How to Play Jungle in League of Legends: Your Complete Guide

How to play jungle thumbnail

Welcome to your go-to guide on how to play jungle in League of Legends!

Whether you're a newcomer looking for a solid foundation or a seasoned player striving for mastery, this guide offers actionable insights and expert advice to elevate your jungle game.

Jungling is an art, blending strategy, game sense, and adaptability. It's a role that can single-handedly influence the course of the match. So, let's dive in and transform you into the respected jungle expert your team needs.

Trust us, by the end of this article, you'll be more than ready to take control of the jungle and dominate your games.

Jungle Basics and Importance

Jungling in League of Legends isn't just about lurking in the foliage, killing monsters—no, it's an art form. The jungle is your domain, and how you wield its resources can dictate the tempo of the game.

First off, know this: junglers are the unsung heroes, the game-changers that fly under the radar. You're the trusty Swiss Army knife each team needs but seldom appreciates enough.

In the hands of a respected expert, jungling becomes a blend of strategic hunting and useful map control.

You're the orchestrator, responsible for your team's morale and opportunities. You create the vision, deny the enemy's resources, and support lanes that are falling behind.

But before we deep-dive into the nitty-gritty of each phase of the game, let's get a grasp on the jungle basics and why mastering this role is so vital for team success.

Role and Responsibilities of a Jungler

As a jungler, you're the backbone of your team in a way that's truly unique. It's not just about the monster-killing spree—you're a multitasker. Your core duties include securing crucial objectives like Dragon and Baron, but there's more.

You're also the main source of surprise "ganks" that help your lanes win or recover. Sound stressful? Well, trust me, it's exhilarating!

Master junglers understand the nuances of map pressure.

A well-timed gank or counter-jungle move can send ripple effects across the game, setting your team up for glory or saving them from the brink.

So, you're not just a hunter; you're also a savior, a strategist, and when done right, the most respected player on the field.

Strategic Importance of the Jungle

Ah, the strategic importance of the jungle—it's so often overlooked, yet it's the linchpin that holds the game together.

Think of the jungle as a web of opportunities: each pathway, each monster camp, and each buff grants your team a particular advantage.

The jungle is a useful reservoir of gold and experience, sure, but its impact stretches way beyond individual gain.

In the expert hands of a trusted jungler, the jungle morphs into a pressure cooker for the opposing team.

You restrict their vision, starve them of resources, and even dictate the pace of their gameplay. It's a power role, no doubt, and every quadrant you dominate becomes a stronghold that your team can leverage.

If you control the jungle, you control the game's heartbeat. And who doesn't want to be the heartbeat of their team?

Pre-Game Essentials

Before you even set foot in the jungle, there are some pre-game essentials you can't afford to overlook. Your choices here lay the foundation for your entire game.

Selecting the right champion, summoner spells, and runes isn't just a routine; it's a declaration of your game strategy.

Trust me, even before the minions spawn, the enemy is already evaluating your picks and plotting their moves accordingly.

It's not just about you; it's about sending a message to both teams. Get these elements right, and you're not just a participant—you're a formidable force to be respected.

Choosing Your Champion

Your choice of champion is your first decisive move in the jungle. Think of it as a chess opening: you're setting the tone and strategy right off the bat.

While there's a wide variety of champions to choose from, remember, not all are created equal. Your choice should align with your team's needs and counter your enemies effectively.

Don't just pick a jungler because you're good with them—choose one that amplifies your team's strengths and exploits the opponent's weaknesses.

Deciding between carry and tank junglers?

We'll dive into that next, but for now, understand that your pick defines your role.

A carry jungler like Kha'Zix or Evelynn spells out "I'm here to deal damage," while a tank like Sejuani screams "I'm your frontline." These aren't just champions; they're statements of intent.

Make the right choice, and you're not just a player; you're a trusted, respected expert carving out a game-changing impact. Choose wisely!

Carry vs Tank Junglers

The dilemma between carry and tank junglers is real, but here's how to break it down.

Carry junglers, like Lee Sin or Elise, are your ticket to a high-risk, high-reward game. You're the ace up your team's sleeve, expected to deal massive damage and swing fights in your favor. The spotlight's on you to make those flashy plays.

Tank junglers, think Zac or Amumu, are the unsung heroes who set up the battlefield for others.

You're the frontline, the initiator, the trusty shield your team rallies behind. While you may not get the glory of a pentakill, you earn something more valuable: the respected role of a reliable team anchor.

Choose based on what your team needs, not just personal preference.

Summoner Spells and Runes

Summoner spells and runes aren't just small details; they're the nuts and bolts of your gameplay strategy. For spells, Smite is non-negotiable.

