Probably one of the biggest questions in all of League of Legends: What do junglers do when all the lanes are losing?
This is actually a scenario I’ve come across more often than not, especially when I’m jungling (seems to always happen, right?). It’s a situation where all hope is lost, the flame wars begin, and trolls come out of hiding. Obviously, if you have the drive and desire to win, you at least want to know the best possible move to make. Perhaps you can even put some morale back into your team. I’m going to list down all your options and what doing them can potentially do for your team.
Analyze the team compositions
If your lanes give up a few early kills, they are behind, fact of life. Is all hope lost? Not really, it’s still possible to rebound. But as jungler, the first thing you have to do is determine what the bigger picture is in-terms of your team composition.
Perhaps your bottom lane is Vayne and Sona while they have Graves and Taric? That means your duo scales better into the late game than theirs, but they have an early lead. Perhaps your middle lane is the CC-orientated Orrianna but they have the mage-assassin, Kassadin? You have more team fight potential while they have more roam potential.
If you know your champions, you can easily figure out where your team’s “zones” are. Perhaps your team has a ton of crowd-control, which means forcing a team fight would actually be somewhat advantageous. If you have a Cassiopeia or Karthus mid, it might be possible to rush objectives like dragon or even Baron. If you can determine the composition of their team vs. yours, you can use your jungling tactics to change the flow of the game, and hopefully turn it in your favor.
Here's a nifty website that shows you all sorts of counters and synergies on all champions.
Fairly simple mechanic: go and gank. But since your behind, is ganking worth it? This is where you have to think rather mechanically. Always know these thing though:
The first item listed is a mechanic that not a lot of junglers put to an advantage. Simply showing up alleviates pressure and helps your lane farm just a bit more. If you show-up enough, the enemy might play a lot more passive. Of course, this has negative effects too. Simply showing-up too much can cause the opposing jungler to not only counter-jungle you, putting you more behind, but also gank another lane, since they know FOR SURE, you’re somewhere else.
If you do show-up and they don’t move back, it’s either not warded or they’re pulling some sort of mind-games shenanigans. At this point, you should try and move in and gamble to bring your lane back into the game. More often than not, if they’re extended, and the fight is even on health, they will burn a summoner spell; which you can just come back to later to secure the kill.
When and where to gank?
Alright, so you’ve analyzed the bigger picture and you want to gank, but where should you go first? That all depends on the flow of the game as well as your lanes and their jungle composition. If you have a lane where even just one kill in your favor could tip the scale, like perhaps one with a snowball-champion like Riven or Katarina, you should prioritize those. That doesn’t mean camp, but it means that lane has the potential for the highest amount of reward and when you’re ENTIRE team is behind, you have to resort to calculated gambling. Just one successful gank in these lanes could stabilize your teammate which means you can move on to the rest of your team, and perhaps force their jungler to change his tactics.
Also know team synergy. If you and your lane are damage dealers, chances are you have no crowd-control which means the enemy will walk away. Try and gank a lane so that the situation is in your favor in terms of the "complete package." Perhaps you're Sejuani, who packs a ton of crowd-control? Find a lane with teammates that naturally do a ton of damage or perhaps have a lock-down as well. Some examples of good gank synergies no matter how fed the enemy is include:
When ganking, you also have to consider the potential for a counter gank. So determine the WHAT IF. Let's say their jungle is Shen while the lane opponents is Irelia. A jungle gank from a Shyvanna onto a Fiora lane can dish out a ton of damage. Assuming Irelia is in some sort of lead, there’s a chance she has come back with more damage or survivability. So, if you were to fight a 2v2, would Fiora’s natural damage be enough to take her down a long side your own natural damage? How about with Shen ultimate? He impacts the game in the form of a taunt and shield should he ulti-in. If you can trigger the ulti, you’ve removed global presence for the next 3 or so minutes but you'll be in a 2v2 for the next 30 seconds. Would you die? Would you have to trade summoner spells? IF Shen does not bother to come in at all, would Irelia be a free kill?
