League of Legends is a wildly successful eSports hit. Hundreds of millions of players leap into Riot Games’ 2009 free-to-play MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) every month now and take on other players for millions of hours of gameplay a year! As a result, if you’ve never played League of Legends (LoL), it can be really intimidating. As an online eSports oriented game, it requires just as much quick reflexes and muscle memory as it does tactics and teamwork. So, if you’re trying to jump right in, you’re in the right place before you do so!
League of Legends breaks down like this. Two teams of five players are on a mission to destroy each other’s base which is called the Nexus. The ONLY way to win a match is to destroy the opposing team’s Nexus. In between each base are defensive towers set up along 3 different paths called ‘lanes’. The playable areas on the maps that aren’t the lanes are called ‘jungles’. Each team has little AI soldiers or minions that spawn from your base and travel only along the lanes. They will run along one of the lanes and systematically attack towers, minions, and enemy players along their traveled lane.
Sounds easy, right? Deceptively, yes.
The real complexity if figuring out how to not only use your character’s abilities, but how to evolve their abilities throughout the matches progression. The brilliance of LoL comes in that everyone starts at level 1 at the beginning of the match. Killing minions and players and towers gain you experience and money that allow you to buy upgrades and gear to make your champion stronger. Die too much and you provide the opposition more experience and money which will make them harder to take down. As a result, mistakes are VERY costly. Knowing the optimal ‘build’ for your character is also important (for the team’s needs of course). Since there are over 120 characters to choose from, this can be quite the task. Needless to say, finding and mastering a character is going to take a lot of trial and error.
SO GET TO IT, NOOB!
Learn The Terminology
When it comes to any game that is as intense and tactical as League of Legends, custom terms that have to do with nicknames, acronyms, and game lore need to be understood before you can think of having success when playing on a team. Whether your team has people that you know or strangers that you’ve dropped into a game with, knowing these terms will save you a lot of time and confusion as you learn your champions and learn your team tactics. In a way, it could be the time saving difference between a close fought win or a loss.
For starters, learning the different champion classes and what those classes mean for their intended playstyle is key.
Tank – Damage absorbing champions
Mage – Offensive spell casters
Controller- Defensive spell casters
Marksman- Frail ranged fighters
Slayer- Frail but agile melee fighters
Fighter- Durable melee fighters
Specialists- Unique champions that don’t fit into the above categories
Each of these ‘classes’ also have sub-classes that further define how they are played and what they can do on the battlefield. For example, Battlemages have short combat ranged spells but are a bit more durable than regular Mages considering they have to get closer to their enemies to be effective.
On top of classes, you have roles. These are what you are expected to do when on a team of a certain build. Sometimes you’ll be ‘TOP’ which means you are expected to work the TOP lane. Other times you’ll be ‘SUPPORT’ which means you are to follow a specific character (maybe a Fighter or a Mage) and provide support by protecting them or buffing them during the match. There are other roles as well like ‘ADC’ (which is Attack Damage Carry) or ‘APC’ (which is Attack Power Carry). The ADC is expected to take out other champions along with the assistance of a SUPPORT character. The APC is expected to handle themselves without the need of a SUPPORT character by dealing damage typically through the middle lane.
Terms like this and more will need to be learned and remembered once you begin games against other human players online.
Learning A Champion
So you’ve figured out your desired play style and you’ve picked a champion to play as. Now what? Well, the best thing to do starting out with any champion is to learn what their abilities are and what keyboard letters the abilities are assigned to. Once used, they will not be able to be used for a period of time called ‘cooldown’. Once cooldown has completed, the ability will be available to be used again.
For example, a key ability for tanks and fighters to learn and use is Teleport. This allows them to close distance quickly to a foe so that they can deal their melee damage. It can also be used to help them retreat from battle quickly as well if they get in a bind. For support players, the ability Exhaust is a good one to take as well. This ability slows down enemies and drops their defensive stats which will prevent champions from fleeing and allow for a killing blow from pursuing champions.
Recommended Champions For Beginners
Garen – A Tank with great melee abilities and defensive passive abilities.
Nasus – A Tank that can be built to be to have high Ability Power or high Attack Damage to coincide with a life stealing passive ability that is priceless!
Shyvana – A versatile ‘jungler’ who gains power for every Dragon that she kills
Volibear – A slower ‘jungler’ whose attacks gain power and speed as they strike and as he gains power
Annie – A great Ability Power champion who can do a lot of damage to groups of enemies at a time.
Morgana – A powerful mage that can stun enemies and do a lot of damage from a distance.
Caitlyn – A ranged damage dealing powerhouse. She needs to stay out of close ranged fights though.
Ashe – Another ranged powerhouse that has an Ultimate attack that stuns the first opponent it hits.
Leona – A tanky support champion that is good at defense and engaging fights with other champions.
Janna – A versatile support champion equipped with lots of different boosts, shields, healing, and other buffs.
As you play, you’ll also notice that certain champions will regularly get the best of you. Instead of pouring over your character’s builds and so forth, try playing as that other character to learn their strengths and weaknesses so that you can better counter their abilities and know their cooldown rates. As usual tips like this and tons of others can be found all over LoL forums and websites.
Hopefully this guide gets you going into Riot Games’ highly competitive game. League of Legends is constantly changing and evolving. Just remember to keep practicing, experiment with different champions, and always have an exit plan if your push doesn’t go very well!