It's your lifeline for securing jungle camps, objectives, and even contesting enemy buffs. Your second spell can vary—Flash for mobility, Ignite for kill pressure, or even Exhaust to shut down enemy carries.

Runes, on the other hand, require a bit more finesse. While each jungler has a recommended rune setup, don't hesitate to adapt.

Facing a burst-heavy team? Swap in some defensive runes.

Is your team lacking crowd control? Perhaps opt for the Glacial Augment.

Trust your judgment here. While it's useful to follow respected guides and expert recommendations, League is a dynamic game.

Your rune choices should be just as fluid. Get this right, and you don't just survive in the jungle; you dominate it.

Make your pre-game choices count, and you set the stage for a winning performance.

Jungle Map Insights

The jungle isn't just a collection of trees and monsters; it's a battleground where games are won or lost. So let's get you armed with some map insights.

First off, realize that jungle camps aren't created equal. Some, like the Gromp and Krugs, offer a lot of experience but are tougher to clear.

Others, like Scuttle Crab, are easier and provide vision but offer less XP.

But the jungle isn't just your domain; it's a shared resource. Know when to invade the enemy jungle and when to protect yours.

Look for opportunities when the enemy jungler is on the opposite side of the map.

That's your cue to either grab some of their camps or place deep wards to track their movements.

The river serves as a neutral zone, a meeting point for both teams. Keep a close eye on it. Not just for objectives like Dragon and Rift Herald, but also for potential skirmishes or ambushes.

Use the natural geography of the jungle to your advantage. Vision is crucial; bushes, blast cones, and vision plants are not just features—they're tools for the wise jungler.

Your map awareness, combined with keen insight, turns the jungle into your arena, not just a maze of foliage.

Key Monsters and Buffs

Here's your guide to the monsters and buffs that matter most in the jungle. Let's start with the big guns: the Dragon and the Rift Herald. Both offer game-changing bonuses but require team coordination to secure.

The Dragon gives elemental buffs that can pile up to a massive power spike.

Rift Herald, on the other hand, can help you demolish turrets and swing map control in your favor.

Now, let's talk about the buffs that make you, the jungler, a formidable force. The Blue Buff grants increased mana regen and CDR, making it useful for ability-based champions.

The Red Buff offers a slow on your basic attacks and some life regen. Trust me, securing these buffs not only powers you up but also denies the enemy those advantages.

Invading to steal these away is a respected strategy, just make sure you've got your escape plan sorted.

Lastly, you've got smaller camps like Wolves, Raptors, and Krugs. While not as flashy as Dragons or buffs, they're bread-and-butter for your XP and gold income.

Balance your time between these camps and ganking lanes for optimal growth.

Monster Buff Effect Priority
Dragon Elemental Buffs (Fire, Water, etc.) High
Rift Herald Summons a lane-pushing ally Medium
Blue Buff Mana Regen & CDR Medium
Red Buff Slow on Attack & HP Regen Medium
Wolves Gold & XP Low
Raptors Gold & XP Low
Krugs Gold & XP Low

Understanding your monsters and buffs is essential to jungle mastery. Keep track, prioritize, and don't forget to contest them whenever you can. This is where your expertise truly shines.

Blue Buff and Red Buff

Alright, let's deep dive into the "dynamic duo" of the jungle: Blue Buff and Red Buff. These buffs are more than mere clusters of pixels; they're your ticket to jungle supremacy.

Blue Buff, also known as the Crest of Insight, is the mana junkie's dream. If you're playing a champion that burns through mana like there's no tomorrow, Blue Buff is your best friend.

It not only refills your mana but also amps up your cooldown reduction (CDR), making your abilities ready to fire faster.

As a trusted jungler, donate this to your mid-laner if they're mana-dependent and ahead in their lane.

On the other hand, the Red Buff, or Crest of Cinders, is all about the "oomph" in your basic attacks.

Landing an auto applies a slowing effect, invaluable for chasing down slippery opponents.

The health regen is a nice cherry on top, especially during early skirmishes.

The takeaway?

Knowing when to take these buffs and when to graciously offer them to teammates separates the novice junglers from the experts. Don't underestimate their power.

Jungle Quadrants and Their Significance

Ah, the jungle isn't just a uniform playground; it's split into four distinct quadrants. Each of these quadrants has its unique set of monsters and strategic importance.

For example, the bottom right quadrant is close to the Dragon pit. Prioritize this area if Dragon is about to spawn or if you're bot lane is dominating. The top left quadrant? It's near Baron.

If that's the next big objective or your top laner is a beast, this is where you'll want to spend your time. A respected jungler knows that understanding the importance of each quadrant enables better decision-making.

Aim to be in the right place at the right time, and you'll go from a good jungler to a great one.

Early Game Strategies

Early game in the jungle sets the stage for the rest of the match. Your first job is securing your buffs—either Blue or Red—without getting invaded.

