Pulling off a successful gank is undoubtedly one of the most complicated aspects about playing jungle. Fnatic’s superstar jungler Broxah joins us to try to explain his thought process when choosing a jungler, as well as to talk about how he goes about finding those gank opportunities in-game and how to capitalize on them.
Before delving into specific gank strategies, pathways and tips and tricks from Broxah, we’ll take a moment to talk about junglers in general, to try to answer the question:
What makes a jungler a great ganker?
1. Crowd Control
"I feel like one thing that can be really volatile is predator junglers, because predator junglers get a huge spike after they get their boots."
3. Fast Clear
If a jungler is particularly quick at clearing camps, that means they can catch an enemy by surprise – normally the enemy might not expect the enemy jungler to have already gotten level two or six; and hence they have no wards ready and are not playing cautiously at all. High clear speed also means you will probably be able to outfarm the enemy jungler and therefore you will have more money and more experience, which in turn means that your ganks will be deadlier. Champions that fit into this category are, for example, Master Yi, Rek’Sai or Olaf.
Which champion you play is not the only thing you need to consider. To successfully pull off a gank, you need to also keep in mind what your allies are playing and what the enemy is playing. When thinking about whether or not it’s a good idea to gank your ally, think about some of these questions:
Who do I gank?
1. Does my ally have good gank setup?
If you have a Lissandra on your team, and she has her ultimate, chances are the gank will go well. If you have an ally or ally duo bot lane that can bait and CC the enemy team easily, then you should definitely considering ganking that lane to pick up some easy kills.
On the other hand, if the enemy has a lot of CC and yours doesn’t, that probably means that their jungler will be keeping their eyes on your friends, and you will need to spend some time in that lane to make sure you can keep them safe and counter-gank if necessary.
"If you have a lane that has a lot of gank setup then you will often want to lean more towards that lane. At the same time, even if you have a champion with no CC but the enemy does, often you will have to react."
2. Is the enemy immobile / Do they lack CC?
Conversely, if the enemy Lissandra has just used Flash and has no ultimate, this is your best window to get her. If the enemy mid laner or top laner are immobile, or if any of the enemies has just used up their Flash or ultimate, you should probably consider ganking them. It is very important for you to keep track of timers such as spells and ultimates.
Often, allies will ping or let you know when an enemy has wasted a Flash – be sure to keep that in mind. A flash-less enemy is almost always an easy target. Many champions rely on summoner spells to survive ganks and the difference between killing an Orianna and her staying is safe is whether or not you knew about her having Flash.
"It's definitely important to keep an eye on summoner spells in particular."
Knowing that Ezreal is Flashless, Broxah risks a level three dive bot lane.
3. Will the enemy snowball? Will my ally snowball?
Some champions need to get kills early game in order to influence the latter stages of the game. These champions tend to play really aggressively and will crumble when you apply pressure to their lanes. This is why you should definitely attempt to camp champions like Draven, Jayce or Riven. If you can cripple their early game, they will need a lot of time and money to rejoin the game later on. This works both ways – if your ally is a big snowballer, you should tenderly camp them to make sure that they can get ahead and survive any camping that they might otherwise have to suffer.
4. What do I really get from this gank?
Another thing you must think about is what your team reaps from a successful gank. If you gank the 0-7 Teemo top lane one more time, will that really contribute to your win conditions? Conversely, if you gank mid lane, you might be able to dual-gank bot lane with them and then grab a Dragon after you kill the bottom laners. Taking the easy way isn’t always the best; and just getting a kill doesn’t always mean it’s a successful gank. In a lot of match-ups, forcing an enemy to waste Flash or an ultimate can make a big difference for your ally even if you didn’t manage to secure a kill.
Ganking Top Lane
A lot of junglers cite Top Lane as the easiest lane to gank. Top lane seems to be the least warded lane because top laners can’t afford to leave their lane often and there is nobody there to ward for them if they don’t do it, whereas ADCs have the luxury of being able to stay and farm while the support wards. Moreover, many top lane match-ups are volatile with lots of 1v1 fighting and it is always easier to gank an aggressive enemy.
