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Why I love playing a jungler in League of Legends

(Image credit: Riot Games)

League of Legends is a hopelessly complicated game—it can take hundreds of hours to master any one of its five roles. Of those, the jungler is the least popular among players, and it’s easy to see why. Unlike the others on your team, you don’t spend the game camped in a lane, picking off waves of minions for gold and experience points while participating in a deadly dance against opponents who are trying to do the same. Jungling is like a whole other game inside of League of Legends—one that takes a lot of patience and skill. But once you understand the mind games, the clever tricks, and the thrill of ambushing enemy players, it becomes clear that jungling is League of Legends’ coolest role. 

If you haven’t played the game, junglers are basically glorified errand boys with a licence to kill. While other players face off in the three lanes that stretch between each team’s base, your haunt is the forested regions found between them, called the jungle. Here you roam about unseen, fighting camps of respawning monsters for gold and experience while looking for ways to give your teammates an extra edge.

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Good junglers are masters of information and guerrilla warfare. They know how to get inside the other team’s head and mess with them to create openings for a deadly gank. If the enemy team’s toplaner gets aggressive and overextends too far forward, I can pop out of the concealment of my jungle and, along with my own toplaner, tag-team him. Given how high stakes League of Legends is, I know that it has a good chance of getting under that player’s skin, making them more prone to making more mistakes. Sometimes that player, now feeling pressured to catch up from their untimely death, will continue to be aggressive and push forward, giving me another opportunity to punish them. 

Junglers can set up much more elaborate ganks, though. They might place vision-granting wards in the enemy jungle so they can see where the enemy jungler is and orchestrate a deadly ambush against them. They might surprise a weakened enemy camping under the powerful defences of their tower by diving in to get the kill and then flashing away before the tower, in turn, kills them. LoL might seem complicated, but once you get it, that complexity gives rise to endless opportunities. 

That’s the life of a jungler. While my team focuses on farming up experience points and gold, I get to roam from lane to lane jumping on the enemy team and harassing them. That team’s own jungler is doing the same thing, of course, which creates many hilarious ambushes on top of ambushes. It’s a role for people who love being aggressive and taking risks, and it’s unlike anything else in League of Legends. I love how it pushes me to always think two steps ahead. 

My job is to weaken and stun the enemy so my own teammate can get the kill.

But being a jungler is also fun in a much more wholesome way. Unlike a lot of League of Legends players, I don’t necessarily enjoy being the star of the show. For me, it’s fun to lift my teammates up so they can dominate a match. Though I might be the one to initiate a fight against an enemy player, I’m rarely the one who finishes it. My job is to weaken and stun the enemy so my own teammate can get the kill, earning the bonus gold and experience points that will make them even stronger.

Junglers are also natural team leaders, though. On either side of the map are powerful monsters that, when slain, award powerful buffs or unique abilities. The Rift Herald, for example, can be killed and then summoned to take down enemy defences. But it’s up to me to coordinate with my team and make the call for when we should take those objectives. If the enemy jungler is alive and nearby, they might slip in at the last moment and steal the monster kill and its benefits for their own team—leaving us vulnerable.

It’s these layers of strategy, knowing when to act or how to turn a bad situation around, that make jungling so satisfying. It’s an experience unlike anything else in League of Legends, and I absolutely love the unique challenges and opportunities it presents.

Steven enjoys nothing more than a long grind, which is precisely why his specialty is on investigative feature reporting on China's PC games scene, weird stories that upset his parents, and MMOs. He's Canadian but can't ice skate. Embarrassing.