Hi I am the salty jungler a diamond 4 jungle main, I enjoy writing short guides and helping people out in general. Today I’m going to be looking at counter-jungling, knowing the ins and outs of counterjungling is a must if you plan on being a well versed jungler. Jungle aggression is very calculated and you have to know what you are doing lest you end up being collapsed on and feed first blood like a noob. So with that being said let’s get into it.
What is counter-jungling?
Knowing how to properly counter-jungling is absolutely crucial to being a good jungler, especially as you climb higher in Elo. Counter-jungling effectively cripples the enemy jungler while pushing yourself further ahead, especially during the first 10 minutes of the game. Taking red/blue buffs grant the most exp/gold and have the most negative effect on the enemy jungler. Certain junglers will be more hurt by losing a specific buff generally AD junglers with low CC such as Shyvana, Shaco, Jax will be more hurt by losing red buff while AP junglers like Diana, Amumu will be more hurt by losing blue so prioritize accordingly. It is also important to deny very mana hungry mid laners like Anivia, Karthus and Swain blue buff when you can. It’s possible to keep even or even surpass the level of your solo laners with perfect counter-jungling. Stealing the razorbeaks oracles will prevent vision denial, taking gromp will stop tanks from abusing the return-damage buff and wolves grant full vision of the enemy jungler; all are quite impactful buffs to steal. I don’t normally bother with krugs very often though unless I am in the area or waiting to dive top, they are simply too far out of the way and don’t offer enough benefit from stealing.
While giving you a great advantage over your jungler no reward is without risk. Counter-jungling is all about weighing risk versus reward, poor awareness or decision making can easily result in a wasting time, a summoner skill or death. In this section I will detail the mentality around counter-jungling; thinking about your actions and not just doing them robotically.
If you are looking to improve your counter-jungling I would give Shaco, Nunu or lee sin a try, these guys are without a doubt the best in the business and can be easier to get a feel for it on a champion who excels at counterjungling.
When should you counter-jungle?
Anytime it is safe to counter-jungle and there are no higher priorities such as defending your towers you should be counter-jungling. When it is safe to counter-jungle however is extremely subjective, it does not necessarily mean having flash up or having a lot of HP for example counter-jungling with 100 hp when you know the location of their laners and jungler can arguably be safer than full hp and having no clue where they are. There are a few times when counter-jungling can be “safe” ranked in order:
1) You have vision on the enemy jungler – This is the best time to counter-jungle, when you can literally see the enemy jungler on the map there is no chance they can catch you stealing their buffs or camps. Another good time to counter-jungle is during/immediately after a gank, whatever lane they gank the opposite side of their jungle will be wide open for a relatively brief period of time. champions with fast clear speed are especially good at this sort of reactionary counter-jungling as he can quickly clear camps and even buffs without smite with relative ease at any stage in the game.
Ex 1: You are jungling against a lee sin, after finishing blue and are taking with wraiths you plan on going back to wolves then taking your red buff. As you are clearing wraiths however your top laner is ganked by lee sin with red buff, you are far too far to provide any help so you do the next best thing; rush straight for his blue buff. Since lee sin is top and won’t be able to make his way back to blue buff for quite some time you know it is safe to take it without any retaliation.
Ex 2: Lee sin is holding mid lane after his mid lane backed, you can now safely take his wraiths or wolves since you know he is stuck holding the lane. Be careful about attempting a steal too late into a lane hold as if he leaves early his mid-laner will likely be half way back to lane and will be able to assist very quickly if you are discovered.
2) Using your intuition – Your intuition can be used to predict with relative safety when it is opportune to counter-jungle. Buff timers are a good example of this, if it’s between 7:20 and 7:50 the enemy jungler is most likely giving their blue buff to their mid laner so you can safely steal from the other side of the jungle. Also knowing if an enemy jungler is low hp or likely gone back you can safely take what you can, for this reason avoid going back yourself when you know you are on a ward.
