, you can start buying 2 per recall. Try to at least buy one if you don't have one in your inventory (it doesn't matter if you have one on the map at the moment). The only time you should refrain from buying wards is if you can use the gold to finish a full item like Duskblade of Draktharr, since the power spike from a full item often trumps the utility from a single Control Ward.

Buy Boots of Speed whenever you have a spare 300g and don't have enough for the other items above. You can finish a full Warrior enchantment before buying boots if you have the gold for it. Make sure to get at least Boots of Speed after Warrior though before going for your second item.


Core
Skirmisher's Sabre - Warrior and Duskblade of Draktharr are your two biggest power spikes. Both items offer a lot of burst damage as well as CDR to let you cast Paranoia more frequently. While Duskblade isn't strictly necessary to be useful to your team, I recommend it in most solo queue games since it helps you pick up solo kills.

Guardian Angel is essential for surviving team fights and still provides enough damage to keep up your kill potential. Nearly every time I skip this item I end up regretting it. I recommend picking up B. F. Sword and Stopwatch as priority components since they have a bigger impact than the Chain Vest.

These three items will give you the most reliable power curve in the mid game as you'll have the burst damage to get picks and the Stopwatch and Guardian Angel effects to survive longer in team fights.


Boots
Ninja Tabi and Mercury's Treads are good options for any melee champion. Pick up Tabi against heavy physical damage or Merc's against heavy CC and/or magic damage. In some cases you may want to counter-build a fed enemy (like a 5/0/0 LeBlanc) rather than the overall enemy team composition. If you're not sure which one to build, Mercury's Treads is a safe bet since you can pick up some armor from Guardian Angel.



Final Items

Team Fighting
Cheap DPS with a pretty respectably sized shield. Late game this adds essentially 600 health on top of the items existing stats due to the shield. I prefer this over Sterak's Gage since it's much cheaper and offers a similar amount of survivability.

Great as a final item since Negatron Cloak is a solid, slot-efficient component and Wit's End + Phantom Dancer offers a lot of attack speed to deal with late game enemies that you won't be able to one-shot. Don't build this if the enemy team is all physical damage.


Situational Damage
Great for farming, dueling and taking objectives, but bad in team fights. The most reliable use cases for this item that I've found are for kill pressure on an enemy split-pusher (since they'll usually be alone) and if your team has no one else who can tank Baron. Aside from those situations, this item can be a trap if you're constantly team fighting.

This works as a cheap power spike if you want another lethality item directly before or after Guardian Angel. The passive is super good, but it can be hard to fit into the build in some games.

Anti-healing item for enemies like Vladimir, Dr. Mundo, Sylas and Soraka. Buy Executioner's Calling after Skirmisher's Sabre - Warrior and then sit on it until later on in the game. In many cases you can just let your teammates get Grievous Wounds instead, but this is an option in case they don't get any healing reduction or you need it for yourself to pick up solo kills.


Situational Defense
Counter to heavy magic damage. The passive is incompatible with Phantom Dancer, so only buy this if the enemy deals negligible physical damage and you'll be stacking both Maw of Malmortius and Wit's End, OR you can build it against heavy burst from champions like Syndra, then replace Phantom Dancer with Edge of Night (or another situational item).

Not as much damage as other lethality items, but the shield and hefty HP value can help prevent being bursted. Look for enemies like Morgana with few, high impact spells. This works as a last item or in place of Phantom Dancer if the enemy team is vulnerable to burst.

Situational counter to strong CC, especially suppression ( ). Buy Quicksilver Sash mid-game and upgrade to Mercurial later. Works better as a snowballing tool. If you're behind, consider getting tankier instead.


Wolves, Raptors
Spawn At: 1:30
Respawn Time: 2:00

Gromp, Krugs
Spawn At: 1:42
Respawn Time: 2:00

Buffs
(Blue Sentinel, Red Brambleback)

Spawn At: 1:30
Respawn Time: 5:00

Rift Scuttlers (in river)
Spawn At: 3:15
Respawn Time: 2:30

Rift Herald (in Baron pit)
Spawns At: 8:00
Respawn time: 6:00
Despawns At: 19:45 (19:55 if in combat)
Elemental Drakes
Spawns At: 5:00
Respawn Time: 5:00
Elder Dragon
Spawns: 6:00 after a
team gets 4 Drakes
Respawn Time: 6:00
Baron Nashor
Spawns At: 20:00
Respawn Time: 6:00


Plants are stationary, neutral units with 1 health. They can be destroyed with a basic attack to trigger an effect. Three different types of plants will spawn in the jungle and river. Their spawn timers and locations vary slightly but for the most part they are fairly predictable. The first spawn locations for all plants are predetermined.


Red = Blast Cone | Blue = Scryer's Bloom | Green = Honeyfruit


Blast Cones - Side Lanes


Between 5:00 and 5:30, blast cones will spawn near the side lanes on each side of the map. These cones are useful for accessing the river while avoiding likely ward spots. Bot laners will occasionally ward on top of this blast cone, but top laners rarely do.

You can use both of these cones regardless of which team you're on. One of the cones will be in the enemy jungle, but you can use it to come from an unexpected angle and give the enemy laners less time to react. If the cone is on your side, it adds an option for ganking through the river. Wait until the enemy laner(s) are in a vulnerable position (trading, going for a last-hit) and then use the cone to hop the wall. Even if the river bush itself is warded, you can often surprise the target by how quickly you enter the lane.

You can also use these cones to escape the enemy blue-side jungle after an invade. Red-side top laners will often use the blast cone in the blue jungle to escape over the wall after a tower dive or a proxy.


Blast Cones - River Pits


These blast cones grant river access through the dragon and baron pits. Be aware of these cones while fighting either of these objectives, since the enemy can use them to hop the wall and try to steal. If you're fighting an epic monster, it's often a good idea to detonate these cones ahead of time (unless you're trying to sneak it).

After these cones spawn (5:00-5:30) you can use them to enter the river without pathing through the tribush or the ramp by raptors. These areas are often warded, so entering the river through one of these pits is a good way to get around wards as long as the enemy hasn't taken the Scuttler on that side of the river. A good use for this gank route is when the nearby enemy side lane is overextended and has likely warded the tribush. You can also use this cone to get past a ward at your Raptors and gank the enemy mid laner.

One last use for these blast cones are to try and sneak an objective. This is more applicable to dragon than baron most games, but if your team is coordinated you can sneak baron as well. The enemy will have to have a ward directly in the pit in order to see you fighting the objective (or they have to walk past it), so you're safe to sneak it even if they've taken the Scuttler in the river.


Scryer's Blooms


Scryer's Blooms are great tools for scouting and clearing out enemy vision, however, they also reveal your position on the map. Do not use a Scryer's Bloom right before a gank, as it'll signal your location to the enemy team. The best time to use a Scryer's Bloom is after you're spotted (maybe you cleared a ward or pulled off a successful gank) since the enemy team already knows where you are. It's also important not to use the enemy Scryer's Bloom before counter-jungling, as you may be collapsed on if you go for an enemy camp afterwards. Instead, steal what camps you can and use the plant on the way out of the enemy jungle if appropriate.

In general you want to aim the Scrying effect in the direction of enemy wards based on your expectations of likely ward spots. Aiming them towards one of the nearby lanes can let you clear out their defensive vision and force them to play more cautiously. You can also use the cone of vision to check the enemy jungle to see if their camps are up or if the enemy jungler is present. Both the vision and ward-disabling effects are useful, so use your judgement to decide where the best place to aim the cone is.

One trick I like to do is to try a gank on a lane and judge the enemy laner's behavior to see if the bush is warded. If they back off, I'll loop back to the nearby Scryer's Bloom and use it to clear out the enemy ward. If it's not warded, then I can go ahead with the gank. Either way, it puts pressure on the laner since they're either ganked directly or have their vision cleared and won't know if you're sticking around for a gank or not.

Late game, Scryer's Blooms are useful tools for gaining vision of the river and clearing out wards around baron and dragon. Use the blooms to check dangerous areas and remove enemy wards if it's safe to do so. If you're going to do baron or dragon, you may want to clear out the enemy Scryer's Bloom so they can't check the area while you're doing it.


How to Ward Safely

If you've played League of Legends, you've probably died trying to ward a dark part of the map. It's an easy trap to fall into, since it's natural to want to light up dangerous areas of the map.

In order to avoid this common pitfall, it's important to look at the map and go through a quick mental check to decide if it's safe to ward and how deep you can extend for vision.

1. How many enemies are missing? If I run into them, can I escape?

2. Do my nearby laners have lane priority?

3. Have I seen the enemy jungler elsewhere recently?

4. Do I have any allies nearby that can rotate to help me ward safely?

If you see the enemy jungler ganking the opposite side of the map, that's often a good time to get some deep vision in their jungle. If the enemy mid laner has priority and is missing, you may have to wait until they show on the map again before entering the river.

Some of these considerations will depend on which champions are on the enemy team. Burst mages and assassins are much more dangerous when they're missing, and some enemies like Talon, Aurelion Sol and Galio can rotate very quickly to support their jungler if you run into them. Conversely, an Amumu jungle and Kassadin mid are unlikely to be able to kill you, even if you facecheck one of them.

My rule of thumb is this: If I try to place the ward I want to place and every enemy that's missing is sitting there, will I die? If I could die, I'll wait for a safer opportunity or get allies to help me place down vision. This also means that Flash and allied abilities like Thresh's Dark Passage and Shen's Stand United can make it safer for you to ward in dangerous areas of the map.

