There’s a reason junglers constantly get verbal abuse thrown at them and asked if they know how to jungle in League of Legends. They’re one of the most impactful roles in the game, and falling behind can make the match feel like a 1v9 for the rest of your team. A strong jungler, on the other hand, can block the enemies’ every move, control objectives, and carry the team with global game-changing pressure.
That’s why we’re covering how to play jungle in the latest season of LoL. We’ll discuss what exactly the jungler is, why they have such an impact, and how to play the role like a pro — even if you’re a beginner at League.
Let’s get started!
What Is the Jungler Role in League?
The jungler is one of five playable roles in League of Legends. Unlike all the other roles, the jungler isn’t tied to a specific lane. Instead, they traverse through the jungle and gain CS and experience through killing monster camps.
Junglers — who have the freedom to roam around the map — have several responsibilities in the game, including gaining objectives, establishing vision control, and helping their allies get ahead.
A Close Look at Smite
While other roles can be pretty flexible with their summoner spells, junglers must always take “Smite.” It speeds up camp clear time, grants good sustain in the early stages of the match, and is critical to securing major jungle objectives/buffs.
As of this season, both Challenging & Chilling Smite have been retired. Instead, they’ve been reworked and are now tied to the new jungler companions (more on them later). As your companion levels up, your Smite ability will evolve into Unleashed Smite, and then Primal Smite.
- Smite: Instantly deals 600 true damage to the target monster, enemy minion, or pet. Cooldown period of 15 seconds, with a 90 second recharge time (up to 2 charges).
- Unleashed Smite: Damage upgraded to 900 true damage. Can now be cast on enemy Champions to deal up to 160 true damage and slow them by 20% for 2 seconds.
- Primal Smite: Damage upgraded to 1200 true damage against objectives. Removes your jungle item (so you can build a sixth item). Activates your companion’s unique ability and damage resistance against monsters.
Smite Tips & Tricks
While Smite can be beneficial in teamfights and duels, its ultimate purpose is to help you secure those major, game-changing objectives. Here are a few tips on how to use (and play around) Smite:
- Always check objective spawn timings. You need to ensure you have a Smite charge ready before an objective spawns. Otherwise, the enemy jungler can easily steal the objective with their own Smite.
- Keep track of the monster’s health bar. Time your Smite at the exact moment the monster’s health matches your Smite’s damage. Or, if you can effectively keep track of the DPS, Smite when the monster is slightly above your overall Smite damage, and just before the next DPS tick.
- Complement Smite with your abilities. You can use your abilities at the same time as Smite to increase the overall damage output (and in turn, your chances of securing the objective). Jungle champions with executes or heavy burst damage like Nunu, Kha’Zix, Elise, and Lee Sin, particularly excel at this in LoL.
- Suppress the enemy to prevent a steal. Playing Warwick or Skarner? Then you’re in luck. If the enemy jungler jumps into the pit, there’s a way to prevent the 50/50 Smite battle — simply suppress them just before the monster’s health drops into Smite range. Suppression is a form of CC that prevents the use of Smite.
Jungle Companions in LoL
The biggest change to jungling in Season 13 of LoL is the addition of jungle companions. These companions have replaced the previous seasons’ jungler items. At the start of each game, you can choose from one of three different critters to help you clear the jungle and provide unique buffs later on. As you clear the jungle and kill enemy Champions, you’ll obtain treats that can be used to evolve your companion (more on that in a moment).
All companions do the following:
- Help deal damage to only jungle camps, scaling with their owner’s health, AD, and AP.
- Each time they attack, a portion of the damage done will be converted into healing for you.
- While you’re physically in the jungle (includes your side, the river, and the enemy’s jungle), you gain increased mana regeneration.
- When fully evolved, you take 30% less damage from monsters when at least two allies are nearby.
The following are the three different companions you can choose from and their unique effects when they’re fully evolved.
- Gustwalker Hatchling (Blue): Gain a 2-second burst 45% movement speed when you enter a bush or 60% movement speed when you kill a large monster.
