I’ve been doing quite a bit of jungling lately in League of Legends. Jungling is hard, and one of the keys to being successful as a jungler is simply out of your hands: Your lanes need to play as if there were junglers in the game. I’ve played a jungler in countless games in which there was nothing to gank at all because my lanes played without regard for whether a jungler might come into lane.
I’m not a pro jungler. Out of all of LoL’s myriad roles, jungling is my second weakest (after mid lane). Rather than give advice on something I’m really bad at, I’d rather talk about jungling from the lane perspective.
This week in The Summoner’s Guidebook, we’ll talk about the jungler’s role and how you can help your jungler out. It isn’t a simple matter, but I’ve been taking notes over the week about things that frustrated me and things that worked out for the best.
Stop pushing! Please!
I’m just going to give this to you straight: If your lane is pushed up toward the enemy turret and I am jungling, you’re on your own. Very few junglers can confirm kills in these situations, and even if you can, the proposition is risky at best.
Additionally, pushing your lane also makes you vulnerable to the enemy jungler. Recently, I was jungling as Udyr against an enemy Fiora. I counterjungled her hard; I stole her buffs, I ate her camps, and I generally left her nothing. Unfortunately, Fiora just killed everyone on my team, or more accurately, she gave kills to her teammates. My Riven fed something like five kills to the enemy Nasus in the laning phase because she was constantly fighting at Nasus’ turret. I couldn’t really do much to help Riven in that situation, though I did ward the jungle entrance to her lane to give her more awareness of Fiora. It really didn’t help. You can’t fix lanes like that, or rather, you can, but you’ll get behind if you try to babysit your lanes.
A jungler goes into every game with a plan. He might be looking to counter-jungle, invade, or gank. He might just be interested in farming the jungle and blocking enemy ganks. Whatever the case may be, the jungler has a plan to get ahead, and if he doesn’t make it known exactly what his plan is at the beginning of the game, you have to guess. And by “you have to guess,” I actually mean you need to play defensively in lane to give him the most options.
Be aware of the jungler’s plans
Some junglers really like to counter-jungle. I’m one of them. Counter-jungling is one of the best ways to shut down the enemy without relying on your lanes, so I do it pretty much every game. If my lanes are not feeding the enemy jungler kills, he usually gets so far behind that he can’t really gank. I love playing against slower, weaker, or blue-dependent junglers because I can control them and shut down their impact on the game. It’s why I play Udyr; I don’t have to rely on my lanes being good. I can just steal enemy jungle camps and place wards to have a strong impact on the game.
One thing I really like to do is kill the enemy jungler at his blue. Because I focus on counter-jungling, I play a Turtle/Phoenix Udyr, which is only so-so at killing the enemy jungler. For this reason, I often ping the enemy blue in order to garner assistance. This has mixed results outside of a premade. Occasionally, my mid will come to help. I recently had a great game with a Kassadin who really made my life easy; I fed him a few kills in lane with ganks, and he also picked up a kill on the enemy jungler while I was invading. He saw me come up into the enemy jungle and positioned himself to help me out. Admittedly, this is easier for Kassadin because of his Riftwalk ultimate, but most mids have no map awareness and don’t pay attention.
Expecting the bottom lane to support you is kind of a mistake, though. Carrying is very taxing mentally, and your carry needs CS more than you need to steal the enemy blue. You might get help from the support, which can be enough depending on which jungler you are playing. Shyvana is amazing with assistance from a support Taric, for instance. Janna is pretty helpful to any invading jungler as long as she arrives to help at the right moment.
Helping the jungler is mostly something that mid and top champions have to be aware of. A mid can contribute both CC and damage to a jungler’s invade, which dramatically increases the chance of a successful invade. If you’re mid, make sure to go all-out in an invade situation as if it were a teamfight. I’ve had a lot of invades go poorly because my mid thought that the goal of coming up to the enemy blue was to give it to her, and she did not contribute at all in the inevitable battle against the enemy jungler.
I’ve also had mid lane opponents who are extremely defensive against counter-jungling. It might have been because of wards, or it might have been because of good game sense, but I’ve had quite a few games in which the enemy mid laner cut me off at her wraiths regularly. It’s really important that your mid be on the ball in that situation, as it can give you free kills. I’m OK with eating a burst combo if it means that we pick up a kill, but I’m not going to engage the enemy mid if it’s 1v1 in most cases. I’m not Lee Sin or Shyvana, and if the enemy jungler shows up while I’m punching Annie, I’m dead for sure. Be aware of your jungler’s movements and stack the odds in his favor!
Nothing is worse than a laner who throws away a ton of HP and stays in the lane. I see a good opportunity to gank on my minimap and look only to find that my mid laner is at 20% HP and the enemy mid is full. It’s possible to get a gank off in that situation, but it’s a gamble. Your mid is likely to throw her life away, and your gank is not guaranteed if she dies before doing her damage. I will often go for the gank anyway in this situation (it often lets my mid get some lane control if nothing else), but if my mid can take a few hits, then she can play less timidly and deal a bit more damage to the enemy. Additionally, if she engages and the gank doesn’t work out, she won’t be throwing a kill away.
While I’m coming at this from a jungler’s perspective, avoiding damage is so important in lane. Don’t just charge the enemy and fire predictable skillshots; play defensively and attack when it’s least expected. This gives you the advantage in your lane, no matter how pushed it is toward your turret.
In essence, you want to follow the same advice I’ve been parroting for months: Play defensively in lane and don’t give stuff away. It’s not just so that your jungler has an easier game; it’s because if you don’t give a game away, your opponent will usually give you avenues to get ahead. You don’t need to try to make opportunities happen on your own. Good luck and have fun!