You'll likely still make some mistakes from time to time, but if you consciously ask yourself if it's safe before warding, you're much more likely to actually learn from your errors and avoid similar situations in the future.

All that said, let's get on with some useful ward spots that every jungler should know.


Level 1 Wards

Level 1 wards can give you valuable information about enemy jungle pathing and potential invades. While it isn't necessary to ward early in every game, against unpredictable, aggressive or dangerous early game junglers it's a must.

Place your ward at roughly 0:50. This'll make your ward last long enough to grant you useful intel and you'll have time to recall and switch to Oracle Lens. This will give you the dual benefits of early vision plus the option to sweep enemy wards before your first gank.


RAPTORS

Warding the enemy raptors at level 1 will give you crucial information about their early pathing. Watch the enemy side laners to see if they leashed, then keep an eye on your raptor ward to see if the enemy shows at raptors. If the enemy started at their red buff, they'll usually either do their Krugs second or walk past this ward. Either way, you'll have a better idea of where they can be in the near future.



PIXEL BRUSH

These pixel brush wards will help defend against invades or level 2 ganks if the enemy jungler paths from their first buff straight to the river, but they're not quite as valuable as the raptor ward. Place your ward here if you can't get to the enemy raptors safely.

Another reason to use this spot is if you'll be starting at your Blue buff, since you can ward the opposite side of the river to spot potential invades on your Red buff. Seeing an invade ahead of time will give you the chance to respond and invade the enemy jungle at the same time, instead of arriving to your red-side jungle only to find it's all been taken.


Trinket Swapping

Warding Totem Cooldown
240 - 120s per charge
Oracle Lens Cooldown
90 - 60s

In patch 9.24, Riot made the following changes to Trinket swapping:

"When you swap trinkets, the new cooldown is based on time since you last used any trinket. Any remaining Warding Totem ammo is converted into its value in cooldown for these purposes."

As a consequence of this change, switching to Oracle Lens will make it instantly available, while switching to Warding Totem will put your trinket on a long cooldown, unless you haven't used your Oracle Lens in quite a while.

Switching your trinket back and forth is no longer as powerful as it was previously, but you can still do so based on how you've been using your trinket recently. Personally, I often find myself switching to Oracle Lens at some point during the early game when my Warding Totem charges are used up, then sitting on Oracle for the rest of the game.

The important lesson here is to use up your warding charges before switching to Oracle Lens. Oracle Lens comes up super fast, so it's best to get your wards down before switching since it's more punishing to switch back to Warding Totem later.


Jungle Protection Wards


RAPTORS ENTRANCE

This is one of the most defensible ward positions available to you. The two purposes of this ward are to spot the enemy jungler invading your red buff / raptors, and to spot the enemy jungler or mid laner roaming to a side lane through your jungle. Use this position if you'll have trouble defending wards in river and you're concerned about potential invades or mid roams.


BLUE SIDE ENTRANCE

This is a weaker version of the pixel brush ward, but it's less likely to be spotted and cleared by the enemy jungler. Use this spot if the enemy jungler or mid laner is likely to clear the pixel brush often.


Lane Protection Wards


Note: Use Oracle Lens and Control Wards to remove wards placed by enemy laners. Even if you can't immediately gank them, they'll have to play more conservatively due to the lack of vision.


PIXEL BRUSH

This spots are quite valuable for Control Wards, especially during the laning phase and when setting up for an objective. They'll spot roams and invades from either the enemy mid laner or the enemy jungler. It also has a chance to spot ganks on the mid lane. This is one of the most popular spots for control wards since it helps protect 2 lanes and your jungle at the same time, so keep in mind that it's likely to be contested and cleared often.


MID PROTECTION

These wards are valuable against junglers like Shaco, Zac and Twitch who can gank mid without entering the river. They're also useful if the enemy mid laner is a heavy roamer like Talon or Qiyana, since they may use this path rather than going directly to the river in order to avoid potential wards in the river brushes.


TOP TRIBRUSH

This doesn't work as well on the bottom tribrush since the enemy bot laners will usually clear the ward with a Control Ward. Combine this ward with a top-side scuttle, pixel ward or raptor ward to give your top laner a lot more safety to push.


Jungle Tracking Wards

I'll cover general jungle tracking techniques a bit later on in the guide. Here are a few ward placements that'll help you gain more information on the enemy jungler's whereabouts. Keep in mind that some of these wards are riskier to place, so make sure you're safe before going for deep vision.


RAPTOR BRUSH

This is a riskier but higher value version of the level 1 raptor ward. If possible, deep warding the enemy raptor brush will give you great vision of their pathing and help you determine which side of the map they'll be pressuring. If you can't safely ward the bush, the regular ward in front of the raptor camp is fine.


WOLVES

While this is less valuable than warding the enemy raptors since there are more paths through blue side jungle, it's still a useful ward since it'll spot the enemy jungler if they enter their jungle through mid and/or if they clear their wolves. These types of deep wards are especially helpful against post-6 gankers with stealth or semi-globals like Evelynn, Nocturne, Rengar and Pantheon, since it'll let you know which side of the map they can pressure.


RED BUFF

This ward is good if the enemy red buff is up or if it's coming up soon. It's okay when red buff is down, but it's less likely to catch the enemy jungler walking past it since they'd have to be pathing to Krugs or towards top tribush, which are rarer locations for junglers to walk.


BLUE BUFF

This is better than the red buff ward since it covers one of the entrances to the blue-side jungle and an entrance to the river. You can also see if the enemy is doing Gromp. This ward will often catch lane ganks if the enemy jungler walks from their jungler to the lane instead of coming straight from base.


SNEAKY CONTROL WARD

While this isn't the most valuable spot for a Control Ward, it does offer vision of the enemy red buff and a couple paths through the enemy red-side jungle. Its main advantage is that it's much less likely that the enemy jungler will walk through this bush, so your ward may last a long time. This ward is pretty risky to place, so don't do it if you don't have lane priority and/or you aren't sure where the enemy jungler is.


DEEP WARDS

When you have both ward charges and the opportunity to safely invade the enemy jungle, be sure to leave behind some high value vision before you return to the river. Deep vision will give your team a huge advantage since it'll be much easier to track the enemy jungler and figure out where they can and can't gank.

You can cover nearly an entire quadrant of the enemy jungle with just two wards. Later in the game, you can invade a quadrant of the jungle with your support and they can ward these spots for you since you'll have Oracle Lens.


Vision Around Objectives


OBJECTIVE WALLS

These dual ward positions behind objective walls are useful for controlling vision and spotting enemies who may try to steal the objective from over the wall. If the enemy jungler is alive, it's very important to have this vision down before starting an objective. In some cases, you can pull dragon away from the pit to minimize the chance of a steal, but it's still good to have these areas warded.



OBJECTIVE PITS

Warding inside of the Dragon or Baron pit will spot enemy wards that are placed inside the pit, usually over the wall. This means that as blue team, you should place your ward inside the Baron pit, and red team should place theirs inside the Dragon pit.


MID-RIVER

It's not necessary to place the wards inside the pit if the enemy can't ward over the wall. Instead, just use an Oracle Lens to sweep the pit and place your Control Ward farther out towards the middle of the river. This will cover much more area in front of the pit, including wards that are placed over the wall from the enemy blue-side jungle. Combine this ward with a teammate who wards the pixel brush for nearly complete river control.


Adapting Wardlines

Your team's vision should change throughout the game, based on which team has map control. The more map control you and your team have, the deeper you should attempt to set up vision. A winning team with vision in the enemy jungle is a recipe for success, since it'll allow them to choke the enemy out of jungle resources and dominate neutral objectives.

If your team is winning the game, has a split-pusher advantage, and/or is winning team fights, move your vision up as far as you can, safely. Push out waves and get your teammates to help you ward and de-ward around objectives and the enemy jungle.

If your team is losing the game, you'll need to ward more conservatively. Hiding bits of vision in your own jungle can help you push out more safely and pick up more jungle camps to farm without getting picked off. Getting vision of Baron is crucial, since you'll need to know if the enemy is starting it. Sweeping enemy wards out of your jungle and placing some sneaky Control Wards is a good way to secure a safe path towards Baron. If you need to check Baron safely from a distance, use a Farsight Alteration ward. Usually your bot laner should have one, but you can switch to it temporarily in emergencies.


My teammates and I ward defensively since we've been pushed in and have lost some map control. This lets us farm the jungle, rotate between lanes and move up to objectives more safely.

As my team gains map control, we ward the enemy jungle in order to siege safely, deny jungle camps from the enemy team, and catch anyone who tries to ward Baron once it spawns.

A good rule of thumb is that your vision should be slightly ahead of where your team will be on the map. If your team is trying to take Baron, placing vision in the enemy top-side jungle is a good idea. If you're clearing super minions in your base, you'll want to set up shallower vision and clear a safe path towards Baron or Dragon. If you're sieging towers after taking Baron, ward the enemy jungle between the lanes that you're pressuring, so you'll be able to spot any rotations or sneaky flanks.

You can only do so much as one person, especially since you usually won't have a Warding Totem late in the game. Still, you can communicate with your teammates to help get vision in key areas, and you should be sweeping enemy vision out of areas that you want to control. Your Control Ward should also be moved to more useful locations if you have one somewhere on the map where it's not offering good value.


Blue: Kite back every 2-3 attacks (don't leave your dusk trail though). Cast Duskbringer twice (use Unspeakable Horror if you're lvl 3+ and high on mana).

Gromp: Kite after every attack for the first 3 attacks (Gromp has higher AS for its initial attacks). Cast Duskbringer twice (add Unspeakable Horror with Blue buff).

