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This has been bugging me for a while. I've seen streams of high ELO junglers, and it seems like they always use smite as the killing blow on the jungle creeps. Why do they do that? I mean, damage is damage, and using it early could save you a few second on cooldown. Why don't they start fighting the jungle minion by smiting them?

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I agree with most of comments above, but would also want to mention that there once was a mastery point, which granted you gold if smite dealt the killing blow. Which meant that if the jungler was confident, he didn't need it to secure buffs or dragon, he'd gain extra gold by dealing the killing blow with smite. However, as the game is now it is as the others said. –  user67051 Jan 18 at 17:34
    
The mastery was just using smite period. You didn't need to get the killing blow on it. –  dphil May 23 at 13:42

3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

SaintVicious, jungler for the CLG.NA team, once said it on stream. If you are certain that you are not going to be counterjungled, then sure, smite right away. However, circumstances can quickly change while you are attacking the creep (assuming smite is used on objectives like buffs).

Situation #1: You are jungling but leave base a little late. Like usual you head to Red and you feel confident so tell your team you don't need their help leashing it. So you smite right away and begin autoattacking it. In the animation of your last auto-attack, the enemy jungler smites it away from you over the wall, then turns and kills you with the help of the small lizards and the red buff they now have cuz your smite was down.

Situation #2: You have been jungling and cleared the jungle already. As typical, you get ready to feed your AP Carry the blue buff. While, waiting for the AP Carry to deal the finishing blow, the whole enemy team comes charging from river to the Blue led by their jungler. Fortunately this time, you saved your smite, so before the enemy jungler can smite steal it, you secure blue for your team. While not optimal, certainly better than the enemy team having both blue buffs.

Finally, it is good practice as it helps you use smite to secure important objectives like dragon and baron. After all practice makes perfect, and if you say that you always use smite first except for dragon and baron, you won't be as practiced. A few seconds lost on the smite cooldown is hardly noticeable most of the time, but gaining a little more practice on using your smite to secure kills never hurts anyone.

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I imagine it is mostly done to prevent the enemy from showing up and finishing off the target.

If you wait until a smite will kill it, you have much less chance of the enemy AP mid coming over and sniping it with a skill shot or the enemy jungler showing up to steal it with their smite.

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As an aside, stealing an enemy buff after they've done all the hard work has to be one of the most satisfying things in League of Legends. –  Rapida Mar 27 '12 at 19:04
    
Aside from stealing the buff, smite also nets 10g on kill if the mastery point is put in the smite mastery tree. –  Jay Mar 27 '12 at 19:36
    
@Jay nope, it's on use now, not only the kill. –  Michel Mar 27 '12 at 21:40
    
The 10 gold is ok, but hardly a great reason to spam smite in my opinion. It really sucks to not lose Dragon because you used smite on the big wolf for the gold. –  Rapida Mar 27 '12 at 21:45

I also smite for the kill. I do this because other people may be roaming to steal the buff. This would ruin the jungle route and would result in a slower jungle clear time causing less ganks causing possible lane loss and so forth. It would also be beneficial for against a stealthed jungler such as Shaco, Eve, and Twitch since they could be there and smite for the kill. Smiting early may also result in the loss of major objectives like baron and dragon. If one is smited early others can come and smite to steal that bonus gold or baron buff. Although smiting early would in fact reduce the cooldown its better to be safe than sorry.

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