LoL Jungle Macro - Dominate the Map
Easily, the most complex role in League of Legends. A Role that doesn't have a stable gameplay pattern. While your role will revolve around clearing jungle camps, controlling the map and creating the most valuable plays in the early game - every game will be unique. We won't mention specific things that we have already mentioned in the Top Lane section.
Jungling is all about tempo, gathering useful information, taking objectives, and creating scenarios in which these objectives can be accomplished. And in every section, we will explain how it looks from a macro perspective. And now we begin working on your macro game.
This section will be part of every guide. Picking the right champion will be crucial, and you will have to ask yourself a few questions before you do so.
Enemy Jungler Pick (TEMPO) - Arguably, the most important thing for a jungle player in the champion selection. Especially on ranked games. Enemy Jungler is your primary foe, that you will have to compete with. There are three ways your jungle matchup can go. You either try to avoid the enemy jungler at all costs or find him and send him to his fountain. Or you are both even, and your fights are all about skill. Being in that first scenario is the worst case for you. You won't be able to move around the map freely. The thought of getting invaded will be at the back of your head at all times, and it will significantly limit your playmaking potential. You will always be scared to make plays invade, even clear your jungler. You are basically in a very bad situation, that is not easy to come back from. Especially in the new season, as jungle became slightly more important (thank you Riot Games).
The worst-case scenario happens when you are not only the losing matchup but also when you're against an early-oriented jungler. Look at a situation in which your enemy is an early-game oriented champion. Imagine playing as Elise and facing a Lee Sin. Elise depends mainly on a successful early ganks, but she can't invade reliably. In the early game, Lee Sin can do everything. He can steal minor camps, invade your jungle, steal your buffs consistently, gank, and duel. In this scenario, you will not feel safe unless you gain some major advantage. You have to track your enemy so you can gank freely without worrying about the other jungler's interference. It will be especially hard for you when your Yasuo at middle won't move a muscle to help you with invades. So here's an advice - don't have a Yasuo in your team. Or your game will simply go yasu-oh no (that's English for you).
Everything in that scenario lowers your tempo. Meaning that you will very rarely participate in ganks and valuable plays, just because you have to base your movement and clears around the enemy jungler. And being an early-oriented champion that doesn't scale without some major advantage - first 10 minutes- is crucial to your progress, so you will have to really focus on your gameplay.
So pick a champion that will manage to be a valuable member of the team in collision with the other team. Don't forget to compliment your pick with the right set of runes. Vi can make an amazing engage champion if she goes for the Aftershock Keystone from Resolve Tree. And she can be a fantastic duelist assassin with Electrocute or Press the Attack. The more games you've played the better you will do. Always adapt and improve.
Early Game Jungling
You can play jungle consistently, without a lot of changes in gameplay or tactics. In the long run, most likely, it will not work. The meta keeps changing, along with picks and bans. In one meta, Shyvana will be an absolute beast, in another - she moves from S tier to B tier, with far better choices pick-wise. Top Tier Junglers remain at Top Tier because they know from experience what their win conditions are, and they know how to lead to them. They know how hard each member of both team scales. They know who will make the most use out of the resources you provide (or deny) them. And they know how to set up situations in which their team gets some lead.
In the last years, early game jungling changed. Making some objectives became more valuable, adding more targets, and allowing junglers to be way more flexible when it comes to item selection and jungle pathing. As a jungler - you can't afford to be put behind right from the start. Not only you can give an additional item to the enemy lane. You could also provide an additional item to the enemy jungler. And when enemy jungler is invade-heavy - you might be in a very wrong position when it comes to starting a game.
It is why your entire team should either group for an invade or guard all possible entrances to your jungle. We can't stress this enough. Giving first blood to the enemy team, and maybe even losing your buff is a punishing loss. You lose gold, one enemy probably has an item advantage, you lose XP, and you lose a buff. While playing someone like Lee Sin - losing a buff won't mean much buff-wise. But losing Blue Buff as a Karthus, Fiddlesticks, or Amumu can be quite hurtful. Either push for advantage or discourage the enemies from entering your territory so you can start properly.
