The Ultimate Guide to Being on the Right Side of Jungle Difference
In solo queue, you’ll often see players type “jungle difference” as a result of a jungler creating such a huge impact that the game is heavily in their team’s favor. Dominating the enemy Jungler is not as easy as most laners think. This is due to a variety of reasons which stem from their own gameplay, such as poor positioning, lack of communication, and even wave management.
In this Mobalytics guide, in collaboration with our Ascendant Robin, we are going to help junglers dominate the early game and gain an advantage over the opposing team.
1. Understand Champion Dynamics
There is a huge variety of champions that can be played in the jungle with a neverending list of strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the situation, a champion with a certain playstyle may fit a team composition beautifully, whereas another may be disastrous.
Before you lock in your champion and head into the game, you should analyze your pocket pick and the enemy’s team. From there, you should understand what your champion’s play style is, what your win conditions are, and if you are you able to beat the enemy jungler?
Most champions have a direct play style they amend to with little to no adaptation needed. But other champions may have a much harder time depending on the matchup. For example, if you’re a mid-to-late game team fighter, you’ll struggle to dominate the enemy jungler if they’re an early game duelist like Pantheon or Lee Sin.
When you’re in a difficult situation and the matchup favors the enemy in a 1v1 setting. As for the example given above, it is important that you refrain from fighting the enemy jungler. This will hinder your ability to dominate the enemy- but that’s, unfortunately, the action you’ll have to take in certain matchups and scenarios. However, that does not mean that you cannot get an advantage over the enemy jungler, which will be explained later in the article.
If you were to play aggressive and always look to fight the enemy- even when you’re not very good at dueling, it will favor the enemy jungler and allow them to dominate you. This is, of course, something you’ll want to avoid and you need to not get caught out by the enemy jungler or look to fight them alone.
It is important to adapt to the matchup since you can decide if you need to play more aggressive if it will favor you, more defensive if the enemy is stronger and more aggressively if the enemy wants to get ahead (so you can put them behind).
If you’re not initially sure when your champion is good, head over to the champion page section at Mobalytics. Here you can see where your champion and the enemy’s champion is strong or weak during certain parts of the game (also known as power spikes). If you’re red early then your early game is not the strongest. If your early game is green, make sure to abuse your strength!
This is the first step to being able to beat the enemy jungler. If you understand what the enemy wants to do, you can counter it and make their rise to glory much harder. The only way you’re able to do this, however, is through experience from playing as and against the champion as well as research that you need to do outside of playing the game.
2. Make the most of the first clear
Most junglers have a few different Jungle paths and understanding where the enemy jungler starts helps you dominate them early. This is because you know where they start, know where they’re headed, and know their general location for the first few minutes. Most junglers will start at the bottom side so they get some assistance from their bottom lane, but it’s a good idea to not generalize this as some champions may start top, or get no leash at all.
There are a few main ways you can tell which side of the map the jungler has started. The first is very simple: having vision. If you place a ward inside the enemies jungle at level 1, you can see where they start, this is especially helpful when your team has a stronger early game since you can invade.
The second is by having knowledge of where the enemy starts through other means. For example, have you checked out our Instagram posts? We share the most popular and latest jungle pathing for a variety of junglers. If you know where a jungler usually starts, you can play around that.
The third way of seeing where the enemy starts is by looking at the minimap. Does the enemy bottom lane arrive late? If so, it’s probably because they leashed. Did the Top arrive early? That means the jungler started bot side! Now, this isn’t always accurate because some players may not start a buff and some laners may fake a leash and arrive late. So don’t always assume everything is as it appears. However, what can you do with this information?
Depending on the matchup, you may be able to 3 buff the enemy champion. Run from your buff, to the enemies opposite side buff and steal their camp while they’re stealing clearing their other side jungle. Alternatively, you could look to invade their opposite side jungle and wait for them and then ambush them when they walk into their jungle. There are a lot of different things you can do, but it does depend on the champion you’re playing.
3. Sharpen your map awareness
Having good map awareness will not only improve your jungling skills, but it will also improve your skills in every single role and aspect of the game. One of the biggest differences between a higher ELO player, in general, is how many times they check the map a game.
