Completing the Perfect Jungle Path in League of Legends

Published: September 26, 2021 Updated: October 19, 2021
Jungle Path in League of Legends

The jungle position is probably the most controversial in League of Legends. There are changes to the jungle that completely alter the game for junglers each year. As such, it’s challenging to get a grasp on the ideal jungle path for each type of champion. The constant changes to the position occur because of how impactful the position is. Jungle has been, and will likely always be, the most impactful position on the Rift, and thus, the most important to master. Due to its challenges, no wonder it is the least preferred position in low ELO solo queue now.

In this jungle pathing guide, you will learn the essential paths most adaptable to the start of every game and learn how to think like an effective jungler. It’s critical to cover the primary routes available to junglers. Still, it’s also important to understand that games will play out differently each time, and the best junglers will be able to think on their feet and adapt their jungle pathing.

Jungling can be compared to chess, where there are various standard openings, but once the game has started, a single change from the standard procedure likely means you’ll need to adapt to stay an extra step ahead of your opponent if you want to win.

League Jungle Pathing Essentials

Why Should I Care about Jungle Paths?

Jungle pathing is all about optimization and creating a game plan for success. Every game in League of Legends is different, but this variation is especially true in the jungle role. The jungle is a high-impact role and can easily make or break the game with one false move. That’s why it’s vital to plan strategically while also having the ability to understand the different options available to you.

Jungling should never be a copy-paste playstyle and should be very dynamic. As such, the pathing junglers choose must be as well. The jungler needs to be the most proactive member of the team. Furthermore, they must have an exceptional ability to path towards a future play, rather than reacting to where one is. In the jungle, every second counts, so optimizing the pathing to maximize income and generate advantages is crucial to winning the game.

Picking Jungle Path to Either Red or Blue Buffs

Basics of Jungle Pathing in LoL

Every champion in League of Legends (aside from few exceptions) has three standard abilities, and one ultimate ability unlocked at level 6. To level up and unlock these abilities to grow more powerful, players need to gain experience from killing the minions in lanes, or neutral monsters in the jungle. Because there are few jungle camps with various respawn timers, creating a path to gain experience efficiently is very important. In general, fundamental pathing choices can be boiled down to three crucial questions that junglers need to answer:

Where do I need to be?

What time do I need to be there?

How strong do I need to be when I get there?

Answering these questions is a significant first step to thinking for yourself as a jungler and piecing together what type of path you can take to get there. Moreover, answering these questions is generally more difficult as the game progresses. Still, the better you become at thinking about these questions and experimenting with your solutions, the easier it will be to master the fundamental jungle pathing theories.

Battle in the Jungle with Warwick and J4 being Feared

Example: Jungle Pathing for a First Gank

A quick example of this pattern of questioning is to think of a first gank timing. If Champion ‘X’ is jungling and wishes to gank a volatile top lane matchup to sway it in their favor, they will need to act fast and be the first jungler to impact the matchup.

Where do I need to be?” has already been answered. It’s the lane of the volatile matchup.

Next, “What time do I need to be there?”, well, that has somewhat been answered as well. We know that volatile matchups are vital lanes to impact, and as mentioned, we want to influence the matchup before the opposing jungler. Now, without moving towards advanced pathing theories, we don’t need to consider what time the enemy will be there, but just be satisfied with knowing we want to be there first. So, the best way to do that is to be there as soon as possible.

Finally, “How strong do I need to be when I get there?” is crucial. A rule of thumb is that junglers want to be level 3 at least, so they have access to all their non-ultimate abilities to maximize the chances of a successful gank (with a few exceptions). Many junglers have both CC and damage-dealing skills. Having all of your abilities available to you will maximize the effectiveness of your gank.

With that knowledge and the previous questions’ answers, we should know that we must get to level three as fast as possible and path in a direction towards the lane of interest. Ideally, we’d kill our last jungle monster to reach level three near that lane.

Bot Lane Gank after Successful Trip Through Jungle

So, the path you should take is based on which lane you are ganking, and what side of the map you are starting on. In this example, it’s top lane. We’ll discuss the route for both sides of the map.