Pathing & Gank Targets
How do you start? Jungle pathing is a simple thing at first glance. But deciding where to start and which camps to get will be crucial for your transition into ganks. Some people will always start on the same Buff and do the same rotation every game. Consistency is a good thing, but not in this scenario. The general rule for smart Macro playing is reacting to things that are occurring currently and making the best decisions to get the most beneficial results.
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Look at yourself, look at both teams and matchups. Figure out where your enemy jungler started. Learning about other champions will give you a general idea of what's the most optimal pathing for them. It's also worth it to learn their timing, so you can track them, warn your teammates, or set up an invade. Your pathing will dictate your placement and levels, but all the other matchups will translate into your possibilities or lack of them.
Take, for example, a scenario in which you are on the blue side playing Nidalee, and your Mordekaiser faces Darius at the Top Lane. Both champions benefit greatly from longer fights, but due to Darius' passive - Morde can't opt for too many fights. Darius is a major lane-bully, and he will do anything to dominate your Mordekaiser. Which will most likely lead to Darius being closer to your tower, opening him up for a gank. He has no mobility, and with Red Buff - he won't get away unless he uses some clutch flash if you go in with your Pounce ability too early. Nidalee is similar to Kayn when it comes to pathing. While she can't come out of walls, she can choose an unexpected path. Due to her Pounce, she can still get to lane faster than other junglers, even if she wants to loop around.
As Nidalee, you should recognize the situation and go for a smart Red-start clear of your jungle that will net you level 3 around 2:53, allowing you to go for a quick gank before the wards are laid down. This one gank can give Mordekaiser some much-needed advantage. It won't win him the lane automatically, but it will make Darius unable to do his job of dominating the lane by himself, so in the midgame - he can keep enemies deleted from the match.
However, imagine the same scenario, but instead - as you are coming into a lane - Lee Sin emerges from the fog of war set up a counter-gank. Nidalee needs a longer time to set up her damage as she has to wear off her enemy before she reaches the execution threshold. Lee Sin, on the other hand, has a massive Attack Speed bonus after each skill, and some of the most damaging abilities. Combined with Darius, who has a tremendous stun-like pull ability (far stronger than Mordekaiser's utility-wise) - they can most likely ruin your day. Darius has a high damage output, and in theory, he can handle two enemies alone early on. Grouped with Lee Sin - an incredibly strong early game jungler - the situation can become dire in a matter of seconds.
You will have to think a lot about gank targets. Some champions will scale hard, and they can become that additional member of the team that can quickly spread advantage across the map. Maybe even carry the whole game? And focusing your ganks on different lanes will give you many different results. What we mean by this - spending your time on a specifically will allow you to control the map differently. Let's take a look at each lane:
TOP - Ganking Top-Lane will profoundly impact things like split-push, baron (or herald) pit, and it will completely ruin the enemy Top-Laner. Top-Lane is a place where the highest level of domination can happen (with some exceptions based around champion picks). A lot of the time camped enemy top will be useless for the majority of the match, allowing your Top-Laner to push away, take topside objectives, and help mid secure the mid-tower.
MID - Carrying you Mid Laner will allow him to transition into skirmishes all over the map smoothly. Lane domination has less of an impact as most champions here are ranged, and they have the tools to disengage or play safe. But funneling into your mid and camping the lane will allow them to roam anywhere they want. They will quickly shove the wave, head top, bot, or follow the jungler and hopefully - snowball the game in the best way possible, as a single powerful carry.