But the real essence lies in the next steps.

Are you the aggressive type, eager to make your presence felt with a level 2 gank?

Or do you trust your scaling and aim for a full clear?

Maybe you're the cunning type, looking to steal the enemy's jungle camps. These are questions only an expert jungler would consider.

Remember, each decision you make early on should align with your team's win condition. Get it right, and you're not just trusted—you're the linchpin.

Understanding popular jungle routes is like learning the lines on a map; you need to know them to navigate skillfully. For example, a full-clear route typically starts at Red or Blue buff and clears every camp in a single sweep.

Ideal for scaling champs like Karthus. But if you're piloting early-game powerhouses like Lee Sin, consider the buff-buff-gromp route for a fast level 3 and early ganking potential.

Here are some respected routes to consider:

  1. Full Clear: Red/Blue → Wolves → Blue/Red → Gromp → Raptors → Krugs
  2. Buff-Buff-Gromp: Red → Blue → Gromp or Blue → Red → Gromp
  3. Vertical Jungling: Steal enemy Blue/Red → Your Red/Blue → Gromp/Raptors
  4. Scuttle Priority: Red/Blue → Wolves → Scuttle Crab

Each route has its pros and cons. A useful rule of thumb: adapt your path based on your champ's strengths and the enemy team's weaknesses.

Become an expert in altering your routes, and your jungling will reach a new level of trustworthiness.

First Clear Tactics

Ah, the first clear—a rite of passage for any jungler. It's not just killing monsters; it's setting the tone for your game.

A successful first clear depends heavily on your champion's kit. If you're piloting someone like Warwick, you can clear multiple camps without losing much HP, thanks to his passive healing.

On the flip side, with Nidalee, you'll rely more on kite mechanics to preserve health.

Remember, your ability to smite can make or break this phase. Use it wisely, often saving it for your buff monsters or to secure scuttle crab.

One trusted tip: don't skip potions. They're your early-game safety net. Your first clear is your first impression—make it count.

Early Game Ganking

Early game ganking is the jungler's spotlight moment. You set the stage for your laners, either giving them an advantage or failing to secure it.

It's vital to gauge the situation first. Is the enemy pushed up?

Do your laners have control over the wave?

Do you know where the enemy jungler is?

These are your cues to act.

Champions like Lee Sin and Elise excel at early ganks due to their potent crowd control and burst damage.

Here's a tip from an expert: loop around to avoid typical ward spots. This increases your chances of a successful gank.

Pull it off, and you're not just a jungler; you're the team's early-game hero.

Mid Game Mastery

Ah, mid game—the phase where junglers can truly shine or utterly falter. Trust me, mastering this phase is a fine art that separates the rookies from the respected. Here's how you paint your masterpiece.

First, vision control; it's your canvas. Keep enemy jungle entrances and crucial objectives like Dragon and Rift Herald warded. A single Scuttle Crab can be a game-changer.

Now, about objectives vs kills. While it's tempting to chase for that juicy double kill, remember that objectives secure games.

As an expert, I'd say the Dragon's Soul is more impactful than a kill streak. Yet, don't disregard kills entirely; they create the space needed to secure those objectives safely.

And for the love of all things League, keep track of timers! Whether it's Baron, Dragon, or even the enemy blue buff, timing is key.

Be there before it spawns, and you're one step closer to victory. So, lock in, step up, and show 'em what mid game mastery really looks like.

Objectives vs Kills: What to Prioritize

Ah, the age-old debate: Objectives or Kills? Let's set the record straight. Objectives are the bedrock of a well-executed game.

They give you permanent advantages, unlike kills, which are fleeting moments of glory. So, when you're at a crossroads, prioritize like a pro.

Here's a useful table to guide your decision-making:

Priority Objective Reasoning
1 Dragon's Soul Gives team-wide, lasting benefits
2 Baron Nashor Enables pushing and siege
3 Towers Map control and gold
4 Kills Creates opportunities, not assurance

Always remember: Kills are stepping stones to objectives, not the endgame. Keep your eye on the prize, and you'll build a legacy worth respecting.

Warding Essentials

Warding isn't just the support's job; as a jungler, you've got to pitch in. Effective warding gives you map control, and map control wins games.

There are two must-ward spots for any respected jungler: the river's Scuttle Crab locations and the enemy jungle entrances.

A well-placed Control Ward can give you the intel to secure objectives or plan devastating ambushes. Trust me, the investment pays off. Keep your warding game strong to make informed decisions that scream expertise.

Late Game Approaches

In the late game, the stakes are high and every move is crucial. You're no longer just a jungler; you're a game-changer.