Level 3 Gank on Top Lane from Blue Side

On the blue side, the jungler should start on the bottom side of the map with red buff. Then, the jungler should move to the top side of the map, kill their Gromp, and finish with blue buff. Completing these three camps will let you reach your level 3 target and leave you only a few seconds away from the lane of interest.

Level 3 Gank on Top Lane from Red Side

On Red side, you should start on the bottom side of the map with blue buff and Gromp. Then, move up to red buff to hit your level 3 target and be positioned well to gank your Top lane.

Advanced Jungle Path Theory in LoL

Advanced jungle pathing theory is to basic pathing theory as three-dimensional chess is to checkers. Although basic jungle pathing is more than enough to make a good jungler, advanced pathing makes a revolutionary jungler.

It may seem daunting to discuss but reviewing the concepts of more advanced jungle paths are important for assessing how the game should be played dynamically when in the jungling position. Advanced pathing theories work on the same questions as featured in the basic pathing theories, but move a few steps further and add a few elements to the equation that aren’t precisely surface level. At a high level, the added questions advanced junglers will ask themselves are:

Where does the enemy jungler need to be?

What time does the enemy jungler need to be there?

How strong will the enemy jungler need to be when they get there?

While it complicates things significantly to consider these questions, it will make the game much easier to control when they are considered. To play at a high level, you must consider them. This is an essential part of jungling because anticipating what the enemy will be doing will keep you one step ahead of them.

It is tough to keep track of both junglers ideal answers to these questions, adding to the complexity of the role, but unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Why? Because at the level of play where one jungler is asking these questions, so is the other jungler. This level of complexity is where the three-dimensional chess example comes into play because the way to stay ahead of the other jungler is not just about the game’s tactics but about the game’s meta.

It’s about psychology. Revolutionary junglers understand the most mathematically correct answers to these questions and know that their opponent will as well. As such, these junglers will take minor inconveniences to remain unpredictable. This caliber of gameplay is essentially reverse psychology and a matter of getting a read on your opponent. Unfortunately, these come with hundreds, if not thousands of hours of gameplay and review to grasp, but a real difference-maker in the jungling role.

Talon Waiting in the Jungle to Gank Unsupecting Champions Pathing through the Jungle

Advanced junglers will come to the same conclusion after the first three questions using the same example of the volatile top lane matchup used. However, considering both junglers’ routes to get there, advanced junglers can determine what time they will be ready to gank that volatile matchup. This variable is dependent on jungle clear speed and initial leashing. Generally, leashing is consistent, so it’s not that impactful, but clear rate is critical.

Junglers with a lot of area-of-effect abilities usually clear camps much faster than those that do not. Therefore, the advanced jungler will know which jungler is likely to get to the lane a few seconds faster.

The final question is “How strong will the enemy jungler need to be when they get there?,” and it can be tricky to answer. The answer to this question in these scenarios where both junglers want to influence a specific matchup is dependent on 2-vs-2 strength. When looking at a 2-vs-2 fight between the top laners and junglers, highly skilled junglers should be able to identify which pair will come out on top.

With each side’s relative power spikes in mind, advanced junglers will know how strong they need to be upon arrival and when they need to approach the lane. Unfortunately, there is far too much variability to provide detailed analyses beyond this point. We can’t encompass all possibilities, but we hope we’ve at least painted a picture of the ‘decision-making tree’ that competent junglers need to progress through. They will need to accomplish this within the first few minutes to sway the game in their favor.

Versatile and Impactful Standard Jungle Routes

Thus far, we have established basic and advanced jungle pathing concepts to set up your first gank. It’s also essential to cover broader, game-changing opportunities that come before reaching level 6.

We will discuss three crucial jungle paths ideal for most games because of their flexibility and efficiency. With each route discussed, the champions that suit the route will be outlined; the options for the path will be mentioned; and the reasoning for running it will be explained. Let’s start with the most basic and passive jungle pathing option first.

6-Camp Clear Jungle Path

The 6-camp clear is the jungle path that is by far the most resorted to by players. It is the definition of a cookie-cutter strategy because it works! The main problem with this strategy is that it leaves players who follow it passive and predictable. Not only that but having the same strategy regardless of the other variables of the equation doesn’t promote players to think for themselves and proactively manage their own game.

