Welcome! I've written this to thoroughly explain the fundamentals of LoL. You don't need much game knowledge to have fun, but if you're ready to grow into a competent and competitive player, then this guide is for you.
How to Use the Guide
Reading about League isn't very fun. Playing is. I think the best way to learn is to alternate play and study. Start with in-game tools like the Tutorial game and Intro Bots mode, formulate questions, then find answers with the guide. (If you haven't signed up for LoL yet, please use this referral link!)
Nothing kills enthusiasm like information overload. Pace yourself. This guide is not intended to be read in one sitting.
I suggest reading things in order, but it's up to you. If you encounter something you don't know, look for it in other chapters. CTRL+F is your friend!
Icons, Spoilers, & Color Coding
I'm a ordinary player who enjoys teaching and making friends. I live stream often on Twitch, commentating my games and talking with viewers. I welcome questions and constructive criticisms. Find me in-game (NA server; IGN: The All Tomato) and around the web at:
You, the player, are titled a Summoner.
Accounts have summoner levels. The max is 30. Play to earn XP and level up, which unlocks new queue types, game modes, summoner spells, mastery points, and rune slots (discussed later).
Playing earns Influence Points (IP), currency used in the Store. Every 22 hours, players are given a win-of-the-day bonus that grants 150 bonus IP for victory.
Most things can also be purchased with Riot Points (RP), which cost money. Skins, which change the way a champion looks, can only be bought with RP. Accounts are given 3 refund credits - these do not replenish.
The free champion rotation is a group of ten champions unlocked for all players, which changes every week. I advise playing each free champion at least once. Some are more difficult, and you may not like them all, but you will learn more quickly.
Before level 6, players can use the New Player Champion Rotation, a selection of straightforward champions that are forgiving to learn with.
Riot Games offers free skins for following their social media. When you unlock the skin, you also get the champion! Here is a reddit post that links to each region's offers. Don't get scammed by other offers for free skins or RP! ALWAYS make sure these come from OFFICIAL Riot Games sources.
Champions are the player-controlled characters. They begin each game at level 1 and have a maximum level of 18, becoming more powerful with each level.
Each champion has a basic attack, a passive, and 4 abilities:
- A basic attack (auto attack, AA) is performed by right-clicking an enemy. They are either melee or ranged. Champions automatically attack enemies in range, and attack continuously until commanded otherwise. Each champion's attack is a little different. Some take longer to complete. Ranged projectiles travel at different speeds.
- The passive is an innate characteristic that affects gameplay, but does not require buttons to be pressed.
- The 4 abilities (skills, spells) are the unique actions available to a champion. Most have 3 basic abilities and 1 ultimate (ult, ulti), which is their most powerful or defining. Basic abilities have 5 ranks each, advanced with the ability points acquired when a champion levels up. The ultimate ability has 3 ranks and can be advanced at levels 6, 11, and 16.
Champions can deal 3 types of damage:
- Physical damage is dealt through all basic attacks, and some abilities.
- Magic damage is dealt through most (but not all) abilities, and can be added to basic attacks.
- True damage is rare, and comes from various sources. It cannot be mitigated, whereas physical and magical damage can.
'Magic' and 'physical' are merely game mechanic terms, and are not related to the action a champion is performing. For example, Sejuani's Flail of the Northern Winds, an attack where she physically swings her weapon, deals magic damage. All basic attacks deal physical damage, whether it's with fists, fireballs, bullets, or bolts of arcane power.
When multiple damage types are dealt from a single source, it is termed mixed damage.
Champions fill 6 different roles. They often have primary and secondary roles.
|Mages (ability power carries, APC) are powerful casters who use their abilities to deal magic damage and disrupt enemies. They typically are ranged, and have low defenses to balance out their offensive capability.|
|Marksmen (attack damage carries, ADC) primarily use their ranged basic attacks to deal sustained physical damage to single targets, termed damage-per-second (DPS). They are characterized by abilities and passives that boost their attack damage, attack speed, or range. Fragile marksmen must work hard to stay at range to survive.|
|Tanks are typically melee and have high defenses, but relatively low damage output. Their job is to disrupt, disable, and protect. Tanks can take a beating, and are usually the first in a fight and the last ones out.|
|Fighters (bruisers) are typically melee, and combine moderate damage and defense. Due to their medium survivability and damage, fighters are capable duelists. Many are physical damage-oriented, some are magic, while others deal a mixture.|
|Supports excel at protecting and empowering, and/or disrupting enemies. Utility, usefulness other than damage, is their defining trait, along with a sacrificial playstyle. Supports have two sub-roles - ranged mage supports, and melee tank supports.|
|Assassins have extreme mobility and massive damage output, called burst damage for the short time it takes to deal. They can nearly instantly kill non-tanks. If caught, fragile assassins die just as quickly, and must use their mobility to get in and out of fights at the right time. There are both physical and magic damage assassins.|
Statistics (stats) are the numerical values that describe all units and structures, including champions, minions, and turrets. I'll focus my explanation on champions.
Base stats are the default values a champion begins a game with. Most grow with level. Bonus stats come from abilities, passives, items, runes, and masteries.
Understanding what these numbers mean, and how they relate to one another, is a crucial step to League mastery. It's a lot of info to process - persevere!
All champions have base amounts of these (except mana-less champions):
- Hitpoints (Health, HP): The amount of damage a champion can take before dying.
