Jungling...the final frontier. Or, you know, the first or second who knows. Anyway the Jungle position of your team is a specialized one that relies on assisting your team mates by being out of lane as to not soak up experience and to place pressure on lanes. As a Jungler you will need four things: knowledge, map awareness, communication skills and intuition.
You must be knowledgeable of all the champions in the game and what they are capable of doing. Unlike the lane where you are only going to be fighting at the max in our meta two people consistently, as the Jungler you will more than likely be doing combat with everyone before you arrive at the team fight time. Knowing what your opponent is capable of doing, how they can escape your ganks or what they will do to your lane mate during a gank is crucial.
Communication is key to any gank or buff pass. Your team mates are not psychic, they may be psycho, but not psychic. They have no clue as to what is going on in your head, they can only guess at what you are thinking. Do not always assume your team is looking at their mini-maps to see you coming. Let them know you are coming up, tell your mid that you are passing off the blue to them, if you see the enemy jungler or another lane going for a gank then call it out. These small things can save your partners or make the difference between a bad, good or great gank.
Being able to read your map is one of the easiest ways to find out where you belong. If you can watch your mini-map appropriately then you can better understand how your foes and team plays. This will give you some of the information you will need in order to better pressure a lane or when it is appropriate to go for a full gank.
Lastly you need good intuition. Part of this is going back to the knowledge section, but the other part is either knowing or learning what your foe is going to do. Being able to predict where your enemy will in the jungle will allow you to counter jungle with greater ease since you won't have to hunt them down. Being able to predict which lanes will push harder or where you need to be will better help with ganking. Early intuition is hard when it comes to whether you will be counter jungled or if your enemy is aggressive in lanes. However, and this is where knowledge comes in, knowing what your opposing champions are meant to do or how they normally play can give you hints as to how cautious or aggressive you need to be.
Get good with these three concepts and from there it is simply about practice and what kindof Jungler you think your team needs. There are three main types of Junglers that are in the game: Ganking, Farming and Invading. Your Jungle choice should be able to do all three, but naturally your champion will excel at one more than the others.
- Ganking: This type of Jungler excels in putting pressure on the lane and assisting in the killing of other champions early game. These Junglers usually have some sort of way to get on top of their foe and keep them in place to secure the kill. These Junglers will also usually clear their jungle quickly and have AoE type spells that assist in this speed. Good examples of this type of Jungler are Alistar, Nautilus, Dr. Mundo and Maokai.
- Farming: These Junglers have some sort of sustain that helps them to stay in the Jungle longer than their fellow Junglers. Whether that be a way to sustain their HP, Mana or both. The most important of these is to be able to upkeep the HP for the duration of the jungle since blue buff will help with mana regeneration. Staying in the jungle and constantly farming the minions since each of the camps respawns after one minute. Good examples of Farming Junglers are Warwick, Skarner, Fiddlesticks and Karthus.
- Invading: These Junglers are very powerful early game and are capable of destroying other Junglers in their own jungle or are capable of taking enemy jungle mobs quickly. These Junglers should be attempting to disrupt the flow of the enemy jungle early as to deny the enemy Jungler's experience and gold. Good examples of this type of Jungler are Shaco, Nunu, Shyvana and Udyr.
As was stated earlier a good Jungler will be able to do all three of these to some extent. Just because you are playing Dr. Mundo does not mean you should only be ganking since Mundo goes where he pleases into the enemy jungle with ease and has great sustain in the jungle with his passive. Fiddlesticks shouldn't only be draining jungle mobs like I drain my Capri Sun, but should also be terrifying lanes with his scary crows. Finding the right balance to what your Jungler is capable of and when to gank, farm or invade is essential to success as a Jungler.
The Responsibilities of the Jungler:
As the Jungler you are responsible for a few things and is one of only two positions where last hitting isn't one of the most important things for you to do. While in the jungle you are in charge of killing jungle creeps, that's easy enough right? Well that isn't all you are accountable for. You also have to watch every lane, defend towers, pressure lanes, pressure their Jungler when you can, assure Baron/Dragon kills, take towers and provide appropriate buffs. This is an extensive list of duties that fall into your care as the Jungler, good thing earlier you worked on your communication and map awareness. With those two skills it makes this list of things that are under your care to become more manageable. However, if you aren't at the least proficient in all of these skills it is the difference between a bad Jungler and a great one.
Some tips and tricks that I personally use:
- I call Jungler, but wait till the end to see what exactly we need for the team. If we need a mage I go with Fiddle, tank Alistar or Nautilus, AD carry like person is Master Yi or Tryn, etc etc. The Jungle position to me is just like the sweeper in Soccer/Football. You go to where you are needed and help wherever you can, this includes your champion selection.
- Don't be greedy, let your team have the buffs. Philo-stone for a Jungler is amazing, it gives a psuedo blue buff and gives you a constant gold influx. This will allow you to hand off your Golem buff to your AP carry so that they can carry lane harder. Lizard buff is a little bit different since it actively helps you gank. However, if given to your AD carry or even your support it gives them more damage to harm your enemy more and allows you to keep pressure in other lanes.
- There are two types of ganks. The first is the killing gank, which is pretty self-explanatory and if you need help with its meaning then there may be deeper issues. The second gank is the pressure gank. This gank is specifically done in order to either blow the enemy's summoner spell (most importantly Flash, Ghost, or Exhaust) or to give your lane a little breathing room. This will allow them a few moments to get some last hits in or to regain some HP.
- Guides to your Jungler of choice aren't a crutch. If written texts from people know what they are talking about on a subject they have tested are a crutch then my name is Boris Yeltzan (which, by the way, it is not). Do not be afraid to check those guides out as a basic outline of what you can do with your Jungler, and if then needed make small adjustments to your own playstyle. If it works it works, if not then try again. Research is needed if you are learning something to lessen the amount of trial and error you will need to do and will better prepare you for your experience in the jungle.
- Be flexible. One of the most important things a Jungler has to be is flexible. Things go wrong in the jungle and the first few minutes are crucial to your jungling success or failure. If the enemy comes in and takes your blue then you will need to have an alternate route to take so that you aren't completely taken out of the game early if you need that blue to keep moving. If they are counter jungling hard and taking your jungle then go take theirs. It is all about thinking on your feet and making snap decisions that other positions may or may not have to make.