Yet, for some jungling champions, it is a legitimate strategy prioritizing what could be a contested Scuttle Crab. Few jungle champs can micro-manage the spawns to clear all six camps before Scuttle Crab even spawns. Most jungling champions cannot accomplish this, so by following this strategy, they have no priority over the Scuttle Crab and can easily be ‘double-scuttled’ by the opposing jungler.

Now, the champions that can successfully clear the six camps before Scuttle Crab spawns will benefit from being level 4 when it does. Although the difference between level 4 and level 3 is not as significant as level 3 and level 2, the difference in stats because of the level up can significantly sway a skirmish in your favor. Champions that can accomplish this around the time Scuttle Crab spawns include Fiddlesticks, Amumu, Skarner, and Rengar.

Example: Fiddlesticks and Rengar Jungle Paths

Although Fiddlesticks and Rengar are more difficult to 6-camp clear in time, it is ideal to have this strategy when you may be approaching the same Scuttle Crab as the opposing jungler. For Fiddlesticks, the 6-camp clear involves tethering the wolves and blue buff, and then moving to tether the blue buff with Gromp. Then moving to the red side of the jungle to tether the raptors with the red buff, and then the red buff with the Krugs. By doing so, Fiddlesticks should clear the six camps right around the time the Scuttle Crab spawns.

Fid Jungle Champion

For Fiddlesticks specifically, this route is the best because Fiddlesticks does not need to upgrade his Terrify skill until level 4. Since Terrify is very important when fighting with enemies, the difference between levels 3 and 4 is substantial. At level 3, Fiddlesticks doesn’t hope to fight with enemies unless his laners have a lot of priority over their lanes.

With Rengar, his 6-camp clear involves using his passive and Savagery on the Explosive Plant to get two stacks of his passive at 1:23 seconds into the game. Then Rengar clears red buff and uses a ward to jump to Krugs. From there, Rengar clears raptors, tethers wolves with blue buff, and then tethers blue buff with Gromp, similarly to Fiddlesticks.

Concerning Amumu and Skarner, these champions just have extremely good area-of-effect clear to walk to each camp simply. They do not require specific positional tethering.

Check out the following video to observe an ideal 6-camp jungle clear using Rengar. Please note that the pathing shown is without a leash. Having your allies provide a leash is often recommended to help clear the camps quickly.

What to Do after Clearing All 6 Jungle Camps

The first decision point comes after the Scuttle Crab is taken. This is where the difference in skill can be seen in what junglers decide to do next. Three options work based on the same questions mentioned previously.

This position is where junglers decide where they want to influence the map first. The most likely option is to gank one of the lanes next to the river you killed the Scuttle Crab in. Jungle players should pay attention to each lane’s dynamics and develop priority while clearing the six camps to settle on which lane to gank. Knowing that you have nearby priority is critical to safely securing the Scuttle Crab, so if your team has mid-lane priority, you should look to see if you can use that to your advantage and gank them.

The success of the gank depends on the management of the wave, how well your laner can set up for/follow-up on ganks, and how well the enemy laner can escape from ganks. If the wave is in a good position and the gank looks like it will be successful, go for it. The added benefit of ganking mid-lane after securing the Scuttle Crab, is that it also gives you a direct path towards the other side of the map, which has the other Scuttle Crab.

With the priority gained from the gank in mid, you can quickly secure the second Scuttle Crab if the enemy has not already picked it up. After successfully ganking mid-lane, the other option is to help shove the wave in to deny farm from the enemy mid or force their Teleport.

Once that is complete, junglers are left to re-evaluate the state of the game. Is there another lane that you can gank, or should you recall and clear the respawning camps to hit level 6? Although this depends on the game, either answer could be correct. However, one of the most important things to remember is that gold is useless when unspent.