Two key aspects dominate: Objectives and Teamfighting. For objectives, Baron and Elder Dragon are the gold standards. Securing them can tip scales in your favor. But remember, these are double-edged swords.

A stolen Baron can cost you the game.

In teamfights, your role shifts based on your champion and team comp.

Are you the initiator, or is peeling more useful? Assess and act.

If you're an assassin, your job is to delete high-value targets.

If you're a tank, you're the frontline your team trusts.

Coordination is crucial. A split-second decision could be the difference between victory and defeat.

Know your role, play it well, and you'll not only win games but also gain the respected status of an expert jungler.

Baron and Elder Dragon Tactics

When it comes to late-game objectives, Baron Nashor and the Elder Dragon are the A-list celebrities you absolutely want on your team's side.

Navigating these encounters requires a blend of skill, timing, and game sense. First, vision is non-negotiable. Ward the area and clear enemy wards. This is the groundwork for a trusted play.

For Baron, it's not just about slaying the beast; it's about the setup. Get a pick on an enemy, especially their jungler, before starting Baron.


Because a 4v5 fight with a Baron debuff is a recipe for disaster. You'll want your team to be in sync, use abilities to shred Baron's health, and crucially, save Smite for the last hit.

The Elder Dragon, on the other hand, demands surgical precision. It's a true test of your expert status. Your Smite needs to be impeccable. Secure it, and you earn an execute mechanic on your attacks. Mess it up, and the enemy team gets a straight path to your Nexus.

Both objectives are game-changers. Baron offers immense pushing power, while Elder gives unparalleled fight advantage. Choose wisely, and you'll be the respected playmaker your team needs.

Teamfighting vs Split Pushing

Late-game often boils down to two strategies: teamfighting or split pushing. As the jungler, you're the pivot point for both. Teamfighting is all about coordination and capitalizing on enemy mistakes.

You're the initiator or the one who peels for your carries. Land a perfect ultimate or save a teammate, and you become the respected hero of the fight.

Split pushing is different. It's the loner's route, but impactful if done right. Choose a champion that melts towers and can escape easily.

While your team holds the fort, you chip away at enemy structures.

But beware: the strategy is only as useful as your map awareness. Lose track of the enemy, and your split push turns into a one-way ticket to the respawn timer.

Both strategies have their merits. The trusted path depends on your team's composition and the current state of the game. Choose wisely.

Expert Tips for Jungling

Expertise in jungling doesn't just come from knowing routes or objectives; it's about mastering the finer details that give you that winning edge.

Here's a breakdown of some invaluable tips:

  1. Map Awareness: The mini-map isn't just a decoration. Make it your best friend. Every glance can give you valuable information, informing your next move.
  2. Invade Intelligently: Stealing enemy camps can set them back significantly, but do it wisely. Have vision and know their jungle clear timings.
  3. Predict the Enemy Jungler: This takes some practice but is incredibly useful. If you can predict where the enemy jungler will be, you can counter-gank or take objectives on the opposite side of the map.
  4. Smite Smartly: Smite isn't just for last-hitting big monsters. Use it to steal health back during fights or to secure vision by smiting Raptors or Wolves.
  5. Optimize Item Builds: Many players undervalue item optimization. The difference between a generic and a situation-specific build can be game-changing.
  6. Learn to Peel: Sometimes, keeping your ADC alive is more important than diving the enemy backline. Understand your role in each team composition.
  7. Time Your Abilities: Knowing the right moment to engage is just as important as the engagement itself. Jumping in too early or too late can spell disaster.
  8. Fog of War is Your Ally: Utilize fog for surprise attacks or escapes. Being unpredictable makes you a respected force on the map.
  9. Recall Responsibly: Backing at the wrong time can cost objectives. Make sure it's safe to recall and that you're not leaving your team in a vulnerable position.
  10. Post-Game Analysis: Always review your game. Even pros have room for improvement. Trust me, each replay watched is a lesson learned.

These tips are your ticket to transitioning from a good jungler to a great one. Integrate them into your gameplay, and watch your influence on the Rift skyrocket.

Effective Pinging and Communication

In League of Legends, your pings can speak louder than words. Smart pinging isn't just spamming; it's a language that conveys intent, danger, or opportunity.

Use the various ping options effectively to announce ganks, warn lanes, or request assistance for objectives.

Communication is key, and trust me, a well-timed ping can be a game-changer.

Adaptation and Decision Making

Jungle is a role where you're the chess master, not just a piece on the board. Adaptation is your strongest tool.

Maybe your usual jungle path isn't working or your top lane is losing hard.


Make on-the-fly decisions that adapt to the current game state. A respected jungler knows when to change strategies, giving your team the edge they crave.

Trust your instincts and make plays that count.

Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to LoLTheory Blog.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to LoLTheory Blog.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.