- HP regen per 5 (HP5): The amount of hitpoints a champion regenerates every 5 seconds. Regen actually occurs every half second, so 10 HP5 means 1 hitpoint gained every half second.
- Mana (MP): The maximum amount of mana available to cast abilities.
- Mana regen per 5 (MP5): The amount of mana restored passively every 5 seconds. Like HP5, this effect takes place every half second.
- Armor (AR): Reduces incoming physical damage. Each point of armor makes HP 1% more effective against physical damage. For example, a champion with 100 HP and 0 armor will be killed by 100 physical damage. With 100 armor this champion has 100% more effective HP, meaning it will take 200 physical damage to kill them.
- Magic Resist (MR): Reduces incoming magic damage. MR functions exactly like armor, except against magic damage. All champions have 30 base MR, but only some gain magic resist per level.
- Attack Damage (AD): The amount of physical damage dealt by one basic attack.
- Attack Speed (AS, ASPD): The number of basic attacks performed per second. This has a cap of 2.5.
- Range: The number of in-game units a basic attack reaches. Range does not increase with level (except Tristana's, because of her passive Draw a Bead).
- Movement Speed (MS): The number of in-game units a champion travels per second. This does not increase with levels.
These are bonus-only:
- Cooldown Reduction (CDR): Reduces ability cooldowns by a percentage. Caps at 40%.
- Ability Power (AP): Ability Power points enhance most abilities. This will be covered more in the "Abilities" chapter. When attacking structures, basic attacks apply the higher of a champion's bonus attack damage or 40% of their ability power.
- Armor Penetration (APen): Causes physical damage to ignore an opponents' armor. Has flat and percentage values.
- Magic Penetration (MPen): functions the same as armor penetration, except for magic damage against magic resist. Penetration & Reduction Calculation
- Lifesteal (LS): The percentage of damage dealt from basic attacks returned as hitpoints. Heal yourself by attacking enemies!
- Spell Vamp (SV): Same concept as lifesteal, but for abilities, summoner spells, and item actives.
- Critical Strike Chance (Crit): Basic attacks gain a % amount of chance to deal double damage. Crits occur randomly, but measured over an extended number of attacks, every 1% of crit chance increases effective attack damage by 1%.
- Tenacity: Reduces the duration of disables by a percentage. For example, Lux can root enemies for 2 seconds using Light Binding, but enemies with 35% Tenacity will only be rooted for 1.3 seconds.
- Gold per 10 seconds (GP10): All champions passively earn gold at the same rate, which can be slightly increased with items, masteries, or runes. Technically, this is not a stat, but a system that behaves like one.
What Do Abilities Do?
Abilities have a multitude of effects, some of which are unique to a champion! Often, a single ability has more than one effect. These are the most common:
- Damage: removes health. Damage-over-time (DoT, burn, poison, bleed) deals damage gradually, instead of instantaneously.
- Heal: return missing health. Healing a full-health target has no effect.
- Shield: give temporary health. Shields are shown in health bars as grey. Magic damage shields, which only block magic damage, are purple.
- Crowd control (CC): disables or impedes enemies.
most common cc types
- Hard CC completely removes a player's control their champion.
- Soft CC partially removes control.
- Interrupts cancel channeled abilities. Any CC that prevents casting abilities is an interrupt, whether it's hard or soft.
- Buff: increase allies' statistics. Steroids are self-buffs.
- Debuff: lower enemies' statistics.
- Movement: allow a champion to dash, jump, blink, or otherwise re-position. Most can cross terrain. Thresh's Dark Passage and Kalista's Fate's Call are unique because they give dashes to allies. Offensive moves are called gap closers, defensive are escapes.
- Attack modifiers: give special effects to basic attacks. Some are attack resets, which allow a champion to attack in quick succession when used immediately after completing a basic attack.
- Some abilities apply on-hit effects, which normally only occur on basic attacks. Examples of on-hit effects include lifesteal, Spellblade from the item Sheen, and Nami's attack modifier Tidecaller's Blessing.
- Passive effects occur without activation, as long as the ability has been ranked with an ability point. Don't confuse these with a champion's passive!
Rules for Using Abilities
Abilities are super cool and you'll want to use them all the time, but there are some rules that define how and when they can be cast:
- Cost: the amount of resource consumed per cast. Champions have finite resource pools; if this pool is empty, abilities can't be used. Most champions use mana, but some use their health or rapidly-regenerating energy. Some have no resource, and therefore no costs.
- Cooldown (CD): the delay before an ability can be recast. Most abilities go on cooldown immediately after cast, but some have variations on this mechanic:
- Multi-use: can be cast multiple times in a short window. Ex. Ahri's Spirit Rush
- Charge: stock multiple charges that can be used in quick succession. The charges themselves replenish with a longer cooldown. Ex. Teemo's Noxious Trap
- Toggle: grants a persistent effect when activated, with a cooldown between switches. Ex. Ashe's Frost Shot
- Range: the measure of an ability's reach. Range is illustrated by range indicators. Abilities with global range can be used anywhere on the map.
- Scaling: the way stats increase the power of an ability. Scaling is specified by a ratio, which adds a portion of the relevant stat to the base value. Scaling is further explained in the spoiler below.
- Cast time: the delay between cast and effect. This is usually illustrated with a wind-up animation (for example, Annie rearing back to throw Incinerate, or Ashe drawing her bowstring to fire Volley.) Most are brief (~.5 seconds). Some abilities cast instantly.