BOT - Best lane to gank objective-wise. Camping this lane will render two people much weaker than the rest of the players turning the game into a simple 5v3 scenario. Of course - as long as you don't give them much breathing room in a prolonged game. Bot Lane can secure objectives like no other roles of the team. AD Carries will help you melt down drakes, and they can put deep vision with their supports, allowing for major map control. Having a strong Bot Lane will make for some tremendous mid-game transition. Basically, after downing the first tower - they can quickly move to the other lane, completely zone the enemy and take more towers, or - force enemies to reposition heavily. It can open even more objectives, as in Solo Queue teams tend to be not organized enough to rotate correctly. In general - leaving bot lane alone to themselves is a mistake these days. Remember that when you decide to just focus on top during your low-elo master phase. Each bot gank ads up heavily to most win conditions.
Sometimes - choosing a lane to gank will not always be as simple a just picking the most valuable lane. There are lots of things that you will have to take into consideration. Helping your mid laner with enemy LeBlanc is a wonderful idea, but if you have her W and Ult up, or if you don't have any abilities to lock her down - ganking this lane is already a lost cause. On the other hand, ganking a Darius that went for Ghost + Teleport is a major step towards getting you and your top laner fed. If you see Sivir and Lux as the enemy bot lane, you can expect them to push the lane. It might be a good idea to start your clear at the other end of the map so you can gank them at level ¾. Or maybe even start at their side and gank them Level 2 if your champions suit that play.
Also - always keep enemy jungler in mind when ganking, especially if they are stronger. Stronger enemy jungler can turn your 2v1 gank into a 2v2, two deaths, and a long-lasting disadvantage for you and your team.
Keeping track of the enemy jungler will not only help you determine their incoming gank so you can counter gank. You will also be able to invade your enemy and counter jungle. It's very common for top-tier jungle players to roam around the enemy jungle, stealing as much gold and experience from camps as possible if enemy jungler shows themselves on the other side of the map.
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Gaining information will be a crucial thing for every jungler, Especially information about the location of the enemy jungler. The two most important things are: "Where the enemy jungler is?" and "Where the enemy jungler isn't?". Why should you know about those two things, and how will you gain intel? Knowing where the enemy jungler is will be great in both scenarios, whether you want to avoid them or proactively harass them.
In the first case - you will be able to keep yourself and maybe the members of your team - absolutely safe. Ping away, inform your allies about their possible location. Quick "Kayn bot side" can prevent enemy Bot Lane or Mid Lane from steamrolling the game out of your control. It also allows you to freely farm your jungle and create gank situations while being completely safe from the presence of your main enemy.
In the second scenario - it allows you to control the game in unspeakable manners. Enemy jungler was on the bot-side and is currently running towards topside and Top-Lane? Avoid vision and do a sneaky dragon, or go for a risky gank at the other side of the map. Moreover, you can track your enemy in a predator-style fashion and murder them over and over again, or counter gank them.
How to gather information and track your jungler? Map, matchup knowledge, farm tracks, and jungle vision. And it's best to combine all of these to get the most out of your jungling macro hassle.
Map & Vision - Classic. You look at the map and work on your warding. You see their location because they've been in a lane, or you've noticed them walking by your smartly placed ward. Make your teammates aware, ping away, and determine what's their next step. If they are in mid, see where they are heading, feel free to follow them, invade them, mess up their plans or inform your team with quick "J4 Topside" and play your way.
Matchup Knowledge - mainly applicable during the first clear and early laning, but depending on your opponent, it can be useful for a few scenarios. Knowing at what time your enemy finishes their full or fast clear, as well as their optimal gank setups will be much helpful both for you and your team. You will know if you can "safely" invade during the early game and steal their camps our set up a counter-gank. Some champions will opt for farming. Some will use their lvl 2 power-spike, some will wait for level 3 or 4. And then some will try to invade you. As long as you know the matchup and the enemy champion - you should have a general idea of what their game-plan will be. As for these special enemies and scenarios - champions like Warwick, Udyr, or Shyvana are experts at taking Neutral objectives just by themselves. They can do them quickly, and with the right movement, they can even avoid the vision provided by a murdered Scuttle Crab.
