League of Legends: How To Jungle Like a Real Pro

League of Legends: How To Jungle
And Tarzan thought that HE was the King of the Jungle...

Jungling Like a Pro Is Easy

Jungling is easy; it just isn’t very simple. While the laners are doing their own thing, and the ADC has the support to fall back on, it’s your job to be the lone wolf (literally, if you are playing Warwick), slaying monsters, ambushing enemies, countering your opposite in the jungle, and just generally raining on the other team’s parade as hard and as fast as you can. If you want to roll with the best, read on.

Path Clearing

 

Knowing where the camps are is key to your success.

Path clearing is how you get most of your gold and XP as a jungler. Pick your route, and stick with it unless a hardcounter walks across your path. Prioritize buffs that will benefit your team most heavily, and make sure you talk.

Ganking 

In the current meta, ganking junglers reign supreme. Always be on the lookout for enemy champions who are out of position, whether they pushed their lane too hard, or tried to make a detour through your turf to escape a bad situation, and pay them back in pain. A weakened, isolated enemy is always worth a little of your time. 

Communication 

When I talk about communication, this is not what I mean. Stifle toxicity, be a team player.

Always keep in touch with your team-mates, through voice chat if you can, through the chat box if you must. Pay attention when someone is calling for help or announcing gank opportunities, and take advantage of the info. Make sure that your team knows when a certain buff is about to go up, so they can plan the best ways to abuse it.  

Vision 

Make sure to keep your own wards up as much as possible, and take down enemy wards every chance that you get. The more info you have, and the less they have, the better. Also, don’t forget that wards can be great for luring enemy players out; if you know that your opposite is on their way, jump into a bush, and plop an unused ward outside of it if you have one. When they stop to take out your ward, take them out instead. 

Time Management 

Keep track of respawn and buff timers to make sure that you are getting optimal use out of your time in the bush. If all of your camps are down, and you still have some time before respawn, go steal an enemy camp! Denying your opposite catchup XP and grabbing their buffs for your team is sure to swing the game. Never be idle for longer than it takes you to buy supplies in the shop. 

Stay Out of Lane! 

Unless you are showing up for a quick rescue of a team-mate, or to break a tower rush, or to take down an enemy champ who stretched their neck out too far, stay out of the lanes! Ideally, you should never be hanging out in-lane longer than 20 seconds at a time, tops; get in when you are needed, bring the noise, and then get back to the jungle. 

Base Runs 

If you are spending all of your time here, you need to rethink your game.

Ideally, you never want to be wasting time in-base. Plan out your item progression from the start of the match, and don’t ever head home unless you have the gold to buy your next upgrade, or you will die if you don’t rest up. Every moment you spend in-base is a moment not spent doing valuable farming or ganking. Get in, grab what you need, and get back to the game. 

Summoner Spells 

If you are playing in the jungle, you are already constrained in your choice of spells; Smite is a must. That leaves one spot open, and unless you have a truly compelling reason for making a different choice, this should always be Flash; it has nearly unsurpassed offensive and defensive utility. Whether you need an escape, a way to close, or a way to go from being in a bush to behind your enemy, Flash has a way to brighten your day. 

Counter-jungling and You 

If you aren’t taking this role yourself, you had better be watching for it in your opposite; in the current meta, counter-jungling has become a big deal in S8, so whether you are on the giving end or the designated receiver, it’s going to impact your game. Keep at least one ward somewhere that your opposite is likely to hang out; not only will this help keep you alive, but it will give the rest of your team vital info as well. 

Fun with Flora 

The plants in the jungle, introduced last season, add a lot of tactical play possibilities. In particular, the Blast Cone gives you a way to either make a quick getaway or get an unexpected drop on an enemy champ. Nothing is as likely to tilt someone as having the enemy jungler drop on their head, seemingly out of nowhere, and burst or CC them at a critical moment. 

Save Your CCs 

If you have CC abilities, whether from skills or from items, save them for use on enemy champions during ganks. Use auto-attacks and burst skills (which generally have shorter CDs than most crowd control abilities) to farm your camps; you are going to want every bit of advantage you can get if you are dropping into lane. 

Burst Is King 

Since you aren’t going to be hanging out in lane, trading blows with enemies and minions back and forth, favor champs with good burst damage over good sustained damage. When you go toe to toe with either monsters or enemy champs, you want to be able to focus-fire them down hard and fast. This is especially true during ganks; remember the 20 second rule stated above.  

Team Buffs vs Individual Buffs

Even LESS squishy than advertised! 