- Channels: abilities with interruptable cast times. Interrupts put the ability on cooldown, without its effect occurring. This can be done by the caster through movement, ability, or attack commands, or by enemies through crowd control.
- Auto-targeted: when cast, affects all those in range. No aiming required.
- Targeted: requires the cursor to be over a target that is visible and in range. Most of these cannot be dodged and will follow the target regardless of its movement.
- Skillshot: require aiming using the cursor. These come in many shapes and sizes, such as linear projectiles, conic spreads, or circles. Skillshots can be missed or avoided--aim carefully!
- Area-of-effect (AoE): can affect multiple units in one cast.
- Single-target: affects only one unit per cast.
- Aura: passively buffs or debuffs units in an area around the caster.
Items give bonus statistics and special attributes. They amplify a champion's strengths, or make up for their weaknesses. Purchased items are placed in 1 of 6 item slots and take effect immediately; there is no need to "equip" them.
- Actives are essentially extra abilities, used with the number key assigned to the slot an item occupies. Examples include Zhonya's Hourglass, Youmuu's Ghostblade, and Ravenous Hydra.
- Passives are special attributes that don't require commands to be activated. Examples of items with passives include Guardian Angel, Warmog's Armor, and Liandry's Torment.
- Unique passives and actives of the same name cannot stack with each other. This means owning two items with the same unique active/passive will only give the benefit of one. For example, owning Zephyr and Mercury's Treads only grants 35% Tenacity, not 70%. Owning 2 Zhonya's Hourglass and using 1 will put both on cooldown.
- Consumables such as Health Potions and Mana Potions don't grant statistics or effects until they are consumed by clicking, or using the number key bound to their slot.
The most powerful items are built from recipes comprised of cheaper, less powerful components, and in turn, components are made from basic items. Basic items build into several components, which allows for variability in item choices.
Itemization choices are called a build. Core items often don't change between matches, but you should also build in response to other players' champions, items, and performance.
To build appropriately, ask yourself these questions:
- What is my champion's role?
- What statistics does my champion need to perform this role?
- What statistics will help me against the enemies I am facing this match?
Maximize power and gold efficiency by choosing items that complement each other. For example, Blade of the Ruined King and Last Whisper make a good pair because they both increase physical damage. Wit's End, which is similar to BotRK, does not pair well with Last Whisper, because it increases magic damage. A simpler example is the relationship between resistances and health - health from one item will benefit from the magic resist/armor from another, and vice versa.
Varying build order, even among the same items, can make a huge difference! Rushing an item means only buying its components until completion. Choose your build order carefully. Building several items too slowly can delay a power spike, but rushing one item can mean missing essential stats from others!
Champion Build Examples
|Annie is a mage. She needs mana and ability power for her abilities, and health and resistances to protect her because of her short range. This makes Rod of Ages a good item to rush, since its passive needs time to stack. Rabadon's Deathcap and Void Staff are fitting offensive choices. For defense, Annie can use items like Abyssal Scepter against magic damage, or Zhonya's Hourglass against physical damage. Remember, all of these items are built from components! Annie could build a Negatron Cloak or a Seeker's Armguard to get the requisite resistances before completing Hourglass or Abyssal Scepter.|
|Ashe is a marksman who needs attack damage, attack speed, armor penetration, and critical strike chance to boost her basic attacks. Her main damage ability, Volley, scales with AD, and her passive Focus makes crit particularly efficient, so Infinity Edge is a great first buy. Lifesteal is a good defensive statistic for marksmen, so Ashe could purchase a Vampiric Scepter before finishing Infinity Edge. Items like Berserker's Greaves, Statikk Shiv, and Last Whisper are a perfect way to round out her build.|
|Garen is a fighter who needs defensive stats to survive charging the front lines. His passive Perseverance and his ability Courage make health and resistances extremely cost-effective. Sunfire Cape, Warmog's Armor, and Spirit Visage are perfect choices. Offensive items like The Black Cleaver and Last Whisper make Judgment and Decisive Strike hit much harder.|
Summoner spells are chosen before each match in champion select. They have long cooldowns, ranging from 60 seconds to 9 minutes. They are unlocked at different summoner levels, and are all unlocked by summoner level 10.
You can take any combination of spells, but the best choices vary. Think about the champion, role, and position you're playing, and the champions you are facing.
Mouse over the icons below to learn what each spell does. I will share some common uses of each.
