Introduction: A Guide to the Guide
Welcome! I've created this guide to explain the fundamentals of League of Legends. I explain things with greater depth and detail than the Tutorial game, Battle Training game, and Game Info, so both completely new and moderately experienced players will find this guide useful. Do still use the aforementioned resources.
This guide contains LOTS of information. Pace yourself. The last thing I want is for you to feel overwhelmed, or for the game to lose its appeal due to cognitive overload.
Color Coding and Spoilers
While reading, please be aware of the spoiler boxes. Click to expand spoilers for extra tips and details.
(Hovering your cursor over links from within MOBAFire will display a convenient tooltip. Example: Nami)
Note About Game Modes
There are currently 3 permanent game modes within League of Legends--Classic, Dominion, and ARAM. I've chosen to limit the strategic and environmental information in this guide to League's premier game mode, the Classic 5v5 arena Summoner's Rift. Much of this information is applicable to the other game modes, especially Classic 3v3, played on the Twisted Treeline arena. Guides for the other game modes can be found in the Resources chapter.
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You, the player, are titled a Summoner in League of Legends. Playing games earns experience, which will level your summoner account from level 1 to the maximum level 30. Gaining summoner levels unlocks summoner spells, mastery points, and rune slots, which I will discuss later in the guide.
The free champion rotation is a group of ten champions unlocked for all players to try, which changes every week. I advise playing every free champion at least once--some are more difficult than others, and you may not like all of them, but you will learn the game more quickly.
Playing games earns Influence Points (IP), in-game currency used to unlock things in the Store. Every 22 hours, an account is given a Win of the Day (WotD) bonus that grants an extra 150 IP for victory in any game mode.
Most things in the Store 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. A summoner account starts out with 3 refund credits for the life of the account--these do not replenish.
Champions are the characters controlled by players during a match. Champions begin each game at level 1, and gain levels as a game progresses until reaching the cap at level 18.
Champions share 3 traits--they have a basic attack, a passive, and 4 abilities.
The basic attack (auto attack, AA) is performed by standing within range of or right-clicking on an enemy, costs no resources, and will reoccur continuously unless another target is selected, a movement command is issued, or the enemy dies or moves out of range. A champion's basic attack can be modified with items, and some champion's abilities modify their or their allies' basic attacks. A champion is classified as either melee or ranged, based on the range of their basic attack.
The passive is an innate characteristic of a champion that affects their gameplay, but does not require leveling with ability points and does not require any buttons to be pressed to be active.
The 4 abilities (sometimes called skills or spells) have two components. The first three basic abilities, activated with the Q, W, and E keys, have 5 ranks each that are advanced with the ability points acquired by leveling a champion. The fourth ability, activated with the R key, is known as an ultimate (ult, ulti) ability and is a champion's most powerful ability. The ultimate ability has 3 ranks can be advanced with ability points at levels 6, 11, and 16.
Champions are defined by their 4 abilities and passive, and can be categorized into 6 different roles. Champions can be played in a variety of ways, and often have primary and secondary roles.
|Mages (ability power carries, APC) are powerful spell casters whose focus is dealing damage to and disrupting the enemy with their abilities. They typically have ranged abilities and basic attacks, and have low defensive capabilities to balance out their powerful offensive capability.|
|Marksmen (attack damage carries, ADC) are ranged champions who primarily use their basic attacks to deal tons of sustained damage, known as damage-per-second (DPS). They excel in dealing damage to single targets, both champions and structures, and gain most of their power through items. They are often characterized by abilities that give them a boost to their basic attack damage, attack speed, or range. Marksmen are extremely fragile, and must work hard to keep their enemies at range in order to survive.|
|Tanks are typically melee champions that have high defensive capabilities, but relatively low damage output. They often have abilities that disrupt or disable enemies. Tanks can take a lot of damage, and use their abilities to protect allies, or create opportunities for their own team to deal damage. Tanks are usually the first ones in a fight and the last ones out.|
|Fighters (bruisers) are typically melee champions that combine moderate DPS with defensive capabilities. They can play both offensive and defensive parts in their team, and due to their medium survivability and damage, are capable duelists.|
|Supports perform a variety of tasks, but overall a support's power comes from enabling their teammates. Most are valued for their utility, which is usefulness other than damage. Utility comes from abilities as well as itemization.|
|Assassins are characterized by extreme mobility and massive damage, called burst damage for the short amount of time it takes to deal. They can nearly instantly kill mages, marksmen, other assassins, and sometimes even fighters, but if caught, will die just as quickly. Assassins make use of their high mobility to get in and out of fights quickly.|
There are three types of damage in League of Legends. Champions can deal one or more of these types.
Physical damage is dealt through all champions' basic attacks. Some champions' abilities deal physical damage as well. This damage is mitigated by armor. (Turret shots and attacks from minions and monsters also deal physical damage.)
Magic damage is dealt through most, but not all, abilities. There are abilities and items that add magic damage to basic attacks. This damage is mitigated by magic resist.
True damage is dealt by only a few sources, including a few champion abilities and passives, and the summoner spells Ignite and Smite. True damage cannot be mitigated by armor or magic resist.
In this section, I will cover the most common mechanics and terminology associated with champion abilities. To learn about an individual champion's abilities, read tooltips in game (see the chapter "Understanding the Interface"), click a portrait on the Champion Info page, or use the League of Legends wiki to view detailed information about each champion.
Ability Effects: What Do Abilities Do?
