The jungle is a dangerous place, filled with guns, roses, and gank opportunities. Jungling itself is an art, and while art is a matter of expression there are some cardinal rules you must follow:
- Know thy champion.
- Waste not thy time.
- Smite thine objectives straight and true.
- When thou holdeth or taxeth a lane, miss not thy last hits.
Breaking these rules is a sin worthy of being cast into the deepest fires of Elo Hell.
I do not recommend jungling before level 20. Having tier 3 runes and a plethora of mastery points makes an incredible difference in your ability to jungle effectively. It won't take you long to get that far, so enjoy the learning the other aspects of the game first.
Credit to LoLWiki for the wonderful image.
For new junglers I recommend Amumu, Jarvan, and/or Nasus. These three champions represent slightly different variations within the same jungle style, which should help bring into focus what your strengths and weaknesses are. It's also good to have several options available, as your preferred champion will sometimes be banned or picked. Amumu and Nasus are also relatively cheap.
Master Yi, Nunu, and Warwick are technically the cheapest junglers. However, Master Yi is a highly contested ban/first pick at the moment, Nunu is an extremely technical counter-jungler, and Warwick is completely useless for ganking before level 6 (which makes him not all that viable).
Runes are assumed to be tier 3.
Runes: Attack Damage Quints, Attack Damage Marks, Armor Seals, Magic Resistance Glyphs
Place your remaining mastery points based on your champion's role and needs. You'll typically be diving deep into Offense or Defense.
This is just the basic, universal setup. "Optimal" setups will vary wildly based on your champion, both team's compositions, and other conditions.
There are two basic routes you need to know.
For many junglers this route will require assistance from your team.
- Start at either the Ancient Golem or Lizard Elder. Do not use Smite.
- Run straight to the other buff camp.
- Clear the camp, using Smite to last hit to secure the buff.
- Look for a lane to gank/hold.
On junglers with weaker clears, or who aren't receiving assistance, this is the preferred route.
- Start at either the Ancient Golem or Lizard Elder. Use Smite.
- Clear the three small camps.
- Clear the remaining buff camp. Smite should be available, use it.
- Look for a lane to gank/hold.
With experience you'll eventually grow out of fixed routes, but for new junglers they're helpful to give some structure to an otherwise abstract and complicated role.
Ganking is one of the more difficult parts of jungling, particularly for new players. It's an extremely complicated topic with nuances and tricks far beyond what is covered here, but for now approach ganking in the following manner.
- Consider your health. Don't gank when you're weak.
- Ask the lane about any wards their opponent may have placed.
- Avoid any known wards.
- Avoid being seen as you enter the lane.
- Cut the target off from their escape route as much as possible.
- Close in for the kill.
Remember that ganking should be a surprise to your opponents, but not to your allies. Ganking is more than wandering aimlessly into a lane.
The current meta heavily favors junglers with strong early game presence, with a slight preference for those who transition into tanky initiators later.
The most competitive junglers at the moment are Zac, Jarvan, Elise, Nocturne, and Nasus. Other notable junglers include Master Yi, Amumu, Sejuani, Eve, and Udyr. This is not an exhaustive list.