|Ghost is for escaping or chasing enemies. Moving through units, also known as avoiding unit collision, means a champion won't have to walk around minions, etc.|
|Cleanse aids fragile champions such as mages and marksmen who can be devastated by crowd control, giving them a chance to escape or fight back. "Summoner spell debuffs" refers to Exhaust and Ignite.|
|Exhaust can be used defensively to prevent an enemy dealing damage and chasing, or offensively to prevent retaliation or escape. Exhaust is especially effective against burst champions like assassins.|
|Ignite is a popular choice for securing kills and making sure enemies don't duck out of vision in bushes or the fog of war. "Healing effects" includes health regeneration, lifesteal, spellvamp, and heals; Ignite is a powerful choice against champions like Warwick, Dr. Mundo, and Soraka who rely heavily on healing.|
|Teleport (TP) is fantastic for making surprise plays across the map, getting back to lane quickly, or escaping enemies. It can be used on a a variety of allied units, including turrets, minions, and wards. Teleport is a channeled spell, and can be cancelled by the player or by enemy CC. If cancelled by the player, it will go on a reduced cooldown.|
|Smite is for use on jungle monsters. Secure the killing blow, or just kill them more quickly. It operates by a charge mechanic. Certain items modify Smite so it can be used on champions - see the chapter 'Closer Look: Jungling' to learn more. Smite also works on various enemy units, such as minions, Annie's bear Tibbers, Heimerdinger's turrets, and the bloblets from Zac's Cell Division.|
|Clarity is a great help for newer players who aren't skilled at managing their mana expenditures, but other spells are favored by experienced players.|
|Clairvoyance (CV) is useful for scouting ahead, tracking enemies, and using long-range abilities like Lux's Final Spark or Caitlyn's Ace in the Hole. It has a global range, meaning it can be used anywhere, even the enemy base.|
|Revive is trash; don't use it. When death timers are long, getting back in the game quickly can prevent a loss, but it's a better strategy to use different summoner spells to avoid death entirely. Also, look at that hella long cooldown. Protip: Worried about getting back to lane quickly? Teleport does it better.|
|Garrison is a special spell for the Dominion game mode (which is the greatest and best game mode). Q: What is Pantheon's favorite game mode? A: Dough-minion.|
Masteries are skill trees that grant bonus statistics and attributes. 1 mastery point is unlocked per summoner level; points can be spent between the three trees: Offense, Defense, and Utility. You can create up to 20 unique mastery pages that can be edited during champion selection or in your summoner profile.
21 points minimum are needed to complete a tree. It is possible to spend all 30 points in one. Most popular setups split 21 points in one tree, and 9 in another, but distribute your points among the three as you see fit.
Specialize mastery pages for specific champions and roles. In general, damage-focused champions should maximize Offense, and durability-focused champions should maximize Defense. The Utility tree is unique - usually only supports use 21 points, but it's common for other champions to 'dabble' in it.
To choose proper masteries, answer these questions:
- What statistics best help my champion perform their role?
- What attributes best complement my champion, item build, and playstyle?
- An AD-based champion won't need points in Mental Force , but can certainly use Brute Force .
- Ability-oriented champions like mages and tanks make great use of Expose Weakness .
- Strength of Spirit and Enchanted Armor aren't useful if you aren't building statistics to complement them.
Explore and create your own pages on the League of Legends website. Here are examples:
Runes give champions bonus statistics. A single rune offers little benefit, but many together have significant impact.
Purchase runes in the Store with IP, and place them in the 2 rune pages found in your Summoner profile. Purchase more pages in the Store. Switch between pages during Champion Select.
There are 4 categories of runes:
|Marks (reds) provide attack damage, attack speed, armor penetration, and magic penetration.||Seals (yellows) provide armor, health, health regeneration, and mana regeneration|
|Glyphs (blues) provide ability power, mana, cooldown reduction, and magic resist.||Quintessences (quints) are extra-powerful and provide stats from all categories, along with utility stats such as life steal, spell vamp, and movement speed.|
Primary runes from each category provide the best stat values. Secondary runes provide stats from different categories in lesser amounts than their primary counterparts. For example, compare a Greater Seal of Armor with a Greater Glyph of Armor.
Runes can only be placed into their matching category slots. There are 9 slots each for marks, seals, and glyphs, and 3 slots for quintessences.
There are 3 tiers of runes:
- Tier 1 (Lesser) (available at level 1) and Tier 2 (level 10) give small bonuses for low cost, and feature a limited selection of Primary runes. Use them to experiment and familiarize yourself with the rune system.
- Tier 3 (Greater) (level 20) give large bonuses for extremely high cost, and introduce Secondary runes for a wide selection. These are ideal. Save up IP, and spend wisely!
Specialize pages for a role or champion, and choose the most beneficial stats. Most players make well-rounded rune pages that grant 3-5 different stats.
You can choose between flat or scaling runes. Flat runes give an unchanging value for a strong early start. Scaling runes give stats-per-level, and are weak early, but powerful later. Flat runes are considered safer, while scaling are riskier with bigger payoff.
You can go a long way with your first two pages. I recommend using one for magical damage, and the other for physical damage. For both pages, use:
- 9 Greater Seal of Armor to mitigate the physical damage from minion and champion attacks, which are significant threats early in the game no matter who you are facing.
- 9 Greater Glyph of Magic Resist for extra protection against magic damage, since most champions don't gain MR per level.
Caveat - some runes are actually pretty useless. Avoid Revive, GP10, Experience, and anything to do with energy/energy regeneration. If you have doubts, look up guides or check what pro players are doing.
A full list of runes can be viewed here.
Summoner's Rift: Environment
Get acquainted with League's most popular map, Summoner's Rift. Remember, you can create a custom game and explore for yourself!
Spawn & Shop (fountain): the dais where champions begin each game. Standing here rapidly replenishes health and mana. Use the recall function (B key) to return from any location. Items can only be purchased from here. Spawn is guarded by the Nexus Obelisk, a laser that kills things fast.
Base: the area bounded by walls that contains a Nexus. There is a gate in the middle of each wall that allies, but not enemies, can pass through.
Lanes: the 3 long, wide pathways guarded by turrets. Each has its own name - top, bottom (bot), and middle (mid).
River: the body of water that sits perpendicular to the lanes. 2 pits, one on each side of middle lane, are home to powerful neutral monsters.
Jungle: the quadrants between lanes characterized by narrow paths, terrain, and bushes. Each is mirrored, so that both sides of the map are identical. Neutral monsters live here.
