A guide on how to clear camps, secure buffs, gank, counter jungle & support the lanes!
Jungling is an interesting role where you can help the flow of the game depending on well you get jungle objectives as well as helping lanes get ahead. Now, you’re probably wondering “Why should I learn how to jungle?”. Well I’ll break it down for you:
- Learn how to time objectives – The blue buffs, red buffs, and Dragon are all objectives you want to keep an eye on in the early game with towers and Baron as the objectives for mid to late game.
- Learn how to gank – Even as a laner, it’s helpful to know how to close the gap if you roam to another lane.
Note that I am not a pro jungler, just giving some general guidelines that new players need. Now, let’s get into it!
- Popular Jungler Oriented Items
- Summoner Skills
- Runes & Masteries
- Early Game
- Donating Buffs
- Gank & Invasion Routes
- Buddy System
- “Help, I need a gank!”
Popular Jungler Oriented Items
These items are chosen based on the standard off tank jungler champions. For Ability Power or Attack Damage recommended items for more carry oriented junglers, you can check my Solo Mid and Marksman guides respectably for ideas. Here are some standard Jungler items that’d you’d want to consider. From left to right, these items are:
- Hunter’s Machete – The standard start item for junglers, helps with more damage on jungle monsters.
- Spirit of the Ancient Golem – An item built from machete which provides health, health and mana regen, cooldown and tenacity.
- Spirit of the Elder Lizard – An item built from machete which provides attack damage, health and mana regen, cooldown, and burn damage over a short period with basic attacks and spells.
- Spirit of the Spectral Wraith – An item built from machete which provides ability power, mana regen, cooldown, and spell vamp.
- Wriggle’s Lantern – An item built from machete which provides attack damage, life steal, and the ability to place a regular ward that will go on cooldown for 3 minutes. It evolves into Feral Flare after 30 stacks from monster kills, champion kills and assists which provides more to the base stats of Wriggles.
- Mercury Threads – Great for magic resist and tenacity.
- Ruby Sightstone – Provides health and wards. Very useful for getting vision in the enemy jungle.
- Spirit Visage – Provides health, magic resist, cooldown reduction, health regen and increases the rate of self healing, health regen, lifesteal and spell vamp.
- Liandry’s Torment – An AP item that provides ability power, health, magic penetration and does extra damage over time for a short duration on an enemy champion that you cast a spell on.
Summoner Skills are pretty much are Flash and Smite to stay safe and secure buffs respectably. Sometimes I’ll use Ghost instead of Flash depending on the matchup. Also, the jungler should always, and I mean ALWAYS have Smite. It is essentially your job to secure buffs especially Dragon and Baron. You don’t want to be the one your team gets pissed at when they lost Baron because you didn’t bring Smite.
Runes And Masteries
Ok there are quite a few setups for jungling depending on the champion. Here’s a few setups I usually use. Feel free to use those as a base in order to make your own Jungler setups that you feel comfortable with. Masteries come into 3 different parts which I’ll cover in a bit. Note that all 3 masteries I put points in the defense tree to mitigate damage while taking damage from monsters in the jungle camps.
For my runes it could vary depending on the champion but I pretty much go with armor, magic resist and attack damage. An alternative rune page I have is for hybrid junglers which has attack speed and armor and magic penetration. Lifesteal is another option you can go for.
The first of the masteries is the Tank Masteries which are 9/21/0 focusing on defense with a bit of damage for clearing. Pretty much a diver/tank for the team.
Second set is the Magic Masteries which are 13/17/0 focusing on magic damage and defense. Carry oriented but a bit tanky for jungle clearing and ganking early.
Third set is the Attack Damage Masteries which are 21/9/0 focusing on tons of damage and some defense. More carry oriented and depends on damage for fast clearing.
In the beginning, you’ll usually want to start out with Hunter’s Machete and 5 health potions. In the early stages of the game, the jungler farms the camps and you should learn how to time the buff camps to know when they’re back up. Here are the times you’ll need throughout the game:
- Ancient Golem (Blue Buff) – 1st spawns at 1:55, respawns every 5 minutes after death
- Elder Lizer (Red Buff) – 1st spawns at 1:55, respawns every 5 minutes after death
- Dragon – 1st spawns at 2:30, respawns every 6 minutes after death
- Baron – 1st spawns at 15:00, respawns every 7 minutes after death
Using buff timers can help give you an edge in preparing to steal enemy buffs or sneaking a Dragon.
For clearing camps, usually (if there’s no Level 1 invasions), you’ll want to start at Ancient Golem for a good supply of mana and work your way to a camp then proceed to Elder Lizard. This should give you a sufficient amount of time to get both your buffs without the enemy jungler trying to counter gank you early to steal one of yours. If they try to, you’ll be around in time for a chance to stop them. Clear other camps as they come up. You should be earliest around level 3-4 to gank. If you’re on a manaless champion, starting at Elder Lizard could be a better option because you’re not mana dependent.
If a level one invasion occurs, the positioning of the enemy team in accordance to your positioning and if anyone has died will tell you how to start your clear path. For example, If you saw them around your blue around the 1:55 mark, invade and steal their blue with an ally then go back into your jungle and secure your red buff.
When your jungle buffs (aka red and blue buffs) are back up the 2nd time around, you can consider donating them. Which means you give another champion one of your jungle buffs. Don’t donate a buff to laners that aren’t doing well because then the buff will transfer onto the enemy laner and then it’ll just get worse for that lane.
Usually blue buff is donated the 2nd time around to the mid laner (if they need it) and red buff to the Marksman when they can get time to get it. Of course if you’re on a really mana dependent jungle champion or behind in level, you might need your buffs till you build a good mana regen item or you’ve caught up.