Do not overstay your welcome by trying to do everything before you recall for the first time. At this stage in the game, jungling may have tempo advantages that will be lost if you overstay and do not continue efficiently pathing. Most likely, it is a good idea to recall if there is not an easy ganking opportunity in the side lane you pathed towards. After your trip to the fountain, take the same path as the start of the game (skipping the buffs that haven’t respawned), and you will reach level 6.

6-Camp Clear Jungle Path Conclusions

This path is a ‘cookie-cutter’ strategy and doesn’t leave much opportunity for variation before the first Scuttle Crab. The only distinguishable change is in the choice of ganking target after the jungle has been cleared.

For example, in a game where one team has better priority of the lanes, their jungler can path the most convenient way and move straight to the closest Scuttle Crab as they will surely win a fight for it because of their team’s priority. However, the opposing jungler will need to be able to notice that difference ahead of time and plan accordingly. This can mean starting the 6-camp clear from the other side of the map of the opposing jungler to take the Scuttle Crab that the enemy doesn’t want to take first.

The problem with this plan is that it requires the jungler to know where the opposing jungler will start. It is only simple to determine for some champions. Most will require vision to be sure. The other, more consistent option is to path as usual. However, instead of heading towards the Scuttle Crab after the sixth camp, recall and head to the opposing side Scuttle Crab.

Ivern with Transparent Background

Recalling will allow you to purchase better items before going back onto the map to clear a second time and reach level six. It is also only slightly slower than walking directly from the sixth camp to the opposing Scuttle Crab without the recall. Additionally, this option gives you added strength when attempting your first gank, and if you do end up meeting the opposing jungler, you’ll have an item advantage.

5-Camp Clear Jungle Pathing Guide

The 5-camp clear provides the jungler with many opportunities to modify the clear and adapt to each game. These paths ideally involve skipping the Krugs camp. Instead, they focus on clearing the remaining five camps. It does not matter whether you start on the bottom side or top side of the map to execute this jungle path.

The point of this jungle route is to efficiently clear the camps you can quickly clear and use the downtime between then and the Scuttle Crab spawning to gank a lane that you have pathed towards, or even invade the enemy jungle. This is beneficial for the junglers that can’t quite full clear the jungle before Scuttle Crab spawns and have potent ganks before level 6.

Furthermore, this pathing allows junglers to impact a lane while the enemy jungler is potentially full clearing and unable to contest the gank. They can then translate that lane’s priority into an uncontested Scuttle Crab. The other option is to get at least the priority from that gank to help contest and secure the Scuttle Crab.

Either way, if you know that you can get to the Scuttle Crab and in neutral lane states have priority over the enemy jungler on the Scuttle Crab, then you know you don’t need to do anything fancy or different to get ahead of the enemy. Some examples of junglers that excel with this type of jungle pathing are Jarvan IV, Kha’Zix, Xin Zhao, and Nocturne.

Before delving into how these champions can differ in pathing optimization, it’s important to note that the answers from the basic pathing theory will differ depending on the champion chosen.

Example: Jarvan IV’s 5-Camp Jungle Path Clear

Returning to those questions in the context of Jarvan IV trying to impact the same volatile top lane matchup would find answers that suggest he can gank at level 2, if possible. If not, then he should look to gank at level 3.

The reasoning behind Jarvan IV preferring a gank at level 2 is because his gank potency stems from the two abilities he usually upgrades first (Demacian Standard and Dragon Strike). This combo allows him to get a knock-up and gap-close onto the enemy. Although his Golden Aegis offers a slow, it is not required for a gank to be successful, especially because red buff also has a slow.

J4 Attacking with Fire Behind Him

So, if ideally, Jarvan IV should gank the lane at level 2, what path should he take? If he starts on the blue side, that either requires him to gank after blue buff and Gromp or take red and raptors and move all the way to the top lane to gank. Neither is ideal because it wastes time or results in a gank without red buff’s slow.

When considering the more advanced pathing questions in this situation, starting blue buff into Gromp and then top lane gank could easily result in the enemy jungler invading and taking your red buff and ending up in a split map situation. Although this could be ideal considering the top lane is the volatile matchup that you want to push in your favor, it could also fail if the enemy routes in a way that ‘three-buffs’ you.