Farm Tracking - Often overlooked by beginner players, but this piece of information can give you some idea of what happened in the enemy jungle. If your enemy started at red, went to their blue side and ganked - you can tell by their CS count how many camps they have finished on their way to the ganked lane. If they have 12-13 creeps, and two buffs on them - it's very likely that they've done every camp but the Krugs (which is the most valuable camp right now gold and exp-wise). If you are in a position to do that - it might be a great idea to try and steal it.
Mid Game Jungle
Mid Game will be all about fights for objectives. Depending on your capabilities and capabilities of your team, you should call for a few tactics. You could try to solo everything, roam around the map, and kill people over and over again. However, if you haven't steamrolled everyone as Rengar, Lee Sin, or Kayn, or Evelynn - you will have a few different jobs.
Playing through Mid Game as a jungler will depend on way too many things. Your playstyle will depend on which team won which lane, which objectives are down, what are the team comps of both sides, what jungler are you playing etc. As said before - macro is about billions of possibilities and decisions to make. Because of that, we will sum up Mid Game in a few general points.
Continue Controlling the Vision - team up with your team, deny the enemy team's vision and set up your own to advance your position. Put deep wards and try to never go past your vision. This way, you either don't lose the advantage, or you regain it with smart plays and capitalizing on enemy mistakes using vision. You put vision - you see some points of the map so you can spot where enemies are moving. Clearing vision will allow you to hide in the fog of war. And as you already know - disappearing from the map as an entire team can be frightening for your enemies and cause panic.
Setting up Objectives - Very vast subject to take on. There are multiple ways of creating opportunities to advance your strategy by taking objectives. Be it split-pushing when your team has some disengage, teaming up as a 5-man group with hard engage, sieging, zoning, or picking capabilities, or just playing around vision and setting up ambushes.
Playing Around Drakes - Drake is a compelling neutral objective that pays off long-term. Your team gets some resources and some buffs to stats. Be it increased damage dealt with neutral monsters and tower, additional AP and AD, health regeneration, movement speed increase, od afterburn attacks. What does it mean to play around them? It's all about preparing for Drake spawn, creating lose-lose situations for the enemy, and wearing off the enemy team sometime before the Drake spawn.
The most important thing about preparing for a Drake is the vision. You won't change the way it is. And we're not talking about the pit only. We are talking about the area that surrounds the pit, jungle, and river. It's not possible to stress enough the importance of setting the vision up prior to the Drag spawn. You want to see the pit, see the bushes around it, paired up with the vision of both red bushes + raptors ward (all red-side bushes touching river and blue ward for the other team). It means that you will most likely want to have at least 4-5 wards to secure the area properly at least a minute before the spawn.
Showing up near the Drag pit after the spawn and face checking blindly without any vision in the best-case scenario will end up with a steal (the enemy team didn't prepare properly), or losing a Dragon. In the worst - your team can get ambushed for free. It can lead to losing more objectives. Because why would enemies go back after getting a dragon and a 5v1 kill if they are nearly full HP and minions are in the right position?
You can also create lose-lose situations for the enemy team by combining Minion Wave Control and Dragon control. Set up a slow-push that will create a huge wave to come crashing upon the Tower when the Dragon Spawns. It creates a problem for the enemy team, should someone clear that wave (that is probably worth 700 Gold), with a risk of a lost Drag and probably teamfight, or should we all go for Drake and lose all of these resources. The same thing happens when a split-pusher comes up to the tower with that wave. And if the enemy team needs two players to stop that split-push (because it's Jax, Tryndamere, or Darius), it already creates a valuable situation for the split-pushers' team everywhere on the map. In this scenario, teams split into 2/3 and ¼, and now those four guys can make some mess on the entire map while split-pusher is doing his job correctly.
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You should also check whether the enemy has a higher or lower level than you. It will be crucial with Barons and Dragons, as your smite will deal more damage the higher level you are. Your spells are really important, so make sure you have smitten up, and a flash for a possible steal (or some other nice way of getting inside baron pit from all sides).