Abilities have a multitude of different effects, some of which are unique to a single champion! Often, a single ability has more than one effect. Let's talk about the most common of these.
- Damage removes health from enemies. Abilities can deal any one or combination of the three types of damage--physical, magical, or true. When a combination of damage types are dealt together, it is termed mixed damage. Damage-over-time (DoT, burn) abilities deal damage gradually, instead of instantaneously.
- Heal abilities return missing health to their targets. Healing a full-health target will not affect the target's health.
- Shield abilities grant temporary health. Shields benefit from the shielded unit's armor and magic resist. Shields are shown in health bars as grey. Magic damage shields, which only block magic damage, are purple.
- Crowd control (CC) abilities disrupt, disable, or impede enemies. Hard crowd control completely removes a player's control of a champion. Soft crowd control partially removes a player's control of a champion. Interrupts are forms of CC that can cancel channeled abilities--any CC that prevents a player from casting abilities is an interrupt, whether it's classified as hard or soft. Check the spoiler for a list of the most common crowd control types. Note that some champions have CC types or variations of CC types unique to themselves, which are not listed here. common Crowd control types
- Buff abilities increase allies' statistics. (Statistics are covered in the chapter "Champion Statistics".) Buff abilities that can affect only the champion casting it are referred to as steroids. Buffs that affect multiple units in an area around a champion are called auras.
- Debuff abilities lower enemies' statistics. Debuffs that affect multiple units in an area around a champion are called auras. Grievous Wounds is a specific debuff that reduces all healing and health regeneration by half.
- Movement abilities allow a champion to dash, blink, teleport, or otherwise reposition. Most movement abilities only affect the champion possessing the ability, but Thresh's Dark Passage allows use by allied champions. Many movement abilities allow a champion to cross terrain.
- Attack modifiers are abilities that grant special effects to basic attacks. Some attack modifiers are attack resets, which ignore attack speed and allow a champion to attack twice in quick succession when used properly.
- Some abilities apply on-hit effects, which are effects that normally only occur on basic attacks. Examples of on-hit effects include the item effect Spellblade from Sheen, Nami's ability Tidecaller's Blessing, and the buff
Blessing of the Lizard Elder
- 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!
Ability Attributes: Using Abilities
Ability attributes are the "rules" of casting abilities.
- Cost is the amount of resource an ability uses per cast. Mana is the most common resource used. Champions have a finite amount of mana, and each ability cast will remove mana from this pool until it is empty. Once a champion's mana pool is empty, abilities can no longer be used until mana is replenished. Not all champions use mana to cast abilities--some use their health, some use a rapidly regenerating resource called energy, some use resources unique to their champion, and some have no cost associated with any of their abilities.
- Cooldown (CD) is the period of time before an ability can be cast again. Most abilities go on cooldown immediately after being cast, but some abilities have variations on this mechanic.
- Multi-use abilities such as Ahri's Spirit Rush can be cast multiple times in a short window before the ability goes on cooldown.
- Charge abilities such as Teemo's Noxious Trap have multiple charges that can be used in quick succession, but the charges replenish with a cooldown.
- Toggle abilities such as Ashe's Frost Shot have a cooldown between switches, but grant a persistent effect when activated.
- Range is the measure of an ability's reach. Abilities have differing ranges, illustrated by their range indicators, which show when an ability icon is moused over, or when an ability is cast (unless it is an instant cast, auto-targeted, or Quickcast is turned on). Abilities with global range can be used anywhere on the map.
- Auto-targeted abilities don't require any aiming; when cast, the abilities simply affect all those in range.
- Targeted abilities require your cursor to be over a unit that is visible and in range to be cast. Most targeted abilities cannot be dodged, as they will follow the target regardless of its movement.
- Skillshot abilities can be cast independently of other units and require aiming using the cursor. Skillshots 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) abilities can affect multiple units.
- Single-target abilities can affect only one unit.
- Cast time is the delay between an ability cast and the occurence of its effect that prevents your champion from taking other actions. Most cast times are brief (~.5 seconds). Some abilities are instantaneous, with no cast time.
- Channeled abilities can have their cast time interrupted, putting the ability on cooldown without its effect occuring. Channeled abilities can be interrupted by the player, through movement commands or casting other abilities, or by enemies, through crowd control types that prevent casting.
Champion statistics (stats) are the numerical values that describe a champion's strengths. Numbers can be boring, but I highly recommend learning what these numbers mean. Understanding them will help you choose items, play to your champion's strengths, and counter your opponent's strengths.
Champions begin every game with base statistics. Most of these stats increase with champion level. Base statistics can also be increased with items, runes, and masteries. Gains from items, runes, and masteries are called bonus statistics. Base statistics are as follows:
- Hitpoints (Health, HP): The amount of damage a player can take before dying.
- HP regen per 5 (HP5): The amount of hitpoints gained back passively by a player every 5 seconds. Regen 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. Champions that don't use mana have no base statistics relating to mana and are unaffected by bonus statistics relating to mana.
- 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 the amount of physical damage taken. Each point of armor makes hitpoints 1% more effective against physical damage. For example, a champion with 100 hitpoints and 0 armor will be killed by 100 physical damage. A champion with 100 hitpoints and 100 armor has 100% more effective HP, meaning it will take 200 physical damage to kill them.
- Magic Resist (MR): Reduces the amount of magic damage taken. Each point of magic resist will makes hitpoints 1% more effective against magic damage. MR functions exactly like armor. All champions have 30 base MR, but only some champions 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 champion's basic attack reaches. Abilities each have their own individual range as well. Range cannot be increased by items, runes, or masteries, and does not increase per level, but some champions have abilities that increase their range.