So, if you’re looking to path in this manner, you’ll need to get vision of where the enemy jungler is starting to make sure if a split-map situation is ideal. The difference in this pathing on the red side, is that you can begin red into Krugs and then gank top without having an unnatural path that wouldn’t feel optimized. So, as you can piece together, this would clearly favor the champion that can level 2 gank that starts on red side. But, like all strategies, there are counter-strategies available if you think about the options available to you.

Either way, in this example, after the level 2 gank as Jarvan IV, he should look to return to clear his wolves, raptors, red buff, and then bottom scuttle, or take the enemy Krugs, red buff, raptors, and then Scuttle Crab. The fun part as a jungler is ganking that volatile top lane a second time after securing that side’s Scuttle Crab. This will likely result in a guaranteed win in the lane. It’ll also generate so much priority on that side of the map that you can use it to your advantage as the game progresses.

Note: This pathing is without a leash.

5-Camp Jungle Path Examples for Other Champions

Like Jarvan IV, Xin Zhao also has a potent level 2 gank. Although Xin Zhao has a better gank at level 3, Xin Zhao is more than capable of adding this slight modification if it means he can take over a volatile lane matchup for his teammate. The pathing plan for him would be executed in the same way as Jarvan IV’s example.

The other junglers that usually do a 5-camp clear from the list are Nocturne and Kha’Zix. While Xin Zhao and Jarvan IV can gank sooner at level 2, Nocturne and Kha’Zix cannot. For these two junglers, their potency in ganks comes once they have access to their three non-ultimate abilities. At level 3, Nocturne usually upgrades his Unspeakable Horror, his form of crowd-control that is typically necessary to gank successfully.

Kha’Zix, on the other hand, upgrades his Leap at level 3. Without Leap, Kha’Zix cannot gap-close onto the target where he can deal damage, and since he has no form of crowd-control, the gap-close is a must for a successful gank.

Khazix attacking rengar in the jungle and catching him by surprise

So, in champions like Nocturne and Kha’Zix, the ideal jungle path for the volatile top lane involves a fast level 3 that paths towards the top lane. On the blue side, this consists of starting at red buff, then doing Gromp, and then blue buff. On red side, the path is blue buff, Gromp, and then red buff.

This jungling path is especially effective for Kha’Zix. It efficiently uses his isolation damage to clear faster and give him a few valuable seconds to get to the lane faster. After successfully ganking their first lane, both junglers should look to finish their topside of the map, clear the bottom side and then get the bottom side Scuttle Crab if you have priority (skipping Krugs on both red side and blue side).

Otherwise, they can recall, clear from bottom side back to top side (skipping Krugs) and either re-gank top lane or use the previously generated top lane priority to secure the topside Scuttle Crab. Ultimately the decision-making between these options is about whether you will be able to win the bottom side Scuttle Crab or not (considering the priority you created was on the other side of the map).

4-Camp Jungle Clear Jungle Path

The 4-camp clear is by far the most adaptable of the jungle paths and leaves plenty of opportunity and time to do several things before Scuttle Crab spawns that you would typically not be able to do. This type of pathing is very tricky and best left for junglers who are very adept and proactive in their role.

Ultimately, this route is for players who know jungle matchups well and want to invade the enemy jungle to counter jungle. As a result, this is more for players who can answer the meta-questions about where the enemy jungler is and will be. Yet, it can be simplified with a few examples to help you understand how to apply it to your next game.

Essentially, the jungle pathing is to clear your blue side camps before invading their red buff. This is especially effective against weaker early game champions who cannot defend their jungle well without priority in nearby lanes. In these situations, it is incredibly effective and can almost win the game by the third minute.

This tactic also works wonders against enemy junglers who plan on full or 6-camp clearing before Scuttle Crab spawns. It completely messes with their pathing, shutting them down early in the game and creates a considerable jungle advantage. Some champions that this strategy works well on include Trundle, Warwick, Ivern, and Rek’Sai.

Reksai burrowing through wall

Example: Trundle and Rek’Sai Jungle Pathing

We will use Trundle and Rek’Sai as an example first. These champions are very strong when they are level three and should easily contest enemy camps with other junglers. With these two champions specifically, their advantages are so enormous that at this point in the game that they likely can even pull off this strategy without neighboring lane priority because they can easily get in and get out.