3) You are stronger than your enemy – This is not as safe as being unseen however having a dueling advantage over your enemy jungler means it’s very unlikely you will lose in a 1v1 scenario, the only real threat here is being collapsed on by enemy laners
One of the biggest noob traps is to be counter-jungled and immediately go their jungle and try to counter-jungle them. Do not counter-jungle unless you know it is safe. One of the best ways to get back into the back after being counter-jungled are successful ganks
Counter-jungling is not all black and white, there are many different factors and variables to consider:
1) Size up your jungler – This should be fairly obvious but always be comparing the champion, gold and exp gap between you and your enemy jungler, even if you you have significant champion advantage over him if he has two early kills from ganks and a full level of experience on you from holding lanes early on he can easily go toe to toe with you or even kill you if you underestimate your enemy
2) Consider your mid laner – Mid lane can have a considerable impact on jungle duels and buff pressure, generally if one mid laner is considerably stronger or has much more mobility they can be a huge factor in deciding which side wins in a jungle duel. Champions like Leblanc, Ahri, Talon or Lee sin can assist either jungler extremely quickly if they have good awareness and can instantly turn the tide on a losing battle. Likewise a strong mid laner with strong sustained damage, multi-target spells or AoE like Diana, Akali, Swain, Anivia, Brand or Cassio can easily 1v2 a jungler and mid laner.
3) Always watch the map – It is extremely important to watch the mini-map and watch when a jungler ganks it will tell you two important things
A) His location – this one is obvious, if he ganks bottom then the entire upper jungle is free to steal from for a brief window of time. This also applies to if he is holding a lane.
B) His health – Knowing the enemy junglers current health is very important to consider when counter-jungling, a very threatening jungler can be invaded if you know his health is relatively low. Also more importantly if you are watching a gank and he takes a few tower shots or harass on his way out it is possible to guess his destination and head him off for an easy kill. Lets say after a failed tower dive on bot lane the enemy comes out with 200 hp and the ward shows him leaving towards his blue buff entrance, we can assume through intuition he will farm wolves quickly before recalling so you immediately beeline towards his wolves and sure enough you find him recalling at 150 hp and quickly burst him down for the easy kill. These kinds of opportunities present themselves all the time but most people are simply unaware that a free kill is waiting for them just across the river. I’m notorious for jungling at very low health after ganks or skirmishes but I very rarely get caught doing it.
4) Lane positions – Where the creep wave currently is can actually have a pretty significant impact on counter-jungling, mid lane especially. If your laner has his lane pushed to the turret then there is no way for the enemy to readily assist their jungler as your mid laner blocks the normal side entrances to the jungle effectively pinning them at their turret and can come to assist you more easily if the fight is going bad. The opposite is true as well, if your mid laner is being pushed on then it is much riskier for you to counter-jungle as the enemy mid can easily double back to assist them while your mid laner can’t follow as easily out of fear of harass, minion damage, loss of cs or a bush ambush
Jungling is largely mind games that pits you head to head against the enemy jungler, I’ll describe and define the different styles of jungling and what importance they play in counter-jungling and dueling using basic poker play-styles for reference.
Loose Aggressive – The Bully These players are usually champions that are early game powerhouses and try to push their 1v1 advantage as much as possible with their incredible dueling strength. These players are hyper-aggressive and will invade frequently regardless of your actions or whether their location is known to you or not. This playstyle is essentially just walking straight into their jungle and taking any camp that’s up chasing and attempting to kill any jungler they come across, they usually have a means of disengaging if they get caught in a bad spot. These players can be a nightmare if they get an early lead on you and your team is not helpful in assisting you against his invades. If you can’t secure your own jungle they will practically live in it and deny you extensively. If you can’t straight up fight an enemy bully in your jungle and you know he is just roaming around looking for you, sometimes a smart decision is to simply ignore him and go to his jungle and start farming his camps. When playing as the bully it is extremely important to know your limits and to always be monitoring the enemy laners, this playstyle can be reckless and you can end up giving easy deaths if you aren’t observant of your surroundings.
