How to play jungle and win games - ultimate guide to carry
Since the League of Legends META established itself in its current state, there has always been a question: 'How to play jungle to win?'. Well, you can't win every game, but if you want to have the most impact and tilt the enemy team out of the world, you should go for the jungle.
Why play jungle
League of Legends team consists of five players, five roles with one being the poor jungler. Laners 8 times out of 10 do not understand, that he can't babysit three lanes at the same time. Raging pings, AFK threats, and locker room banter are the name of the game.
So why play jungle? As much as it's tilting and underestimated, it also has the most carry potential, since you influence all three lanes. There aren't much more pleasant things in LoL than a competent jungler. It's like being bussed in a limousine straight to the Nexus.
What's more, shutting down enemy jungler is like playing 5v4. Actually 6v4. Remember the 'flame intro'? It works both ways. When you make enemy jungler useless, he might get flamed by his teammates. It's not very honorable, but definitely effective.
- no need to last hit,
- able to snowball all three lanes,
- global map pressure,
- biggest carry potential
- requires the most game knowledge,
- requires controlling the whole map,
- mistakes can cost a lot,
- mentally demanding.
There is a saying: 'Don't beat yourself up for missing Smite. Your teammates are there to do it'.
Your champion pick influences the jungle path. For example, champions with 'Area of Effect' abilities with Talisman as starting item may want to do Raptors/Wolves first or second (Kayn, Zac, Olaf, Hecarim). High single target damage champions with Hunter's Machete will want to Buff/Gromp/Buff (Kha'Zix, Xin Zhao, Jax). Mana hungry champions may want to start blue side.
Some champions don't need a leash (Shaco, Warwick) or even don't want to (Olaf).
Most junglers tend to start at the bottom since bot lane gives better leash.
Enemy champion pick can also help you to determine, where the enemy jungler is starting, and how is he going to path.
Early game - high base damage, mobile, strong early, tend to gank a lot, snowballing and fall off late game. They need successful ganks, otherwise they will not be able to come back.
Late game - they like to farm, scale, buy items, and they are getting stronger with time. These are better in terms of potential come back.
Another division is the character of the champion:
- ganking - they excel in ganking due to their mobility or CC (or both). You can find Zac, Amumu or Shaco here;
- fighting - strong 1v1, good in skirmishes; they like to invade the enemy jungler and bully him. I'd list Xin Zhao, Lee Sin and Jax here;
- farming - typically Udyr, Master Yi and Shyvana are notorious for farming a lot. I do not advice playing farming junglers in lower divisions. The game will be over before you become relevant.
This division can also tell you what the enemy jungler pathing will be. If he picked Zac, he will gank like crazy, but not before level 4, since his E will be rather weak.
Hecarim will typically start blue, since he's mana hungry.
Shaco will start buff with boxes, so it's good to invade him.
Warwick can start pretty much anywhere, even in your jungle; cover the river to counter it.
How to path in the jungle
By the time you land on the fountain, you should already have a game plan. Which lane is going to push? Which lane provides crowd control for me to gank? Where is enemy jungler starting? At which point of the game can I outduel him?
In the loading screen, you can check the player's mastery level on a champion. It's usually better to gank a 500k mastery Gangplank, than a 20k mastery ADC paired with 40k mastery Support.
What's more, check out if someone is going for a promo in this match. People tend to pay huge attention to promo games, whereas they are not that important. Surely they promote to a higher division, but they also add unnecessary pressure, unwanted in gaming. So as a jungler beware of someone crying in a chat: 'It's my promo, gank or I AFK'. After third solo death, they might seriously leave the match.
You will make mistakes. Sometimes the aforementioned 500k mastery Gangplank will feed like crazy, and bot lane with less experience will stomp the enemy. None of the guides will teach you the correct decision making. You must learn it yourself.
How to clear jungle
There are certain techniques, that can help you clear each camp:
How to kite jungle camps? You want to auto-attack monster three times, then move away. This way the camp hits only two times in response to your three auto-attacks. It allows you to conserve more health. Also, drag them into the direction you are heading next. This will save you a couple seconds.
Tips on clearing monster camps:
Krugs - you pull the camp and position yourself in a way, that the big one separates you from the medium one. While auto-attacking the big one, you should mirror the medium one, so that it never hits you.
Raptors - kill the small ones first, as they deal more damage. When using Hunter's Talisman, make sure you hit as many mobs as possible with AoE abilities.