Structures are destructible buildings. Each lane's structures must be destroyed sequentially, starting with the outermost. They take damage from basic attacks.
Turrets (towers): fire powerful physical damage attacks at enemies who step in range. They attack minions before champions, but will switch focus if an enemy champion damages an ally who is within range. Damage increases with each attack against champions. Their defenses increase if no enemy minions are present. Turrets provide true sight, meaning stealthed units in vision range are revealed.
There are 3 kinds:
- Outer (tier 1): basic, with slow yet powerful attacks.
- Inner (tier 2, middle): same as Outer, but provide regenerating shields for themselves and nearby allies.
- Inhibitor (tier 3) and Nexus: fire laser-like attacks which ignore enemies' armor, slow them, and reduce their damage output. These also regenerate their health.
Inhibitors (inhibs): gem-like structures found at each base entrance. They do not attack, but are guarded by turrets. They take reduced damage from champions, regenerate health, and respawn 5 minutes after being destroyed. Respawn timers are shown as a colored ring (example). If an inhibitor is destroyed, the opposing team spawns extremely powerful minions in that lane.
Nexus: large gem-like structures found close to the spawn platforms, guarded by two Nexus turrets. Destroy the enemy Nexus to win!
Minions: spawn from the Nexus and march down the lanes. Starting at 1:30, a wave spawns every 30 seconds, each containing 6 minions (3 melee and 3 caster). Every third wave has a 7th, more powerful minion, known as a siege or cannon. Siege minions take 30% reduced damage from turrets, and are important allies.
Super minions: powerful and durable minions that spawn when an opposing Inhibitor is destroyed. They spawn with every wave, replacing any siege minions, and buff nearby minions, making entire waves more powerful and durable.
Monsters: the creatures found in the jungle and river. Monsters are "neutral" and will not attack until attacked. Each has varying amounts of health and damage - size is an indicator of power. Monsters follow fleeing attackers a short distance before returning to their camp and rapidly regenerating health. Camps respawn if all their inhabitants are killed.
- Regular monsters: The Murk Wolves, Raptors (birds), Krugs (stone beetle-turtles), and Gromp (massive toad) are found in between the lanes. Respawn time is 100 seconds.
- Buff monsters: The Blue Sentinel (blue buff) & Red Brambleback (red buff) are stronger monsters found at the center of a jungle quadrant. Respawn time is 5 minutes.
- The Rift Scuttlers wander each side of the river. They don't fight, but instead evade when attacked. Respawn time is 3 minutes.
- Dragon (drag, drake) is a fearsome monster that rests in the river pit near bottom lane. It knocks back enemies when taking flight, and its attacks deal a % of its target's current health. Dragon's attacks also splash, damaging units near its target. It is immune to CC. Respawn time is 6 minutes.
- Baron Nashor (worm, nash, baron) is the most powerful monster on the Rift, found in the river pit near top lane. Baron weakens its attackers so they deal less damage to him, and take increased damage from all sources. He also has a large arsenal of abilities, including a stun, slow, knockup, and knockback, some of which can be avoided. He is immune to CC. Respawn time is 7 minutes.
Killing the largest monster in a camp grants various rewards. Some are extremely powerful. We'll talk about these in the chapters 'Summoner's Rift: Strategy' and 'Closer Look: Jungling'.
Summoner's Rift: Strategy
Battle on Summoner's Rift isn't a deathmatch. Victory doesn't just come from flashy moves and high kill scores, but also from strategic and purposeful play. This chapter will greatly prepare you for PvP!
Primary objectives are the things your team won't win without. Secondary objectives are ways to get an extra edge, but don't underestimate their importance. They are often crucial steps to achieving primary objectives, or deciding factors in closely-matched games.
- Structure kills: The only way to win is by destroying the enemy's Nexus, and the only way to the Nexus is through Turrets and Inhibitors.
- Turret kills give gold and experience to all allies, and removes enemy vision and protection. Once a turret is destroyed, your team can control that area. Minions can push further, threatening, or pressuring, other structures.
- Destroying inhibitors and releasing super minions is extremely important, tantamount to adding a sixth player who relentlessly pressures the enemy's base. Protecting your inhibitors is as important as destroying the enemy's.
- Experience: Champions gain levels by earning experience, which increases base statistics and ability ranks. Experience is earned locally from dying minions, monsters, and champions, and is split among those in the area. It is also granted globally through structure kills and Baron Nashor.
- Gold through minion & monster kills: To buy items, players need gold. Last hitting, dealing the killing blow to a minion or monster (termed creeps), is a player's greatest source of gold income. Last hits are recorded as a number called the creep score (CS). Building a higher creep score is called farming. Miss as few minion kills as you can!
- Vision Control: Place and protect wards, while destroying the enemy's. Learn more in the chapter 'Closer Look: Warding & Vision'.
- Dragon: Killing Dragon grants local experience and a permanent, stacking buff to all allies called Dragon Slayer.
- Dragon's Might (1 stack): +6% total attack damage and ability power (hit harder!)
- Dragon's Wrath (2 stacks): +15% damage to turrets and buildings (destroy more!)
- Dragon's Flight (3 stacks): +5% movement speed (move quicker!)
- Dragon's Dominance (4 stacks): +15% damage to minions and monsters (push faster!)
- Aspect of the Dragon (5 stacks, repeatable): Doubles all other bonuses and your attacks burn enemies for 150 true damage over 5 seconds. Lasts 180 seconds. Kill the dragon again to regain Aspect of the Dragon after it times out.