A jungler with poor map awareness is one of the worst combinations a League of Legends team can ask for. This can cause a multitude of problems, including not being able to spot the enemy jungler and counter gank, or make use of gank opportunities.
Good map awareness also allows you to fully exploit the enemy by increasing your gank success rate if you know where the map is warded. For example, you can adjust your gank paths to avoid vision. This will not only increase your KDA, but it will also increase your kill risk, your gold income, your XP and your ability to carry the game.
If you are able to make full use of your good map awareness, you can get lots of successful ganks off as well as ensure that the enemy junglers ganks fail. By pinging the map, you can warn your team where the enemy jungler is so they do not die to ganks and fall behind.
Ensure that you check the map every few seconds to see what is going on. You can do this in several ways. One is by checking the minimap after every auto-attack. Another is by looking at the map while your champion takes the camp and thirdly just by watching the map while you move between camps.
Obviously, you need to check the map more than the above scenarios that we’ve provided- but you get the point… If you struggle to check the map frequently, we’ve made a separate guide on how to improve your map awareness which will definitely help you improve in this area of LoL.
4. Understand how and when to invade
When the enemy jungler ganks a lane, they will not be anywhere else on the map. No champion can be two places at once- so if they’re in a lane ganking, they will not be in their jungle. During this period of time, their jungle is open to the elements which you can use in your favor by looking to invade while they’re spotted on the map.
For example, if you know that the enemy is in the top side of the map, you can invade their bottom side and try to take away camps, or go in and place vision. It’s not always possible to find camps alive but more often than not, lower ELO junglers won’t fully clear their jungle and they’ll leave camps up which will are for the taking.
If you do not find any camps up, you can always place vision before leaving their jungle and heading back into your side of the map. Before invading, ensure that you have a Control Ward with you so you can place it on your travels.
You can also invade the enemies jungle if they’re not alive or on the map- or if you’ve seen them recall. Once again, they cannot be in their jungle, so invading is relatively safe. Seeing the enemy ungler recall is one of the best ways to get a kill out of an invade. For example, the enemy jungler ganked bot and starts to recall.
You can assume that he cleared his bot side Jungle before ganking the bottom lane, which means that after his recall he will move to his top side Jungle to clear his camps, which gives you an opportunity to kill him in an invade. However, you need to be aware of him being full HP, full mana and extra items.
Another time to invade the jungle is when you know a Buff is respawning. If you can take away the enemies Blue Buff, you will not only be denying the enemy jungler, but you’ll also be denying the enemy Mid laner who usually picks up the second Blue Buff. You should only attempt to steal away this camp if you know where the enemy jungler is and if you can clear it quickly. You also need to be there as it spawns to ensure a quick steal.
Invading the enemy jungle is also a good idea as it will prevent the enemy from getting gold and experience from here there and everywhere. Let’s assume the enemy ganks Top, gets a kill then heads back into their jungle. Not only will they get gold and XP for the kill, but they’ll also get lots of additional XP and gold from their jungle camps. You want to stop this by stealing them away.
If you’re able to steal away camps, the enemy will have less income and delay their item and power spike which can make all the difference when playing against a champion that needs a certain power spike to really shine. Champions like Twitch, Master Yi and Shyvana are snowball heavy champions who need gold to deal damage. If you can cut their gold income down, you’ll get your items and levels quicker in comparison.
While you invade the enemy’s jungle, you’ll be the one picking up the gold and experience. So if you’re able to farm your own jungle, steal away camps, get kills here and there- you’ll see a substantial difference in terms of items completed and levels which can make all the difference early, in team fights and at Baron.
Before you decide to invade, you need to ensure that you have lane priority and are able to escape after going in. If you try to invade without nearby priority, the closest enemy laners will be able to collapse on you and potentially shut you down. Lane priority in this situation is determined by who is closer and who is pushed in. If you invade with a nearby lane pushing- they have priority. However, if the enemy is pushing in your ally- they do not have priority and will arrive quicker.