Wolves - focus small ones first, just like raptors.
Gromp - has AS enhancement. If we stay still, he will deal more damage, than when kited. The advanced technique involves hitting Gromp and Blue Buff at the same time, but care with pulling them, so they don't reset.
Buffs - when killing Buffs, drag them into the bush. This will force enemy jungler, should he contest, to use ward or face check. Also moving the camp away from its original position makes it harder for enemies to steal.
Rift Herald - auto once, wait for it to dash, while moving behind Herald. As it dashes, hit the eye. Then stand still and keep auto-attacking instead of walking around it. When the eye opens up, input the moving command right as Herald swings to auto-attack. Otherwise, it will manage to turn around, denying the eye hit. Also, Herald takes a big swing twice - at 66% of his HP and at 33%. To dodge the big blow, simply walk through him, instead of running away.
There are no two identical games. Period.
When farming and your abilities are on cooldown, or you are moving between jungle camps, have a quick look at how the lanes are going. Easiest and recommended way is to use F keys. F1 will get you to your toplaner, F2 to mid, etc. Rebind them, so that they show your laners (F1 is you, but it's useless since you already have Space Bar).
You should also watch your allies portraits and HP bars. Any missing HP suggests that there was a trade. Pay attention to pings. Sometimes they are just a way to express frustration, but sometimes they provide useful information.
In the beginning, it may be a little hard and confusing, but in time it will become your second nature.
Since the changes, the Crab became one of the most important, contested objectives in the early game. It gives mana, lots of experience, scaling gold, vision around Rift Herald/Dragon/Baron, and increases movement speed. This shifted META into champions with a strong early-game with at least one hard crowd control - Pantheon, Xin Zhao, Camille, Trundle.
When picking your champion, you should always know if you can or cannot contest it.
Invading and counter jungling
You can invade since level 1 (we cover that topic in our Support guide).
The best junglers on level one would be Olaf and Udyr.
It's always worth invading, if you do not risk losing too much at level 1. Even if you don't find the catch, you can steal a buff or burn someone's flash.
Invading during the laning phase is an entirely different pair of shoes. Playing with an aggressive jungle pick allows you to harass enemy jungler and shut him down. Invading can result in stealing a camp, putting your counterpart behind in gold and experience. This can also force enemy laner to come and try to stop you, which gives your laner freedom.
But take care! If you get caught, you will put your whole team behind.
Generally invading is better than not invading. You should go for it whenever possible.
How will you know when to invade? It's simple:
- when you see enemy jungler on the opposite side of the map/ganking
- when enemy jungler is dead
- when enemy laners are pushed behind the towers
When not to invade:
- you don't see opponents on the map
- your laners are pushed behind their towers
- your laners died
- preferably you shouldn't invade with smite on cooldown
Having lanes priority means your laners can join you, should something go wrong. Otherwise, you can find yourself in a 1v2 situation.
In most guides, you will read, that Shyvana is the queen of counter jungling, and Nunu is the king. They have insane clear speed and it's impossible to out-smite Nunu. By the time you are ganking the top lane, they will clear your whole bot lane jungle.
How to gank in League of Legends
Where is the balance between farming and ganking? This is the question, the best junglers attempted to answer, and failed.
Some champions like farming and could stay in the forest forever, like Udyr or Master Yi.
And some champions excel at ganking, like Shaco or Elise.
Both types of champions need to get gold and experience as well as create pressure on the map. Otherwise, opponents will have an advantage. Finding balance is the key to success.
From what I've learned - always finish your camp first. If your lane does not manage to survive until your arrival, that is their fault.
And please - don't tax without reason. Taking away gold and experience from your laner puts you ahead, but puts him behind. Push only if he asks for it, or when someone in the lane dies, and the wave must be reset.
Which lanes to gank
Your first gank should be determined by the jungle path you chose, and overall team composition. Do not start wondering, how is your jungle route going to look the moment you land on a Fountain. It's already too late for it.
Watch how lanes are set up. In lower divisions, most things are random. Higher you climb your laners will recognize your intentions by the way you move in the jungle.
When to gank:
- the enemy is overextending (pushes beyond the river)
- the enemy has no summoner spells (there is a saying, that if jungler doesn't gank a flashless lane, he deserves to be flamed),
- you have reliable CC,
- your opponent has a huge wave under his tower; in this case, it's worth to go 1 for 1, since you lose your life, but enemy loses his life AND the huge wave.