Playing around minions - Minions are an influential factor. They are the primary source of gold and experience, your ticket to destroying towers, and a thing that you can play around to mess the enemy up. Minion behavior and waves can be easily controlled to your benefit. You could mindlessly push whatever comes to your side of the map, but using minions will create enormous advantages for your team. Pair that up with problems that enemies will have to face because of waves, and you've got a perfect tool to force enemy movement on the map. What problems? Well…
Already mentioned scenario in the "Playing Around Drakes" is universal and can be used for basically any other objects in the game. You've prepared an enormous wave that will crash on the tower in 30 seconds by killing caster minions in a cannon-less wave? Depending on your team-comp - go there and siege, send a strong split-pusher and create pressure as a 4-man team on the other side of the map, or go as five and take valuable objectives or force favorable teamfights when one enemy goes to clear these waves. It appears simple, but it's complicated. Not only does it require some solid knowledge like timing and wave management techniques, but also lots of predictions when it comes to enemy movement and gameplay that will change every game.
Team Formation - It's vital to have a plan for the game when it comes to grouping up. Some teams will opt to go as five as soon as possible and siege, which is a perfect case scenario for teams that have a decent wave-clear, zoning, sieging, and disengaging capabilities. Some will split into a 1x3x1 formation that involves two solo laners and a 3-man team in the middle that will hover close to the laner that is most prone to getting collapsed on. And sometimes it will be an absolute fiesta where people move wherever they want, which is very common in Solo Queue. If you are the one who is controlling the game, you should move on the map in a way that will enable you to play to your strengths.
Evelynn or Shadow Assassin Kayn are experts at picking off lone targets, especially when fed. Thus, they will do great with teams that can control the fog of war and vision. They can quickly execute close to every champion (tanks can be a problem sometimes). And as the game goes on further and further into the later mid-game - each death can be punishing for the enemy team allowing your team to advance in vision or objectives. Sometimes it will be risky. However, as long as you pick smart fights with a proper vision - you can single-handedly create large windows for your team to get towers. Their presence alone in the game makes the enemy team less prone to go and ward unguarded places. And when they are forced to go there to protect objectives - you can be waiting there with a quick one-shot combo.
Champions like Sejuani, Malphite, or Ornn will make great frontliners, especially when team composition leans more towards 5v5 team-fights and hard engages. These guys have that terrifying presence in their teams. The tension of their ults and engages looming around the play-field is immeasurable sometimes. It causes panic and forces wonky enemy movement at times, especially when your Malphite is teasing the enemy team by going back and forth on the frontlines. Those champions are also quite mana-hungry, so bluebuff will be helpful at all times, unless your midlane can use it better.
Someone like Udyr or Jax will do fantastic as one-man-army. They can both run around the map, push lanes, pick duels and some 1v2 fights. They are slower when it comes to damage output, as they are more DPSy than Bursty (unlike Evelynn and Kayn).
Baron Control - Baron Nashor is a critical buff that will make minion waves very sturdy, creating longer windows of possible sieging. Controlling it will be the same as managing Drakes. Set up the vision, get one pick, and try to do it 5v4. The enemy team can contest it, but they will be already at a disadvantage. This way, you can get Baron, and maybe some kills. Or perhaps get it stolen as it sometimes happens if you get lag or something like that.
Tower Control - Losing them can be devastating when it comes to vision control. They are more than just pieces of your base. They are - what I tend to call them - lighthouses. A line of allied Tier 1 Towers creates this relative safety area that you can go past. Notice what happens when you lose three tiers 1 tower, and the enemy loses none.