Wolves: Cast Duskbringer, attack the large Wolf, then attack each of the smaller Wolves once ( Umbra Blades will take care of them after that). Cast Duskbringer only once (or twice with Blue buff).

Raptors: Cast Duskbringer, hit all Raptors with Umbra Blades, then attack the smaller raptors to weaken them (keep switching targets). Your second Umbra Blades should clear most of them out. Cast Duskbringer only once (or twice with Blue buff).

Red: Kite back every 3 attacks when possible (don't leave your dusk trail though). Cast Duskbringer twice (add Unspeakable Horror with Blue buff).

Krugs: Focus the biggest Krug first (use Smite if this is your second camp) while kiting around the smaller Krug. Use Duskbringer twice (add Unspeakable Horror with blue buff).


Standard Route (Red Start)

Red, Krugs, Raptors, (Possible gank mid) Wolves, Blue
THEN
nearby Scuttle
OR Gromp, nearby Scuttle
OR Gromp, Recall, opposite Scuttle:
This is the route I use most often, as you can take advantage of Nocturne's powerful AoE damage and get a leash on Red from your side lane to clear faster.
  • If you see a gank opportunity mid after getting level 3 from Raptors, you can swing through mid for a gank.
  • If you have a matchup advantage and lane priority, you can contest scuttle on spawn after 5 camps.
  • If you'd rather avoid the enemy jungler (no priority or bad matchup), take Gromp to hit level 4, then determine which scuttle the enemy jungler will take and take the opposite one (they'll usually take the opposite scuttle to where they started).

Leashless Route (Wolves Start)

Wolves, Red, Krugs: This is a leashless route you can use to get level 3 without showing your starting location, and also allowing you to path towards your Red.
  • Start Q and focus the large wolf, casting Q twice on the first camp.
  • After hitting level 3 off Krugs, you can:
    • Gank the nearby side lane.
    • Invade the enemy Blue jungle.
    • Clear your Raptors and then contest either scuttle.
  • If you contested the scuttle near your Raptors, you can transition gank mid and try to get the other scuttle.
  • If you contested the scuttle near your Blue, you can clear Blue, Wolves and Gromp afterwards, then Recall and head to your Krugs for a full clear.

Situational Route (Blue Start)

Blue, Gromp, Wolves, Raptors, Red, Scuttle: This is an option for a blue start, though you'll take more damage clearing this direction. I recommend getting a bot lane leash if you plan on starting blue.


Have you ever walked into river to take the scuttle crab, only to be met by 2-3 members of the enemy team? Did you die and feel the urge to blame your dumb laners for not coming to help you? Well it turns out there's a guaranteed way to ensure this never happens again! It's called checking Lane Priority, and it's really easy once you build the habit.

Lane priority just means whether your teammates can rotate to help you before the enemy laners can. Champions with lane priority are usually pushed to the enemy turret and/or stronger than their lane opponent, so they can fight them if they try to rotate. Priority will shift as the minion waves push back and forth, but some champions will have more priority on average than others.

Strong laners like Renekton and fast pushers like Heimerdinger are likely to have lane priority early, while weaker early game champions like Nasus, Kassadin and Katarina are less likely to be able to help. It's always a good idea to check both team compositions to try and predict who will have priority for the first scuttle spawn at 3:15.

If you don't have lane priority and/or you can't fight the enemy jungler, the best thing you can do is find out which scuttle they're going for and take the opposite one. Sometimes you'll be pathing in the same direction as the enemy jungler and they'll have the ability to take both scuttlers. In these cases, just make sure you're clearing all of your camps and you'll be able to catch up. It's better to stay alive and lose out on the first scuttle than to die trying to contest it.


I can go for this scuttle since my mid and bot lane are pushing and can rotate to help me before the enemy laners. If I run into the enemy jungler, it'll be at worst a 1v1, or in the best case, a 4v1 in our team's favor. This lets me take the scuttle safely.

I have to give up the bottom scuttle here since my bot lane is being pushed in and my team's Vayne is coming from base. Malzahar is also unable to challenge Akali early, so I'll be collapsed on if I'm spotted going for the scuttle.

The easiest way to ensure you always respect lane priority is to check the map every time you want to enter river. River is a highly contested area for both junglers and it's the most likely place you'll encounter a fight or be collapsed on. If you check your map for priority before entering river, you'll be able to make informed decisions about whether it's safe to contest scuttle or take any river fights.

Lane priority influences the safety of not just the river, but the jungle too. If you're invaded by the enemy, you'll want to keep the current lane states in mind when you decide whether or not to contest. In most cases your laners can help defend your jungle, but if there's a huge minion wave at their tower, chances are they're not going to help. The best course of action in these cases may be to concede that part of your jungle to the enemy and look for a gank or a counter-invade instead.

If you're invading the enemy jungle, the same thing applies. Try to invade when your laners are pushed in and have priority. You'll be much safer in the event you walk over a warded area or run into the enemy jungler. If you don't have priority, you may be collapsed on and killed, so it's definitely something you'll need to take into account before going for any invades.


A quick disclaimer before I begin this section. I generally don't recommend actively trying to vertical jungle on Nocturne, especially in solo queue. He doesn't have a lot of mobility to keep him safe in the enemy jungle and this jungle style is more conducive to stronger early game junglers with good ganks. That said, it's still a good idea to learn what vertical jungling is so you can recognize when it's happening and you'll know how to respond appropriately. With that out of the way, let's dig into this topic! :)


What Is Vertical Jungling?

Vertical jungling is when the map is split vertically (along mid lane) and both junglers farm half of their jungle and half of the enemy jungle. In most games, the river splits the map and junglers will usually farm on their own side of the river, but in some cases vertical jungling can be necessary or even ideal.

Vertical jungling is generally the result of an early invade. For example, if an Olaf on red team starts at his red buff and invades the enemy blue buff immediately, it will prompt the enemy jungler to invade his blue buff in response. If an enemy invades your jungle and you're unaware of it, you can show up to that side of the jungle and find all your camps are already gone. This is super bad, so warding to ensure that the enemy can't sneakily invade the opposite side of your jungle is really important.

Another way to start vertical jungling is a team-wide invade at level 1, followed by the jungler starting at the enemy team's buff. This is generally riskier, but it can work if the invading team has strong level 1 champions. In the same way as a level 2 invade, this will force the opposing jungle to vertical jungle in order to avoid falling behind. If the enemy team does this to you, keep an eye on mid lane after the invade, since some junglers will start at your buff, then immediately gank mid and cross the map to defend their buff before you can invade them in turn.

Once you've confirmed the enemy is invading, you'll usually need to invade them at the same time. It's unlikely that you can go from your red buff to your blue buff in time to contest it, especially against fast clearing junglers with strong early games like Olaf. Instead, you'll end up vertical jungling and taking the enemy's camps while they take yours.

It's worth noting that vertical jungling is only possible when you and the enemy jungler start on opposite sides of the map (e.g. you both start at your respective red buffs). If you start on the same side as the map, neither jungler can invade the other since there won't be a buff to steal and the defending jungler could easily have cleared their second camp by the time the invading jungler arrives.

This means the best way to avoid vertical jungling is to ward the enemy jungle and determine the enemy starting location, then start on the same side of the map as the enemy jungler. I recommend this strategy if you're worried about getting forced into vertical jungling, since Nocturne tends to do better when he can clear his own camps and reach level 6 in a timely manner without having to risk invading the enemy jungle early game.

Note:: If you're counter-jungling the enemy Krugs, check the position of your own team's minion wave on the opposite side of the map. This will mirror the enemy minion wave's position, so you'll know if the minions will spot you or not. Don't get spotted by enemy minions as they walk to lane if you can help it!


Benefits and Drawbacks

The main benefits of this strategy is that it essentially invalidates one of the enemy side lanes and discourages jungler vs jungler interactions in the early game. Even lane dominant champions like Renekton will still fall apart if they're constantly under jungle pressure. Likewise, pushing lanes like Caitlyn + Zyra will be completely immune to jungle pressure if their jungler is vertical jungling on the bot side of the map. The side of the map that your team has control of will determine which neutral objective to take as well, so a champion like Shyvana might benefit from vertical jungling on the bot side to ensure she gets early dragons with her bot lane's priority.

Champions like Elise, Rek'Sai and Lee Sin are great at vertical jungling since they can easily pressure lanes early and execute dives without threat of a countergank. Since these champions aren't always the best duelists, they thrive more in gank/dive heavy environments rather than duels and counterganks. Strong level 3 junglers like these also tend to be tougher to force out if they invade early, since they can use their mobility to escape or their early power to 1v1 any laner that contests their invade.

Of course, the drawback is that vertical jungling doesn't allow you to directly pressure the other jungler. Since they'll be on the opposite side of the map, you won't be fighting them directly early game. This can be a disadvantage for champions like Warwick and Olaf, who can bully enemy junglers with their strong dueling power.

The final risk associated with vertical jungling is that it makes the early game much more dependent on lane priority in order to secure farm. If you're against a team with a lot of strong early laners (especially a strong mid laner), you might find that the enemy jungler is invading your jungle, but you can't safely invade theirs since the enemy lanes have priority. In these cases, the best thing you can do is try to gank the enemy lanes with priority. If they're pushed enough to stop you from invading, they should be at least somewhat vulnerable to ganks.


Breaking Vertical Jungling

Vertical jungling is not a permanent state. It can last anywhere from just the initial clear, to throughout the early game until the laning phase ends. If you want to stop vertical jungling, you'll usually need to generate some sort of lane advantage and place wards down to stop the enemy jungler from invading your camps on the next spawn. The easiest way to do this is to gain mid lane priority, since the mid laner can help you protect either side of your jungle.