- Mosstomper Seedling (Green): After killing a monster or spending 10 seconds out of combat, gain a shield (scaling with your level) that provides 20% tenacity + slow resist while active and for 3 seconds after being broken.
- Scorchclaw Pup (Red): Gain stacks over time or kill a large monster to fully charge the ability. The next time you hit an enemy Champion, deal 5% of the target’s max health as a true damage burn and slow everything around it by 30%.
Your companion evolves by obtaining enough treats (20 for the first evolution, and 40 for the second). You obtain one treat for getting the killing blow on a large monster or participating in a Champion takedown.
Additionally, you can gain bonus treat stacks as a catch-up mechanic of sorts. This is mostly designed to avoid punishing junglers that focus on ganking lanes instead of farming.
One stack of these bonus treats are consumed whenever you kill a large monster to give you an additional treat and 50 gold. You obtain bonus treat stacks from the following:
- One bonus treat every 60 seconds before reaching your companion’s final evolution
- One bonus treat every 90 seconds after reaching your companion’s final evolution
Jungle Playstyles — The Many Ways to Dominate in League
There are several jungle Champions in League, and some are better at certain aspects of jungling than others. Your choice of Champion will ultimately depend on your team’s comp, the enemy’s Champions, and how you want to impact the match. For example, if your allies have chosen aggressive, early game Champions, it’ll be best to pick a ganking jungler to help them dominate their laning phases.
Junglers can roughly be sorted into the following categories:
Gankers are Champions that can effectively (and safely) gank lanes, often because they have high mobility, gap closers, and CC. Examples include Hecarim, Zac, Jarvan, and Volibear. Gankers typically fall off late and have a low jungle clear speed, but as is the case with most games of League, it doesn’t matter if the enemy can’t recover in time.
Farmers are Champions that need to farm up in the early stages of the game to hit their power spike. These Champions scale well. Examples include Master Yi, Bel’Veth, and Shyvana. Farmers are vulnerable to invades and have minimal presence in the early game.
Duelists are Champions that are strong early on and excel in 1v1 fights. Duelist junglers often apply pressure through counter jungling and killing the enemy jungler. Examples include Elise, Graves, and Lee Sin.
A Close Look at Jungle Camps in League
As we mentioned earlier, your main means of gaining gold and experience as a jungler is through clearing monster camps. Monsters are neutral units — they won’t attack until you attack them — and killing them resets their respawn timer and increases their level.
The higher level a monster is, the more experience it grants. You need to make sure you’re consistently killing camps throughout the game, otherwise you’ll quickly fall behind.
As of the upcoming Season 13, jungling has been made a bit easier, as killing any large monster will provide some health and mana restoration (as long as you have a jungle companion). Additionally, you deal 20% extra damage to monsters in your side of the jungle.
Here’s a quick breakdown of all the killable jungle monsters in League:
- Red brambleback: A melee, tree-like monster that grants Crest of Cinders buff, also known as red buff, when slain. The buff provides out-of-combat health regeneration and causes your basic attacks to apply a slow and true damage burn. It lasts for 120 seconds, or until you’re killed. If an enemy player kills you, the red buff transfers to them.
- Blue sentinel: A melee, rock-like monster that grants Crest of Insight, also known as blue buff, when slain. The buff provides 10 ability haste and restores mana or energy over time. Like the red buff, it lasts for 120 seconds or until you’re slain.
- Rift scuttler: Crab-like monsters that move along each side of the river. Unlike most other monsters, rift scuttlers won’t attack when threatened and instead try to flee. Slaying a rift scuttler causes a speed shrine to spawn at the center of the river for 90 seconds. The shrine provides vision and grants movement speed to allies that pass through it.
- Murk wolves: A group of wolf-like creatures. Consists of one large wolf — known as the Greater Murk wolf — and two smaller wolves.
- Raptors: A group of ranged, chicken-like monsters. Consists of one large raptor — known as the Crimson raptor — and five smaller raptors.
- Krugs: Two durable rock-like monsters. When slain, they break into smaller rock creatures for a total of 6 more minions.