Suddenly you only see roughly 25% of the map without ward vision, you can no longer move freely past river or even Blue Buff and Red Buff, and the enemy team virtually controls 75% of the map. That is crazy that losing three towers that are out there can make such a difference on the battlefield. Suddenly you can't just use one or two wards to see both river and your jungle entrances. You have to ward almost the entirety of your jungle so you can leave your base to go past the Tier 2 Turret and have a chance of destroying enemy Tier 1 Turret. If you don't, and you are in the middle of the map - that is already overextending, you can get caught out, which can lead to losing more Towers. And that is crushing.
After reading this section, you will realize about all those past experiences when your team got stomped so hard that you lost Towers and couldn't leave your half of the map because of the risk it took to move out there. In some games, you couldn't even see the enemy jungle or Tier 2 Turret. Games like that happen, just because Enemy Team's macro is superior to yours.
It shows you the importance of controlling the map during the Mid Game. Towers will be most important as it allows you to get more vision, so you can see more parts of the map. On the other side - enemies will have to shallow ward their jungle to go past their fallen turret without much risk. From the winning side - the map looks quite normal, but for enemies, who are locked in their base with only Inhibitor Turrets up - it's quite a horror on its own.
Late Game Jungle
As you transition into the Late Game, only a few things will change. Maybe you downed more towers or taken a few Dragons. During the Early and Mid Game stages of the game, it was all about setting up who is the boss. Who controls the pace, and who gets to be active, with the other team being reactive. Most plays made during the Mid Game were there to create opportunities to take more objectives. But due to short death timers, it was hard to take a string of towers, or finish Baron when the fight happened on the other side of the map.
However, during the Late Game - every play is worth much more, with deaths and mistakes being more punishing than ever. A decent team can easily turn a won teamfight into a strain of objectives, sometimes even ending a Turret, an Inhibitor, Two Nexus Towers, and the Nexus itself in a matter of 40-second death timers. It's that punishing. Enemy tank misplays and dies 1v5? You have 40 seconds to do whatever you want. You can go for a Drag. You can do a Baron. You can fake a Baron to ambush the enemies and then go for more objectives. You can siege. You can force teamfights. You can waste time and take jungle camps or purchase an item. You can do anything you want after killing even a single enemy.
However, you can make the same mistakes. Your powerful Evelynn that was carrying through Mid Game has a harder time one-shotting valuable targets. But she still feels all-powerful, and she dives to kill the enemy, Top Laner. She dies with a giant bounty on her head. You end up in a 4v4 situation when your primary carry is down. Depending on the strength of the enemy team, you can get trashed more and more after a single mistake of that sort. It takes only the first 20 minutes of pure domination to change every future action into being reckless. It's the truth, especially in Solo Queue.
At this point in the game, teams will rarely split, and they will mainly go for 5v5 fights, with some exceptions (especially when split-pushing Tryndamere is in the team). It is just because of safety. Most of the time, as soon as someone inexperienced goes alone - they either die or they miss a crucial teamfight. And most of the time - it ends with a loss of a Baron, Inhibitor, or the match itself.
Watch your map. Never go beyond your vision in Late Game. Move with your Team. Do not face-check. Do not panic when enemies disappear from the map, and stay as a team when this happens. If they have a Fiddle or Malphite - you can expect an engagement from the fog of war, and you should somewhat spread out if possible.
Continue to fight around Baron, control the vision, try to fish for sneaky kills, and don't move too far away from your team. As a jungler, you were a leader through the entirety of a match. And since you are most likely the one who knows the most about the map - don't shy away from requesting various ward placements.
Jungle is really straightforward, and complicated at the same time. There are lots of decisions that you will have to make throughout every stage of the game. This role is definitely the best when it comes to learning macro, tied entirely too early macro, objectives, and map movement. If you start right here, you will be able to easily transition other roles into advanced map macro plays as well. Report back to us and give us some feedback list about positive changes to your gameplay! Feel free to share this guide with your jungler friends! Also, check out our other guides, like League of Legends Top Chad Macro, or League of Legends ADC Macro Guide! And maybe one day you will go pro. See you on Summoner’s Rift, a future professional player!