League of Legends: How to be an Effective Jungler
Getting started in the jungle as a new League of Legends player can be daunting. When you first start playing the game, you’re not really in a good spot to do so. You typically need to have access to some runes and select masteries to help make life easier. Most players start jungling when their summoner account is level 15+. While it’s possible to do it before that level, it will be tougher at early levels to successfully pull off. James Murff wrote an excellent primer on League of Legends here at Gamefront. It offers a basic explanation of all the roles in the game along with other introductory tips.
What is the jungler?
Being the team’s jungler puts you in charge of one of the most strategic roles in the match. Your actions will dictate the tempo and pace of a League of Legends match. Do it well, and your team will love you. Do it poorly, and expect to be verbally eviscerated.
The jungle is made up of the areas of the map that lie between the three major lanes. This is where you’ll be doing most of your work early on as you’ll be clearing camps in order to earn experience and obtain gold until you see a way to capitalize on opposing champions.
In choosing a champion for jungling, I rely heavily on Udyr, Maokai, Trundle, and Jarvan the IV. I’m in the process of learning how to play Zac. These are champions that can be tanky and can be a big pain for opposing teams at any stage in the game.
Here are a few tips I’d like to share with you aspiring junglers!
Ganking: A gank typically means securing a kill for your team. But in general, if you can force an opposing champion to panic and have them waste summoner spells like a Flash, it puts you in a better position to come back in later and actually score a kill. I like to randomly show myself and try to engage a champion. Even if I’m half a screen away, they end up flashing and retreating long enough to give some breathing room to my allies. A gank doesn’t always have to result in a kill. You’re just trying to force the opposition to fall back to base and give your teammates time so they can farm more effectively for gold and experience or go back to base to pick up some item upgrades. Try to help a lane snowball so that they become even more effective later on in the game. If you’re not sure when to gank, imagine an invisible line that’s equal distance between your team’s tower and the enemy’s tower. If the enemy champion is on your team’s side of that line, you can make an attempt to go for the kill because they’re far away from the safety of their tower. If the enemy champion is on their side of the line, you’re better off heading elsewhere instead. Use this as a general guideline. As you get better with champions, you’ll be able to identify the risks you can reasonably take.
Warding intelligently: Dropping sight wards will help you win games. I like to drop a ward near the enemy Wraith camp so I can see where their jungler is. If you know their jungler is killing and farming their Wraith camp, it can free you up to pursue possible ganks at the top or bottom lane. Normally, the ward that reveals the area around the dragon belongs to the support but I’ll keep one handy and drop it there anyway in the event that they’re not in a position to do it. If you want to win games, you need to know where everyone is (or conversely, where everyone isn’t).
Protect your carrys: This applies mainly in the late game of matches (or during team fights). Most junglers have abilities that can disrupt other champions. Udyr can switch to bear stance and stun a target. Jarvan has the ability to knock up and disrupt enemy champions temporarily. Xin Zhao can knock champions backward. Maokai can both knock up players or root them in place. Do what you can to keep your damage dealing players safe long enough for them to do their jobs. You might end up dying first but you should be tanky enough to absorb and take the hits.
Counter-jungling: This is a related tangent to warding. If you see a chance to go into the enemy team’s jungle and take their camps, you do it. If the enemy jungler is going for a gank on one of your lanes and you can’t react fast enough to assist, punish them for it. Take their big wraith, take their big golem, or if you have great position, try to take dragon. Hopefully, your teammate won’t die. By taking their camps, you’re taking potential gold and experience away from the enemy. I once had a 4 level lead on the enemy’s jungler just by doing that and being that much more stronger than them gives your team a huge advantage.
Pick your battles: This might come across as heartless. Understand that you might not be able to help every lane. Some lanes will do fine on their own and win (or at the least, not lose). Some players might end up being lost causes. If you know that trying to help losing lanes is a lost cause, then stop helping them and help other the other lanes snowball. If the bottom lane isn’t pulling their weight and making the moves they need to and you have died trying to help them, move on and help the top and middle lanes instead. The goal in League of Legends isn’t to win lanes; it’s to win games. Know when to pick your battles and cut your losses.
Have thick skin: If you’re already playing League of Legends, you should know this. But if you’re playing a jungler, this is even more important when you’re playing with strangers. People will get mad at you if you don’t baby sit them or if a gank that’s called for isn’t followed up on. It might be your fault or it might not be. Regardless of what happens, keep your cool. People are going to scream and be mad at you no matter what happens. Keep quiet and don’t respond to rage. Ignore any of the negative comments you’ll get and you’ll improve your chances of winning the game.
Track timers: The buffs you gain from the Ancient Golem and Lizard Elder will respawn 5 minutes after killing it. Dragon has a 6 minute cooldown timer. Baron Nashor has a 7 minute respawn time. Make a note of when you killed these neutral monsters, and type out the time of the expected respawn in your team’s chat. Remind your team shortly before they respawn so that they can setup and secure the gold or buffs for your team.
Are you an experienced jungler in League of Legends? What other advice would you offer for newer players who wish to try their hand at jungling?