- Gromp: A durable, toad-like monster that deals magic damage.
When Should the Jungler Give Up Blue or Red Buff?
As a jungler, it’s good practice to give up your buffs to damage-dealing allies in the later stages of the game. Doing so helps them maintain their high damage output; the blue buff ensures your AP mid laner won’t run out of mana in skirmishes, while the red buff will strengthen your ADC’s attacks.
However, keep in mind that this is only a rough guideline. The matchup, game state, and how your allies are performing can all affect whether or not (and how) you should sacrifice your buffs. For example, if you’re playing an assassin jungler like Kha’Zix, you would still greatly benefit from the buffs even in the later stages of the game.
Or, if your top laner is thrashing their lane while your ADC is severely behind, you can instead give the buff to the top laner to help them further snowball. Put simply, always think critically and consider who would benefit the most from the buffs.
Key Jungle Objectives in League
Beyond the standard jungle camps, there are also some monsters that can grant teamwide effects. These monsters spawn in the top or bottom pit and are considered “objectives” due to how impactful they are.
Elemental Dragons (Drakes)
Dragon-like monsters that spawn periodically in the botside pit. When slain, these dragons grant a teamwide buff and can even alter the map itself.
There are six different types of elemental dragons:
- Infernal: Grants additional ability power and attack damage when slain.
- Cloud: Grants slow resistance and out-of-combat bonus movement speed.
- Mountain: Grants armor and magic resistance.
- Ocean: Grants health regeneration.
- Hextech: Grants ability haste and bonus attack speed.
- Chemtech: Grants tenacity and healing/shielding power.
Killing four elemental dragons also provides an extra-powerful, teamwide buff known as soul. The exact type of soul buff depends on the element of the last dragon slain:
- Infernal Soul: Basic attacks and abilities cause an AOE damage explosion.
- Cloud Soul: Grants a significant movement speed buff when a player uses ult.
- Mountain Soul: Grants a protective shield to out-of-combat players.
- Ocean Soul: Grants healing and mana restoration when a player attacks an opponent.
- Hextech Soul: Attacks slow and deal true damage. The slow works as a chain AoE and can hit multiple opponents.
- Chemtech Soul: While you’re below 50% health, reduces the amount of damage taken while increasing your damage done.
A dragon that’s significantly more powerful than other dragons in the game. It spawns once a team has secured soul. Killing the elder grants a game-changing buff, known as “Aspect of the Dragon,” to all living allies. The buff provides the following bonuses:
- Causes your attacks to apply a true damage burn.
- Attacking low-health enemies executes them.
- Doubles the effect of the dragon buffs your team has.
The elder dragon can be claimed by any team, regardless of whether they have previously obtained dragon buffs. However, a team that has obtained soul, and then manages to also gain the elder dragon, will be significantly empowered.
A large, crab-like creature that spawns in the topside pit until the 20-minute mark. When slain, the rift herald drops the item “Eye of the Herald.”
The item grants an empowered (fast) recall and, once activated, spawns the Herald at your location. The creature will then push through the lane and deal hefty damage to structures until it’s slain. Try to time its usage when you have the momentum, and you can easily destroy multiple turrets with it.
However, do note that the Rift Herald’s buff takes up your vision trinket slot. Meaning, as soon as you pick it up you won’t be able to place wards until you activate it in a lane or it expires. It lasts for 240 seconds.
The Baron Nashor is a large, snake-like monster that spawns in the topside pit after 20 minutes. When slain, it grants bonus damage, a fast recall, and an aura that empowers nearby allied minions.
The Baron is the most powerful monster in the game and usually needs an entire team to take it down. Here’s a few tips to help you kill the Baron fast:
- Try to always position at the front of the Baron pit, as it deals increased damage to players standing behind it.
- The Baron will periodically dish out AOE attacks throughout the pit, including “acid pool,” which slows and deals magic damage, and “acid shot,” which deals magic damage in a straight line. The Baron can also knock players up with tentacles. Make sure to dodge these attacks; every hit to your health bar (or attack speed) gives the enemy team a better chance at stealing the baron.