- Movement Speed (MS): The number of in-game units a champion travels per second. A champion's base amount does not increase with levels. For reference, the map Summoner's Rift is about 19000 units from nexus to nexus.
- Gold per 10 seconds (GP10): All champions passively earn gold at a rate that is unique for each map. As such, this statistic is not bound to any individual champion. However, some items, masteries, and runes increase this rate by a flat amount.
There are statistics that champions can only gain through abilities, items, runes, or masteries. These statistics are as follows:
- Cooldown Reduction (CDR): Reduces by a percentage the amount of time before an ability can be cast again. Caps at 40%. Unless specified otherwise, cooldown reduction does not apply to summoner spells or item actives.
- Ability Power (AP): Ability Power points enhance most champion's abilities. AP is applied to an ability by a ratio specified by the ability. For example, Annie's ability Disintegrate deals 85 (+70% AP) magic damage at level 1. With 100 AP, this ability will deal 155 magic damage (85 base damage +70 AP). Having more AP usually means having more damage, but also can aid a champion's utility. An example of utility scaling is Lulu's ability Whimsy, which gives a % movement speed bonus that gains 10% for every 100 AP.Non-AP ScalingsAP and Structure Damage
- Armor Penetration (APen): Causes physical damage to ignore an opponents' armor. Armor penetration has flat and percentage values.
- Magic Penetration (MPen): Causes magic damage to ignore an opponents' Magic Resist. Magic penetration has flat and percentage values. Penetration & Reduction Calculation
- Lifesteal (LS): The percentage of damage dealt from basic attacks (and abilities that apply on-hit effects to basic attacks) returned as hitpoints.
- Spell Vamp (SV): The percentage of damage from abilities, summoner spells, and item effects returned as hitpoints. Area-of-effect abilities return one third of this percentage, and single-target abilities return the full percentage.
- Critical Strike Chance (Crit): Basic attacks (and a few abilities) gain a percent amount of chance to deal 200% damage. Critical strikes occur randomly, but measured over an extended number of attacks, every 1% of critical strike chance increases a champion's effective attack damage by 1%. Damage from critical strikes can be increased from 200% up to 295.51% using runes and the item Infinity Edge, which amplifies this effect even further.
- Tenacity: Reduces the duration of crowd control effects 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.
Runes give your champions bonus statistics. Runes are purchased in the Store using IP, and placed in rune pages prior to queuing for games. A single rune offers little benefit, but many together have significant impact. Players will usually specialize a rune page for a role or champion.
Players select the rune page they wish to use for a match during Champion Select. Summoners are provided with 2 pages, and can purchase more in the Store.
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|
Runes can only be placed into their corresponding rune page slots. A rune page contains 9 slots for marks, seals, and glyphs, but only 3 slots for quintessences. Primary runes from each category provide the best values of their statistic. Secondary runes provide statistics from another category, but in lesser amounts than their primary counterparts. (For example, compare Greater Seal of Armor and Greater Glyph of Armor.)
There are 3 tiers of runes. Lesser runes are available at summoner level 1, provide small bonuses, and are cheap. Normal runes are available at summoner level 10, are significantly more expensive, and provide mediocre bonus statistics. Greater runes are available upon attaining summoner level 20, provide significant bonuses, and are costly.
Check the chapter "Resources" for ways to learn more about runes. A full list of runes can be viewed here.
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 mastery trees: Offense, Defense, and Utility. Mastery slots further down each tree require that points be invested in the prerequisite mastery slots to be unlocked. Players can create up to 20 unique mastery pages that can be edited during champion selection or before queuing for a match.
21 points minimum will complete a mastery tree, but it is possible to spend all 30 points in one. It is perfectly acceptable distribute your points among the three trees as you see fit. Most popular mastery setups split 21 points in one tree, and 9 in another.
Players usually specialize a mastery page for a specific champion or role. In general, damage-focused roles should maximize the Offense tree. Durability-focused roles will want to maximize Defense masteries. Supports benefit from the Utility tree.
Points can be placed quickly by using the scroll wheel instead of clicking.
Explore each mastery and create your own pages on the League of Legends website. Here are some examples:
Summoner spells are powerful spells chosen before each match in champion select. They have long cooldowns, ranging from 40 seconds to 9 minutes. A player can take any summoner spells with any champion, but the best choices vary between games, based on the champion played, the role and position taken, and other players' champions. Summoner spells are unlocked at different summoner levels, and are all unlocked by summoner level 12. Mouse over the spell icons below to learn what each does. I will share some common uses of, and extra details about, each one.