It's not always easy to break the cycle of vertical jungling early if the enemy is committed to continuing it. They'll likely have lane priority in their nearby sidelane, which makes it difficult to contest your own jungle on that side of the map. If you can't find a way to reset the game state to a standard jungle style, the best thing you can do is pressure the side of the map that your team "owns" by ganking/diving the enemy sidelane (or mid) and taking the neutral objective on the safe side of the map. If you're vertical jungling topside, this means taking the Rift Herald and using it to get first tower, while you sacrifice the first couple dragons to the enemy.

Vertical jungling will naturally break as towers begin to fall. It's easier to swap lanes once some outer towers are dead and your team can start to coordinate group plays after they push out their lanes. For example, if you're vertical jungling top-side and you break the enemy outer tower, you can have your top laner push in the wave and then rotate to team fight on the next dragon spawn without losing any minions. Since the enemy team will likely have taken two dragons due to your lack of early presence on the bot side of the map, you'll definitely want to take out the top tower and free up your top laner to fight with your team for the third dragon spawn.


Tracking the enemy jungler is one of the toughest skills to learn in league, but also one of the most powerful tools for dominating the early game. Junglers can have a huge influence on the way the early game plays out through map pressure, ganks and dives. Tracking the enemy jungler and pinging their location to your teammates can completely invalidate the enemy's attempt to gank and save your teammates from deadly dives.

If you have a good sense of where the enemy jungler is at all times, you can also invade more effectively, gank lanes knowing there will be no countergank, or take objectives when the enemy jungler isn't in a position to contest. Effective tracking and prediction is also key to setting up devastating counterganks which can swing the game more quickly than nearly any other early game play. Nocturne is insanely good at counterganking with Paranoia, so tracking and predicting the enemy jungler will put you in the perfect position to ruin their plans by positioning to countergank with your ult as soon as the enemy commits to a fight.

There are a number of techniques at your disposal for tracking the enemy jungler, but the easiest first step is to learn what different champions are good at and how they'll likely path in the early game. Sometimes you don't need vision to know what the enemy jungler is likely to do; you just need to understand what they want.


Types of Junglers

Level 2 Gankers


Will often gank immediately at level 2 (usually after red buff). May gank at level 3 instead, or transition gank mid after 2 camps on their way to their second buff. Expect routes such as Red -> Mid -> Blue - Gromp, and Blue -> Gromp -> Mid -> Red.

It's important to determine the enemy's starting location and ping it early so your teammates aren't caught off guard. Typing or pinging a warning to your mid laner is a good idea, since they're often the ones that'll get ganked at level 2.

Make sure you ward the opposite side of the map that you're starting on to check if the enemy jungler invades you and steals your buff at level 2. A ward at the enemy raptors is usually best, as it'll spot a potential mid gank and invade path at the same time. These junglers know they're strong at level 2 and will look to make plays while everyone else is still weaker than them.


Either they need level 3 to gank, or are much stronger at level 3 than level 2. Will usually gank level 3 rather than power clear if possible. Expect them to clear one quadrant of their jungle before transition ganking mid lane or simply moving to the opposite side of the map. They can also do Red -> Blue -> Gromp or Blue -> Gromp -> Red for a faster level 3 gank with double buffs.

Champions with good AoE damage like Ekko, Gragas, Rammus, Rek'Sai and Vi may opt to clear their red side jungle, then transition gank mid before clearing their blue side. If you gank mid at this timing, they may countergank you as well.

Champions with good single-target damage like Elise, Kha'Zix, Volibear and Warwick will often clear their blue side jungle, then move to their red. They can also skip Wolves and just clear their two buffs plus the Gromp camp to hit level 3.

These champions have similar gank timings as you, so do your best to track which side of the map they're on and be prepared for counterganks. Level 2 gankers that don't show up for a gank early will often be doing similar routes as level 3 junglers, so treat them the same.

Full Clear Farmers


Will usually focus on full clearing their jungle and securing one scuttle safely. Will only gank early if the kills are super free. These champions often scale well and spike at level 6. Expect them to clear 5 camps and leave either Gromp or Krugs up if they're contesting scuttle, or to fully clear all 6 camps if they're ceding the first scuttle.

These champions are unlikely to fight you early game since they are mostly weak early and don't really come into their element until level 6. For a farming jungler, Nocturne has super strong dueling, so it's good if you can find opportunities to pressure the enemy jungler directly in the early game. One example would be to clear in the same direction as the enemy jungler, then contest the scuttle. If they have to give it up, you can transition gank mid (or just cross through it if it's pushed) and take the other scuttle as well. Denying both scuttles is a good way to slow down the progression of the enemy jungler and speed up yours.

A few of these junglers can adjust their style to try and surprise you. Master Yi has some kill potential at level 2 with Ignite, and Kayn players will often try to sneak some of your camps or force vertical jungling if you aren't prepared. Avoid letting fast farmers like Karthus, Shyvana and Kayn vertical jungle since they'll be getting free farm in their weak part of the game, when you could be pressuring them more directly.

Cheesy Bastards


Will often opt to invade for kills or to steal farm rather than use standard pathing early. They're usually active ganking or invading early game and are unlikely to simply clear their own jungle. Be prepared to stall for your teammates if they try to kill you, or to vertical jungle if they're spotted invading your jungle to steal camps.

It's hard to give perfect advice for these matchups other than to be wary of bushes and to use your early ward to try and get a sense of where they're pathing. You don't want to walk into your second jungle quadrant only to find it's all been taken, or to walk to your second buff only to die to a cheesy invade.

Ivern players can nearly instantly steal your buffs, so use wards to check if they're invading early. You'll need to steal theirs in response, or start on the same side of the map as the Ivern to avoid this happening.

Rengar players love to kill enemy junglers at their red buff. Starting at your red buff should make it much safer for you, since there are far more bushes around red buff compared to the 1-2 bushes near blue. Just run away from Rengar if he tries to fight you at your blue and let your teammates collapse on him.

Shaco is similar to Rengar, but fewer Shacos invade nowadays. He may simply farm to level 3 or even level 2 gank after clearing his red buff and Krugs. The main danger of this matchup is that most Shaco players will run Ignite, so take care not to get caught out while you're low.

Nidalee and Nunu & Willump will mostly focus on counter-jungling you and slowing down your XP and gold gain. Their job is to mess with the enemy jungler and outfarm them. Nidalee is a more aggressive early game champion who can snowball, while Nunu is a scaling tank with good ganks and counterjungling. The best thing you can do against these two is to secure your camps early and ward against invades. If you're able to comfortably farm for your first two clears, you'll be able to hit 6 on time and start making plays with Paranoia while they spend time clearing your camps.

Flexible


Good clear speed, dueling and ganks allows these champions to adopt different playstyles depending on the game. These junglers are the least predictable and can use pretty much any of the strategies listed above.

Graves is largely a farm-oriented jungler, but he has solid level 2 ganks with red buff and is a capable duelist too. His low cooldown dash allows him to safely invade and quickly clear your camps, then dash out if he's caught. Mediocre Graves players will mostly just farm early, but great ones will pressure your laners and your jungle while maintaining high farm.

Olaf is very similar to Graves, but he's a much more dangerous duelist. Expect him to try to catch you and your laners off guard and permaslow you if you aren't healthy enough to fight him. He has one of the fastest clears in the game and can gank as early as level 2, so be ready to adapt to what he does early game.

Kindred has a slower clear speed than the two champions mentioned above, but they are dangerous gankers and duelists with red buff. Kindred can also hop short walls like Graves, so they can invade through many angles and can quickly escape if they're spotted. Level 3 ganks are common for most Kindred players, but Kindred mains will often try to force more aggressive invades to kill the enemy jungler or steal camps for free to get a tempo lead.

Udyr is pretty decent at everything but not amazing at any one aspect. Most Udyr players currently max Tiger Stance, which biases them towards single-target camps and fighting enemy champions rather than powerclearing. Phoenix Stance Udyr can powerclear with the best of them though. Like Kindred and Graves, he can pressure the whole map with his high movement speed, but unlike those two, he can't hop walls, so he'll have trouble escaping if you catch him in your jungle.


Tracking the Initial Clear


Starting Location

You MUST determine the enemy starting location as often and accurately as possible if you want to control the early game. Many of your decisions and your ability to track the enemy jungler hinge on this knowledge. Thankfully, this is usually easy to deduce, even without vision.

The vast majority of junglers will either start at their red buff or their blue buff. Which buff they choose has less to do with what champion they're playing and more to do with which direction they want to path. Most junglers will also get a leash from their nearby side laners to help them clear the first buff easier.

Most of the time, you can figure out where the enemy started simply by watching the lanes. Whichever side lane shows up to lane later is usually the one who leashed. In cases where both side lanes are late to lane, check their health and mana bars to see if they used abilities or tanked hits from the buff while leashing.


Early Pathing

Once you know their starting location, you'll need a combination of game knowledge (from the Types of Junglers section above) plus a little vision to confirm the enemy pathing. Usually, a ward in the pixel bush opposite your starting location is enough to get a good idea of where the enemy will be early. If they show on that ward for an invade or level 2 gank mid, you'll know where they're headed. If they don't show up on the ward, they're likely clearing towards their other buff. Use your knowledge of the enemy jungle champion to figure out what kind of route they're likely to use, then plan your early game accordingly.

The first time the enemy jungler shows on the map will give you useful information if you're watching for it. First, pan your screen over and left-click on them. This will show you the remaining duration on their buffs, so you can tell how recently they took each of them and in which order. If the enemy jungler shows up on the side of the map near your blue buff and they have a fresh blue on them, you know they invaded and stole your blue. If they show in lane with only 1 buff, you'll know that their other buff is still up.

