The jungle died in 7.07. Metagame changes and consecutive nerfs reduced its value over time. Jungling is effectively viable only with a few dedicated heroes.
I will prove that jungling is not an efficient option with many heroes.
If you know players that still resort to jungling when all other core positions are taken, please share this article to them. Even if picking a support is absolutely prohibited by their creed, a roamer or a second offlaner are way more useful to the team than an afk jungler.
Main nerfs to jungling in 7.06 and 7.07
IceFrog implemented a multitude of adjustments in Dota 2 that deeply affected the gameplay. I won’t bother you with a big list, or explain how the meta shifted in the past years, but will focus our attention on some simple changes that nerfed the jungle.
Less gold and experience
Neutrals now give 20% less XP and Gold.
Neutral small camps gold bounty increased by 10%.
Starting from 7.06, all neutrals provided less gold and experience. The condition marginally improved in 7.06c, but still all junglers had to face a sad truth: they have to spend more time farming to acquire the same level and items as before.
In most games, the team will play 4 versus 5 for a longer time.
Below, gold and experience granted by all the small, medium, and large jungle creeps. Pictures from the amazing Dota 2 Wiki.
Update: 7.07d reduced all neutral ancients gold bounties by 10%
Neutral creep spawn time delayed
First neutral creep spawn changed from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Supports are less efficient early on
The offlaners have an easier time because the supports can’t stack anymore at minute 1.
If the supports immediately need to balance the equilibrium of the lane, the only option left is pull-through. This is not difficult to counter because you can either ward/block the spawn of one of the camps or interfere with the pulls.
Junglers' actions are delayed
It is a noticeable nerf to junglers - as their farm is delayed even more - and particularly to Chen and Enchantress.
Before 7.07 they could take the control of a big neutral and gank prior minute 1. Now, all their actions are postponed by 30 seconds, and on average it is hard to attempt an attack before 1:30.
Which heroes can be played as junglers
If you want to win, it is fundamental to understand that many heroes are viable in the jungle, but only a small number are efficient and can positively affect the outcome of the match.
Nature’s Prophet should be played as an offlaner.
In a recent article, I discussed about creep-blocking in the offlane and on how some heroes can shape the creep equilibrium thanks to their skills - Nature’s Prophet is one of them.
Jungling is viable and you can even farm at a reasonable speed, but the Treants are such an awesome tool in lane: you can pull the enemy creeps and force the opponents to play the entire game near your tower.
The carry will farm less, and probably will soon insult his own teammates.
The supports will waste time to deal with you, negate the pulls, and restore the lane in their favor.
The rest of your team will have a painless game because the enemy supports will have less time to roam for ganks.
What I just said about NP also applies to many more heroes: a typical example is Lone Druid as he can do the same with his Spirit Bear.
Even if you end up jungling with Nature’s Prophet, don’t just farm all the time. Keep checking the lanes for a chance to score a kill or save a life.
Chen and Enchantress
I am putting them together because they share a similar ability, but Chen is a better jungler than Enchantress.
She is a quite greedy hero that needs gold, so you can’t just play her as a hard support. I love to pick Enchantress as an offlaner, exploiting the big neutral for protection and pulls - but this is just a way to play her.
The most common approach is jungling, while also being ready for ganks in the easy/mid lane at any time. In the early game, the neutrals are powerful as the heroes still don’t have many health points and all the skills at their disposal.
Chen is a jungler - he can’t play anywhere else.
When using him don't forget you should use the neutrals to help the lane, gank the enemies, and exploit their absence to push the tier 1 tower.
Enigma is simply the most efficient jungler in the game.
The Eidolons deal a lot of damage and can kill any neutral camp. They are squishy so you can’t just afk-farm as when you are playing with Nature’s Prophet, but micro-management is needed to keep them alive. Imo this is the main reason the hero isn’t played more in pubs.
Enigma is also a great ganker: all you need is a level of two of Malefice to stun the target and your Eidolons for damage. If you have the chance, attempting an early gank would be an amazing idea - you don’t need to wait for the Black Hole before any action.
In the video below, EG.Universe plays in the offlane while taking advantage of the jungle to boost his farm. Unfortunately, the game is based on the previous patch, but it can still teach us how to behave with the hero.
All other heroes aren’t junglers
Legion Commander, Lifestealer, Bloodseeker, Wraith King, Lone Druid, Axe, etc. are not junglers. We end up playing them in that position because they can survive against the neutrals, but their farm speed and usefulness to the team are greater as laners.
Greedy junglers kinda worked in the past at low ranks, but the Blessed Frog kept nerfing this gameplay: he even removed the Iron Talon in 7.07! An item went in the graveyard because we abused it too much - we are all guilty.
Note: I am not placing the Iron Talon in the jungle nerfs section as we shouldn’t rely on an item that can transform any hero in a “viable" jungler.
You can still win games playing these heroes as junglers.
You can win any game if the opponents do not understand how to play, don’t ward, don’t gank, and just let you free-farm for 15-20 minutes uninterrupted. But, don’t you wish to improve and reach a better MMR bracket? The new medals are shiny, come on ;).
Don't jungle, just gank
There is no reason to play a jungler as there are better options. If all core positions are taken and you don’t want to support, why don’t you play a roamer? They require some practice because a bad engage could led to multiple deaths, but can be very helpful and fun to play.
Spirit Breaker and Bounty Hunter are my favorites, and according to Dotabuff they have a 52.5% and 54.2% win rate at 5k+ rank.
My personal list of junglers: Chen, Enigma, Enchantress.
Header Image: Valve