|Ghost is for escaping or chasing enemies. Using Ghost as a melee champion makes it difficult for ranged enemies to stay at range. Moving through units, also known as avoiding unit collision, means a champion won't have to walk around minions, etc.|
|Heal is useful for erasing damage and making escapes, or countering harass in lane. Stacking multiple Heals isn't effective due to the 50% reduced healing for 35 seconds, so champions sharing a lane shouldn't both take Heal.|
|Cleanse aids fragile champions such as mages and marksmen who can be devastated by crowd control. "Summoner spell debuffs" refers to Exhaust and Ignite.|
|Exhaust can be used defensively to keep an enemy from dealing fatal amounts of damage or chasing, or offensively to reduce an enemy's ability to retaliate or escape. Exhaust is especially effective against burst champions (assassins).|
|Ignite is a popular choice for securing kills and making sure enemies don't escape allied vision in a bush or the fog of war. "Healing effects" includes health regeneration, lifesteal, spellvamp, and abilities; 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 crowd control abilities. If cancelled by the player, it will go on a reduced cooldown.|
|Smite is primarily for junglers, who use it to kill jungle monsters more quickly and make sure that their team gets the killing blow on important jungle objectives such as Dragon and Baron Nashor. Smite also works on various enemy units, such as Annie's bear Tibbers, Heimerdinger's turrets, and the bloblets from Zac's Cell Division, but does not work on champions!|
|Clarity is useful for champions or teams that use large amounts of mana. 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, avoiding ambushes, spotting out isolated 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 useful for getting back to lane quickly after dying to keep from missing out on experience and gold. (Protip: Teleport does it better.) Bypassing long death timers can save a game from loss, but it's a better strategy to use different summoner spells to avoid death entirely.|
|Garrison is a special spell available only in the Dominion game mode (which is the greatest and best game mode). Q: What is Pantheon's favorite game mode? A: Dough-minion.|
Items give champions bonus statistics and can be used to amplify a champion's strengths, or make up for their weaknesses. Purchased items are placed in 1 of a champion's 6 item slots and take effect immediately; there is no need to "equip" an item.
The most powerful items are made from recipes comprised of cheaper, less powerful component items, and in turn, components are made out of basic items. Basic items build into several components, which allows for variability in item choices.
Passives are essentially an extra passive ability gained from owning an item. Examples of items with passives include Guardian Angel, Warmog's Armor, and Liandry's Torment.
Actives are essentially extra abilities with their own cooldowns, gained from owning an item. Items actives can be used with the number key assigned to the item slot they occupy. Examples of such items include Zhonya's Hourglass, Youmuu's Ghostblade, and Ravenous Hydra.
Unique passives and actives of the same name cannot stack with each other, meaning 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.
Consumable items don't grant statistics or effects until they are consumed by using the number key bound to their item slot.
Itemization choices, called a build, are an important part of the strategy in League of Legends. Although most core items remain the same for a champion from game to game, players should make different choices each game depending on their opponents and their items, and how well they and their allies are performing.
Sometimes building the same items, but in a different order, makes all the difference! Rushing an item means prioritizing one item above others, buying components for that item until it is complete. Choose how you build carefully--building several items too slowly can delay your champion attaining the power they need, but rushing one item can mean you are missing essential stats from other items!
To choose appropriate items, ask yourself these questions, in this order:
- 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?
Champion Build Examples
The following examples will help you understand how to build champions. Consult online guides, experienced friends, or myself (see the Conclusion) if you are unsure about the suitability or purpose of an item. There are too many items and champions to discuss individually in this guide, but all the items can be viewed on the League of Legends website here.
|Annie is a mage, who relies on her abilities to deal damage. Annie needs mana to cast her abilities, ability power to make her spells more effective, and health and resistances to protect her because of her short range. This makes Rod of Ages a great first purchase. Rabadon's Deathcap and Void Staff are great 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 either a Negatron Cloak or a Seeker's Armguard to get the requisite resistances before finishing a complete Hourglass or Abyssal Scepter.|
|Ashe is a marksman who deals most of her damage with basic attacks. She needs attack damage, attack speed, armor penetration, and critical strike chance to be effective. Her passive Focus makes critical strike chance, a statistic typically purchased later in the game by other marksmen, particularly efficient. Therefore, Infinity Edge is a great first buy. Let's say Ashe is having trouble surviving fights, or is getting harassed out of lane. Lifesteal is a good defensive statistic for champions that deal lots of damage with basic attacks, so Ashe could purchase a Vampiric Scepter or even a complete The Bloodthirster before finishing Infinity Edge. Adding items like Berserker's Greaves, Statikk Shiv, and Last Whisper would be a perfect way to round out her build.|
|Garen is a fighter who needs defensive statistics to survive charging to the front lines. His passive Perseverance and his ability Courage make purchasing both health and resistances extremely cost-effective, so items like Sunfire Cape and Spirit Visage are great buys on him. Garen's base damages are high enough that he doesn't rely on items for damage, but if needed, he could buy items like The Black Cleaver and Last Whisper to aid Judgment and Decisive Strike.|
Each champion has an individualized shop menu labeled Recommended Items. If you are learning a champion, these items are a decent place to start, but I have important caveats. First, League of Legends has changed considerably since its inception, and some Recommended Items, especially for older champions, have not been updated to accommodate these changes. Second, not all Recommended Items are meant to be built together. The items shown sometimes represent the core items for several different build strategies for a champion, and don't always work well together.
Once you are comfortable with a champion or role, you can make your own custom Recommended Items page called an Item Set in the game client.
Items for Every Champion
There are three item types that every champion should buy:
- Trinkets grant a team vision through the fog of war. Trinkets are free and have their own item slot. They can be upgraded with gold.
- The Warding Totem is the most straightforward to use--see the chapter "Warding" for more. Upgrades into Greater Stealth Totem or Greater Vision Totem.
- The Sweeping Lens is used to deny enemy vision. Upgrades into Oracle's Lens.
- The Scrying Orb is good for quickly scouting ahead or using long-range skill shots. Upgrades into Farsight Orb.
- Boots give bonus movement speed. Boots of Speed can be upgraded into 1 of 7 second tier boots ( ) that each give a unique effect, along with a greater movement speed bonus. A boot can be upgraded a third time with 1 of 5 enchantments ( ). Boots of Speed are typically purchased early in a match, and are upgraded by the mid game. Enchantments are usually added in the mid or late game.