- Baron Nashor: Killing Baron grants gold, experience, and a buff called Hand of Baron to all teammates. The buff gives 40 AP and AD, halves recall time, and increases healing and movement speed after recalling. Most importantly, champions bearing the buff have an aura that massively empowers nearby minions. Hand of Baron makes a team a formidable siege force. Lasts 3 minutes.
- Buff monster rewards: The Blue Sentinel and Red Brambleback grant buffs to their slayers. Protect them, and try to steal the enemy's. If a champion kills an enemy wearing these buffs, they transfer to the killer.
- The Crest of Cinders (red buff) gives health regeneration, plus extra damage and a slow to basic attacks. It's best to give red buff to an initiating fighter or tank, or a marksman.
- The Crest of Insight (blue buff) grants mana regeneration and cooldown reduction for frequent ability usage. It's best to give blue buff to ability-oriented allies (usually a mage, assassin, or fighter).
- Rift Scuttler: When "killed", a Rift Scuttler will bury itself in the riverbed, creating a circular area that grants vision for 75 seconds and a speed boost to allies that walk through it. Having this helps both secure or deny Dragon/Baron, and aids movement between lanes. Remember, the respawn time for the Scuttler is a hefty 3 minutes, so choose strategic times to kill it.
Kills are not objectives! They are a means to an end - controlling actual objectives. While killing champions gives substantial gold and experience bonuses, a numbers advantage, and is disturbingly satisfying, it is possible to win games with no kills.
A perfect example of a low-kill game is the professional match CLG vs Curse in the 2014 NA LCS Spring Split. CLG was able to push their advantage and completely beat Curse while only getting 4 kills. First Blood happens at an astounding 23 minutes into the game, and the game ends a mere 2 minutes later. CLG secured victory through superior objective control, prioritizing objectives above kills.
A game on Summoner's Rift has 3 distinct phases that transition as champions gain levels and items, and structures are destroyed:
- Early Game (laning phase): Players focus on farming, denying farm and experience to opponents, and destroying outer turrets. Denying is accomplished by forcing opponents back to base through consistent harass, or by killing them. Basic items and components are purchased. Dragon is a realistic, but dangerous, objective.
- Mid Game: Players begin roaming and grouping for ambushes, or to concentrate on an objective. Team fights, battles between all 10 players, start occurring. Champions have surpassed level 6 and have one or two core items completed. Middle and inner turrets are the focus, along with Dragon and remaining outers. Vision control becomes much more important. Baron is a realistic, but extremely dangerous objective.
- Late Game: Champions are nearing level 18, have their core items completed, and are working towards full build (6 complete items). Inner turrets, Inhibitors, and Nexus turrets are the focus, along with Baron and Dragon. Grouping and team fights are common, as it is dangerous to be found alone. Respawn timers are now extremely long and have significant impact. Vision control is crucial to victory.
The meta (metagame) is unwritten rules that guide player decisions. Efficient strategies, popular or imbalanced items and champions, game changes, and professional play are all things that contribute to the meta. Innovation and adaptation are encouraged, but understanding the meta is an important step to proficiency.
The meta is constantly shifting in minor ways, but the core often remains unchanged. To gain optimal amounts of gold and experience, teammates separate to different lanes during the early game:
- Bot (Duo): A marksman and a support share one lane. Marksmen are initially weak and fragile champions who need gold, but not as much experience, to become powerful. Supports excel at protecting and empowering, and need little gold to do their jobs. These two make the perfect duo, sharing experience and allowing the marksman to take all last hits. Sending the duo bottom lane makes it easier for a team to take or contest Dragon.
- Mid: Mages and assassins go solo in the mid lane. They benefit greatly from levels and gold, so sharing these is sub-optimal. The distance from turret to center-of-lane is shorter in mid than outer lanes, which offers extra safety to these fragile champions. The central location makes roaming for surprise attacks convenient.
- Top: Fighters and tanks also benefit from solo gold and experience, but with their inherent durability, don't need the safety of the shorter mid lane. Bot is better occupied by the duo, so top is their lane of choice.
- Jungle: Champions that occupy the jungle, called junglers, primarily gain gold and experience by killing monsters, rather than sharing minions in a lane with another teammate. See the chapter 'Closer Look: Jungling' to learn more about this complex role.
A team composition is the aspect created by the combination of champion attributes. Players often describe this as synergy. A variety of roles, a mix of damage types, and complementary crowd control/utility are all things that benefit a team's cohesiveness.
Forming strong compositions takes experience and communication. Focus first on learning champions and determining your personal strengths. To help you understand the subject, I've listed common compositions below.
Closer Look: Jungling
The jungle lives up to its name. It can be difficult to succeed there, let alone survive. This chapter will put you on your way to becoming a seasoned trailblazer!
Jungling requires skilled decision making, efficient time management, and thorough game knowledge. Smite is required, and runes and masteries also have a large impact. Because of this, low-level players don't jungle, and instead play duo top lane.
The Jungler's Purpose
Rather than farming minions in a lane, a jungler farms monsters across the entire map. Towers and minions reveal the locations of laners, but junglers are hidden in the fog of war.
Junglers use this advantage in many ways. Ambushing enemy laners (called a gank) can put teammates ahead. Counterjungling, stealing monster kills from the enemy's side, denies the enemy jungler farm. Dueling their jungler, who might have low HP after clearing a camp, and either killing them or forcing them back to base, is another way to keep the enemy behind.