You can gank top lane through the lane, through river or via tower diving depending on what level you are, how fed who is and what your champion is capable of. An Elise and Rek’Sai are more wont to dive, a Nocturne can skip walking altogether.
Broxah takes the long road Top Lane to surprise Kennen.
Ganking Mid Lane
Mid lane can be a challenge to gank because it is the shortest lane. Diving is also incredibly difficult since the two outer mid lane turrets are extremely close to each other. Unless the enemy is in the middle of a spat or they are carelessly pushing into your turret, it’ll almost be too easy for them to return to the safe place near the turret.
To gank mid lane, you either need a lot of gank setup from your ally midlaner, some long ranged CC, very high movement speed or a long ranged gap closer like Zac’s Elastic Slingshot or Nocturne’s Paranoia. If the enemy is immobile or Flashless, it will make things a lot easier as well. You need to communicate with your midlaner to figure out which lane brush is warded – it is quite difficult for the enemy to ward every possible pathway into mid lane.
Ganking Bot Lane
Bot lane can either be very easy to gank or extremely hard. Although you will, potentially, have insane gank setup (from the likes of Rakan, Alistar and Braum for example) you will also usually have to deal with a ton of disengage from the enemy, as well as double the usual amount of kiting. And last but not least, bot lane is usually the best warded part of the map. It’s very important to keep an eye on where the enemies are warding in general – you can do this by paying attention to “warded” pings, by using the Scryer’s Bloom in the jungle and by buying pinks and trinkets with which to de-ward.
Getting kills bot lane is very valuable though since Marksmen thrive off of successful early games and a dead bot lane means two kills rather than one (like top and mid). Moreover, once the bottom laners are dead the Dragon is as good as secured as well.
After the enemy bot lane and jungler are dead, securing Dragon is a piece of cake.
To gank bot lane you can either go through River, the lane, or tri-brush. If you are blue side, your ally support should be diligent about keeping the tri-brush warded. If you’re red side, you can also utilise the Blast Cone to sneak into lane.
The Top Three Junglers of Spring Split
When asked about the best junglers, Broxah named Karthus, Rek’Sai and Jarvan IV. All three have seen a considerable amount of play during the Spring Split and, more recently, at MSI as well. They are also expected to make a return in the Summer.
The Deathsinger: Karthus
People were very surprised to see Karthus picked up at the beginning of the Spring Split but he has since become a staple jungle pick in the LEC.
Karthus’s greatest strength is the sheer amount of damage he brings into any team comp. Once he gets a lead, he is completely untouchable and is able to change the course of entire team fights.
His weaknesses are that he’s quite squishy and can be reduced to irrelevancy after a poor early game. Moreover, he doesn’t have any hard CC so ganking with him can be challenging.
Broxah suggests leaning towards lanes that have better gank setup for Karthus. You can bring the damage, they just need to sprinkle some CC onto the enemy first.
"If you have a lane that can actually stun a target for you, then you can just spam your Qs and they'll die really fast."
Karthus is devastating in team fights.
The Void Burrower: Rek'Sai
Rek’Sai is another highly contested pick that we have seen many times both in LEC and at MSI. She too brings a heap of damage to the table, coupled with high clear speed, versatility in terms of gank paths, as well as some crippling CC.
There is very little she doesn’t excel at, so it’s no surprise that she is so popular.
What’s unique about Rek’Sai is that, with her Tunnel, she can create new gank paths entirely. She can effortlessly hop through walls and find herself under the enemy, ready to knock them up and dish out some serious damage.
Her big weakness is that a lot of her engages end up being “do or die” situations. She has a reliable way into a skirmish, but will struggle to escape without Flash.
Rek’Sai tunnels through a wall and finds a kill onto Kennen.
The Exemplar of Demacia: Jarvan IV
Finally we have Jarvan IV, another great team fighting jungler. He’s got a lot of damage and some reliable CC with his knock-up, which makes it easy for him to pull off good ganks.
His ultimate can be your saving grace or your worst nightmare depending on the team fight, but, used correctly, can absolutely change the course of a fight just like Karthus.
"These junglers are really strong carries and are really hard to play against because they are so strong in the early game, there's so much gank pressure and they beat most junglers in skirmishes as well."