In addition to checking their buffs, you should also check their level and press tab to see their CS. Each jungle camp counts as 4 CS, so you can divide their CS by four to know how many camps they've taken. This trick only really works early game before junglers start taxing minions which messes up their CS numbers, but it's a great trick to know for the first clear.

If you see a Lee Sin with double buffs and 12 CS, you'll know he took his two buff camps and one minor camp (usually Gromp). This can let you invade knowing for certain that at least one of his camps will be available for you to steal. A Lee Sin that takes his Red, Blue and Gromp and then shows on his blue side will leave his Raptors (and Krugs) completely unguarded.

Likewise, if you see a Vi with just blue buff and 12 CS (and level 3), you'll know her entire red side hasn't been taken yet. If she wastes time on a gank before heading to her red, you can even beat her there and wait for her at her red buff, then kill her once she burns her cooldowns to start clearing it.

Gaining vision of an enemy camp (via wards, abilities or simply walking up to it) can also help inform you of where the enemy jungler is. Farm-oriented junglers will often path towards their active camps quickly after they spawn, while gank-oriented junglers may skip over some camps in order to hit their power spikes faster. Seeing the enemy Raptors available and knowing that you can wait for a Karthus to facecheck you and kill him, or that an Elise has skipped over her Raptors and headed to her blue side, leaving them open for a steal, will allow you to gain advantages you might otherwise miss.


The Second Clear

The first minor camp respawns roughly around the 4:00 mark. Farming junglers will often be on time to clear this camp as it spawns, or show up only a little bit late. Ganking/invading junglers may leave this camp up for a while after it respawns. Due to this discrepency, it's much easier to track farming junglers since their pathing is more straightforward and based around camp spawns rather than more proactive junglers who will clear a couple camps now and then, and aren't as punctual.

The exception to this is the buff camps. The vast majority of junglers will try to take their buffs shortly after they spawn, when possible. If you see the enemy showing on the opposite side of the map, you know you'll have time to steal it for free. If they're missing and their buff is spawning, expect them to come and take it. If you have lane priority, you can invade and try to kill them when they go for the buff.

Invading isn't the only way to capitalize on knowledge of the enemy's second round of camp spawns. You can also judge roughly when the enemy jungler will be on each side of the map and what opportunities are available to them. If you're paying attention, you can often warn your teammates about impending ganks or set up counterganks, even with zero vision. Knowing that the red team's Krugs have respawned and seeing your top laner overextending with low health gives you a high likelihood of the enemy jungler looking to gank top lane. Conversely, knowing that the enemy jungler only has camps available on their top side implies that they are less likely to recall and then path bottom to gank.

Most junglers will path towards their respawning camps, so that they have a fallback plan to farm even if they're looking to gank. Sometimes very smart (or very dumb) junglers will break this rule, but in general you can expect your opponent to be on the same side of the map that they started on, around the 4:00 mark as their second round of camps spawns.

Keep in mind that this knowledge can be turned against you as well, If the enemy knows which direction you're clearing, they may show up early to your second buff spawn to fight you, or they may go for ganks knowing that you're unlikely to countergank. This is why tracking the enemy jungler and communicating with your teammates is crucial, since you can't countergank every lane at once. If you see a teammate that's vulnerable to a likely gank and you can't help them, ping them to fall back or at least ward. Sometimes your teammates will die to obvious ganks, but you should at least make the effort to warn them, since a lot of the time they will listen and survive because of your warning.


Mirrored/Split Pressure

Map pressure can refer to a few things, but in this section I'll be using the term to mean where the two junglers are and which lanes they can potentially gank (or which objectives they can take). If you are on top side and the enemy jungler is on bot side, your team has top pressure and the enemy team has bot pressure.

Pressure is a super important concept for all League players to understand. As a laner, if your jungler is on the opposite side of the map and the enemy jungler is missing, you can very easily be ganked and your jungler won't be able to help you. Playing defensive when your jungler is far and aggressive when your jungler is close is one of the easiest ways to avoid ganks while still winning lane and using lane priority to pressure the map.

As a jungler, knowing whether you and the enemy jungler are mirroring each other (and therefore are likely to countergank each other) or if you are pathing in opposite directions and gank gank/dive side lanes with impunity is equally important. You can also use pings to help your laners keep track of when they're under pressure and when they're safe. The more you can ping the enemy jungler's likely location, the better your teammates' chances of making accurate decisions and avoiding ganks.

Mirroring the enemy jungler is a good way to counter their moves and prevent them from making active plays. Against strong early game junglers, you can keep your lanes safe early with the threat of counterganks while you farm up to 6. Against farming junglers, you can mirror them to contest scuttles and win any even skirmishes in lanes or the river.

Pressuring the opposite side of the map as the enemy jungler allows you to more easily take neutral objectives or dive side lanes. Dives are risky and can be disastrous if the enemy jungler shows up unexpectedly. Likewise, starting Dragon without knowing where the enemy jungler is or having lane priority is a good way to throw a lead. If you correctly identify the game state and know that you're in a split pressure scenario, you'll know when seemingly risky moves like blind dragons, dives and counterjungling aren't actually risky at all.


The earliest level that you should gank with Nocturne is level three with a point in all three abilities and double buff. His ganks after level 6 are very difficult to escape, but can only be executed with Paranoia once every three minutes. Remember that the slow and damage from red buff will improve your ganks a lot.

Before level 6: When your teammates are ready, initiate a gank (unless your ally has a strong initiation spell) by pinging the target, then running at the enemy while your laner engages. If you are coming from behind, get close enough to cast Unspeakable Horror and tag your target with red buff by autoattacking them. If your laner has a strong CC, you can cast Duskbringer on your way to your target, otherwise it's usually best to use it after the target is feared. Remember to be ready to block enemy CC with Shroud of Darkness.

After level 6: You can gank using Paranoia as your initiation, which allows you to completely bypass ward coverage since you don't have to use the standard gank paths which are usually warded. Walking up from your own tower and ulting into the lane is usually the safest way to avoid wards. Make sure your laner is in position to follow up on your gank because when you cast Paranoia, your target will likely retreat to his tower. Remember to check Paranoia's dash range by resting your mouse over the ability before initiating the gank. Use Duskbringer immediately after you connect with your target because it's almost impossible to dodge at point-blank range. If you think you can gank a lane through a standard gank path (or lane gank by hiding on one of the side bushes), save Paranoia to secure a kill if necessary. It has a long cooldown so try to pull off the gank without it if you can.


A pretty basic gank on top lane from a flanking position in the enemy jungle.


I wait for Leona's engage before using R. I focus Jhin since my team can handle Thresh 2v1.

Tower dives: Be careful around towers, as Nocturne doesn't have a lot of health early game. If the enemy hugs his tower, judge for yourself if you can dive him or not. Just don't take any unnecessary risks and be wary for clutch heals (most Marksmen run Heal), shields and CC if they're tower hugging. If your minions have drawn tower aggro, close into melee range before attacking. If your enemy doesn't hug the tower and keeps running (usually if they're really low), you can wait until they're between their towers and then Paranoia dash to them to avoid tower aggro entirely.

For some lane matchups, initiating a gank yourself will be doomed to failure. If the enemy champion has a lot of mobility or a strong CC, try to get your laner to engage them in combat before revealing yourself. It's a lot easier to gank a target that over-commits and blows cooldowns before they know you're there. This strategy works best when your ally has some strong CC with which to pin the target, but it can also work if your target plays very aggressively and uses an escape spell to harass.

A gank does not have to net a kill to be successful. You may damage an enemy enough so that they have to play passively, or even recall to base. Forcing an enemy to use a summoner spell or ultimate can leave them without an escape mechanism, giving your teammate(s) the advantage in that lane.


Crashing the Wave

Knowing when to crash the wave is super important as a jungler. Crashing the wave means you push the minions all the way to the enemy tower. This will cause the enemy wave to push back towards your side of the map (or in some cases, it'll reset the wave to the middle).

Failing to push in the wave after a gank can really screw over your allied laner. The enemy could freeze the wave, denying a ton of gold and XP to your laner, and they'll be picking up a big wave of minions. Crashing the wave can also benefit your laner, as the wave will often push towards your team's side of the map, allowing your allied laner to freeze and all-in the enemy or set up an easy repeat gank.

If your laner is still alive after the gank, help them push in the wave (unless they can push it super quickly by themselves). This will give them a chance to recall and spend their gold without losing much CS or putting their wave in a bad position.

Crashing the wave isn't always necessary though. In very early ganks (like level 2 or 3), you may want to leave your laner alone with the wave so they keep up in XP. If they're healthy enough to lane alone, letting them get an early XP advantage can be better than crashing to let them recall. Crashing can also be a bad idea against an enemy with Teleport, since they'll miss basically no minions while you push, and you'll be leeching XP from your ally.


Freezing

Another tactic you can use to generate an advantage is to set up a freeze. Freezing is when you make sure the enemy wave is a bit bigger than your wave (usually 3-4 extra enemy caster minions is a good number), and you'll make sure it doesn't reach your team's tower. If the enemy wave is very large, you may need to thin it by clearing some of the enemy minions while still leaving enough alive to set up the freeze.

You only have to worry about freezing if your laner is dead (or at least recalling immediately). Otherwise, it's best to let them manage the wave on their own so they get full XP if they're still alive. Freezing is also only possible if the enemy laner is dead or too weak to walk close to you. Otherwise, they'll simply harass you and push the wave in until you're forced to break your freeze and retreat under tower.

