Benefits of Having a Jungler
The League of Legends jungle is a often ignored until mid-game, but this doesn’t have to be the case, and can often be detrimental. Having a jungler - a champion who starts and stays in the jungle - is a deceptively good choice for any team composition. The most important benefit that this provides is increasing the overall experience your team receives. Instead of one solo hero, you have two, and if the jungler is competent, they will keep up with your 2v2 lane. This results in your team being more powerful, level-wise, than a team without a jungler. On top of this, your jungler controls the neutral buffs so that they can’t be stolen and can provide support to lanes in trouble, possibly netting your team early kills. It increases your map awareness and - if your jungler is capable of defeating the Dragon early on - can result in your whole team getting an XP and gold boost.
Some champions excel at 1v2 roles, like Mordekaiser, so even if the enemy team doesn’t have a junger, this can be a good idea.While it is important to be sure that both your jungler and your second solo champion are capable of filling their roles, if you have players that are capable of doing so, it is an excellent tactical choice.
The Best League of Legends Jungle Champions: Warwick
Warwick is arguably the ultimate jungle champion. Not only can he defeat the Golem and the Lizard Elder at level 1 with ease, he is a poor choice for a lane and has excellent tools for ganking and surprising unsuspecting heroes. This means that not only will your team be more powerful overall, but that you can expect support and assists or kills from a competent and active Warwick.
As Warwick, all you need to start jungling is one of the components of Madred’s Razors: a Long Sword or Cloth Armor. If you elect to start with Cloth Armor, then you can afford up to five health potions (a good idea if you’re not sure your runes are up to snuff) or two health potions and a ward (a very good idea if you are at a high level of play. Enemy teams will often try to jump the enemy jungler at the start). Warwick does not need Smite to jungle, but it is not a good idea to do without it unless you are very confident in your abilities. Choose Hungering Strike to start, then Hunter’s Call and alternate between the two. Warwick can attempt the Dragon as early as level four, but this is not recommended unless you are very experienced and have chosen your runes and masteries specifically for this. With Madred’s Razors, the Dragon is easily defeatable at level five.
The Best League of Legends Jungle Champions: Udyr
Udyr is another popular choice, and though not as powerful as Warwick or quite as fast in the jungle, he is a good choice because he is one of the safest choices due to his Turtle Stance shield and excellent lifesteal. Udyr will be able to jungle without fear of the opposing jungler or individual champions hoping to net an early kill. Udyr, unlike Warwick, can serve as your team’s tank or off-tank even when starting in the jungle, making him a different but very powerful tactical choice.
Udyr’s start is similar to Warwick’s, but it will be much more difficult to succeed with a Long Sword, so choose the Cloth Armor and health potions or a ward. Smite and Ghost are almost necessary for jungle Udyr. Choose Turtle Stance to start with, then alternate with Phoenix Stance for damage and AoE. Udyr can attempt the Dragon at level five with Madred’s Razors and smite, and should be able to defeat it easily with Golem Buff (this may be difficult otherwise)
The Best League of Legends Jungle Champions: Nunu
Nunu was one of the earliest jungle heroes, and is still an excellent choice (especially for beginners). Consume makes killing neutral creeps trivial after a couple levels and Blood Boil means that Nunu can travel between lanes easily if his team needs assistance.
Nunu is very flexible with what he starts with, but it generally a good idea to start with one of the components of a Catalyst, either a Sapphire Crystal or a Ruby Crystal, if you have enough mana regen. Nunu does need Smite, but your other Summoner Spell is up to you. Start with Consume, then either Blood Boil or Ice Blast (either is fine), then another level of Consume. After this, get whichever skill you didn’t get at two, then focus on Ice Blast. When Nunu is able to take the Dragon is dependent on runes, masteries and your items, but be wary of attempting it solo before seven.
The Best League of Legends Jungle Champions: Fiddlesticks
Fiddlesticks is a very good choice for a jungler, and one of the few casters capable of doing it safely and successfully. His ultimate makes him very dangerous when he does choose to leave the jungle, since the enemy team will likely not be aware of his presence or his level until after he’s struck.
Starting with either a Sapphire Crystal or Ruby Crystal is a good choice, but Fiddlesticks can work well with a Doran’s Ring or an Elixir of Brilliance and potions - his drain is simply that good. Get Drain every level you can, but your other skill choices are mostly preference. Fiddlesticks can defeat the Dragon at level five with the right items and runes, but this is dangerous if you didn’t take smite.
Other Jungler Heroes and Final Thoughts
This is just a sampling of the easiest champions that can jungle. Shaco, Amumu, Shen, Master Yi, Tryndamere, Olaf, Akali and several other heroes can jungle, but may be harder for beginners and summoners without the proper rune page. Also, keep in mind that this guide assumes you are choosing Smite and starting at the Golem, but this is not always the case. Some junglers choose not to start at Golem since ganking is so common, or choose to start with the wraiths or small golems and work their way toward the neutral buff holders, especially if they didn’t choose Smite (this is easier on some champions than others, Olaf, Warwick and Fiddlesticks specifically). A jungler also needs to be aware of the other team, especially if one of them has Clairvoyance, and your team will need to be aware of both your jungler and theirs, if they have one. While an advanced strategy to be sure, jungling is a good way to boost your team’s power and propel you to the next level.