Ex. Lee sin, Elise, Trundle, Udyr, Nunu
Tight Aggressive – The Predator These players are undoubtedly the more dangerous of the two high aggressive types, they often field extremely high base damage and very strong all-ins. The predator is highly controlled highly aggressive playstyle, it centers around tracking the movements of the enemy jungler and prioritizes killing him or forcing him out of the jungle over stealing camps. The predator will often lie in ambush at a buff they know is spawning soon and wait to jump and kill the enemy jungler as they clear it, keeping up on buff timers and knowing how the enemy jungler functions is key to being a predator. If the kill is unsuccessful then whatever camps are leftover are usually cleared out and they will return to farm their jungle. Once a lead is established the predator will continue to pressure and take buffs while attempting to kill the enemy jungler at even the small camps. A predator tends to be much more careful and stealthy than a bully so getting your team-mates to collapse on him can be more difficult, wards are really the only answer to this playstyle. A good practice against all players, this type particularly is to hit the buff once then pull it into the nearby brush so he can’t sneak up on you. If you are playing as the predator make sure to make good use of the brush to ambush and offensive wards deep in his jungle such as the bush near red or the bush between the wraith camp and the tier 1 mid tower. The greatest danger of this playstyle is becoming careless or underestimating your enemy, in a game I recently played I killed an Amumu and stole his 1st red then later contested his 2nd blue, as I approached the brush near his soon to be spawned red buff I was insta-gibbed by him and his two solo laners. I should have noticed it was suspicious both his laners disappeared from lane for no real reason and carelessness lured me to my death.
Ex. Nidalee, Shaco, Kha’zix, Rengar, Pantheon, Fizz
Tight Passive – The Opportunist This playstyle is often better suited but not limited to champions with low early game clear speed/dueling power such as Maokao, Malphite, Nautilius ect. These playerswill often avoid dueling or contact but can still invade just as much as the aggressive types, these players will counter jungle as much as possible when they know it is unlikely they will run into the enemy jungler. This is most likely when the enemy jungler is visible on the map or his general location is known, in a confrontation they will usually just slink away as fast as possible. It is not impossible for a weaker jungler to steal buffs, often times they will ward the buff and wait behind the wall or in a nearby bush and try to outsmite you once it gets low then retreat back to their jungle. If the opportunist starts to get a lead he can easily start becoming more openly aggressive and turn into a bully or predator. When playing against an opportunist it is extremely important not to gank when your buffs are up as they will likely know it to and steal everything from you without even being seen. When playing as the opportunist stealth is key and being aware of the map and looking for reactions from any laners when entering their jungle (a clear sign of the entrance being warded) is essential if you want to successfully invade a stronger opponent. This playstyle can also be adopted if you started off with a lead but have slowly squandered it and the enemy jungler is now stronger. The greatest threat to this playstyle are wards, since so much of it relies on stealth being seen entering the jungle can kill you very quickly if the enemy laners see and react quickly.
Ex. Any weak duelist, often tank junglers
Loose Passive – The Amateur Maybe this guy doesn’t jungle very often or isn’t yet comfortable counter-jungling, the amateur lacks any sort of game plan, he will mainly farm his own jungle and gank when he can but very rarely invade the enemy jungle even when it is safe to do so or he will just blindly invade when he doesn’t have any info on the enemy jungler and die. Smart aggressive players will often thrash an amateur as he won’t likely ward, check his bushes or have the intuition to expect an invade or counter-gank. The amateur is the least threatening player to play against, this doesn’t mean however he can’t just luck out and get a lead on you, the key is to keep your composure if this happens and play smart you will always get back ahead of him in the long run. Every player starts off at this stage, it is up to you to evolve your gameplay and become a more dangerous force in the jungle.
Miscellaneous – The Ganker These junglers typically don’t perform or respond to any counter-jungling, they just gank their lanes over and over generally only stopping occasionally to jungle when their buffs or up or there are no solid gank opportunities open. Even if you counter-jungle these guys all day as long as they are getting kills and assists and snowballing their lanes it won’t matter how much of their jungle you take they will still keep up to you. Counter-jungling only really starts to hurt these kinds of players if their ganks are failing, therefore when playiing against these junglers it is important to ward their jungle exits so it’s easy to track and counter-gank them. Stealing their buffs is also important as it makes their ganks a lot weaker, many times they will leave their buffs up while they are ganking so they are free pickings; for this reason you should always be keeping timers on their buffs so you know when a free buff is up for grabs.
Well that concludes my guide about counter-jungling, thanks for reading and I hope it helps you guys improve your game.