- Consumables such as Health Potions and Mana Potions are essential for surviving early in the game. Stealth Wards and Vision Wards are important at every stage in the game.
Doran's Shield, Doran's Blade, and Doran's Ring are special items often featured as Recommended Items. Their cost is similar to that of basic items, but they don't build into anything. They give a variety of slight statistical bonuses and have a passive. Don't underestimate the power of these little items in the early game! The stats they give are comparable to gaining an extra champion level. It isn't uncommon to see high level players buy one or two of these for a strong early start.
Support and Jungle Items
Support champions that play in the duo lane and champions that play in the jungle can buy special items that give extra gold income and effects useful for their roles. See the chapter "Summoner's Rift Strategy" to learn about the duo lane and jungle.
Supports can choose between Talisman of Ascension, Frost Queen's Claim, and Face of the Mountain. Face of the Mountain is designed for melee tank supports, Frost Queen's Claim is suited for mage supports, and Talisman of Ascension is useful for any class of support.
Junglers can buy Spirit of the Ancient Golem, Spirit of the Spectral Wraith, Spirit of the Elder Lizard, or Wriggle's Lantern. Golem is suited for tanks or fighters, Spectral Wraith for mages, Elder Lizard for fighters, and Wriggle's Lantern for fighters.
Summoner's Rift Environment
This chapter will help you get acquainted with League's most popular map, Summoner's Rift. I encourage you to create a custom game and explore the map yourself before venturing into PvP games.
Spawn & Shop: Commonly called the fountain, this area is where champions begin every game, and where they respawn after death. Open the shop to purchase items by clicking on the shopkeeper or using a keyboard shortcut. Standing in this area rapidly replenishes missing health and mana. Use the recall function (B key) to return here from anywhere else on the map. The spawn area is guarded by the Nexus Obelisk, a powerful laser that deals 2000 true damage per second.
Base: The area bounded by walls. Bases contain the shop and spawn, as well as inhibitors, Nexus turrets, and the Nexus.
Lanes: These are the long corridors of open terrain guarded by turrets. Each of the three lanes has its own name--top, bottom (bot), and middle (mid).
The River: Open ground with few bushes that connects the three lanes. Powerful neutral monsters make their home in the two pits found near the outer lanes.
The Jungle: The quadrants between the lanes, bisected by the river. The jungle is characterized by narrow corridors bounded by terrain and bushes. Here you'll find neutral monsters that can be killed for various rewards. The jungle is mirrored by the river, so that each team's side contains identical creatures and terrain.
Structures are the destructible objects found on the Rift. They take damage from champion basic attacks and minions. Structures in a lane must be destroyed sequentially, starting with the outermost turret and ending at that lane's Inhibitor. Only after an Inhibitor has been destroyed can the Nexus turrets and Nexus be damaged.
Turrets: Tower-like structures that fire powerful beams. Turrets have their own attack damage, HP, armor, and magic resist. Their armor and magic resist increase if no minions are in attack range. Inhibitor (tier 3) and Nexus turrets also have health regeneration, while Outer (tier 1) and Inner (middle, tier 2) turrets do not. Turrets provide true vision in an area around them, meaning stealthed champions an units are automatically revealed. If no minions are present, turrets will target enemy champions in range. If minions are present, turrets will only attack enemy champions if they attack an allied champion who is within that turret's range. Sequential attacks against champions increase in damage, up to a maximum of 225% damage.
Inhibitors: Gem-like structures found at the base-end of a lane. Inhibitors do not attack, and only have HP and HP regen. They take reduced damage from champions. Destroying an enemy inhibitor strengthens allied minions and releases allied super minions in that lane. Inhibitors respawn 4 minutes after being destroyed, ending the boost to the opposing team's minions.
Nexus: Large gem-like structure found close to the spawn point within a base. Destroying the Nexus will end the game. The Nexus has HP and HP regeneration.
Minions: Minions spawn in waves at each Nexus and march down the lanes until they encounter an enemy unit, which they will attack. A wave spawns every 30 seconds, starting at 1:30. Each wave contains 6 minions, 3 melee minions and 3 caster minions. Every third wave spawns with a 7th, more powerful minion, known as a siege minion or cannon minion. Siege minions take 30% reduced damage from turrets. Siege minions are important allies, and valuable last hits.
Super minions: Super minions are extra powerful and durable. They spawn in a lane only when the opposing inhibitor is destroyed. They replace the siege minion and spawn with every wave. They grant nearby ally minions bonus armor and magic resist, making the entire wave more durable.
Neutral monsters: The creatures found in the jungle and river pits. Each monster--wraiths, wolves, golems, wights--have varying amounts of health and attack damage. Size is an indicator of power. Monsters will not attack unless attacked first, and will follow fleeing attackers for a short distance before returning to their camps and rapidly regenerating health.
Ancient Golem and Elder Lizard: Special neutral monsters that grant powerful buffs (persistent effects that last for a set time) to their killers. Due to the color of the buffs, each camp is commonly referred to by its respective color. The Elder Lizard is red buff, and the Ancient Golem is blue buff. The effects of these buffs are discussed in the Strategy chapter.
Dragon: Dragon (drag, drake) is a powerful neutral monster found in the river pit adjacent to bottom lane. It is immune to CC. The dragon's attacks deal a percentage of current health in damage, reduce the damage a champion deals by 20%, and also deal damage-over-time, so that champions take more damage than is immediately apparent. Its rewards are discussed in the Strategy chapter.
