Early Game Mastery - Top 3 Best Starting Jungle Paths
Sat 20th Jun 2020 - 12:26pm
In the current state of the jungle in League of Legends, there are a number of ways a jungler could start the game. In truth, there are three standard jungle paths most commonly used among junglers. Season 10 has brought solidified jungle routes that weren’t prevalent in seasons prior. There are increased opportunities to gank, faster level 3 power spikes, and a sounder logic to early pathing as a jungle champion. This guide is geared more towards champions that can fight early like Lee Sin or Kha’ Zix, rather than “farming junglers” like Shyvana or Olaf, who standardly full-clear their jungle.
The three paths I am highlighting operate in similar ways; however, there are many factors that can pay tribute to which path you pick and how you effectively pull off a gank, but more on that in with their respective paths later. We will separate the three paths between their starting positions of red and blue buff. We will dive into each and formulate the logic that creates the path and why it is viable for early game efficiency.
Minions have spawned! Let’s begin!
Starting Blue Buff
Starting at Blue Buff the standard path progression is as follows:
Blue Buff -> Gromp -> Wolves -> Red Buff -> Gank -> Scuttle
Going from Blue to Gromp to Wolves is highly encouraged and advantageous for early game pathing. Clearing the blue buff quadrant gets you to level 3, allowing you to unlock all your abilities and maximize ganking potential. This path aligns the respawn timers for Gromp and Wolves to both reappear two minutes later, maximizing your second clear through that side of the jungle and creating a flow through your own jungle. Make your way to the Red Buff after clearing the Blue Buff quadrant. Red Buff is vital in early game ganks and fights, allowing you to dish out more damage and apply that hot burn on-hit effect. Besides, what jungler doesn’t like sporting double buff?
Head to the Bottom Lane once you have Red Buff to pull off a gank for your ADC/Support. After a 200 IQ play, proceed to the river to secure scuttle. Assuming that you pulled off that bottom side gank, you now have successfully created lane pressure for your carry and support. You’ve granted them the ability to help you either secure scuttle if the enemy jungler contests you, help you grab an early Dragon if you’re playing a deranged wolf like Warwick, or even contest the enemy jungle on their Blue Buff side. Not only are you helping your team snowball, you’re helping yourself by allowing your team to support you if you choose to be aggressive.
Starting Red Buff
Starting on the Red Buff side, this is essentially the same path as starting Blue Buff by clearing the Red Buff quadrant However, there are slightly different ganking options due to the fact that you have the powerful Red Buff. We will call these different ganking options “variants”.
Variant 1: Standard
The standard path progression from Red Buff is similar to the Blue Buff progression:
Red -> Krugs -> Raptors -> Blue Buff -> Gank -> Scuttle
You will clear the Red Buff quadrant (similar to Blue Buff standard progression) and find yourself top side level 3 after grabbing Blue Buff. Likewise, clearing the Red Buff quadrant will allow your krugs and raptors to respawn at the same time, allowing you to clear both again two minutes later. After clearing Blue Buff, head Top Lane to try and get your Top laner an early lead with a saucy gank. Secure the scuttle crab afterward and then make your way middle or invade the enemy red side jungle.
Variant 2: Gank Mid Lane
The power of an early Red Buff creates an opportunity where it may seem absent. This variant path of starting Red Buff is as follows:
Red Buff -> Krugs -> Raptors -> Look Mid for Gank -> Continue Top (Gank?) -> Blue Buff -> Scuttle
Clearing the Red Buff quadrant will ensure you’re level 3 gank ready and you can look Mid Lane for a potential early gank. Path through the enemy red side jungle next, behind the “Nash” Pit to hopefully avoid wards in the river to gank Top Lane if possible. If your friendly top laner is a dense bully and has shoved the lane to the tower without an option to dive, head to your Blue Buff to gain double buffs, securing Scuttle afterward. This variant of the path gives you the chance to quickly gank two lanes, potentially starting a snowball for 50-75% of your team!