The Jungler's Tools
The jungling role revolves around the summoner spell Smite and the item Hunter's Machete. These are mandatory.
|Hunter's Machete is every jungler's starting item. It grants extra damage against monsters, extra gold for killing them, and sustain through HP/mana regeneration while fighting. Only players who have Smite can purchase the Machete.|
Hunter's Machete upgrades into 4 different items, each of which aid junglers in unique ways. You can exchange between these items freely to switch things up during a game:
Ranger's Trailblazer is useful for all junglers. The AoE damage means faster clear times, and the HP and mana restoration lets you stay in the action.
Stalker's Blade makes ganks more fearsome! Smite champions to damage them and steal their movement speed (slow them while boosting your own speed).
Poacher's Knife is for counter-jungling. Successful poaching is rewarded with a reduced cooldown on Smite, extra gold, and a movement speed bonus for speedy getaways.
Skirmisher's Sabre is for duelists, who can Smite enemies to kick some ***! Once smote, the enemy takes more damage, deals less back, and is marked with vision so they can't sneak away.
These items can be enchanted by combining them with other items. Any Hunter's Machete upgrade can be combined with any enchantment, allowing for large variety in customization. Once enchanted, you cannot exchange items:
When building these enchantments, follow the logic demonstrated in the chapter 'Items'.
Each monster camp (except the Rift Scuttler) has a unique smite reward. Smiting instantly grants the smitee this buff - no killing required!
- Gromp grants Gift of the Toadstool, which poisons enemies who attack you. Use it to clear camps faster, or add damage to early skirmishes.
- The Murkwolves summon a roaming spirit to watch over your jungle. It's basically a short-lived mobile ward.
- The Raptors grant Razor Sharp, which signals when a ward spots you. For a short time, wards are revealed - if you can find them! Quick, check that bush over there! Use this to make your ganks sneakier.
- The Krugs grant Gift of the Heavy Hands. Your basic attacks periodically stun monsters, and deal true damage to turrets (which consumes the buff). Use this to beat up other monster camps.
- The Red Brambleback restores 20% of missing HP.
- The Blue Sentinel restores 25% of missing mana.
(Killing any large monster will restore small amounts of health and mana, whether or not it has been smote.)
Technically, any champion can jungle, but some are better suited for the wild.
Good junglers must be able to farm efficiently, meaning they clear camps reasonably fast without taking too much damage. Champions with low-cooldown, AoE damage abilities and/or good single-target DPS are good picks.
Their abilities help them perform one or more of the tasks mentioned above: ganking, counterjungling, or dueling.
Closer Look: Warding & Vision
The vision system gives players control over the fog of war, the darkness that obscures vision around the map. Every player needs to understand this system, and contribute to vision control every game.
The Purpose of Wards
Wards are consumable, place-able items that reveal an area of the map in a radius.
Defensive wards provide advanced notice of incoming attacks. They can spot ganks during laning phase, or cover a team's flanks and rear during fights and sieges.
Offensive wards spot enemy movement on their side of the map, exposing them in vulnerable positions. They help a team control objectives like dragon and Baron. Use wards in lane bushes to help fight lane opponents.
Warding is dynamic. It's too costly and time consuming to keep the entire map warded, so choose objectives to focus, and by anticipate what your enemies will focus (such as a low HP turret or an exposed inhibitor).
Wards don't matter if you don't check your minimap consistently (at least every 10 seconds). Make it a habit!
- Stealth Wards (greens) (middle) last 3 minutes, take 3 basic attacks to destroy, and become invisible after 1 second of being placed.
- Trinket wards (yellows) (left) are stealth wards that last for less than 3 minutes and come from the Warding Totem.
- Vision Wards (pinks)(right) take 5 basic attacks to destroy and last indefinitely. They do not stealth, but grant true vision, which means they reveal invisible units such as stealth wards.
Players can place up to 3 stealth wards and 1 vision ward. Wards can have skins, like champions. The only constant identifiers are the HP bar and colored orb above the ward.
The three Trinkets are free vision items that can be upgraded with gold. Exchange between them freely (or for a small cost after upgraded). Every player should start a game with one.
- The Warding Totem places a ward. Upgrades into Greater Stealth Totem or Greater Vision Totem.
- The Sweeping Lens scans for enemy wards, disabling and revealing them for a short period so they can be destroyed or bypassed. Upgrades into Oracle's Lens.
- The Scrying Orb reveals a portion of the map for a few seconds, and is good for quick, safe scouting. Upgrades into Farsight Orb.
Warding Strategy & Locations
The best places to ward are in bushes and high-traffic areas, such as jungle crossroads. Warding at the edges of brush, away from walls, maximizes vision range.
Vision wards are vulnerable and expensive. Use them in easily defensible areas or when denying enemy vision is of utmost importance, such as when fighting Baron.
Wards can be placed over terrain. Warding over walls can be safer and more convenient.
If the target location is inside terrain, your ward will be displaced when planted. You can use this displacement to extend your ward planting range!
This image shows common warding locations. Pink spots are suited for both vision and stealth wards, yellow for stealth only. These locations are mirrored on each side of the river. Remember, the best place to ward is wherever you need vision. These are suggestions; don't limit yourself!
The Ward Crosshair
Your cursor becomes a crosshair when placing wards. It is blue by default, but will turn green if the target location is in brush. It will turn gold if in terrain. Paying attention to the color will keep you from misplacing wards!