Baron Nashor: Baron Nashor (worm, nash, baron) is the most powerful neutral monster on the Rift, found in the river pit adjacent to top lane. It is immune to CC. Baron debuffs champions so that they deal 50% damage to Baron and take up to 250% increased magic damage from all sources. Baron also can knock enemies up and away.
Summoner's Rift Strategy
Success in League of Legends comes from more than flashy plays and high kill scores. It comes from controlling the factors that contribute to victory, being familiar with gameplay patterns, and having awareness of the tactics used on the Fields of Justice. If you have yet to play a PvP match, this chapter will greatly prepare you!
The main objectives of the game are clear--destroy the enemy's turrets, inhibitors, and Nexus. However, accomplishing these main objectives requires winning four other objectives first:
- Experience: Champions gain levels through earning experience. Experience is earned by being in proximity to dying minions, jungle monsters, and champions. It is also globally granted by destroying structures or killing Baron Nashor. Experience granted locally is split among those in the area. Leveling up makes champions much more powerful by increasing their base statistics, as well as a increasing the power of the ability leveled with a skill point. Gaining a level can be thought of as having a significant gold value when considering the stats gained!
- Minion & monster kills: Dealing the killing blow (called last hitting) to minions and monsters (termed creeps), is a player's greatest source of gold income, which directly translates into items. Last hits are recorded in-game as a number called the creep score (CS). Building a higher creep score is called farming. Don't underestimate the income gained from farming! Consistent last hitting will earn thousands.cs goals
- Jungle buffs: The buffs granted by killing the Ancient Golem ( Crest of the Ancient Golem ) and Elder Lizard ( Blessing of the Lizard Elder ) give a champion extra power. Securing these is often left to a team's jungler, but it is worth helping protect them, or trying to steal the enemy's. Red buff gives extra damage and a slow effect to basic attacks. Players find it optimal to give the red buff to their initiating fighter or tank, or to their marksman. Blue buff grants mana regeneration and cooldown reduction, allowing for frequent ability usage. Players find it optimal to give this buff to mages or to the jungler, who both use abilities heavily to farm and fight.
- Dragon and Baron Nashor: Killing Dragon grants gold to all teammates, and experience to those who helped kill it. Baron Nashor grants gold and experience to all members of a team, as well as an extremely powerful buff called Exalted with Baron Nashor that gives health and mana regeneration, ability power, and attack damage. Dragon and Baron are powerful monsters that require teamwork to take down. Teams are vulnerable while fighting these monsters, so be cautious when deciding to attack them!
Winning these objectives will allow your team to destroy turrets and inhibitors. I cannot stress enough how important structural objectives are--destroying turrets removes vision of the map for your enemies and allows your minions to push further in towards their base. Inhibitors are the most important structural objective besides the Nexus. Destroying an inhibitor and releasing your team's super minions is tantamount to adding a sixth player who relentlessly pressures the enemy's base. It is just as important to protect your own team's inhibitors as it is to destroy the enemy's.
Kills are not objectives! Killing champions is a means to an end--controlling actual objectives. While killing champions gives substantial gold and experience bonuses, a numbers advantage, and is hella fun, it is entirely 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: Known as the laning phase, champions in the early game focus on farming, denying farm and experience to their lane opponents, and destroying first tier turrets. Denying an opponent farm and experience is accomplished by forcing them away from lane through consistent harass, or killing them. Champions begin purchasing basic items and components. The junglers will gank to further deny enemies, or aid lanes that are being denied. Dragon is a realistic, but dangerous, objective.
- Mid Game: The mid game is characterized by team members roaming and grouping for ambushes or to concentrate on an objective. Team fights, battles between all 5 members of each team, will start occurring. Champions have surpassed level 6 by this point and will have one or two core items completed. One or more outer tier turrets will have fallen. As turrets fall, gaining and denying vision using wards and trinkets becomes 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 a complete 6-item build (full build). Inner turrets, inhibitors, and the nexus turrets are the focused objectives, along with Baron Nashor and dragon. Grouping and team fighting are common, as it becomes increasingly dangerous to be found alone by enemies. Respawn timers, which grow longer as the game progresses, are now extremely long and have significant impact. Vision control using wards and trinkets is crucial to victory.
The metagame, or meta, can be thought of as unwritten rules that guide player decisions. Efficient strategies, popular or imbalanced items and champions, the game environment (for example, turret stats and jungle camp spawn times), 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 becoming a proficient player.
The meta is constantly shifting in minor ways, but the core strategy often remains unchanged. In order to gain optimal amounts of gold and experience, teammates separate to different lanes during the early game:
- Duo Lane/Bot Lane: Typically one lane will be shared by two champions, the marksman and the support. The marksman needs lots of gold to buy items, but not as much experience, because they benefit less from levels than other roles. Marksmen are also weak and fragile early in the game. Supports need significantly less gold to be effective than the other roles, and excel at protecting and empowering teammates. As such, marksmen and supports make the perfect duo lane, sharing experience and allowing the marksman to take all the minion kills. Almost always, the duo will go to the bottom lane. This makes it easier to take or contest dragon.
- Mid Lane: Mages and assassins usually go solo in the mid lane. They benefit greatly from levels, so sharing experience is sub-optimal. The distance from the turret to the center of the lane is shorter in middle lane than the outer lanes, which offers extra safety from ganks to these fragile champions. Being in the center of the map makes roaming, showing up to surprise attack enemies in another lane, convenient.