Thinning the wave can be necessary if the enemy minion wave is very large, and your teammate doesn't have Teleport to get back to lane quickly. If the wave is too large, it'll crash on your tower and your laner will lose those minions anyway. By thinning the wave, you can set up a freeze which will deny the maximum amount of enemy minions and give your laner wave control.

If the enemy wave isn't very large (say, there's only 3 casters remaining once your minions are dead), you can simply freeze the wave by tanking the enemy caster minions and pulling them towards the center of the lane (at least partway). Do not allow them to enter your team's tower range. Once your next minion wave arrives, drop minion aggro by walking towards your minions or into a nearby bush. The enemy wave will slowly push towards your side of the map and you'll preserve a lot of enemy minions for your laner to pick up.


Minion Tax

It's often necessary for the jungler to gain some XP and gold from lane minions after ganking a lane. Some laners may flame you for taking their minions, but you need the gold to keep up since you spent time ganking instead of clearing your jungle. You'll also often be pushing the wave with your laner, so it makes sense that you'll pick up some of the minions while you're there.

I usually take a small amount of minions (like 2-3 casters per wave) if I took the kill in the initial gank. If there was no kill or if my ally got it, I'll take more farm. Carry champions like Nocturne need the gold just as much as laners do, if not more. If you're playing a tanky utility champion like Nunu & Willump who's less gold reliant, you can take less farm when you tax.

It can sometimes be worth giving your ally all of the farm if they'll become tilted by you taxing. Especially in low elo where people don't understand the game well, they'll think you're "stealing" their farm by taxing and may flame, grief or ragequit if they're really upset by it. In these cases, preserving your teammate's mental state can be better than making the "optimal" play. You should still help them manage their wave properly as explained in this chapter though.


Start planning your early game in the load screen, not after the game starts. Take a look at the lane matchups and the opposing jungler to help make your decision of where to start and which way to path. Volatile matchups like Riven vs Fiora top lane may demand more of your attention early game, while stable ones like Sion vs Dr. Mundo top or Orianna vs Ziggs can likely be left alone during your initial clear.

In general, it's a good idea to start on the opposite side of the map of the side lane you want to gank first. If you want to gank top lane at level 3, start on the bottom side of the map, and vice versa. This minimizes the enemy jungler's ability to counter jungle you when you show on the map during the gank and makes your map movements more efficient, since you won't be passing camps you've already cleared.

You'll also need to analyze your jungle matchup and determine if you have an advantage or disadvantage early game. Pay attention to the enemy's dueling power as well as their escape options and propensity for counter jungling. Some junglers like Ivern and Nunu & Willump are far more likely to counter jungle you early while strong level 2 duelists like Xin Zhao and Shaco may invade your jungle and try to kill you while you're farming.

The last thing you want to do is absentmindedly do the same pathing over and over every game. While this may win you some games, it's far more effective to adjust your early game plan based on both team compositions. I'll go over a few examples and show you how adapting your plan can make your early game safer and more effective.



Example 1
Your Team

Enemy Team


Say you see these team compositions in load screen. What side of the map should you start on? Which lane should you expect to gank first? What is the enemy jungler likely to do early game? Let's try to answer these questions by analyzing the lane and jungle matchups.

Top Lane
  • Fairly stable matchup, though Riven can still snowball.
  • Sion has lower lane priority early game.
  • Sion doesn't scale as well with gold.
Jungle
  • Strong level 2 ganker.
  • Weaker duelist than Nocturne, especially at level 3.
  • Will likely gank mid, as Kassadin is vulnerable early game.

Mid Lane
  • Syndra has much higher priority than Kassadin early game.
  • Syndra is vulnerable and will push, but Kassadin has very poor gank reception before 6.
  • Kassadin scales very well and benefits greatly from snowballing post 6.
Bot Lane
  • Volatile lane that can snowball heavily in either side's favor.
  • Draven snowballs harder than most ADCs and benefits greatly from early kills.
  • Thresh has solid engage and can enable ganks with lantern.

Conclusions: Bot lane is the most rewarding place to gank early, and Jarvan is likely to gank mid at level 2. Syndra's high lane priority will make it difficult to contest Scuttles and it will be hard to gank for Kassadin until he hits level 6. Top lane is gankable, but offers a lower reward.

In this game, I'd likely clear Blue, Gromp, Wolves, Raptors, Red and then try to gank bottom. If my bottom lane is pushed up (and I can't gank), I'd use their lane priority to contest the bottom Scuttle. Even though Syndra will have priority mid, I should be able to win a bot river fight with the help of Draven and Thresh, plus I have the 1v1 edge over Jarvan.

Jarvan is likely to gank Kassadin early, so it would be wise to drop a ward in the river protecting his lane before the jungle camps spawn. Explaining the situation and/or using pings to warn him of the danger would also be a good idea.

After hopefully snowballing bot lane from the early gank and bot river control, I'd focus on clearing camps in order to hit level 6 quickly, then gank either mid lane or bot lane depending on who is more vulnerable. Top lane ganks are an option, but the main goal would be either to relieve pressure on Sion so he can farm and hold his tower, or to take the enemy tower / tower plates.

Example 2
Enemy Team

Your Team


Top Lane
  • Jayce has lane priority and the matchup advantage.
  • Darius can kill Jayce if Jayce is flanked.
  • Both champions scale well off gold.
  • Jayce will usually be pushing in and will be vulnerable to ganks.
Jungle
  • Most 1v1s will end up in skirmishes due to the long time-to-kill.
  • Sejuani is strong in ganks and team fights, but weaker in pre-6 skirmishes.
  • Sejuani can be overwhelmed if counterganked since her damage dealers will die faster.

Mid Lane
Bot Lane

Conclusions: Both mid and top lane are good options to gank early, since Jayce will be pushing and Twisted Fate can easily stun Talon when he walks up for a last-hit. Bottom lane will have priority, but is difficult to gank since Ezreal and Morgana are difficult to pin down and will usually be farming near their tower.

In this game, there are a few options for routes. One option is to start at Red and clear Raptors, Blue, Wolves, Gromp and bot-side Scuttle with my mid and bot lane priority. Alternatively, going from Red to Krugs, to Raptors, then ganking mid gives you a good chance to kill Talon early. From there you can do Blue and then bot side Scuttle.

On the other hand, starting at your Blue buff gives you a stronger leash and the opportunity to gank Jayce or Talon early, both of which will be vulnerable. You'll have less Scuttle control due to the lack of priority top lane, but you have two potential gank paths. For this route, I'd do Blue, Wolves, Raptors, Red and then Recall for a Long Sword (or Boots of Speed and a Control Ward if you prefer). With the leash from bottom lane, you should be quick enough to contest Scuttle and/or gank with full HP and an item advantage.

Any of these three routes could work. Starting at your red buff would give your bottom lane the chance to get a small lead by pushing early, and it's a safer way of securing Scuttle since your bottom lane will have priority. On the other hand, an early mid or top lane gank could snowball those lanes and give you the priority you need to take control of the river.

During the laning phase, it'll be important to punish Talon and Jayce when they overextend, especially without vision. Once you have Paranoia, you can easily snowball mid or top and take tower plates. Bot lane will be difficult to gank, even with Paranoia, but it's a good place to counter-gank if Ezreal commits to a fight by Arcane Shifting forward. The safer way to gank bottom lane would be to dive them under tower when they're low, or with the help of a rotation from Twisted Fate.

Takeaways

Remember, every game in load screen, start thinking about the early game and ask yourself some questions to help you choose a jungle route and get a rough plan for the early game. Be sure to check which side of the map you'll be playing on.

Consider the enemy jungler and ask yourself:

1. How does the jungle matchup go in a 1v1?

2. How easily can the enemy jungler escape or engage?

3. Where is the enemy jungler likely to path?

4. Which of your lanes are most vulnerable to jungle ganks?

Also take a look at the lane matchups and ask yourself:

1. Which of your lanes will have priority early?

2. Which matchups are the most volatile? The most stable?

3. Which lanes are easiest to gank? Which are the hardest?

It's a lot of information to process, but I promise if you consistently analyze the game right from the start, you'll have a much higher chance of a strong opening to the game. A good early game from the jungler is not only a good way to build a lead, but it's also great for team morale. If your teammates see you making early plays and getting fed, they're more likely to relax a bit and not freak out as quickly if things go wrong.


Kill conversion is when you get a kill (or multiple kills) and use the resulting man advantage to take an objective to further increase your lead. Kills are great, but you're much more likely to snowball to victory if you can consistently take objectives during those windows of power where the enemy team is undermanned and you have map control.

The main ways to capitalize off of a kill is to take tower plates, towers, Dragon or Baron (Rift Herald kind of counts similar to Dragon). Often you'll get a gank off or win a team fight and find that you have multiple potential objectives to take, but you only have time to do one. I'll go over each objective and give you a few tips to help you decide which to go for.


Objective Priority - Early Game



1st Tower
>

Dragon
>

Plates
>

Towers
>

Herald

First tower is easily the best option since it constitutes a huge gold spike, granting a total of 650 gold to your team. It also denies the 150 bonus local gold from the enemy team, since they'll lose the race to first turret.

Outer towers are worth 500 gold (half local, half global) each. This is a pretty good reward, however they don't have a respawn timer and aren't time-sensitive (other than plating and first tower gold), so it's often best to take them down when other objectives aren't available.