If you decide to fight the enemy with no nearby priority, they will have backup from their closest allies- giving them an advantage in the skirmish. Whereas if you had an ally nearby, you’d get the advantage. If the enemy starts to fight you, they will die. If they do not fight you, you get their camp: allowing you to assert dominance over them.
The enemy who is pushing always has priority (in this situation) and is able to roam into the jungle and assist the jungler. But, just because they have priority it doesn’t mean they’re going to help you. If they help you, they might lose their pressure in lane and fall behind.
In this example, Red Team’s Rumble cannot help his jungler or prevent the invade because he is being pushed in. Leaving will make him fall behind in gold and XP because the minions will die to minions. Blue Team Kennen will have priority as there are not any minions he can kill and that the wave is pushed in so he can quickly roam and help his jungler if he’s needed. While Rumble is somewhat closer to the action, many players will not give up the farm under tower to help.
5. Optimize your ward control
Warding is not just important for beating the enemy jungler, it is important in all aspects of gameplay. Having the ability to see where anyone is at any given time can make all the difference in the game.
This is due to the fact that; if you have good map awareness, you should not get caught out by ganks nor should you die if the jungler decides to pay a visit to your lane. For junglers specifically, having good ward control allows you to spot the enemy jungler while they’re clearing their jungle or when they’re en route to gank.
This allows you to either counter gank the enemy and turn any gank into a 2v2 or 3v3. Steal away their camps on the other side of the map- decreasing their gold and XP income. As well as allow you to gank other lanes or even start an objective knowing the enemy jungler will not be able to show up and stop you.
Warding the jungle is pretty easy, but it can be difficult if you do not know where the enemy jungler is, or if you lose in a 1v1. For example, a strong duelist jungler like Lee Sin or Jarvan will have no issues walking into the enemy jungle to ward, whereas someone like Ivern will need to think twice- this is because he loses in 1v1 skirmishes.
The best areas to ward inside the enemy jungle is on common pathing routes and areas they will walk past somewhat frequently. Below are some ideal warding places to spot the enemy jungler when they walk through their jungle. Every ward will either spot the enemy while they move to or from their jungle or it will tell you which camp the enemy has taken or is at. You can use this knowledge to get a rough estimate on the time when a camp will be back up- allowing you to steal it away immediately.
While these wards will help you to gank, counter gank and steal away camps, they may not always provide advice that you can act on. In many cases, the only action you can take is by pinging your teammates when you spot the jungler.
6. Gank and counter gank
Ganking and counter ganking is part and parcel to jungling and the Jungle role. If you do not gank early, the enemy is obviously going to get ahead if they decide to gank. Every jungler can gank early- it’s a myth that they can’t. While it’s true that some junglers require their Ultimate to gank such as Shyvana, Master Yi or sometimes even Olaf, they do have parts of their kit that allow them to gank early.
Finding a healthy balance between farming your own jungle and ganking is key to coming out ahead. Even gank heavy junglers like Lee Sin need farm or they’ll fall behind. And while Sejuani or Yi needs their level 6 to truly come online, if you see an opportunity to gank- it’s worth taking it.
There are two main types of junglers. Gank heavy and farm heavy. If you’re playing as a gank heavy jungler, you need to live up to your play style and gank as much as you can. If you can get multiple consecutive ganks off, your team will get a clear lead at the beginning. If you can continue to apply pressure- you’ve done your job early. If you’re playing as a farm heavy jungler, you need to find a balance between farming and ganking. Taking all your camps and then looking to gank is the best way to accomplish this.
The truth is, you need to have vision, good game knowledge, and map awareness to be able to counter gank successfully and you need to be able to track the enemy jungler. Luckily, we have a separate guide on tracking the enemy jungler and what tools you can use to track them. If you give it a read, you’ll be able to counter a lot of enemy ganks purely by tracking their movement and showing up at the same time as them.
It’s not always possible to beat the enemy jungler alone. Nor is it always possible to dominate the early game. However, with all the tips we’ve provided in this guide, you should have a better understanding of how you can have more of an impact during the early game and how you can dominate the enemy jungler.