- Top Lane: Fighters and tanks also benefit from the experience and gold offered by a solo lane, but because of their inherent durability, don't need the safety of the shorter mid lane. Bottom lane is better occupied by a support and marksman, so top is their lane of choice.
- The Jungle: Junglers gain gold and experience by killing the neutral monsters found in camps in between lanes. The jungle can be occupied by champions of any role, but is best taken by select tanks, fighters, assassins, and mages. Jungle monsters deal significant damage and are difficult to kill early on, so champions that have high damage, inherent durability, or healing effects make the most efficient junglers. Junglers use the fog of war to their advantage and make surprise plays called ganks on the enemy.two duo lanesnew players and jungling
A team composition is the aspect of a team created by the combination of champion attributes. Players often describe this aspect as synergy. Teams benefit from including champions from a variety of roles, with a variety of damage types (magical and physical). Champions with complementary crowd control and utility benefit a team's cohesiveness. Forming strong team compositions takes experience and communication--don't worry about it as a beginner. Focus first on learning champions and determining your personal strengths. But, to help you understand the subject, I've listed some common compositions in the spoiler below.
Warding, in combination with trinkets, is the vision system of Summoner's Rift. It is an essential skill every player should master. Optimal warding takes practice and experience--start practicing now! Remember, warding is useless if you don't check your map consistently (every 15-30 seconds is a good goal). Make it a habit!
The Purpose of Wards
Wards grant a major tactical benefit by removing the fog of war for a team. Defensively placed wards provide advanced notice of incoming enemy attacks. They can spot jungle ganks during the laning phase, or cover a team's flanks and rear around objectives like inner turrets and inhibitors. Offensively placed wards can catch enemies out of position, aid ambushes, or help a team control objectives like dragon, Baron, and jungle buffs. 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 at all times, so ward strategically by choosing objectives to focus, and by anticipating what objectives your enemies will focus (such as a low HP turret or an exposed inhibitor).
There are three types of wards. Stealth Wards (middle) last 3 minutes, take 3 basic attacks to destroy, and become invisible to the enemy after 1 second of being placed. Trinket wards (left) are stealth wards that last for less than 3 minutes and come from vision trinkets. Vision Wards (pinks)(right) last indefinitely, take 5 basic attacks to destroy, and are visible to the other team. Vision wards grant true vision, which means they reveal stealthed units such as stealth wards. It is advisable to use vision wards in easily defensible areas, and at times when denying enemy vision is important (such as by dragon and Baron). Please note that stealth wards and vision wards have skins, like champions, but trinket wards do not.
Recommended Warding Locations
The best places to put wards are often in bushes. Placing wards at the edges of brush, away from walls, will maximize vision range. Your cursor crosshair while placing wards is blue by default, but will turn green if the target location is in brush. Paying attention to the color of your cursor will help you optimize the placement of wards, and keep you from misplacing wards!
Images in the spoiler below show the most common warding spots, from the blue side's perspective. The corresponding locations on red side are equally suitable places for wards. Remember, the best place to put a ward is where ever you need vision--don't limit yourself to only these spots!
Warding and Terrain
Wards can be placed anywhere within your range, even over terrain. Warding over walls like the back side of double golems (shown below) can make warding more convenient, and warding over terrain like the dragon pit wall can help you get vision of important objectives from safety.
If your target location is inside terrain, your cursor crosshair will turn gold. Your ward will be displaced by this terrain when planted. You can use this displacement (shown below) to extend your ward planting range! Grab a Sightstone and practice warding tricky spots in a custom game!
Ward Limit Indicator
Each player can only place 3 stealth/trinket wards and 1 vision ward at a time. As you place a ward, a number indicating how many you already have placed appears next to your cursor. If you are about to exceed your limit, the number will appear red, and an "x" on the minimap will appear over which ward will be removed.
Understanding the Interface
Sound decision making in League of Legends requires information. The in-game interface provides all the information you need, but understanding and sorting it all can be challenging. I will discuss each interface element shown in the photos below, using some of my own terminology.
The Heads-Up Display
The heads-up display (HUD) is your primary source of information.
- Your minimap displays the location of your allies, enemies that aren't in the fog of war, and icons for jungle camps that are spawned. If your team sees a jungle camp die, the icon will disappear and reappear when the monster respawns. Mousing over structure icons display their current health, even through the fog of war. Click on your minimap to move to an area. Global abilities can be targeted by casting on the minimap--this is useful for global skillshots like Ezreal's Trueshot Barrage and Jinx's Super Mega Death Rocket!
- The status bar displays your abilities, their levels, and their current cooldowns; and your health and resource bars. Icons representing the buffs, debuffs, abilities, and items affecting your champion appear above the status bar. The blue bar above these icons shows the cast time or channel time of any abilities you are using.
resource bar numbers
- The statistics bar displays the following statistics: attack damage, ability power, attack speed, movement speed, armor, and magic resist; as well as your champion portrait, champion level, experience bar, item and trinket slots, and the shop menu button. Item slots correspond to your key bindings, and items can be rearranged to any slot in order to match your keyboard shortcut preferences. The trinket slot can only hold trinket items. Clicking your champion portrait will open the Champion Info menu.
- The ally bar shows your allies' level, resource bars, ultimate availability indicator, and respawn timer if they are deceased. The ultimate indicator will show as a green dot when a champion's ult is available. Targeted abilities can be cast on a champion portrait, which is helpful for long range or global abilities such as Shen's ultimate Stand United. Clicking their portrait reveals the selected unit bar (discussed next).