A number indicating how many wards you currently have placed appears next to the crosshair. If you are about to exceed the limit, the number is red, and an "x" on the minimap shows which ward will be removed.
Interface & Commands
Players must understand the information communicated through the interface. Use the Options menu (ESC key) to customize your interface, and to view and customize key bindings.
The Heads-Up Display
The heads-up display (HUD) is your primary source of information.
- Minimap: shows visible areas and units. Right-click it to move. Mousing over structures displays their last-known HP. Global abilities can be targeted using the minimap.
- Health and resource bar display. The middle numbers are remaining/maximum HP/resource, and the far right shows regen per 1 second. Icons represent (from left to right) the passive, abilities, summoner spells, and the 'base' command. Icons showing item actives and actionable statuses (Annie's Pyromania stacks in this picture) appear atop this bar. The blue bar above everything shows cast and channel times.
- Item slots, shop button, champion portrait and level, experience bar, and innate stat display (from top to bottom: AD, AP, AS, MS, armor, MR). Click the portrait for full stat display. Click and drag items to rearrange. The trinket slot only holds trinkets. Icons representing non-actionable statuses appear on top.
- Displays ally level, current HP/resource, ultimate availability, and respawn timer. The ult indicator is a green dot if their ult is off cooldown. Targeted abilities can be cast on these portraits (helpful for global abilities such as Shen's ultimate Stand United). Clicking their portrait reveals the target frame (discussed next).
- Target frame: left click a unit to see its HP, resource, items, level, and innate stats. Status icons are displayed beneath. The target frame is not accessible for units in the fog of war, except structures.
- Score bar: (from left to right:) team kill totals; your kills, deaths, and assists (KDA); your creep score, and game duration. Under this are your frames-per-second and a bar representing server ping.
- Champion portraits appear here, showing champion deaths, their killer, and who assisted. Game messages and tips also appear here.
- Combat text: rapidly disappearing text describing what is happening to a unit. CC and debuff text are accompanied by icons and graphics. Text is color coded and can be customized in the Options menu.
combat text color code
- shows summoner name, HP, and resource. Small notch represents 100 HP, large notch (not shown) represents 1000. To the left is champion level. A white bar called the loss-of-control UI appears underneath indicating the duration of CC.
- Surrender votes appear here. Click to vote. Start votes in the Options menu or by chat command /ff.
Hold TAB to view the scoreboard, which shows each player's summoner name and champion, their champion's level, summoner spells, items, KDA, creep score, and respawn timers. Items and creep score only update when you have vision of a champion.
At the top are team kill totals and Dragon Slayer stack icons.
In PvP matches, buttons to the far right let you mute a player's chat messages. You still see their pings.
Above the scoreboard are jungle timers. The larger timers show when Baron (purple) and Dragon (orange) will spawn. The smaller timers show each teams' red and blue buffs. These only update if your team has vision of the camp's death.
Mouse over icons and interface elements to reveal tooltips stating exactly what they represent. This example is from an unplaced ability point for Caitlyn's Piltover Peacemaker, which shows what changes with the next rank.
In tooltips, statistics are represented by this color code: AP, AD, armor, MR, HP, and mana. Base amounts sometimes are indicated in different colors than bonus amounts.
Use pings to quickly communicate with your teammates.
- Alt+left click or G: alert ping (A). Using this on an enemy will issue a target ping (B), and on allies, a request aid ping (C).
- Ctrl+left click or V: caution ping (D). Using this on a unit will issue a retreat ping (E).
- Holding the left mouse button during either command will bring up a radial menu with more pings (F). Move your cursor in the direction of the ping you want to issue. This can be done in a single, swift motion.
Hit Enter to open chat, type your message or command, and hit Enter again to send and close chat. Esc closes chat without sending. View the chat history by pressing Z. Click and drag the top bar after opening to move the window. Important notifications such as pings are announced automatically in chat, so make sure your time stamps are turned on.
- '/w "summoner name" ': send messages to out-of-game friends
- '/r': reply to messages from out-of-game friends.
- '/all': send a message visible to both teams. Shift+Enter will open the chat window in this mode. Visibility of /all chat can be toggled in the Options menu.
The spoiler below contains important abbreviations and jargon. Item and champion abbreviations, for the most part, are intuitive enough to not be listed.
If you want to be an Encyclopedia Brown of League, check out the terminology page from the MOBAFire wiki.
Be aware that LoL evolves, and community-made resources may fall out-of-date. Watch live streams to observe the most up-to-date gameplay.
Conclusion, Change Log, & Credits
Congratulations on reaching the end! I hope that you enjoyed my guide and have been bettered by it. If you have, please support it by sharing, commenting, upvoting, or giving me +rep!
I have an admonition to make. LoL's players have earned a reputation for toxicity and immaturity, and I would like to see this change. The best thing you can do for yourself and the community is to play with the right attitude. Play for fun, be open and willing to learn, and be encouraging to teammates as well as yourself. The Summoner's Code is a great set of guidelines in and outside of the game - learn it, and abide by it! Participate in The Tribunal, if you have time. Judging other's poor behavior can give you insight to your own.
Special thanks goes to:
Cestian, for taking the time to teach a random newb.
DaBrownCharizard, Knoxycotten, Animositty, and Suprar15 for introducing me to the game.
dudandwiggles for the awesome Nami picture.
Reddit user Fornoitdoesnt, for translating the guide to French!