Roaming the jungle in League of Legends
Although players often consider jungling to be a role exclusive to League of Legends’ Classic gametypes, proper exploitation of the jungle is vitally important to success in Dominion as well. At the lower levels of play, players often feed too much information to the enemy and allow their foes to move through jungle areas unmolested.
Never do this! When you’re ahead, the most important thing you can do in Dominion is secure your lead further by limiting the enemy’s movements. The only way to do this is to control the jungle. If you’re familiar with the idea of warding the enemy jungle to limit enemy movements on Summoner’s Rift, controlling the jungle on Dominion will likely be familiar to you.
Understanding the map
Dominion’s map is a bit tricky to understand, so I will try to provide some visual aid. The areas outlined in green are safe entrances into the jungle from your base. If you travel through these routes, the enemy cannot see you at all unless there is something there to spot you, such as an allied player, Shaco box, or a revealed zone created by Hextech Sweeper. Additionally, being near these areas on the opposing side of the map is fairly risky because of the sharp vision angle around the corner. The first opportunity to spot the enemy is very close (nearly point-blank) if you are hiding in nearby brush. Ambushing players coming through here can pay dividends if they are not expecting it, but it should not be relied upon. Attackers moving through here should only be trying to delay and harass the enemy or pick off isolated foes rather than committing to a full engagement.
The areas outlined in blue show some potential locations you can put people at to deflect ambushes. If you are positioned on the enemy side of these areas in the brush, you will spot a roaming player early and be able to give information to your team. It is basically impossible to roam the jungle solo if these two areas are camped by the enemy. Although all brush in the jungle is dangerous, using spells to check these areas before walking in is mandatory. I recommend a Hextech Sweeper for any mage-type champions to reveal these areas before moving in.
The two pink areas are the two top speed shrines and are the most common areas of jungle conflict. There is a lot of brush in these areas, and the speed shrines provide added mobility to assist in jungle ganks. Control over these areas locks the enemy out of any hidden approaches to the top capture point and limits his ability to roam elsewhere.
Finally, the red areas are places where skillshots and blinks can reach over the wall easily. This doesn’t mean that certain characters (e.g., Kassadin) can’t jump over walls elsewhere, but these are places where the fog of war will protect virtually any character with a skillshot while she assaults you. Be wary of being near these areas unless you have vision. A Lux combo or Blitzcrank grab can come out of nowhere.
Remember that these areas don’t cover every point of interest. Be wary of any brush or fog of war zone, such as the areas around capture points or the little brushes next to buildings in the various jungle routes. Unless you see him elsewhere, you can’t know for sure whether Garen is hiding in the next bush. Always check with spells or Sweeper if possible. A spotted gank can be turned around in a flash.
Controlling the map
Why, might you ask, would anyone need to operate in the jungle? It’s a very common mistake to want to always protect capture points you control, and it’s a related mistake to assume that the best decision is to simply rush to the Windmill and contest it all the time.
If the enemy controls the Windmill and is turtling on it, he has the advantage even if your team is stronger. It makes no sense to try to push unless you have a massive advantage in poking or you can just crush your enemy in a teamfight. You will not win an otherwise even fight under an enemy turret, even with Garrison.
What should you do then? Well, the possibilities are endless. One way is to skew the fight by going for the center storm relic. Getting the storm relic won’t win a fight, but if you’re already at an advantage, using the storm relic and Garrison to reduce the turret damage might be enough.
Another option is to gank bottom. If the enemy team is turtling, it can’t also protect the bottom turret. Instead of hammering against the enemy’s iron defense, attack where he is weak.
What’s another place your enemies might be weak? Their mid capture point! Setting up a backdoor to bait the enemy to leave the mid point is a very useful strategy for crushing turtles. These kinds of backdoors can lead to really silly situations where you control three points: your bottom, the enemy’s mid, and the Windmill (because the enemy responded by taking your mid).
Jungle control allows this situation to happen. If you control the jungle, you can choose where you want to attack, and the enemy doesn’t know. If you have one person pushing creeps toward the top point and everyone else in the jungle, the enemy team doesn’t know whether the rest of your team is all going bottom, waiting for someone to position for a counter-gank on your pusher, or backdooring both enemy bottom and mid at the same time. All of these crazy things are possibilities, and they’re only possible because the enemy doesn’t know where you are.
On the other hand, if you control top, how can you best secure it? The first step is to control the jungle near the top blue zone (in the ^-shaped bush) or the enemy top speed shrine. From this position, you can count the number of enemies who approach; if it’s only three, you can tell your bottom lane player to beware of a gank and start a 4v3 in the jungle. If it’s four, you can withdraw your position to turtle, try to pick off stragglers, or initiate a surprise attack. Even if your team is slightly weaker, the element of surprise is nearly as effective as having a turret, and if you’re stronger, you can completely shut the enemy out from making any moves.
Being down in manpower
One of the most difficult situations to deal with is limited combat resources. Let’s go back to the situation where you control top, but let’s assume a fight recently occurred and your team members have mostly gone to base to lick their wounds. Your allies are all 20-25 seconds away from reinforcing top, and the enemies who fell early in the previous battle have respawned. You’re scouting in brush when you spot them coming toward the top point. What do you do? Do you attempt a fierce Alamo-style last stand on the point?
The answer is not clear-cut. If you can hold the point for that long (because you’re Kassadin or Nidalee or some other character with both escape tools and ranged poking), it might be worth it to die if you can prevent the neutralize and deal some damage before your three allies show up. If you can stall enough and all of your allies go to rush the enemy bottom, it might also be worth it to delay the enemy capture as long as possible. If you can stall the enemy for 10+ seconds, it is probably worth the cost because the enemy bottom is in a similar situation, but he doesn’t know to retreat to a more defensible position ASAP.
If only a handful of foes (1-2) attack your point, it is often best to defend because you have a real chance of winning if they zerg your point. Sometimes a 1v2 under a turret is unwinnable, depending on character matchups. Always take into account the enemy champions when making your choice to defend or not.
Most of the time, though, it is not worth it to die because it puts your team in a worse position. If you die without killing anyone, your team is now down 1 person for quite a while. You need to make sure that the price you pay for dying is worth it. Otherwise, it’s best to flee, sacrifice the top point, and regroup with your team. A bit of nexus health now may lead to a won teamfight 30 seconds later, especially if the enemy splits up to roam the jungle.
This is really only the tip of the iceberg, but I hope I’ve instilled some new ideas to explore into your Dominion play. Experiment, practice, and teach your friends! Good luck, and have fun!