Jungling in Dota is a difficult job, but when done properly, can be the difference between winning a game and losing one.
While a dedicated jungler is not required in many games, picking a jungler provides a number of benefits, including securing a large amount of farm and the ability to gank lanes to assist a struggling teammate.
In this guide, we'll go over which heroes make for strong junglers, how to effectively farm neutral creeps, and what to do to counter the opponents' jungle game.
Junglers excel at efficiently farming neutral creeps at the beginning of the game. As a game progresses, other heroes become more than capable of taking down neutral creeps on their own, but the jungler is uniquely suited to clearing out neutral camps without much difficulty.
Broadly, junglers come in two varieties. They can either sustain themselves through the damage done by neutral creeps, or they can summon minions or convert neutral creeps to take damage in their stead. No matter what kind of jungler you pick, it is important to pick up items that increase health and mana regeneration, as they need to be able to stay in the fight for as long as possible without going back to base to ensure they farm effectively.
Junglers with a focus on survivability typically have one or more abilities that allow them to either heal through lifesteal, or are capable of dealing high amounts of damage in a short period of time. Ursa makes for a prime example with his Fury Swipes, which increase the amount of damage dealt with each consecutive attack. Lifestealer is another solid choice, as he can heal himself with Feast to remain in the jungle for far longer than other heroes.
Summoner heroes, on the other hand, excel at jungling because they don't have to tank creeps' damage in order to clear out camps. Enigma and Nature's Prophet are great for their ability to summon more units, while Enchantress and Chen can convert the creeps to their side.
Compared to other junglers, summoners can take medium and large camps earlier. In general, these heroes should prioritize mana regeneration first so that they can remain in the jungle longer and sustain their high cost abilities.
Creep Stacking is essential to proper jungling. In short, creep stacking involves pulling away the creeps from a camp shortly before their respawn timer activates. If the creeps are outside of the camp's spawn box, additional creeps will spawn,which you can subsequently kill. The more stacks on a camp, the more farm you get.
The recent 7.00 update changed the spawn timers for neutral camps, drastically changing how jungling works. Whereas the spawn time for camps used to be 0:30/1/2/3/4/etc., it is now 0:30/1/3/5/7/etc. The two minute time between spawns now means that speed is not as important as it once was. You now have enough time to clear out more camps and possibly execute a gank in between respawns.
To stack a camp, you must first either attack a neutral creep or walk close to their position, causing the creeps to chase after you for a short period of time. While the size of each camps spawn box varies, it is generally possible to pull the creeps at the 53 or 54 second mark to safely stack a camp.
While creep stacking is easy to pick up, there are other methods that can allow for even more efficient farming. A more advanced technique is creep pulling, which involves pulling a neutral camp into the path of incoming lane creeps. This is much harder to pull off, requiring careful timing, and is not recommended for beginners. Once it is mastered, however, you can use the lane creeps to take down harder neutral camps easily and without needing to worry about your survivability.
While having a jungler on your team is important to secure farm, it's just as essential to know how to properly shut one down and prevent the enemy from doing the same.
RELATED: A basic guide to warding in Dota 2
As mentioned earlier, neutral creeps will not spawn in a camp if there is another unit inside of it. This includes wards, which are invisible to the enemy team unless they are using a Gem of True Sight or are placing Sentry Wards to counter-ward their jungle. Placing a ward inside a neutral camp in the enemy jungle will lower their overall efficiency, though it is up to you whether you use Sentry Wards or Observer Wards for the job.
Observer Wards are great at providing sight range, but the limited amount your team has on hand combined with the fact that the most common spots to place them are often the most frequently de-warded means that they're often best used in other locations. That said, placing Observer Wards in the enemy jungle is a reliable way to both prevent additional creeps from spawning as well as potentially allowing you to see where the enemy jungler is, which could be used to set up a gank.
On the other hand, Sentry Wards do not provide much vision, with their only other use being to de-ward enemy wards and detect invisible opponents. These are much more difficult to spot, and can be used to effectively shut down a neutral camp without much difficulty.
Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.