Most roles in League of Legends are pretty straightforward. You run to lane, you smash some creeps, you kill some laners, you carry the game. Jungle is a bit different, however, because there is no lane to go to, your creeps are in camps, and it’s your job to stop the rest of your lanes from self-destructing. The Jungle has the most responsibility in the game. It’s up to them to secure early kills, track the enemy Jungler, set up objectives, all while farming and staying up in levels.
There are a lot of nuances to keep in mind when Jungling, depending on your Champion and the game state, but those are beyond the scope of this guide. This guide will focus on the fundamentals of the Jungle. Jungamentals if you will. In this guide, I’m going to go over the basics of Jungling. I’m going to cover the fundamentals such as how to do your first clear, how to transition to ganks, and when to do Jungle objectives (and what those objectives are).
I did say I’m going to go over the basics, and Smite is about as basic as it gets when it comes to Jungling. If you plan to Jungle, Smite is a necessity. There is no wiggle room for this Summoner Spell, and if you don’t take it to the Jungle then you’re putting yourself at a major disadvantage.
Smite can be used to deal damage to minions and jungle creatures. Smite also heals your Champion when used on a big Jungle minion, ie Gromp, a Buff, or the large wolf. Use Smite to kill camps, secure objectives, and stay healthy while you farm your Jungle.
Which Jungle Item to Buy
There are two Jungle items to choose from when you spawn into a game of League; Emberknife and Hailblade. These items are pretty much the same when you buy them, but they transform throughout the game. In order to transform the item, you need to Smite five times, so be sure to use your Smite on large Jungle monsters when you get the chance.
Smiting five monsters with Emberknife turns your Smite into Challenging Smite. You can use Challenging Smite on enemy Champions, and it will lower their damage against you and increase your damage against them for 4 seconds. This is a great item for Champions that rely on auto attacks to do damage.
Hailblade will turn into Chilling Smite, which can be used to slow enemy Champions and do a little damage. The damage and slow from Chilling Smite is a great way to set up kills, and this is my personal favorite. When in doubt, my advice is to take Hailblade over Emberknife, because Hailblade will work on every Jungler.
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When people talk about the first clear in the Jungle, they’re talking about the first camp you take and which camps you go to after that. Many Junglers have an optimal clear, and I highly recommend doing a quick Youtube search for your main in order to find the best clear. However, there are some basic rules of thumb you can follow on every Champion in the Jungle if you do not feel like optimizing or are on a new Champion.
Your first clear will begin at your Red Buff or your Blue Buff, depending on your Champion and which side of the map you started on. I typically start at whichever Buff is by my bot lane. I do this because having two people help you defeat the Buff saves me time and HP. After you do your first buff, you have a couple of options:
Full clearing the Jungle means clearing every single jungle camp before backing to base or ganking a lane. Full clearing has distinct advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that more camps mean more money and more XP. The downside is that full clearing means ganking later in the game, and if the enemy Jungler is ganking a lot, you may be putting your team at a disadvantage.
Some Champs scale very hard, and have very underwhelming early ganks. These are the Champions that you will want to execute full clears on. Other Champs have very good ganks and actually fall off later in the game. You’ll want to take advantage of the early game strength of these Champions and gank as much as possible. With that being said, it’s best to strike a balance. If you choose to fully clear the Jungle, make sure to still pay attention to the map and take advantage of any free kills our counter-ganks that may present themselves.
How to Gank
Ganking is another important component of the Jungle. What is ganking? When you’re Jungling, a gank is when you try to kill an enemy laner. There are many ways to approach ganking, but most of the time you will wait for an enemy Champion to push to one of your turrets. When the enemy is pushed up in lane, your goal is to cut them off from their turret and try to land a kill with the help of your teammate(s).
It is much easier to gank lanes when you or your teammates have some kind of stun or if the enemy Champion is low. So pay attention to which Champs your teammates are playing, and which enemy lanes are pushing up. You will be pathing through the river, or the enemy’s tri bush, depending on which side of the map your team is on and how far the enemy is pushed.
