Sep 12 2016 - 3:27 pm

Three League of Legends Jungle Routes You Need to Know

A Challenger-tier coach on the three types of League of Legends jungle routes you need to know and how to plan them before the game starts.

When you play, shot call, and coach League of Legends at a high level, things holding back lower-tier players become noticeable. After becoming a Challenger player several times over (most notably peaking at 800 points), holding two Challenger accounts simultaneously, (one maining mid and one jungle), being a player-shot caller for many Challenger teams and coaching League for almost three years, I now work for Mobalytics, a personal performance analytics tool for LoL.

A common aspect missing from inexperienced jungers is an understanding of the different types of routes available. Your early game as a jungler is critical; most notably, your first clear, because it dictates the flow of the game for both teams.

Thus, knowing which routes to use and why greatly increases your chances of an early game snowball as a jungler, and broadly speaking, there are three options:

  • Ganking routes
  • Farming routes
  • Counter-ganking/counter-jungling routes

Before the game even starts, jungle routes must be decided, and they change every game. The load screen should be the time when you think things over. Before we look at an example of this decision-making process, let’s first look more closely at the three types of routes.

1. Ganking routes

The ganking style routes aim to get you ahead by pressuring and snowballing lanes very early into the game. It’s by far the most aggressive option and works best with snowball-oriented champs.

It’s also for when you want to get kills early due to the other team having champions that are easy prey early in the game, such as Jinx, who has low mobility and is super squishy.

Jungle champions that can best take advantage of this type of route include:

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Here are two examples of ganking-style jungle routes:

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The pros:

The advantage of these routes is hitting level three as fast as possible and quickly going out to use your unlocked skills in a gank, catching the opposing laners off-guard.

The cons:

If the gank fails, the other side of your jungle has been left wide open to be counter-jungled, so keep that in mind and play carefully.

If you’re not confident in your ganks yet and seem to fail them a lot, a safer route (albeit one that’s not as fast) is to start with Gromp like this:

This lets you gank early but is not as quick, so you still might fall behind in farm if it fails. It’s all about that risk vs. reward.

2. Farming routes

By doing a route that aims to farm the jungle efficiently, you can gain a lead on your jungle opponent if they fail to gank early. Your item and experience advantage means you can bully later, too.

This kind of route should be used when your lanes are not easily ganked (as in the Jinx example mentioned above) or you want to scale to level six as soon as possible for more potent ganks.

Jungle champions that can best take advantage of this type of route include:

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Here’s an example of a farming-style jungle route:

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The pros:

This route lets you outfarm your opponent by getting a full clear of the jungle finished early on.

The cons:

The downside here is that you’re unable to apply early gank or counter-gank pressure as easily. That means your team may fall behind if the other jungler pulls off some successful early-game ganks.

3 . Counter-jungling/counter-ganking

These counter-jungling routes aim to abuse predictable jungle pathing done by the opponent. When that’s the case, you can either invade the enemy jungle to apply pressure or get yourself in a position to counter-gank an aggressive style of jungler, such as those listed in section one.

This style should be used when the other jungler’s pathing is predictable in terms of farming routes or ganking routes. It should also be used if you plan to apply pressure or counteract pressure with low crowd control (CC), high-damage junglers.

Jungle champions that can best take advantage of this type of route include:

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Here’s an example of a counter-ganking/counter- jungling route:
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The pros:

This sets you up in a position to either invade and kill your jungle opponent or take his camps. It also allows you to set up a counter-gank, which could swing the entire pace of the early game.

The cons:

If you don’t have the correct read on your opponent, the counter-gank or invade opportunity may never arrive. If that happens, it wastes your time, putting your farm behind someone who’s farming away or who’s just ganked the side of the map you were not on.

How to choose which role is best for the game

When deciding which jungle route to choose from, there are two key considerations.

  1. Check both your goals as a champion and your team's overall goal
    1. Identify what style your jungler is naturally good at in addition to what your team composition would like to do in the early game.
    2. Do the same thing for the other jungler and their team composition.
  2. Check your lane matchups for gank/invade viability
    1. Check each lane matchup to see which lane is easiest to gank or counter gank.
    2. Check to see if lanes win or lose hard on either side of the map, as this can be the trigger to early invades, or for you to get early invaded upon.

Once you know these things, it becomes more clear on which pathing you should choose. It may feel a little awkward at first and perhaps it's a lot to think about, but getting good at this process is the way to take your jungling to the next level.

An example of planning a game

Here’s an example using Kha'zix with the kind of analysis you can use in every game to help decide your early jungle pathing. Below is a screenshot of the game we’ll use.
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Key things to note:

  • Kha’zix is a natural counter-gank/counter-jungle style champion and whenever possible, it’s good to stick to the optimal style for your champion.
  • We also note that our team has a lot of level six power spikes, so we ideally rush that level before making any major plays. The other team has many safe laners and a strong early ganking style jungler in Gragas.
  • The top lane is very easy for Trundle to set up a gank on the low mobility champion, Rumble, who will naturally shove the Trundle in with his AoE dmg.
  • In the mid lane, it’s largely a farming matchup that’s too hard to gank for the low-CC Varus early on.
  • Bot lane has many forms of CC from both sides, but Thresh-Lucian is very safe.

What’s the best plan?

Gragas is a high-ganking jungler and will be looking to get the easiest kill possible. This will most-likely be top lane, as it has strong gank setup potential for him with the Trundle and the Rumble will be shoving early. Knowing this, Kha'zix, being a counter-gank style jungler, should choose the following route:

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This allows him to safely be in position to counter the incoming Gragas for his top laner.

Conclusion

By understanding the different types of routes and starting to learn the champions that are best suited to them, you can predict the opening of the game and make optimal decisions around it. It’s one of those aspects of League of Legends that involves trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s tricky at first, and definitely requires more effort than just queueing another game, but it’s effort that pays off for those willing to do what it takes to climb the ranks. 


Did you find this guide to jungle routes helpful? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom

[Feature Image Credit: Thanks to Benogalati of DeviantArt for letting us use your work]

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