As promised last week, a piece I’ve been looking forward too writing and getting out. Namely, the art of ganking. This is the aspect of the game that will truly set apart bad junglers from the good ones. Everyone has played a game with a jungler who just sits there all day and farms without ever helping, but sometimes even worse is the jungler with a terrible gank. Starting with the basics, we’ll cover what a gank is and how you can do it effectively.

Obviously, a ‘gank’ is when you go to a lane with the purpose of harassing or ultimately killing an enemy. The are a large number of benefits that come from a good gank, or even what a good gank is. Personally, anything that involves a waste of resources is a success. If you run out of a bush and the enemy instantly blows their summoner flash, perfect. Even if you do nothing else in lane, they still lost a very powerful tool for about four minutes. This lets your own laner be more aggressive, as they now have an escape (or initiate) tool where their opponent doesn’t. Even better is when you can kill an enemy, giving your team a gold advantage (kill gold + assist gold) and giving your laner an experience advantage. Every second the enemy is dead or running back to lane is a possible last hit’s worth of gold and experiance vanishing down the drain.

Successive ganks can even be used to harass an enemy mentally over the course of a game. Merely by sitting near one lane and ganking it repeatedly, the enemy will begin to become paranoid, especially if they are getting killed, and can sometimes even begin to ‘zone’ themselves, too afraid to move up near the creep line. This can give your laner a constant advantage as the enemy simply falls behind, even if you’re off merely farming the jungle.

Never let your enemy stay past this point unpunished.

Alright, so the effects of a good gank are many of often. So how do you gank? Simple, know your champion. I know this reads like “durr” advice, but there are a lot of players who just don’t think of what their champion can do in his or her entirety,  and simply relies on what they, the player, can or can’t do. This is a team game, so check that presumption at the door. Probably the most infamous gank of the all is the ‘flash-ult’ of Warwick or Skarner as they just teleport on top of you and suppress or haul the target back to the waiting arms of their allies. Even these are easy to fail, I can’t count the number of times a Skarner didn’t open with his ult, instead just ran out trying to slow with her other skills, driving the opponent away from me and ensuring their escape, instead of pulling them back to me. A Wukong who doesn’t use his Decoy to move unseen around minions or to get into position, a Shyvana who wants to save Burnout for the damage instead of using it to close a gap. Even less common junglers can have problems, like a Poppy who ganks from river and only pushes the enemy to the side and accomplishes little else or Riven who blows all her transportation skills just trying to get to the enemy.  As a jungler, you have to know exactly what you have and what it will take to get you the best outcome. Is it really worth blowing all of your cooldowns just to make an enemy back up for five seconds? Is it really worth flashing when you don’t have the capacity to lock-down right now? Sometimes, yes, when you know you can secure a kill. Do not commit valuable resources because you think you can. Do it because you know the best outcome is achievable and within reach.

Use uncommon paths and skills to secure kills.

Now, for another very important thing about resources. Do not ever counter-jungle unless you are damn sure you can. I don’t care which one of the pros you just watched, or what this guide on SoloMid or MobaFire said, you do not do it, ever, unless you know whats going on. Counter-jungling requires extreme map-awarness and player skill to avoid becoming a liability to your team. No, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing a “God-Tier” jungler like Lee-Sin or Skarner, you will die if you don’t know what is going on. I’ve seen Lee-Sins that run off into the enemy jungle and die up to four times, because they all think their supposed to counter-jungle, just because the person is playing Lee-Sin. I’ve seen people invade my jungle because they think it what their supposed to do and then get crushed when they’re called out.  When you counter jungle, it is, at worse, you against three people. Never assume it is Jungler vs. Jungler, because often teammates will start to filter in to help who-ever is being invaded. If you don’t have to skill or ability to avoid three people, don’t try it.

Always, always, remember that a gank is not a static concept. It’s a constantly evolving, fluid idea that changes based on the enemy and position, relative health, location and tower health. Remember that constantly ganking from the same path will just get that path warded, costing you future ganks. Come from the river once. Then go around and hammer them from behind their position, sneaking out of their jungle. Then smash them from a lane-brush. The do the river again. If they ward one path, go another. Some champions like Poppy can even gank right out of the enemy jungle and straight under enemy turrets, using their ultimate to shrug off tower damage while the team jumps in for a kill. Some like Maokai lack any major, consistent damage, but instead bring a massive amount of disruption to the table. Everyone does something different, so knowing exactly what that one thing is and how to exploit it is the path to opening better and more productive ganks in the future. Know your champion, and know your own limits.

Seriously, no one ever expects this. NO ONE.

And while I’ve mostly covered popular champions, don’t think you can’t apply this to others. I’ve jungled everything from Mordekaiser to Irelia, Twitch to Fiddlesticks, and tons of people in-between. You can jungle successfully with a massive number of champions, but it will require effort to pull off. Irelia will have a harder time in the jungle at first, but her ganking can become brutal. Mordekaiser can hammer people into the ground, but you’ll need a lot of help from allies to bring disruption to keep them in place. By knowing what you can do, and what your allies can, along with where and when the enemies are can go a long way to winning you the game. Keep an open eye, and when you see the chance, strike fast and strike hard. Punish your enemies mistakes and lead your team to victory!

And yes, those are bots in my screenshots. My game lags when saving screenshots, so getting them from a live game is… difficult without dying. Two, murdering bots is fun. Three, they still show off the unexpected paths. Use them well!