When to avoid ganking:
- lane does not provide crowd control or gap closers (typically Nasus will not follow before the 15-minute mark, as he wants to stack),
- huge enemy minion wave; most of the times your laner will prefer to CS the creeps instead of following you,
- the enemy is fed,
- lane is losing,
- the enemy player picked Heimerdinger or Illaoi.
Diving requires minimum coordination, game knowledge, and wave management ability from your laner, so avoid it in lower divisions.
When to dive:
- reliable or point and click CC (Renekton W),
- turret aggro dropping ability (Kled passive, Master Yi Q, Elise E, Vladimir W),
- big ally minion wave,
- the enemy has no escape abilities/survivability tools,
- you have at least slight confidence that your laner will not fail.
When to avoid dive:
- the early game when you don't have aggro reset ability
- the enemy has a ton of CC, giving him potential to outplay you
- the enemy has high mobility/kiting potential
- the enemy has some sort of survivability tool, like Zhonya's Hourglass/Stopwatch available or Kayle/Taric ult,
- you doubt in your laner's skills.
This requires quite a bit of game knowledge, experience, and correct reading of the enemy jungler path. Best way to achieve this is by vision control. You need to think like their jungler. 'Where would I go if I were him?'. This is the key to counter ganking in most guides. Think like that: 'He killed bot Scuttle, but his bot is pushing, so he will not gank. I am clearing Raptors so I can meet him mid. He didn't come mid. He's back clearing monsters. My top is overextended, so he will clear Raptors, Red Buff and gank top most likely".
As a support main, it breaks my heart to say, that jungler is no less important than support in the vision control department. Actually in the early game jungler is even more important, as he is moving all over the map, not just one lane. In pro play, junglers had so much impact on the vision that it forced nerfs to jungle items. First Trackers Knife (used to give two wards) was removed, then Sightstone was remade, and now it's forbidden to have support item along with Smite.
Some junglers tend to miss the visible wards on their way, as they are staring at the lane/minimap. To avoid missing wards, instead of right-clicking, use 'attack move' command to walk through the jungle. This way if you step into the warded bush, you will attack it. 'Attack move' is, by default, A + left-click or Shift + right-click.
After killing a ward, don't go into the original direction. Instead, head the opposite way. Enemies will have a few seconds of vision after you kill the ward, so you can trick them this way.
Something that not many LoL players pay attention to, but it's also helpful.
If League games were based ONLY on the skill, micro, and macro wise, the League would look different. Instead, we have FPS drops, lags, hardware malfunction, and all the random mishaps that can happen. Aside from that, there is also a psychological aspect of the game. It's important especially in the jungle, since it is the most flamed role.
Go out and watch Hashinshin gameplay. He openly admitted that 95% of him losing lane (19/20) is a jungler's fault. Nope, it's 100% his own fault. No map awareness, wrong wave management, not enough caution about jungle presence or simple micro mistake.
We have all seen clips of him doing dumb stuff, getting killed and then flaming the crap out of his poor jungler. This is jungling in a nutshell. Sometimes you will have understanding and forgiving laners, but most of the times be prepared, that they will blame you for their mistakes.
'Better jungler' phrase became a meme. No comments.
Let's face it - losing lane does not come from the jungle. Everything that happens in the lane, like trading, solo kills, forcing summoners, even ganks, happens in the lane, and it's the laners responsibility. It doesn't really matter that you are losing in the jungle, and the opponent beats you constantly. If lane gets ganked and laners dies, it's always his own fault.
To sum things up - if it's easy to make you upset or offended, don't play jungle. Go play support. Nobody cares about the support, maybe except ADC from time to time. When he dies after a bad trade, and you had your shield on cooldown.
But if you decide to play jungle, remember that psychology applies to all players. When you see enemy crying out loud in all chat: 'My jungler is n00b! x9 pls', gank him. I bet he's gonna tilt.
How to play jungle? How to carry and not freak out? Good question. To me, it's obvious. Remember it's only a game. Nothing more than complex code that some poor people use for boosting their ego, while they're no better than LoL bots. There is no point raging at something that doesn't actually matter. Type your account login, input password, play a game or two, shut it down and go out. No one will cheer for you unless you win MSI, so it has next to no meaning if you are Gold, Plat or Master. Committing to such a trivial thing only increases your stress level pointlessly. Learn how to manage your anger, and then - only then - you can step into the Summoners Rift woods prepared for carrying.
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