Saturday, August 10, 2013

Counter Jungling Guide

You don't have to be a genius to figure out how dead that Amumu is; Chauster once told Doublelift something along the lines of "even jesus couldn't get you out alive because you were in that position to begin with, you just happen to have the mechanics to get out of it alive this time." While the quote directly refers to Doublelift's ability to survive terrible situations with pure mechanical skill, I feel like League of Legend players can really learn a lot from Chauster's wisdom especially when it comes to new junglers being counter jungled. Counter jungling is an application of knowledge and situational understanding of League of Legends; likewise, preventing counter jungling is the same.

Check out 'understanding counter jungling' after the jump. Warning: wall of informative text to follow
What is Counter Jungling?

Streamlined at IEM Kiev by Moscow 5, counter jungling is a strategy where you purposely take away jungle camps from the enemy team. Counter jungling can be as small as stealing the Wraith camp while the enemy jungler shows in a lane as big as a team strategy of taking the entire enemy jungle. While strategies for counter jungling are usually pre-mediated, reactive counter jungling is a hallmark of any good jungler. While many traditional jungling strategies are implemented in response to how lanes are forming or want to be formed, counter jungling is a proactive strategy regardless of lanes. One does not need to wait for lanes to push a certain degree or hit a certain level to counter-jungle; although this knowledge and control does assist in more competitive counter jungling. One fallacy that many players believe with counter-jungling is that it is a representation of a weak jungler. While that is true to some degree as more experienced junglers are quicker to react to counter jungling, counter jungling is actually a representation of weak lanes and a weak jungler.

Why is it Effective? 

So, the question that now arises is why would one want to go with the strategy of counter-jungling instead of following traditional methods of gain such as ganking. First, counter jungling, as mentioned before, is a tactic that can be done even when traditional methods of gain cannot be done. Second, counter-jungling can put the enemy jungler extremely behind if he fails to respond properly or make use of his time effectively; essentially forming a 5 v 4 in late game scenarios if done properly. Third, counter-jungling can pressure the enemy jungler to base or reveal the location of the enemy jungler, thus allowing laners to play aggressively due to the fear of the unknown disappearing. When done in competitive play as a strategy, it allows laners to play extremely aggressively with very little consequence when they would usually be punished for doing so. 

Proactive and Reactive Counter Jungling 

There are generally two kinds of counter-jungling: proactive and reactive counter jungling. Proactive counter jungling usually entails two main goals: buff control, and constant invasion. The method of proactive counter jungling is to intentionally take away camps from the enemy jungler by beating the enemy jungler to the camps or fighting the enemy jungler for the camps. The method of reactive counter jungling is to reactively take away camps from the enemy jungler by punishing their decisions. While proactive counter jungling is more effective at shutting down and pressuring the enemy jungler, reactive counter jungling is a more safe alternative to proactive counter jungling.

What conditions can you counter jungle?

As I mentioned previously, counter jungling is not the fault of just the jungler as many would assume; it is the fault of the whole team. As such, conditions in which a jungle is able to counter jungle safely are not just limited to junglers but also laners. There are three general conditions which allow a jungler to counter-jungle - Strong Jungler Condition, Pushed Lane Condition, and Loss of Pressure Condition. Each of these conditions can independently or cooperatively allow a jungler to counter jungle to different extents. Of course, these are not every condition possible but simply the commonly known and recognizable ones. 

Firstly, the Strong Jungler Condition is when a jungler has picked a champion that is mechanically stronger than the enemy jungler. Strength of a jungler can be judged in three ways - the ability to win a duel, the ability to escape from multiple enemies, and the ability to effectively kill the enemy jungler. Like the conditions, these abilities can work independently or cooperatively with each other. The ability to win a duel is simply the ability for the counter jungling champion to beat the enemy jungler in a duel. Most experienced junglers recognize which champions win duels (i.e., Udyr never loses a duel) and will do their best to actually avoid duels they can't win. The ability to be unchallenged when counter jungling by the enemy jungler allows the counter jungler to take camps in a more safe fashion. However, while the Strong Jungler Condition allows for temporary counter jungling, it does not allow a jungler to stay in the enemy jungle for an extended period of time. Eventually, the enemy laners will collapse on the counter jungler and be able to kill him. That being said, the counter jungler who invades under the Strong Jungler Condition looks to be able to escape from multiple enemies after taking the free camp. The ability to escape from multiple enemies (i.e., Shyvana during the IEM Kiev Era) wastes the enemy teams time when they come to punish counter jungling. Finally, the ability to effectively kill the enemy jungler refers to the potential for a counter jungler to simply kill the enemy jungle before the enemy team can respond properly (i.e., Lee Sin is very good at effectively killing the enemy jungler if they enemy jungler has no inherent escapes). When a jungler is able to effectively kilt the enemy jungler while counter jungling, it removes all ability to punish the jungler for counter jungling and being out of position. 