- The Baron reduces the damage of whichever player it’s targeting. Damage-dealers, like ADC champions, need to ensure they’re not the focus of the attacks.
Baron vs. Elder
Baron and Elder both offer game-changing buffs, but which one should you prioritize? While this can vary in each game, a good way to identify the best option is to consider which objective you can afford to sacrifice (and play well against). This is because in most cases, the enemy team is going to secure whichever objective you don’t choose.
If your team has good wave clear and can play safe under turret, giving up Baron is okay as the enemy won’t be able to push or make much use of the Baron’s buff. But if you have no wave clear — and lack the damage to one-shot the enemy team even with Elder — you’ll be vulnerable to “winions.”
You should also consider your actual map position. Securing the Elder is important, but if your team is currently all top side? You probably won’t be able to rotate in time to the botside pit, especially if the enemy team’s death spawn timers are short.
How to Secure Jungle Objectives in League
As a jungler, one of your main priorities is to secure key objectives throughout the game. They increase your chances of winning the match and can help you regain a lead if your team falls behind.
Here’s some tips that’ll help you understand how to secure objectives and, more crucially, when to take them.
Establish Vision Control
Establishing effective vision — and also denying the enemy’s vision — makes it significantly easier to secure objectives. The enemy can’t react to what they can’t see, and even if they do try to contest the objective, your team will have the upperhand.
Just before an objective is about to spawn, sweep the river to to deny enemy vision and place wards near the pit, including at the enemy jungle entrances. You should also take the rift scuttle whenever possible. Its shrine is incredibly useful, as it offers vision just outside the objective pit, and unlike wards, this vision can’t be destroyed by the enemy team.
Don’t forget to buy control wards, too. You can strategically place a control ward in the pit to reveal any hidden enemy wards. This placement will also stop your opponents from gaining vision if they attempt to ward from over the pit’s walls.
Identifying Lane Priority
In most cases, you shouldn’t attempt to take an objective if nearby allies don’t have lane priority. They won’t be able to keep their opponents in check or safely assist you with the objective, which can leave you vulnerable to being contested.
There are a few telltale signs your ally has lane priority:
- They’re ahead in kills, CS, or items.
- The enemy laner has recalled and left the lane.
- The wave is pushed under the enemy’s turret.
- The enemy laner has low health and/or mana.
You can also help your allies gain lane priority with ganks, which brings us to the next topic:
How to Gank Effectively in League
Ganking — flanking an ally’s lane to help them overwhelm or kill their opponent — is another vital jungle skill to master. When performed successfully, a gank will help your teammate snowball while leaving the enemy at a huge disadvantage.
An effective gank doesn’t necessarily mean gaining a kill; forcing the enemy to retreat under turret, burn their summoner spells, or even recall are all things you and your teammates can capitalize on.
There are a few strategies you can use to up your ganking game by tenfold:
- Repeat gank. Even if the first gank didn’t result in a kill, chances are, the enemy burned their summoner spells or used their ultimate to escape. They’ll be extremely vulnerable and your second gank is much more likely to result in a kill. Plus, repeat ganking — aka camping a lane — is sure to tilt even the most “zen” League of Legends player.
- Save your abilities. Don’t spam your abilities immediately, especially your CC. You need to consider your target’s kit and whether they have flash up; in most cases, you should use your CC after they have used all of their escape tools.
- Communicate with your teammates. Poor communication translates to poor coordination. Always communicate with your team about your intentions to gank. It’ll give them time to position properly, prepare the minion wave, and warn you of any nearby vision.
- Try a ganking Champion. As we mentioned earlier, there are certain Champions that excel at ganking over others, such as Zac and Hecarim.
When Should I Gank a Lane?
Knowing how to gank isn’t as difficult as knowing when to gank. Every time you gank, you’re giving up time that could be spent farming in the jungle or securing another lane. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself before committing.
