The jungler in League of Legends has one of the most unique roles in the game. They spend most of the their time tucked away in the foliage between the three main lanes of Summoner's Rift, fighting neutral monsters, gathering buffs and looking for ways to flank the opposing team.
It can look like a daunting, complex role when you first consider jumping into the role, as it's not your traditional laning experience by any means. There are peculiar and highly specific mechanics to learn, as well as knowledge of certain monsters, buffs, and routes.
That's where this guide is ready to step in. Here we'll introduce you to the role of a jungler, explain the basics of performing the role effectively, and offer up a handful of tips which will put you well on your way to becoming king of the jungle in League of Legends.
What does a jungler do?
Where all the other players on your team will spend the early game gathering experience and gold in lane while attempting to emerge victorious over their opponents, you'll set off on an entirely different path as a jungler. Instead, you'll accrue gold and experience by defeating monsters dotted around your side of the jungle.
There are some tough creatures to fight in the trees, so junglers are usually stocky bruisers or tanky champions that can dish out a decent amount of damage while also being comfortable taking a few hits themselves. Of course, some unorthodox picks make their way in from time to time, but fighters and tanks are generally considered the safe option. You can find some of our top picks in our Best Junglers Guide.
It's not a complete player-versus-environment experience for a jungler, though. Once you've collected your buffs and defeated all the monsters on your side of the map, you can begin consulting your minimap for any lanes which might need some help. One of the best ways to do this is by ganking an ally's lane at just the right time, catch them off guard, and secure kills to gain an advantage.
It's knowing when to attempt these ganks and which paths to take which is what separates the best junglers from the rest, so keep an eye out for low health targets who've pushed a little too far forward in lane. This way you've got a much greater chance of ambushing them when they've got no way of escape.
As a player who can often oversee the entire battlefield, the jungler is also usually the one who monitors important buffs and objectives across the map such as the Elder Dragon and Baron Nashor. Keeping these key monsters warded, or scouting them to see if they’re being attempted is an important part of the junger’s job.
Finally, you'll need to keep tabs on the enemy jungler's position. By no means do you need to have the foresight of an oracle, but it's key that you're somewhat aware of which lanes they might target, and even how well they're doing in comparison to you. The best junglers monitor the opponent's jungler, perhaps warding the opposing jungle and catching them off guard as they're fighting monsters, or simply ganking the same lane to swing things in their favour.
League of Legends jungle camps and boss monsters
It’s important to know what you’ll face in the jungle. There are six neutral monster camps on each team’s side, with two Rift Scuttler minions in each side of the river, plus the pit for Dragon near the bot lane and a pit for Baron Nashor near the top lane. Here’s everything you need to know about each monster:
- Red Brambleback: Grants Crest of Cinders or ‘red buff’ when killed, granting you a slow and damage-over-time effect on auto attacks. The buff also offers a small heal-over time effect when out of combat.
- Blue Sentinel: Grants Crest of Insight or ‘blue buff’ when killed, granting you a mana or energy regen bonus for a short period of time. Best handed off to your mid lane champion after the second or third spawn.
- Raptors: A small group of four minions that offer experience and gold when killed. Take out the larger back one first if possible to reduce damage taken.
- Wolves: A small group of three creatures that provide experience and gold when defeated. Again, take out the larger one first.
- Krugs: Two tough rock-like creatures that grant gold and experience upon death. They split into smaller versions of themselves when killed, so be aware that you’ll actually fight ten units if you engage them.
- Gromp: A giant toad that gives you gold and experience if you defeat it. Relatively easy to kill though has a decent health pool to get through.
- Rift Scuttler: Two crab creatures that stroll back and forth at opposite sides of the river. Do not retaliate but flee from attacks making them awkward yet easy enough kills for some gold, experience and a temporary shrine that provides vision and move speed.
- Dragons: A series of powerful monsters that spawn near the bottom of the map. Killing these grants gold, experience and a buff that evolves over the course of the game depending on how many you kill. A hotly contested objective.
- Rift Herald: Spawns at the top of the map and can be killed for gold and experience. Also drops a Eye of the Herald item which can be used to summon the creature to assist you pushing a lane. It deals heavy damage to structures.
- Baron Nashor: Spawns in the same place as the Rift Herald after 20 minutes. Baron Nashor offers one of the strongest buffs in the game when killed, which increases the ability damage and attack damage of the entire team who claims it. It’s not an easy fight, though, and requires huge coordination from the team to be taken down.