Around the 8 – 13 minute mark is usually a good time for Dragon, be sure to have your Smite skill ready. Usually you’d want to gank bot to make sure the bot lane doesn’t interfere with you getting dragon (if it’s standard lanes). It is also why most junglers tend to camp bottom lane in the early phase of the game; to protect the dragon.
Baron is a good time around mid or late game when you’ve done one of the following:
- Aced the enemy team
- Taken down a high priority champions so that the enemy team can’t engage you while you take Baron
- If the enemy team is stuck in the base and you have no objectives to take
Try to visually analyse the DPS that’s going down on the Dragon / Baron by clicking on it and checking the health. Also check the damage your Smite does (Smite’s damage increases per level). When the Dragon/Baron gets to or less than that health immediately smite to secure the Dragon/Baron. Getting it just right takes practice and you could accidentally pre-smite and miss so you could practice smiting Dragon/Baron in bot matches.
At some point in the laning phase you should gank some lanes. However there are good times and bad times to gank.
Good times to gank:
- When the enemy lane is pushed up to your tower
- When you have a good amount of health/mana
- When the enemy lane is near or on you side of the river with no wards
Bad times to gank are the opposite of the above:
- When your laner is pushed to the tower
- When your low on health/mana
- When your lane is pushed up to the enemy tower with wards (consider sticking around said lane if they do not have wards)
When you can’t find good times to gank, you should farm your jungle. If all your lanes are pushed up and warded for safety, you can counter jungle. Counter jungling is when you go into the enemy jungle and steal camps from them in order to slow down the enemy jungler from farming. Note that you’ll have to be careful not to get noticed or have vision on the enemy jungler to counter jungle successfully.
At some point, you may consider diving an enemy champion to get a kill. Like in my Solo Top guide, you’ll want to think about the following:
- Do I have enough health?
- Do I have enough mana (if you’re on a mana based jungler)?
- Do I have my skills off cooldown?
- Does the enemy lane have CC on cooldown?
- Do I have an out?
- Where is the enemy team at the moment?
- Do I have a minions wave when I’m diving?
- How many turret shots can I take?
- Can anyone follow me up?
- If no one can follow me up, can I get he kill by myself?
Essentially you want to dive and get out alive. If there’s a chance of you or your laner dying, don’t do it unless the rewards you get in return are worth it. When the jungler dies, it relieves a lot of pressure for the enemy laners because they know you, the jungler, the one who comes out of nowhere to ruin their day, is dead. So they have free reign on your lane for a little while which could lead to one of your towers dying. You can practice jungling and ganking in bot matches to help you get use to it.
There’s also counter ganking. This is when you think you know where or when the enemy jungler is going to gank and you gank in response. This takes getting use to.
This is important for junglers to know. Your Smite summoner skill is used to secure jungle objectives; mainly blue buff, red buff, dragon, and Baron. In the mid to late game you do not want to use your smite if your next move is to go get Dragon or Baron. You should be working with your team on protecting objectives for the most part in the mid to late game. Despite the better cooldown on Smite, not having smite up gives the other team a chance to steal Dragon or Baron away from you. Enemy junglers may try to invade your jungle as well to steal your red or blue buffs. Try to have smite to last hit to secure your buffs. Of course, early jungle clears you can smite the big monster of the camp in order to speed up your clear.
Gank & Invasion Routes
I guessing you might need a bit of help with jungling and invading paths so… here’s a picture (Season 3 version until new SR map comes in)!
I’d make it so I can just capture mostly the river because that’s all you really need… but… I’m lazy.
Anyways! The blue arrows signify the route jungling on the blue team can take, purple arrows are for routes the jungler on the purple team can take. Red arrows signify routes either team’s jungler can take. Note that these arrows are gank routes. They’re meant for ganks, not for supporting the lane if it gets pushed to tower for example.
These gank routes are meant to have the element of surprise (unless the area is warded) and a way to close the gap so that you can CC and or damage the enemy laner. So it should result into the enemy laner at the very minimum taking damage, decent gank if their summoner skills (ex Flash) were used to escape. Of course if you kill them it’s great. If they used summoner skills in either case it means that they’re vulnerable for another gank a bit later that will probably result in a kill. Note that Flash has a cooldown of 5 minutes so you may want to consider ganking that lane again in the next 4 minutes.
The yellow arrows are the invasion routes. Basically you invade and retreat from and to the river. Place at least one ward in a likely place an enemy would pass by. Be quick if you’re stealing blue/red buff and you don’t know where the jungler is. Again, invading when all your lanes are doing moderately well, can steal buffs or some camp minions quickly, or if you can 2v1 with an ally in the jungle.
You’ll probably rarely see this in your solo queue games but you’ll see this if you watch the League Championship Series. There has been a bit of an evolution to the level 1 – 3 phase. If the bot lane are on opposite sides of the map, it’s best to have the top laner jungle with you so that they can get experience to stay relevant in the game. At some point, you’ll have to get your bot lane to match against the enemy bot lane so that the game has standard lanes again.
“Help, I need a gank!”
If you play as a jungler, from time to time, you see this. Hell, you might get called out in chat for not ganking right away. Just ignore the hate and try to gank as best as you can and when you can. Note that if the lane pushes out too far without warding vs the enemy jungler and you’re not around to support, they’re at fault. They’re taking a risk. So it’s not your fault in anyway.
So those are the general guidelines on how to play as a Jungler. Essentially you can be a tanky jungler or a carry jungler. Keeping buff safe and securing objective are your main goals. Of course, if an enemy lane is getting out of had, you gotta go show em who’s boss. As always, feel free to comment below if you have anything to say about the guide. Have fun on the Fields of Justice!