These are little decisions you have to consider which is why in Solo Queue, it's common for the jungler to snowball another lane rather than gank a losing lane, simply because he has determined it would be difficult to win that 2v2 or 3v3 fight. Of course, with more experience and understanding of the game, you'll learn that even losing lanes are completely gankable with proper judgement and calculation.
Gank bottom lane
If bottom lane is losing, that's a bad thing, because in most situations, bottom lane is going to die a lot once the other carry gets going. You should try and gank this lane right away. Why? Because chances are, the support is packing enough crowd-control for you to get in and follow-up. If played correctly, this results in some easy kills.
Since you’ve determined the composition, you’ve likely determined what their jungler can do in a gank. Perhaps they have a tank-jungler, like Maokai, who possess a snare, knock-back, and damage reduction if he is lv.6 while you might be the damage powerhouse, like Udyr or Nocturne, who both possess incredible damage and limited, but still useful, crowd-control.
If YOU plus your lane does more damage than their lane plus their jungler, it might be possible to win a 2v2 or 3v3 skirmish.
Since everyone is behind, I’m going to assume the wards came out, especially if they want to win. Use this limited vision to your advantage and analyze where your opponent jungle will strike next. Since they’re ahead, it’s likely he’ll just be ganking in-attempt to snowball the game further. If he’s farming because he believes all his lanes have been secured, you can turn the tides with more presence.
You have to be smart about this. When you counter-jungle, always assume you’re in a 1v4 situation. Because if you get caught, there’s a good chance the enemy mid lane and the closest side lane will help secure you as a kill for their team. Now now, there’s a good chance members of your team will try to help too, but if your team is behind and you get caught, getting your sidelane or midlane killed doesn’t help your case and you’ve just dug yourself a deeper hole with a bad play.
So now, think psychologically. When you counter-jungle, and understand it, you can potentially not only disrupt the enemy jungler, forcing them to chase you, but you can also disrupt another lane, which indirectly removes pressure. If you die, this isn’t worth it, but if you’re a champion that doesn’t easily get caught, you might be able to alleviate pressure for your lanes or even bait them into the perfect position for your team to retaliate.
Basically, if you’re counter-jungling to steal minions, you put the enemy behind. If you counter-jungle for disruption and presence, their jungler isn’t ganking for anyone while they are chasing you, are they?
This is a gamble since it requires you to buy a few pink wards or an oracles but can greatly benefit you if you’re a tank-jungler, who has a lot of cc, or perhaps an “all-in” damage jungler who has to get up in the enemy’s face. If you opt for the oracles you have to play VERY smart and put your entire focus on clearing wards and farming. When the enemy loses vision, they start to become paranoid which opens up a huge potential for plays. Of course, if you clear all the vision and don’t do anything with the advantage, then this is wasted. So understand the mechanics of vision and what it does for you and the enemy.
It’s fairly simple:
No vision = Less aggression.
To me, this is a last resort, but can prove beneficial if your team is playing more mechanically; hiding behind wards, farming under tower, playing less aggressive, etc etc.
When a team is ahead, there will come a time when the enemy jungler will gank a lot. If he fails and doesn’t secure a kill, that puts you more ahead of him, which allows you to think back on the other options I’ve already addressed. Also, this “tactic”, goes hand-in-hand with counter-jungling and even counter-ganking. Determine which jungle path you want to take, and hopefully, you’ll end up farming the side where their jungler is so you can easily counter it.
But remember, in times of crisis, a jungler not doing anything for their team's lanes is a useless jungler.
Hopefully, you found some of this information useful. It is, without a doubt, hard to come back from an “all lanes losing” situation but you can definitely play everything out more mechanically and perhaps turn the tides of battle. When your team is losing, you have to think more on the idea of removing the advantages they've gained. Remove wards they're buying, find a way to exchange kills, or disrupt their jungle. If you can do all of this, perhaps one day, you will be known as The General.
I know all of this sounds obvious but explaining it could perhaps shed some light on your jungle tactics. If you have any questions, comment below and I will answer them!