Secondly, the Pushed Lane Condition is when a jungler can counter jungle because all the lanes are pushed. While counter jungling is an alternative option when ganking is not an available one, it can be said that counter jungling when the lanes are pushed is perhaps an overall strategy, not just one of desperation. Exemplified during the IEM Kiev Era, Moscow 5, currently known as Gambit Gaming, picked champions who all pushed lanes extremely hard at level one. By pushing all three lanes hard, it puts pressure for the enemy jungler to clear camps and punish lanes from pushing. However, a counter jungler who pressures at the right time, can prevent an enemy jungler from ever getting to lanes to begin with as he cannot clear properly. While it is possible that the enemy jungler could simply avoid camps and gank the lanes, an under farmed, under levelled, and buff less jungler is generally not able to secure ganks efficiently and effectively; there is even a possibility for teams to win a 2 v 3 skirmish with creep damage. Furthermore, laners who attempt to punish counter jungling by attempting to kill the counter jungler will find it hard to effectively make use of the game distance that gives the defending team the advantage. Laners will be behind in experience due to how the lanes are pushed, will sacrifice creep score to defend the counter jungle, and will be able to be followed easily as the counter jungler's laners are free to roam without losing anything. As such, laners who have their lanes pushed will find it hard pressed to find assisting a defend against a counter jungle appealing. Therefore, the Pushed Lane Condition is perhaps the most deadly strategy of counter jungling. However, teams who are quick to catch on will pick proper champions in champion select to ensure that lanes can push back. 

Finally, the Loss of Pressure Condition is when a jungler chooses to assert dominance and pressure on one half of the map but loses pressure on the other half of the map. With the knowledge of the enemy jungler showing somewhere on the map, it becomes extremely safe for a counter jungler to waltz in and take the camps. If the enemy jungler fails to make a gank effective (i.e., he does not secure kills or summoner spells, essentially wasting time), then he will find that he is further punished by losing his camps. While this condition is more valid for reactive jungling, it becomes a good reason for junglers to recognize gank potential properly and not choose poor ganks. A choice in a poor gank can further punish an inexperienced jungler. 

How do you deal with being counter jungled?

Great! You've just learned all these situations where you can punish the enemy jungler and counter jungle. However, what would happen if you're on the other side? What do you do when you are being counter jungled? If you have ever been counter jungled by a good jungler, it's possibly the most hopeless thing any player can feel. You are under levelled, under farmed, and you can't even walk into your own jungle without dieting. While this is a situational story that should not support general theories of counter jungling, I remember one situation when I was levelling up a smurf account. I was able to effectively counter jungle the enemy jungler so hard, that he was almost eight levels behind everyone else. Eventually, the poor soul just gave up and waited to surrender. The most important part of dealing with counter jungle is to recognize counter jungling and take steps to prevent an confrontation from ever happening or take steps to ensure that the counter jungler is punished effectively and efficiently. Once a counter jungle is successful, the counter jungler knows that it will work every time. Consider it like bullying - letting it happen once without punishment will only let it happen again, and more frequently. That being said, recognizing counter jungling comes with game experience of actually being counter jungled. However, there are some common indicators of counter jungling that anyone can learn. 

What are some indications of counter jungling?

These indications of counter jungling come intrinsically from understanding the previously mentioned conditions - The Strength Disparity Indicator, Pushed Lane Indicator, and Loss of Pressure Indicator. When you are on the receiving end of these indicators, you have to consider the opportunity that the enemy jungler has to punish you, which good players will. Once you recognize the ability to be counter jungled, make sure you take preventive actions and balance out potential punishments with rewards.

For example, if the Loss of Pressure Indicator is relevant when you decide to show bottom lane for a gank when your buff on top lane has spawned, make sure you need to apply pressure in that lane, or secure kills / summoners in that lane. If you choose to lose pressure in top lane by applying pressure bottom lane, be prepared to lose your top jungle buff by a reactive counter jungle. If you can judge that it's not worth ganking bottom lane (i.e., an enemy Ezreal Janna and allied Soraka Graves), then securing your red buff should take precedence over applying pressure in bot lane to preventively handle being counter jungled.

Another example would be applying the Strength Disparity Indicator. If you are playing Amumu and the enemy is a Lee Sin, chances are they're looking to either steal away your blue buff or counter jungle your red buff. This is a very common strategy in low ELO play. One way to prevent being counter jungled this way as Amumu is to simply get your support to ward the blue buff, then start red buff. That way, against both counter jungle methods you could reactively secure a second buff or prevent being invaded upon.  Another application would be to simply not pick weaker jungle champions against strong counter junglers. 