League of Legends jungle routes
Here’s one of the biggest stepping stones to taking on the role of jungler: deciding your jungle route. It sounds like a weird term, but by ‘route’ we simply mean the order in which you kill the neutral creatures inside. There are a number of different routes you can take through the jungle and over time players have studied and optimised them to find the jungle path that are most efficient and most successful. These are the most commonly used ones today, depending on which side of the map you’re playing on, and should give you a comfortable start that you can then adapt as you become more confident:
Blue team: Red buff - Raptors - Blue buff
The most regularly used path if you’re on the Blue team has you start at the Red Brambleback camp, move onto the Raptors and then take down the Blue Sentinel. From there you can move on to Gromp and Wolves, before deciding if you’re in a health enough state to go for Krugs too. Otherwise you can back to heal, or look for a gank in lane if one appears available. This path is more ideal for champions with area-of-effect- damage and who need the health regen from Red buff.
Red team: Blue buff - Gromp - Red buff
Essentially the reverse of what you would do on the Blue team. Start at the Blue Sentinel, make your way to either Gromp of Wolves and then finish up with the Red Brambleback camp. From there you can do Raptors, Wolves and Krugs if your health allows. Again, backing to heal if you’re low or looking for ganks if you spot an opportunity are also possibilities after your first clear.
How to play jungler in the early game
In the early game as jungler, you’ll be focused on completing your chosen jungle route. Before minions have spawned, though, make sure you and your allies are providing vision in the area around your chosen starting camp in case your opponents try to invade. Also, try to get your allies to leash for you. All this requires is them to land the first attack on a monster and then flee. This will give you a few seconds where the creature will try to chase after them and save you a few hits.
Video by Virkayu
Once your route is underway, constantly glance across the map and into every lane to see if any opportunities are developing for ganks. Unless a standout chance arises, you’ll want to wait until you’ve finished a full route including both buffs before you try a gank yourself. Top and mid lane are your ideal targets, though you can try bot if you see something brewing. If you’re on low health, though, don’t be afraid to back to the fountain or clear more of the jungle – that’s better than forcing something and getting yourself killed unnecessarily.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for the enemy jungler. That could give you clues as to where he or she is looking for ganks or open up opportunities for you to invade their side of the map.
How to play jungler in the mid game
Continuing looking for the best lanes to gank. Staying nearby to a single lane, or ‘camping’, is a viable strategy if one teammate is falling behind or you think you can snowball a lane even further. Just make sure you don’t make it obvious and don’t stick around in a single location for too long if it doesn’t look like a gank is going to develop – your time can be spent better elsewhere.
Don’t neglect the neutral camps that are respawning in your jungle as they’ll continue to provide you with vital gold and experience. When the Blue Sentinel pops up again, look to gain the attention of your mid lane ally and they’ll be grateful if you allow them to take the blue buff instead of you to give them more mana regen in lane. Keep red buff for yourself, at least for now.
How to play jungler in the late game
Farming the jungle becomes less of an important task at this stage of the game. You’ll definitely want to take out camps as and when you have a spare moment, but your priority should be on the blue and red buffs. Ensure you’re getting them to the champions who will get the most out of them and always look to steal your opponent’s if you’re in a position to do so safely.
Other neutral objectives become even more important at this stage of the match too. You’ll be looking at Elder Dragon and Baron Nashor by now, so ensure they’re kept warded and be ready to make a move on them if you win a team fight or see your opponents split on the other side of the map.
General jungler tips
These are a few tips and tricks every jungler should know to improve their game:
- Learn your route: It doesn’t matter if you just pick one and stick with it while you’re a beginner, but you must have a jungle route in mind when you start the game. Time wasted choosing which way to go means your opponent will be getting further and further ahead. At higher levels of play, though, be prepared to adapt or respond to invades. When you’re feeling brave, try an invade or two yourself!
- Gank, gank, gank: The biggest impact you can have on a game is successfully ganking a lane. It’ll make your allies happy and put them further ahead in the lane matchup. Remember, look for low health targets and anyone who has pushed in close to your towers. Don’t stick around in a single lane too long, though, as you risk wasting time.
- Ward important buffs and boss creatures as you undertake your route, to ensure your opponents aren’t able to take them for free. Find the right time to claim them for yourself too. Say, for example, you’ve just wiped out your opponents in bot lane with a gank, now’s a good time for your team to look for a Dragon.
- The Summoner Spell, Smite, is a vital part of your kit. It’s a huge chunk of damage that you should save to kill off the tougher creatures so they aren’t stolen from you. Make sure the spell is up when fighting Dragon or Baron Nashor too. If you can steal either of these two from your opponent using it, you’ll be a hero!
- Repeatedly glance at the map, especially as you move between camps. You’re extremely well-position to call out potential dangers to your team they may miss or react to them if you’re close.