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Red Buff and Blue Buff are two monsters that spawn in the Jungle that award a lot of XP when killed. As their name implies, they also grant a buff to the Champion that kills them. Most of the time you will want to use your early game Smites on a buff or the Gromp (Big ol’ Frog) because these monsters have the most HP of any Camp.
You can tell if a Champion has a buff because they will have a blue or red circle under them. If a Champ has a purple circle, that means they have Baron Buff, which we will get into later.
If a Champion has Red Buff, then their auto-attacks will apply a slow to enemy Champions. Their auto-attacks will also burn the enemy Champion, causing DoT (Damage over Time) damage, as well as applying an anti-heal debuff.
Red Buff is an extremely helpful tool for pulling off ganks. Not only does it do damage, but it slows enemies, making it harder for them to run away.
Blue Buff doesn’t grant damage but instead grants the user extra Mana regeneration, as well as cooldown reduction. Blue Buff is useful in the early game on Junglers that are very mana-hungry. It helps them keep their mana up so that they can clear multiple camps without having to go back to the fountain for mana.
There are six different Elemental Dragons (Drakes) in League of Legends. Every game, a random one will spawn in the Dragon Pit (Bot-side River). The first two Drakes will be a random elemental and grant the team that kills them a tiny, permanent buff. The third Dragon, however, is the chosen Drake and will continue to spawn until a team has killed four Dragons.
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Sorry to disappoint but this isn’t related to DBZ at all. When a team kills four dragons, they will be granted a super buff which will depend on the final Dragon that was killed. Soul Drake is very strong, and as a Jungler, you should prioritize trying to get four Dragons, as well as trying to prevent the enemy from getting four Dragons. Only one team can have the Dragon soul during a game.
- Mountain Drake Soul: Grants a huge shield after not taking damage for 5 seconds
- Infernal Drake Soul: Auto attacks create an explosion around the enemy Champion
- Ocean Drake Soul: Dealing damage to enemies and minions heals your Champion
- Cloud Drake Soul: Movement Speed buff + Huge Movement speed buff after using ult
- Chemtech Drake Soul: Revive as a zombie after death (I’m serious)
- Hextech Drake Soul: Auto attacks and abilities shock and slow enemies in a chain
Rift Harold is the big purple guy in the top side of the Jungle River. Killing Rift Harold awards you with the Eye of the Herald, an item that you can use to summon the Harold. When you summon the Harold, it will walk down the nearest lane and then charge into the enemy turret. Use the Harold after a successful gank to get a turret, or to apply pressure on one side of the map while your team focuses on an objective on the other side.
The Harold doesn’t grant much XP, and most Junglers would prefer to grab an early game Dragon over a Harold. However, if you are already winning the game, grabbing Harold is a great way to secure early game turrets and snowball the game.
Finally, we’re at the big guy. Baron is one of the two huge objectives on the map, that can completely change the momentum of the game. When a team kills Baron, every member is granted Baron Buff, which makes recalls much faster and awards bonus attack damage and ability power.
Baron is very hard to kill and will take at least a few members of your team. It is also a very dangerous objective to take if the enemy team is still alive. Sometimes a Hail Mary is in order, but most of the time you should ensure that you can safely take Baron before starting it.
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Elder is almost as hard and dangerous as Baron Buff, but not quite. It can be solo’d much easier, if you can find the time. However, Elder Drake’s Buff is the strongest buff in League of Legends, and will all but guarantee that your team wins the next team fight.
Elder Buff is granted to your entire team upon killing Elder Drake and lasts for 2.5 minutes. When a Champion has Elder Drake and damages an enemy Champion below 20% HP, they will automatically kill that Champion. The Elder Buff also applies a burn, making it that much easier to melt any enemy in your path.
And that’s everything. Now you’re ready to get out on the Rift and hop into the Jungle role. The Jungle role involves a lot of decision-making and game knowledge. This also means it is a great place to evolve your decision-making and knowledge.
I tried to keep things as simple and abstract as I could so that new Junglers don’t get overwhelmed by the specifics. The rest will come to you naturally as you play and read Champion-specific guides. Good luck on the Rift and relish in the mountain of Jg Dif’s you accumulate as you carry teams to victory.