If you have a choice between nabbing a monster that grants a team buff, and one that grants an individual buff (such as Crest of Cinders), go for the individual buffs early game, and the team buffs late game. Early game, you won’t often have the juice to take down the team buff monsters like the Dragon and the Baron on your own, and late game, your team mates probably need the red/blue buffs more than you do. 

Play To Your Strengths 

When picking your item upgrades, don’t try to cover your weaknesses, because no amount of kit is going to hack it. Focus instead on things that make your strengths even more nasty. For example, if you are jungling as Warwick, Ravenous Hydra is an amazing weapon (in fact, it should probably be your first build), because it boosts his attack damage, and gives him leech that adds to his already formidable sustain (and takes advantage of his attack speed).  

Picking Your Starting Item Upgrade 

There are three upgrade paths for your Hunter gear: the Tracker’s Knife, the Skirmisher’s Sabre, and the Stalker’s Blade. In the current meta, you are almost always going to be best off picking the Stalker’s Blade for the extra slow; any of the three is viable, but this is by far the most universally useful for an aggressive jungler.  

Picking An Enchantment 

There are four enchantments you can pick, and the one that will serve you best is purely determined by the way in which your chosen champion primarily deals their damage; AD champs should pick Warrior, AS champs should pick Bloodrazor, and APD champs should pick Runic. Cinderhulk is not really an optimal choice for most champions, though if you are high sustain then it can be a good secondary pick depending on the rest of your kit. 

Selecting a Champion 

Because so many champions can jungle, it’s the most diverse role in the game, so pick a champion that you feel comfortable with the playstyle of. Don’t worry about the meta; a player who is happy with their pick and build will outperform one who tried to shoe-horn themselves for the sake of conformance to the current meta nine times out of ten. That said, here are some interesting choices, some of which are meta, others not. 

Jungling as Warwick

I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll tear your damned head off!

He may not be part of the very current meta, but Warwick has always been a strong choice, and one of the easier junglers to learn. He's a swift-hitting tracker with decent damage, good sustain from Eternal Hunger and Jaws of the Beast, and perhaps the best chances of hosing an enemy completely if he has all his cooldowns available when he engages, so he ranks among the best of the ganking junglers.  

Jungling as Shaco 

Who says the class clown will never amount to anything?

Do you have the patience to master a complex champion, enjoy jungling, and get a big smile on your face from ruining others’ day? Play Shaco, and tilt your entire enemy team on a whim. Shaco has great stealth and sustain, and damage that can situationally be some of the best (Two-Shiv is a great ranged ability, and Shaco deals extra damage when backstabbing an enemy).  

Jungling as Kha’Zix

"It's dangerous to go alone," the old man said... Should have listened.

Kha’Zix is a bit of a gimmicky champion, but if your enemies dare to wander near his domain alone, you’ll be glad you picked him. Kha’Zix can handle himself well even in normal circumstances, but against champions who are isolated, he becomes a genuine menace. Oh, and he’s a stealth-monkey too, so your enemies often won’t even know they are in trouble until they are waiting on respawn. 

Jungling as Alistar

First "horny" joke I hear, someone's getting gutted. Got it? 

Alistar is a good tank, and it’s somewhat unusual to see the Mad Cow in the jungle, but his abilities actually make him a viable pick even in the current meta, as long as his hard counters don’t put in an appearance opposite him. Despite his comparatively low DPS, Alistar can steamroll a champion almost untouched if he catches the enemy unprepared, especially with the soaking potential afforded by his R ability, Unbreakable Will. 

Jungling as Annie

This. You see this? This is why we don't let kids play with fire.

I know it’s counterintuitive, but “bear” with me on this one. Annie is probably one of the least-frequently picked junglers. However, the mechanics of her passive make it the ideal place for her; since the enemies in the jungle wait for you to hit first, she can really micromanage her stuns. Her Incinerate is great for clearing small monster packs, and nothing, I repeat nothing, is going to make your opponent need an underwear check like Mr. Tibbers spawning in their face when Annie isn’t even visible because she’s hiding behind the tree line.  

Conclusion 

The key skills to develop if you want to up your jungling game are awareness of your surroundings, good team communication, and the ability to opportunistically shift plans on the fly. In short, the same skills that make you good at any role. If you keep the points in this article in mind, and practice, you’ll be a jungling pro in no time! 

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Hailing from the barren wastelands of Massachusetts, this grizzled grumbler has spent his entire life neck-deep in gamer culture, and will happily talk about any and all geekery, any time.
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