It’s important to proactively counter jungle. Against uninterrupted champions that 6-camp clear, you will be at a lane disadvantage by the time Scuttle Crab spawns. As always, the jungler wants to be as proactive as possible at all stages of the game. By minimizing the enemy jungler’s impact on the game and maximizing yours, you will easily make the difference needed in the game pull out the win.

Example: Ivern and Warwick Pathing in the Jungle

For Ivern and Warwick, the plan is the same; however, the reasoning is slightly different. Starting with Ivern, he is very special because of the way he clears jungle camps. Using his passive, Friend of the Forest, he channels a grove around the jungle camp to later clear the camp without having to kill it.

Alternatively, he can use Smite after the initial channel to not have to return to the camp to clear it later. With the 4-camp clear jungle pathing of blue side into the enemy jungle, and with access to his passive, Ivern can easily steal away red buff from the enemy jungler when they did not start on that side of the map.

Ivern charming jungle camp while on complex route through jungle

Further using the volatile top lane matchup example, Ivern can start the grove on his blue side camps, move to the enemy red buff, channel the grove, and then Smite it to secure it around two minutes into the game. At this point, he is level 2 with just the red buff and can do one of two things. He can either head back to his top side camps or immediately gank with level 2 and red buff.

Both are decent options because Ivern doesn’t need level 3 for a good gank. However, he will only be about half-health. This could mean that a misplay when ganking could result in the enemy getting a double kill, red buff, and you losing your tempo over the enemy jungler as they can invade your bottom side camps. So, instead, it’s best to return to the top side camps and clear them to hit level 3 and return to near full health, and then gank top with double buffs.

With Warwick, on the other hand, the reason for choosing the 4-camp clear is that it suits his clearing better because he is bad at taking raptors and Krugs. By taking blue side and red buff, or blue side and invading, Warwick can avoid clearing the camps that he struggles with and establish his presence on the map and develop priority over the Scuttle Crab by ganking or invading.

Warwick is a very potent jungler for invading because of his sustain, movement speed, and high damage, so the only concern for his invading is the priority of nearby lanes. In situations where Warwick does not have priority to allow for him to invade, he should look to use his spare time to create the priority he needs to overwhelm his opposing jungler. This is likely going to be through a gank mid, but this could also be through the side lane.

Warwick jungle champion in LoL

If you have a mid laner that can set up or follow up on the gank, then mid will always be better as they can always use priority to quickly help you out when you invade. If not, then the side lane also works, but invading can still be quite tricky.

Overall, in advanced jungling theories, it is always crucial to your success to identify what the enemy jungler’s pathing is and make sure that you can capitalize on the knowledge you have about what they want to do before Scuttle Crab spawns.

Regardless of the champion that is 4-camp clearing, using this template, once Scuttle Crab is secured, you can gank mid and path through to ‘double-scuttle’ your opposing jungler if you have mid-lane priority. This is a great setup for you to then recall or return gank on flashless enemies again and then recall after. After recalling, the remaining camps are set up in a way that you can easily retrace your initial steps and path towards your targeted lane and continue to snowball the advantage you already generated. The timing on this route can easily result in a large wave that is being shoved in with your teammate’s priority and the perfect time to set up a dive and ruin their lane. Just always be sure to keep track of the enemy jungler and their jungle pathing!

Note: This pathing is without a leash.

Final Thoughts on Jungle Paths in League of Legends

Whether you’re looking to do a 6-camp, 5-camp, or 4-camp clear depends on the jungler you are playing and the matchup you are playing into. Always establish the dynamic of the matchup in Champion Select once you identify it and take the time to decide your initial plan of action to generate leads for your team.

Remember always to minimize the opposing junglers strengths and play into your own by following the basic pathing theory questions and, eventually, the advanced pathing theory questions when you can. The more information you have about the matchup and their starting position, the easier the game will be to predict, and therefore proactively manage, and ultimately win!

Images Courtesy of Riot Games.

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