Variant 3: Invade
In the example below, we are starting at Red Buff. The invade pathing progression is:
Red Buff -> Krugs -> Raptors -> Gank Nearest Side Lane -> Invade Enemy Blue Jungle
This variant of Red Buff pathing is viable when you gain early knowledge that the enemy jungler is starting on the opposite side of the map, in this case they are starting at their Red Buff (indicated by the green circle). Keep in mind that this variant of pathing can also be executed starting at Blue Buff. Simply clear the blue side quadrant, gank top lane, and invade the enemy Red Buff. The idea here is that you are effectively splitting the map down the mid lane, so you can gather double buffs and clear the entirety of two quadrants of the jungle to obtain maximum initial farm.
If you are fortunate enough to gain some early knowledge and know that the enemy jungler is starting on the opposite side of the map as you, you have the option to pull off this variant of Red Buff pathing. By starting red and clearing this quadrant, you will be level 3 and have the insatiable power of Red Buff. Immediately go bottom for a gank. Pulling this gank off allows your bot lane to have pressure and offer support for you to invade the enemy Blue Buff quadrant to counter the enemy jungler. Hopefully picking the enemy jungler off and putting them behind early.
Now if you’re reading this and asking, how am I supposed to gain knowledge of where the enemy jungler is? Well, there are a couple options:
1) Right off of spawn, head to the enemy Red Buff to ward. There is little to no vision in the early game so you may want to ask your top lane to come with you so you have less of a chance to give an early first blood.
2) Watch the side lanes. While you’re getting a leash, notice which enemy side lane comes to lane first. If top shows first, then the enemy bot lane is leashing and therefore the enemy jungler is starting blue. If the enemy bottom lane shows first, then the enemy jungle is starting red and you have the green light to execute this variation of Red Buff pathing.
Fast Lvl 3
This jungle path is the fastest way to get to level 3 to execute a gank and can be started at either Red Buff or Blue Buff. Your priority is to gank the opposite side of where you started depending on the match-ups or ganking viability.
At the beginning of the game, determine which potential counters you have on your team, Top or Bottom. If Top lane is a brainless tank farm-fest where hours are spent last-hitting minions and opportunity doesn’t look presentable, while Bottom lane is a Lucian / Braum vs. a Miss Fortune / Yuumi which offers a measurable amount of CC and kill potential, start Blue Buff and make your way bot side:
Blue Buff -> Gromp -> Red Buff -> Gank Bot
Take Blue Buff, Gromp, and then Red Buff to gank the bottom lane as fast as possible. Keep in mind that Gromp is absolutely mandatory. If you don’t take Gromp you will not hit level 3 after taking Red Buff, as Gromp gives more experience than wolves do. After pulling off a gank bot side, secure scuttle and make your way mid or invade the enemy blue side to potentially catch the enemy jungle off guard.
On the flip side, if top is viable to gank early and bottom is not, follow this path:
Red Buff -> Gromp -> Blue Buff -> Gank Top
Starting Red Buff is essentially the same. It’s about getting level three as fast as possible and making it to the opposite of the map for a gank. I recommend going for Gromp instead of Krugs next to red in most situations because it is actually the faster path to gank Top Lane. Gromp is absolutely essential to hit level three, so don’t forget to slay that beauty of a toad after securing Blue Buff. Let loose a solid early gank top lane, secure Scuttle afterwards, and make your way mid or even sneak into the enemy red side jungle to counter the enemy jungler.
While taking Krugs is an option after Red Buff and will allow you to hit level three after blue, it is a situational option that is determined by which champion you are playing. If you are playing a champion that has potent area of effect (AoE) damage, like Karthus, you could take Krugs second as they wouldn’t be much of an issue. Gromp is easier to orb-walk, or move while auto-attacking, to mitigate early damage as said damage is only coming from one source with Gromp, ensuring a gank with maximum health.
These three pathing options and their variants for early jungling are the top tier meta pathing options for junglers at any ELO. Always engage map awareness to gain knowledge of the early game and decide on your pathing strategy. Be proactive in your decision making to pull off early ganks and give your teammates a chance to snowball. These pathing options are simple yet very effective to winning games and being on the positive side of the saying “Jungle Difference.”
Good luck and have fun!