What are some tips to handle being counter jungled? 


Without a doubt, warding is the best way to handle being counter jungled. If you know the enemy jungler is coming you can avoid being counter jungled entirely. However, warding barely comes into play during the early stages outside of arranged play. Try buying your own wards to cover your jungle entrances or your buff after the initial spawns; you can catch the enemy counter-jungling and kill him if it's warded because buffs do a lot of damage early!  Warding the brushes beside the buff is sometimes a better option than warding jungle entrances against champions who have free flashes (i.e., Shaco). Not only does warding warn you of the enemy counter jungler, but it also warns your team so that they can react before the counter jungle starts! Remember, when you die against the enemy counter jungler, the skirmish for your team is almost always unfavourable to continue. 

Different routes 

Used in a previous example, running a different route to be unpredictable is sometimes one of the best ways to prevent early counter jungling. This is why I almost always never recommend a certain route to start clearing the jungle; you don't have to start at any certain buff on any champion if you're going to die with it right after anyways. Being predictable in the jungle makes you vulnerable and extremely susceptible to counter jungling; try running different routes if you suspect being counter jungled. 

Check and Pull Camps 

This is one of the more simple tips. If you suspect that you might be counter jungled, take a couple seconds to walk around the brushes and the area and check for the enemy jungler. It's going to be a lot easier to escape a 1 v 1 duel than an ambush while you are doing a buff. After you have cleared the area, make sure you pull the camps into the brush so you get more vision and warning of an enemy invade. 

Minimize Time 

Again, this is a pretty intrinsic tip. Getting a smiteless pull on your first camp from your teammates so that you spend less time clearing is a method of minimizing time. The less time you spend clearing your jungle, the less time the enemy jungler has to counter jungle you. Another method to minimize time would be to time your buffs and do them as soon as they spawn. The longer you leave a buff up, the greater the chance of being counter jungled.


Communication is one of the best tools against counter jungling. The reason why counter jungling can only be done under specific situations is that your team is generally closer to your camps than the enemy camps. As a result, it puts the enemy jungler out of position when they choose to invade and counter jungle. It's always dangerous to counter jungle and theres always a risk of getting caught and killed. Communication with your team is one of the best preventive tools against counter jungling! Let your team know you are starting a buff by pinging so they pay attention to the mini map and ping furiously when you are being counter jungled so they can react right away! If your team can beat the enemy team to the skirmish, you'll almost always successfully defend against a counter jungle! 


I hope reading this article has helped you understand a little bit more about counter jungling, thus understanding situations on when you can counter jungle or when you should be wary to defend a counter jungle. I always aim to help players with understanding concepts I have learned through experience and hopefully help players make better decisions that can apply to their individual games. Hopefully those of you who have read this article will not wind up like the Amumu in the picture above by making smart decisions and not put yourself in poor situations to begin with.

If you found this article helpful or not, please let me know! Everything I do is non-profit and I find opinions on my articles motivating.


  1. Hello, I'm a eune player and I've been playing for just more than a week. I am only level 6 (nearly 7) :D

    mostly i played with Lux & Fiddlesticks

    I really want to become a jungler but my friends tell me it's impossible to jungle without runes which apparently I should buy at level 20. Here's the thing, I really want to start jungling NOW. I've pretty much already picked my champion (Skarner), and I know how jungling works. I can jungle in custom games fine and easy with a lot of ganking and I perform quite well, only trouble is I'm sure I will struggle when it comes to counter-jungling because I have not done any research on it. So here are my questions:

    When do YOU recommend I start Jungling?
    If I should start jungling later on, what can I do now that will help practice for jungling for when the time comes?
    Is there any game modes I can play that will help my jungling now?

    1. Hey there! :O a EUNE player?!? I'm very excited to hear from someone so far away! I never imagined my content reaching people from all parts of the globe!

      Unfortunately, to answer your question, it's pretty hard to jungle without runes. If you really must jungle at a low level, I recommend picking up as much armor as you can, using defensive masteries whenever permitted, and play champions like Warwick or Udyr who are gods of the jungle.

      I would recommend that players start jungling at level 30. Take your time when you are leveling up to enjoy and get a feel for the game. I always tell people that levels 1-20 is a giant tutorial.

      Play Summoners Rift to practice jungling! The only way to get better at jungling is to actively play it and experience it!

      Good luck out there :) Sorry for the late reply, I have been obsessively playing Solo Queue and haven't had much time to read or work on this blog.