- The target frame is revealed by left clicking a unit (champion, minion, monster, pet, ward, or structure). It displays the unit's health, resource, items, level, attack damage, ability power, attack speed, movement speed, armor, and magic resist. Icons representing the buffs, debuffs, abilities, and items affecting the unit are displayed beneath the bar. This bar is not accessible for units in the fog of war, except structures.
- The score bar displays each team's total kills; your kills, deaths, and assists (KDA); your creep score; the game duration; your frames-per-second; and a bar representing your ping.
- Champion portraits appear here when a champion is killed, indicating which champion died, who dealt the killing blow, and who assisted.
- Combat text is rapidly disappearing text that appears around units describing what is happening to that unit. Text is color coded for different things and can be customized in the Options menu.
combat text color code
- A health bar shows a champion's hitpoints. Every small notch represents 100 hp, and a large notch (not shown) represents 1000. Underneath is their resource bar, and to the left is their champion level. A white bar called the loss of control UI will appear under this resource bar indicating the duration of CC along with a unique graphical effect.
- Surrender votes will appear here. You can click a button to vote Yes or No. Surrender votes can be started in the Options menu or by chat command /surrender.
The Death Recap appears every time you die. Clicking the Death Recap will expand a summary of your death. Read these to better understand how to counter your opponents!
Use pings to quickly communicate with your teammates.
- Alt+left click or G will issue an alert ping (A). Using this ping on an enemy unit will issue a target ping (B), and on an allied unit, a request aid ping (C).
- Ctrl+left click or V will issue a caution ping. Using this ping on a unit will issue a retreat ping (D&E).
- Using either command, but holding the mouse button, 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.
The shop menu can be opened with a keyboard shortcut or by clicking on the Shopkeeper at your base. Items can only be purchased within proximity to the Shopkeeper.
- Click this tab to switch between the Recommended Items and your Item Sets.
- Click this to view all items and a categories filter.
- Click these to switch between list and icon views.
- Type here to search. (Can't remember an item name? Try generic keywords like "hat" and "sword".)
- Your current items and gold are displayed here. Click an item and then the sell button to return an item for a percentage of its full cost. Made a mistake? Use the undo button before leaving the fountain.
- Left click an item icon to view its details here, and purchase with the BUY button. Double clicking or right clicking on an item's icon will instantly purchase it.
- View an item's recipe here. Items within the recipe are clickable.
- Shows what items, if any, the currently selected item builds into.
The scoreboard displays each champion's level, summoner spells, items, KDA, and minion score. Summoner names and respawn are also shown. Highlighted in red on the right are clickable mute buttons that prevent players from communicating with you in chat. You will still see their pings. The scoreboard will only update if a champion is not in the fog of war.
Above the scoreboard are jungle timers (not pictured...yet). The larger timers show when Baron (purple) and Dragon (orange) will next spawn. The smaller timers show each teams' red and blue buffs. These update ONLY if your team has knowledge of the camp's death--either by an ally dealing the killing blow to the final monster in the camp, or by having vision of the killing blow landing.
The Options menu has customizable settings. Browse through this menu to see keyboard shortcuts and maybe learn a few other tricks. Highlighted in red is the surrender button. 20 minutes into a game, you can click this to start a surrender vote.
Tooltips are revealed by mousing over interface elements. This example is a tooltip revealed by an unplaced skill point, which shows what changes with the next level of the ability.
The Champion Info menu displays all your champion's statistics. There is also a button to view tips for your champion, but be careful. Some of these tips are outdated.
Chat is opened by pressing Enter. Hit Enter again to send a message, or Esc to close chat without sending. Important game notifications such as pings and dragon and Baron deaths are announced automatically in chat, so make sure your time stamps are turned on. View the chat history by pressing Z. Send messages to out-of-game friends with the /w "summoner name" command, or reply to messages from out-of-game friends with the /r command. Chat messages are visible only to teammates unless preceded by the command /all. Use Shift+Enter to open the chat window in all chat mode. Visibility of /all chat can be toggled in the Options menu. Move the chat window by pressing 'enter' and dragging the top bar with the mouse cursor.
Additional Info, Resources, & Terminology
There is much more to learn about playing League of Legends than I could contain in one guide, such as how to control your champions, how to make decisions, and how to work with teammates. Much of this will come with experience, but I encourage further study.
Most of this guide has been about the raw facts of the game. In the spoilers below I've written what I consider the most indispensable lessons. These bits of wisdom will help take you from book smart to street smart.
Contained in the spoilers are links to resources that I find invaluable. (These are in addition to the content hosted on the League of Legends website, such as Player Support.) Be aware when using some of these resources; LoL evolves, and some of them may fall out-of-date. I encourage you to watch streams on Twitch.tv to observe the most up-to-date gameplay.
Players use many abbreviations and jargon for efficient communication. Items and champions especially have their own abbreviations, which, for the most part, are intuitive enough to not be listed here. I included many terms and abbreviations throughout the guide, but the spoiler below contains even more:
If you want to be an Encyclopedia Brown of League, check out the terminology page from the MOBAFire wiki.
Conclusion, Credits, & Change Log
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 player base has 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.
Come test your knowledge or learn even more by joining me on stream at twitch.tv/thealltomato. I will play games with or spectate viewers and provide live commentary.
I welcome questions and constructive criticisms. PM or comment on MOBAFire, Twitch, or Reddit. I am /u/The-All-Tomato. Feel free to add me in game; I play on NA.
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!