Most of the time, the toughest decision will be between taking tower plates and taking dragon. Tower plates are a source of fast gold income in the early game and are time-sensitive. They're available until 14:00, after which they'll drop off and that potential gold will be lost. Every outer tower has 5 plates which grant the tower bonus resistances. As each plate is removed, the tower will gain stronger resistances, as well as even more bonus resistances based on nearby enemy champions for 20 seconds. This means the last plate is much harder to take than the first plate. It also means it takes a lot longer to take 4 plates than to take 2 plates, especially if you have 3 or 4 people pushing the tower.

Each plate is worth 120 local gold, which is much higher than the gold bounty for Dragon (25g). However, Dragon also gives a buff which is pretty valuable, and gets you one step closer to Dragon Soul, so it's often a better reward if you can take Dragon safely.

The best reasons to go for tower plating are:
  • Dragon is dead, or you ganked top lane.
  • Surviving enemies can still pressure you off Dragon, but can't clear the wave.
  • Your laner(s) have to recall to buy/heal/refill mana and you don't have time to do dragon (usually early ganks while respawn timers are low).
  • The 14:00 mark is closing in and you'll lose the potential plates.
Other than those cases, it'll usually be best to take Dragon if possible. In my personal opinion, every type of Elemental Drake is valuable to take since it accelerates your team's Dragon Soul potential and denies a Drake from the enemy team so they're less likely to get Dragon Soul.

Note: For the first 5 minutes of the game, the top and mid lane towers have 50% damage reduction. This makes it harder to take tower plates in top and mid very early in the game. In most cases it's best to just manage the wave and then leave and let your laner recall to spend their gold.

In the early game, you'll likely be taking a single tower plate off a gank. Respawn timers will be too low to take Dragon without your laners missing their recall timing and sacrificing their advantage. Instead, manage the wave if necessary, and take 1 tower plate if you have a large wave near the enemy tower, then let your laners recall.

Once a few minutes have passed, respawn timers will get longer and you'll be able to take Dragon faster, so it'll be preferable to take the Dragon after a successful kill.

Even though Herald is last on the list, it's still a valuable objective that can help you snowball games. You can let your top laner push for plates alone after killing the enemy top, you can sneak the Herald with lane priority, or you can trade the Herald for Dragon if the enemy jungler has control of the bot side of the map.

Once you have the Eye of the Herald, you'll usually want to use it to break the tower of whichever lane is farthest ahead. There are some exceptions (like using it on mid vs a waveclear champ like Anivia) but generally snowballing your winning lanes is a good strategy to employ. If tower plates are still up, try to break the initial plates manually and then summon the Herald to one-shot the last 2 plates. Plates get bonus resistances every time you take one, so you'll want the Herald's true damage to punch through the last part of the tower HP.



Objective Priority - Late Game



Elder
>

Baron
>

Inhibitor
>

Dragon
>

Towers


Baron and Elder Dragon are both really powerful objectives. Both buffs only apply to the living allies of the team that slays the objective, and are lost on death. Baron lasts for 180 seconds and Elder Dragon lasts for 150 seconds. In most cases, Elder is the preferable objective since it gives you a massive boost to your team's team fight threat. In some cases, you may want to take a free Baron rather than contest Elder if the enemy team has already set up in the bot river, but often times the team who takes Elder will win the game. If Elder hasn't spawned yet, Baron becomes the strongest objective on the map.

Inhibitors are always good to take down, but they're not as important as Baron. The reason for this is that Baron can be used to help your team take down inhibitors, but inhibitors don't provide as much pressure for your team to easily take Baron. If the enemy team successfully stalls your baron attempt, they'll be farming a lot of super minion waves while you lose a lane of farm. Go for Baron if you can, then use that advantage to break open the enemy base. If you must take an inhibitor first, Bottom lane inhibitor is the ideal choice since it creates pressure in the lane farthest from the Baron pit. Side lane super waves also have an easier time taking Nexus towers.

While proximity to the objective can affect your decision, I usually go for Dragons over towers to continue my team's progress towards Dragon Soul and deny a Dragon from the enemy. In many cases, you can safely take a tower and then retreat to take Dragon for free, but if you have to choose, Dragon is always a safe bet. However, if the enemy team has strong waveclear like Anivia or Ziggs and you managed to take them down, you may want to take down towers while they're unable to defend.

After taking one or more of these major objectives, it's important to check the enemy's respawn timers and make a quick judgment whether you should stay to take more objectives or recall with your team to spend your gold, heal up and push out the side lanes if necessary. Many games are thrown by teams who bite off more than they can chew and take a full team fight after the enemy respawns. Don't be afraid to ping retreat on your team and start backing off after taking an inhibitor if you can't end the game.


As a jungler, your most important job on the team is to show up to the places you're needed. This means you'll need to be aware of what the next objectives of the game are and lead your teammates to take them. The jungle position is great to shotcall from since you'll be involved in most of your team's plays and you have Smite to secure objectives.

You'll need to look at your map to figure out when and where the next objectives will be. Whether it's that last enemy outer tower or dragon respawning, pinging and showing up to the objective well in advance will let your team get the positional advantage and vision control you can use to take it safely. Sometimes the enemy team will be too slow to react and you can even take it for free!


Game Outline

0:00 - 4:00
This is your initial clear, before the second round of camps start spawning. Focus on efficient, smart pathing and ganking to burn enemy summoner spells or net early kills. Forcing an enemy out of lane and giving your ally wave control can also be considered a success. Try and get at least one Scuttle if possible. Getting both Scuttles is a great way to create a tempo lead and set the enemy jungler behind. Generally don't go for plates this early in the game and instead focus on managing the wave and letting your ally recall after a gank.

5:30 - 6:00
Solo laners hit 6 around this time. If your teammate is pushing the wave, they'll usually hit 6 first and can threaten a dive. This works best in top lane since the towers are farther apart. Be careful of ganking enemy laners that are ahead, since they may be able to 1v2 if they're lvl 6 while you and your laner are lvl 4/5.

5:00 - 14:00
Gank lanes and push for tower plating. You should usually focus on vulnerable enemies and/or strong allies for your ganks. Don't gank super weak lanes or you'll be more likely to die.

If your bot lane (or mid lane) is strong, use their priority to secure Dragon. If you can't control the bot side of the map, sacrifice the first two dragons and focus on mid and top instead. Take Rift Herald or kill enemy laners when the enemy jungler goes for Dragon. If you get Rift Herald before 14:00, use it to get quick tower plates. Dragons are arguably better than Rift Herald / plates, but you need to play around your winning lanes rather than forcing early Dragon fights that you're bound to lose.

14:00 - 20:00
Take first tower before the enemy team does, if possible. Assuming one team has been taking Dragons, make sure you focus on dragon control starting around the third dragon spawn. Don't let the enemy get 3 dragons for free, or they'll use the pressure to get either Dragon Soul or Baron on the next spawn. If your team can get 3 dragons, you can force the same dilemma.

Rotate people to take any outer towers that are still up. You should always have your duo lane pressuring an outer tower, not continuing to push bot for the inner tower. Once you have all the outer towers, ward the enemy jungle and steal their camps. You can use the vision control to out-rotate the enemy team to take towers, or catch enemies in rotation. Focus your vision & counter-jungling efforts on the side of the map where the next neutral objective is spawning. Controlling Dragon over Baron is usually easier if Dragon is spawning soon.

20:00 - END
You and your ADC should be near Baron while your Teleport user / split-pusher should be pushing bottom. Clear vision around Baron using Oracle Lens and Control Wards. Continue taking enemy camps and pressuring any remaining inner towers, then pressure Baron. DO NOT SHOW BOT at this phase of the game unless it's impossible for the enemy team to take Baron. If you show bottom, even for an easy kill, your team can lose Baron while you're gone. The exception to this rule is if Dragon is spawning and your team is pressuring that instead of Baron.


Baron Control

There are three main ways to pressure Baron. In all three cases, vision control is essential. Be sure to buy Control Wards and make sure your team has at least two Oracle Lenses so you can clear out enemy wards. Pushing up mid and top lane is also key, as the minions will provide vision of enemy rotations.


Rushing Baron

This is viable if you have high DPS and the enemy team is out of position. If the enemy jungler is dead or near bot lane and most of your team is near baron, you can try to rush it down before the enemy can contest. You can also try to sneak baron if the enemy team doesn't have any vision of the Baron pit and isn't coming to contest. You'll have to stop if the enemy jungler shows up and catches you doing it though, or you'll risk a steal.


With the enemy Kennen showing bot and Shen's global teleports down, we have to rush Baron and take the fight after.


Baiting Baron

This is a good option if you have a healer and/or a strong frontliner on your team. Your tank and DPS champions can start hitting baron while your lower DPS teammates zone enemies from the pit. If the enemy can't get close enough, you can finish the baron. Otherwise, turning and killing the enemy jungler is an option, since they'll be weakened from trying to get through your zoners.


Veigar and Nami should be farther from the Baron pit, but Jarvan IV still gets caught anyway.


Faking Baron

If you have a weak frontline and medium to low DPS, doing Baron becomes very risky without a significant advantage. Clear out the enemy's vision and force them to come check the Baron pit, then pick off whoever comes to check (you might need 2 picks). If you kill the enemy jungler, your team can take Baron without risk of a steal. If you kill the enemy waveclear champion(s), you can force down towers while they're respawning.


A few of my teammates stay to pick off the enemy Pyke as he tries to check Baron.

This section is under construction.


We all know the point of the game is to destroy the enemy Nexus, but ending the game isn't as simple as just running it down mid and hoping you kill everyone so you can do that for free. If you find yourself constantly reaching late game despite getting leads early, you may find it difficult to turn those leads into a win. This is both because Nocturne isn't a great late game champion, and because early and mid game leads that aren't translated into wins will usually stagnate, making the game a coin flip of which team wins the last team fight and can run it down to win during the long spawn timers.

