As a jungler, few things are as frustrating as lanes dying before you even have the chance to help them, because you quickly feel as if you are helpless to do anything about it- but that’s not quite the case usually.
The Art of Prediction
As I’ve stressed before, understanding match ups is vital to successful jungling. If you don’t know what your laner needs from the jungler (and more importantly, when they need it), how do you expect to give them the help they need when they need it? However, if you understand how a match up plays out, you can put yourself in the right place at the right time. Some champions (Fiora, Riven, and Tryndamere are the ones that come readily to my mind- there are certainly more) seem to get first blood a disproportional amount of the time. Even if I don’t play those champions, I can surmise that if one of them is in the game on either side, a kill (or near-kill) will probably happen at level 1. While I don’t know who will outplay who, my presence there will insure that the game isn’t lost in the first 5 minutes, and very possibly swing it massively in our favor instead. Of course, this might mean I need to start at a different buff than usual.
The risk of running to a lane right away is that you’ll lose clearing time and fall behind the enemy jungler, potentially waste time with a buff, and (depending on the enemy jungler’s route) possibly have the second buff burgled. Weigh your options carefully, if the risk of getting a buff stolen is severe (e.g. the enemy jungler is Shyvana and will be on that side of the map after clearing her second buff), then a few words of caution to the lane in question is probably the best you can do in terms of prevention. Of course, if your laner(s) close to that buff is willing to ward the buff and respond to the invade, then you’re free to do as you please- but that requires communication on your part and cooperation on theirs.
In order to defend your jungle in this manner, you need to be actively thinking about the enemy jungler’s movements, and predicting when and where they will do what. I find it easiest to predict enemy junglers by starting with what kind they are. This gives an idea of where they will want to be (e.g. farming jungles will want to sit in their jungle clearing), and from there it’s usually pretty easy to judge the pace they go at. Of course, it’s important to remember that everyone jungles differently, and will react to opportunities as they arise. For example, Yi might be a farming jungler, but if he’s at blue golems and sees 2 low health bot laners, he’ll changes modes and go to farm champions. The trick is to know that he’s at golems when bot gets into the engage that gets them low, and ping them back before he gets there. It might sound difficult to “just know” where the enemy jungler is at all times, but if you gauge it off of how fast they clear, and where they started/were last seen, you can be fairly accurate in your predictions (less so the longer they stay in the dark).
The Happeningest Place in Town
Regardless of where you think the jungler will be, wherever action actually takes place is where you want to be. Just like you want to be at a level 1 fight because you can sway the outcome vastly in your favor, you want to be at every other fight during the laning phase for the same reason. While it can be difficult to know when exactly fights will break out, if people are low health, have summoners burned, or kills have happened in that lane already, it’s highly probable that one side is going to try to exploit that advantage, and fights will be happening. This is why it’s important to monitor lanes when clearing jungle, and glance at the health bars on the side frequently- you can use that information to guide yourself into being in the right place at the right time to prevent disaster and sometimes even turn it on it’s head and create a disaster for the other team.
So when your bot lane gives up a double kill, it’s a pretty safe bet that you need to schedule a stop there soon. The difficulty lies in figuring out when a lane is beyond help– when your presence is no longer able to do any good (which is different from the lane being lost). There aren’t any hard and fast rules to determine when this is, it’s largely something you have to feel out- but if you use your ultimate plus your laner(s) and don’t get anything for it, then staunching the bleeding is about all you can hope for- and whether or not that is worthwhile depends on the state of your other lanes, and how safely the troubled lane can operate without you there.
Remember that when you are behind, trying to make giant plays to comeback will usually end up not being effective. While bot may have given up a double kill, your gank may only get one person, and if you want to bring the lane back even you will have to gank again. Exercise extreme caution when going for a big play when behind, don’t walk past the first target and go for the second target unless you have 100% certainty that your teammates will finish off the first target. Inch your way back into games; giant leaps end in disgrace. When you extend yourself for big plays when you are weaker than the enemy team you put yourself at risk to not reap anything, or worse yet have the play backfire.
When Ganks go Bad
Often when ganking you must decide if it’s worth it to dive. When calculating whether they can dive or not, players typically leave out 2 very important things: summoner spells and jungler position. Unless you know (or have good reason to highly suspect) the enemy jungler is elsewhere, all but the shortest and simplest dives are ill-advised, because the risk of giving up multiple kills outweighs the reward of possibly getting one. The other thing that we often forget is that people use their summoner spells because they expect that use to change the outcome of a scenario, not simply out of desperation. If an enemy flashes under tower, then there’s a high probability that they have another trick up their sleeve, and at the least will be able to trade a kill back on a dive, meaning it’s best to pull out unless you’ve planned for that scenario and have a trick up your sleeve to deal with theirs.
When you combine summoner spells with jungler position, it’s easy to see how dives can go very bad very quickly. If you don’t know where the jungler is when diving a Vayne with Flash and Barrier, her using those spells gives the jungler more time to show up for a triple kill, and the Vayne will probably survive anyways. Because of this, it’s important to estimate jungler position before going in on a gank, as well as to determine what responses you have for enemy summoner spells, so you can know whether to keep chasing after they are used or not. It’s also important to re-evaluate the situation after Summoner Spells are used. For example, I might have a response ready for Vayne’s Flash, but if she’s able to save it for when she’s under tower, once she uses it, it’s probably better to back off and rain on her parade another day. Respect your opponents, and don’t go for a play that you know you could turn around if you were in their shoes.
In the end there’s a lot you can do to stop your lane from feeding, and to turn a losing lane into a winning one, although it generally requires that you be thinking ahead. While it’s usually good to help a losing lane, you must be wary when doing so, and avoid being sucked into losing situations with them, which occasionally means leaving them for dead completely. In the end however, there are going to be some games that simply can’t be won, and it’s important to not let these games affect you mentally to the point that you project them onto games that are winnable- making you lose hope too quickly and lose games that you shouldn’t.
If you haven’t already, I suggest you check out the previous articles in this series: Jungling 101, 102, 201, and 202. The ’01s relate to ganking, while the ’02s relate (primarily) to farming. Just as university classes by similar titles would get more complex with level (and require the previous courses to give context for the later ones), the articles are structured to act similarly.
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