- Is the enemy laner ahead? Consider if you and your ally are truly strong enough to win a 2v1 situation. If their lane opponent is ahead in levels, gold, and farm, the likelihood is that you’re not going to make up for your ally’s shortcomings. At best, the enemy escapes and you’ve wasted critical time. At worse, the enemy kills you both and puts you behind as well.
- What’s the wave position like? Ideally, the wave should be positioned under your ally’s turret. This forces their lane opponent to overextend — making them an easy target — and also prevents them from retreating easily.
- Can the laner snowball? You should typically prioritize laners that can actually benefit from gaining early level kills; getting the tank fed isn’t going to have a significant impact throughout the game.
- What’s the matchup like? How “gankable” is the target? If their kit is brimming with CC and dashes, your chances of success are going to be low.
- Is there an objective up? Ganking the top lane when there’s an objective available botside pretty much means you’re sacrificing it; now the enemy team knows your position, they’re going to retaliate and take the objective for themselves. Always consider whether the trade off is worth it.
Tracking the Enemy Jungler
No League of Legends jungle guide would be complete without some tips on how to track the enemy jungler. If you know where they are, you can predict their future movements and take steps to counter them, whether through invading, counter-ganking, or securing objectives.
- Check the mini-map: Get into the habit of checking the mini-map once every five seconds. Keep an eye out for interactions with the scryer’s bloom too; it will show in the mini-map if the enemy jungler uses it.
- Familiarize yourself with their Champion: Familiarize yourself with the Champion’s typical jungle pathing — available here — and their goals; if they’re playing a ganker Champion, encourage your team to play safely and set up necessary vision.
- Place deep wards: When safe to do so, place deep wards in the enemy’s jungle or high-traffic areas (spots they’re likely to path through).
- Enemy team’s movements: The enemy team’s movements can potentially reveal which side of the map the jungler is, especially in low elo. If the enemy bot lane duo has started to overextend and play more aggressive? It could indicate their jungler is nearby.
League Jungle Pathing: Best Routes Explained
Jungle pathing, at its simplest, is the route a jungler takes throughout the course of a match. It includes how a jungler clears their camps, ganks their allies, and invades.
Effective jungle pathing presents you with many opportunities to turn the game in your favor. Here, we’ll cover the best route options in Season 13.
- Full clear: The full clear allows you to reach a level 6 power spike quickly. It involves starting at the red or blue bluff and clearing six camps, followed by the scuttle crab (if possible). Ganking isn’t a priority here, so this route is better suited to farming junglers.
- 3 camp clear: The three camp clear is ideal for champions looking to apply early game pressure. It involves taking both buffs, followed by one additional camp — with the exact camp depending on the type of damage your champion deals — and then rotating to gank a lane or invade the enemy jungle. The three-camp clear is a high risk high reward approach; if you manage to pull off the gank or invade effectively, you’ll put the enemy team at a huge disadvantage. However, if you gain nothing from it, you’ll be the one to fall behind.
- 4 / 5 camp clear: This is an all-round route that allows you to level up quickly while still having an opportunity to gank, secure scuttle, or contest the enemy jungler’s movements. As its name suggests, it involves taking both buffs and then clearing 2–3 additional camps.
- Champion-specific route: Every Champion has their own unique playstyle, and is better suited to certain routes over others. If you want to know which paths are best on a particular Champion, check out this resource. It explains the most popular (and successful) jungle routes of each Champion, and even includes a visual map of the paths.
Though we will note that this season has also included visual indicators for a recommended first clear path based off data from top players. If you’re ever unsure, you can always follow the game’s recommendation.
Jungle Guide: Top Resources to Master the Wilderness
We’ll finish up this jungle guide for League with some additional resources that can benefit all players, whether beginner or advanced.
- Practice kiting monsters. Involves attacking in a way that cancels the monster’s attacks, reducing their overall damage output. Phylaris has a useful video guide on how to kite monster camps.
- Invading. Knowing how to effectively invade can give you a sweet LP boost; Master LoL player Virkayu’s got you covered in this guide.
- Itemization. Learn how to tailor your build paths in each game here. You can also find the optimal builds and runes for your jungle champion at u.gg.
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