In the late game, something as simple as your support getting randomly caught out can be a death sentence. It's not very reliable to win games that go super late, so you'll need to know how to actually close out games once you have a lead and coordinate your teammates so they don't just run around wasting time, letting the enemy team catch up.


Closing with Baron

Baron is one of the best tools for closing out a game. It's available as early as 20 minutes and gives your team massive tower pressure and an edge in fights. A lot of people will waste the Baron buff goofing around, farming or getting caught instead of winning.

The first way to reduce Baron throws is to recall together with your team after taking it. This isn't always optimal, but in most cases you or your teammates can use the recall to refill your resources and spend your gold before the potentially final fight of the game. If you're super close to a big item spike (like 150 gold off of a full item), ping the item in your shop so your team knows you need a moment and go clear a wave or a jungle camp to get the last bit of gold you need, do NOT farm like 500 gold just to finish and item; you don't have time for that.

Once your team is all done recalling and buying, you can assign lanes and pressure the map together. Don't let your teammates stay on the map for extended periods and then recall super late. This wastes a ton of your Baron time, since your team needs to be on the map at the same time to pressure. If one of your teammates does this, ping your teammates back to wait for them to get into position. It's better to wait than to risk a 4v5.


Option A) Group Mid

If you have a strong 5v5 team fighting composition with champions like Rumble, Malphite, Miss Fortune or Taric, you'll want to group up as 5 and shove the mid wave. Ideally, get the side waves shoving first, then group mid so you don't lose a tower while you're sieging.

If your team has high range champions like Caitlyn or Tristana, you can stay behind the safety of your Baron-empowered minions and siege the tower. Let your ADC hit the tower and use that pressure to force the enemy team to try a desperate engage, then kite them out and use Paranoia to kill divers or reengage once the fight turns.

If your team has a strong frontline and/or great engage, you may want to simply dive the enemy team when they contest your push. Lower ranged ADCs like Lucian and Kai'Sa can't really hit the tower from a safe distance, so engaging as soon as the enemy team walks up to threaten them can give you an easy win. AoE engage champions like Malphite or Orianna may want to threaten an engage, but only pull the trigger once they can hit several enemies with their ult.

In these situations, your job is just to be present so you can help your team once the fight starts. You may hit the tower if the enemy team is too timid to walk up, but you can usually let your ranged allies and Baron minions do the work while you wait patiently and keep your health high.

This is the safest strategy, but also the least effective. Enemies with strong waveclear and zone control can stall Baron pushes indefinitely or severely delay them to burn the Baron timer down. Getting just 1 mid inhibitor from a Baron is generally not good enough since it gives the enemy team a long time to farm up before the next Baron push. This is why you'll need really strong dive or guaranteed, reliable tower damage from someone like Tristana or Caitlyn so the enemy can't easily stall. On the plus side, you'll be grouped and basically can't get caught out, so it's a safe option against strong engage if you have a winning 5v5.


Option B) 4-1 Split

If you have a strong split-pusher on your team OR you're really strong and can 1v1 anyone on the enemy team, you'll probably want to split your team into a 4-1. Put 4 champions into one lane and 1 champion into another lane to pressure both lanes with Baron.

Champions who can handle multiple enemies and dive solo opponents like Darius and Nasus should be in the far lane while their allies are in the opposite side lane. Likewise, champions with Teleport or other global abilities like Stand United should be far from their teammates in order to make the most of their global pressure.

If your team's split-pusher is someone like Talon, Zed or Vladimir, you'll want them closer to your team (i.e. you pressure mid + a side lane) so they can quickly rotate if a fight breaks out. This makes it easier for the enemy to defend, but it's much less risky since you can quickly group at a moment's notice if a fight breaks out. This also applies to you, since you'll usually be empowering a minion wave with Baron while you hold onto Paranoia to rotate in case of a fight. If the enemy leaves you alone but doesn't immediately engage, you can walk up and hit the tower. Otherwise, just let the minions hit the tower and stay safe.

The main danger with this option is if an uneven fight starts and you can't properly group your team or disengage the fight. The enemy will try to either force a 5v4 fight or catch your split-pusher and then group up to defend against the remaining 4 members of your team. This also doesn't really work if the enemy has someone who can 1v1 your split-pusher, though in some cases they can still use Baron minions to pressure the tower.


Option C) 1-3-1 Split

This is much the same as the 4-1 Split strategy, but in this case you'll have two split-pushers a group of 3 champions mid. In most cases, the support and ADC will be two of the three mid champions, while you or one of your solo laners will be the third. Nocturne works a bit better in the side lane here, but he can work mid too since you can R to either side lane.

Your two strongest split-pushers should be in the side lanes. If you have a super strong Twisted Fate and a late game Jax, those will be your side laners. If you have a Riven and a Xerath, you'll be one of the split-pushers instead and you can put your mage mid.

This strategy provides the most pressure since you'll have Baron minions hitting all three towers at once, but it carries the greatest risk since it's tougher to rotate between all three lanes, and if the enemy team has strong engage, they may simply engage 5v3 in mid lane and crush your squishy support & carries. For this reason, make sure you either have a lot of split-push pressure, good rotational tools, or strong disengage to keep your lanes safe (especially the group of 3).

If the enemy team has very poor engage, this strategy becomes really good even if you don't have amazing split push champs. The way to beat a 1-3-1 is to force a fight on one of the smaller groups, but if you can't force fights, the pushing team can simply back off whenever the enemy groups against them while the other 2 lanes push.


Super Minions are Split-Pushers!

If you've already taken down an enemy inhibitor, you'll have a super minion wave pushing down that lane. This wave of supers demands enemy attention eventually, or they'll kill the enemy Nexus by themselves (unless they're matched by an enemy super minion wave). You can use super minions as if they're split-pushers on your team. Either have someone empower them with Baron for high pressure pushing, or group your team and wait until an enemy goes to deal with them, then pressure the tower or dive when they're busy clearing the minions.

You can also use super waves to pressure the enemy base while you set up a neutral objective. Stalling a 5v5 around Baron while you have supers in the enemy base puts the enemy on a timer and forces them to either cede Baron or overextend to force a fight immediately.


Picks / Team Fights

When the game goes late, death timers become super long, which gives your team more time to capitalize off picks. If you kill an enemy for free, you can force a 5v4 fight and use your numbers advantage to easily win it. Then, while the enemy team is dead you can push to end.

Smart enemies will back off when one of their members dies for free and try to just wave clear and buy time for their ally to respawn. In most cases, you can use Baron or Elder Dragon to bait the enemy team to fight you (lest they cede the objective for free). If you picked off the enemy jungler, you should be able to burn down the objective and secure it with Smite. If you picked off an enemy carry (or sometimes just a support), you should be able to bait a fight and then 5v4 them.

In some cases, you don't actually need Baron and can end off of a single pick. Teams with low wave clear can't defend their towers without team fighting, and they won't be able to team fight while they're a man down. Champions like Vladimir, Katarina, Kassadin and Vayne have no safe ways of protecting towers, so you can take them down without bothering with the Baron buff.

Winning a straight 5v5 can also net your team a win late game, as long as you have enough DPS from your remaining teammates to kill the enemy structures, and some nearby minion waves to push with. If you can't push to end, take Baron or Elder Dragon instead. Neutral objectives are much better at closing out games than, say, a killing just a mid inhibitor and one Nexus tower.


Split-Pushing & Backdoors

The last way you can win is by split-pushing (or backdooring). In this case, you'll want your split-pusher bottom while you and your other teammates stay near Baron. If the enemy team sends too many people bottom to kill your split-pusher, you can take Baron. If they group 4 or 5 people to Baron, your split-pusher should be able to pressure towers.

It's generally easier to play the late game if your split-pusher has Teleport to join your team in case a fight breaks out, but it's not a requirement. You just need to play very safe when the enemy team groups as 5 and avoid dying. Even if you can't win a 4v5, you can sometimes stall the enemy team and interrupt their recalls enough for your split-pusher to take objectives.

Backdooring is when your team ends the game while the enemy team is trying to contest a neutral objective (or base race you by pushing your base at the same time). Strong split-pushers can threaten to backdoor in order to secure your team neutral objectives, or they can simply end the game if the enemy team doesn't send enough people to deal with them. This is probably the rarest way to win games and isn't something you can easily do as Nocturne unfortunately. It's still good to keep it in mind as a possibility, as you may have someone on your team who can win the game without you needing to actually win a fight against the enemy team.


Thanks for checking out my Nocturne guide. This guide has been years in the making and I couldn't have made it this far without the help and advice from friends and MOBAFire members. Thank you to everyone who has left feedback and encouragement on this guide over the years, and thank you for reading!

If you want to support this guide, please click the green + button up top, as upvotes will help more people see it. I also read every comment on all of my guides, so if you'd like to share your thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to do so in the Discussion tab.

A very special thank you to Jovy for her wonderful graphics used in this guide as well as her help with coding all my guides. All the fancy headers, table of contents and most of the other graphics you see in my guides are from her. Be sure to check out some of her other work at her signature shop and her own guides!

I'd also like to specifically thank the following people for helping me write, edit and improve this guide:
  • Jovy
  • Maintained
  • Fatelblade
  • nMinus
  • Shadesteppin
  • Syeori
  • Henryrocks
  • HotRedSteel
  • Hoppermh
  • Sleepininthegarden


Follow me on Twitch, Facebook and Twitter for stream updates and other League of Legends content.