League of Legends Beginner's Guide
Who should I play in League of Legends?
The variety of Champions is what draws a lot of players to League of Legends. It unfortunately is also what turns a lot of newcomers away. The best advice one can have when looking at the Champion pool is play what you think looks cool. There is a trial period before you can play competitive game modes from level one to level thirty and you’re always placed with similarly leveled players. Most people pick a role, and learn to play a handful of Champions in that role in order to better understand the way that role works. A huge part of learning the game is playing the game and over time understanding how the bits and pieces come together.
There are some people who will only play one or two champions in order to master that Champion. The biggest drawback to this, as there are many, is that in the Ranked setting, it can get picked or banned away from you in the Draft Phase. Play the practice mode to familiarize yourself with the basics of League. Since its inception, they have really improved the Tutorial and have expanded how many Champions you can test out in Casual modes without buying any of them.
It’s important to note that League of Legends in an entirely free game. When buying Champions, you can do so without spending any real money. Instead there is an in game currency called Blue Essence (BE) that you accumulate through various means. Riot Points (RP) are purchasable with real money and are better off used to buy cosmetics that you really like, while Champions should be bought with BE.
What Role should I play?
Take note in what Role your chosen Champions are best suited for. Champions like Ashe, Jinx and Varus are ranged ADC’s, best for the Bot lane ADC role. While Champions such as Darius, Riven and Gnar are Melee Fighters/Tanks and are great picks to hold the Top lane steady. Some Champions are flexible and are able to be played in multiple different ways with different playstyles and builds. A few like that are Jax, Olaf and Maokai. All three are slightly different from each other, but share characteristics that make them viable in multiple roles. Maokai can thrive in Top, Support and Jungle. Jax and Olaf both make good Top and Jungle picks. Some Champions are very difficult to play in Roles that aren’t their main. Most ADC’s can’t branch out of the Bot lane while some AP carries will struggle out of the safety that is Midlane.
What is the goal in League?
While kills are oh so enticing, Towers, Buffs, Dragons, and Baron can swing easily lost teamfights into winnable ones. The standing gold on the map is yours for the taking and the added pressure from buffs given to you by Dragons and Baron scale your team’s Champions. Cloud Drake gives a movement speed buff, Ocean gives an increase to Health Regen, Infernal increases percent damage, while Mountain gives added damage to Objectives like Towers and Baron. Baron buff is known as the Hand of Baron, which gives an increase to both AP and AD damage as well as enhancing all abilities of nearby Minions, Elder Drake gives bonuses based on the types of Dragon your team has already killed.
Towers are often referenced as “Standing Gold” meaning that its there on the map for the taking and teams normally should rally to each bring them down. The Tower advantage brings a lot of gold and flexibility to the team who has taken more, making other advantages less solid. Gold is the main driving force of the game, the more gold you earn from minions or towers or kills or all of it, the more powerful you can make your Champion when purchasing items.
How should I measure the course of a game?
Something that could go into the Amateur or Pro guide, but is important enough to go over some key points in the Noob Guide is the Flow of the game or it’s Tempo. Map rotation, Jungle pathing, Timers, Lane Management all contribute to Tempo. It’s almost like a domino effect, Lane Management and Jungle Pathing lead to Timers and Map Rotation which leads to the inevitable Victory or Defeat screen. It’s always important to remember that nothing is surefire, but there are ways to increase your odds of winning.
Lane Management is keeping vision control around your lane to keep track of when your counterpart attempts to roam or when the enemy Jungler is coming in for a gank. Making sure you Back when your lane is at an advantage is another part of Lane Management, it will ensure that you have more minions to kill when you get back to lane.
Jungle Pathing is an important thing to learn as a Jungler, Champions require different paths to be most effective, and different playstyles contribute to the specific paths Junglers take even when others are “more effective”. Jungle paths lead to better timed ganks and calculated level advantages over other Junglers and other Laners. Timers really only references the timings in which Jungle camps come back up, and when you pressured a lane hard enough to get a Flash or other Summoner Spell. Quickly getting back to your camps means less time in the Jungle and more time ganking lanes.
When Summoner Spells are used, it becomes easier to repeat gank for a kill, so knowing the time frame you have to come back in can turn a lane into a really advantageous one. We won’t break it down too much in this guide as Tempo does get rather complicated and at early Ranks relies heavily on situational awareness as opposed to proficiency.
What items should I build?
After familiarizing yourself with a few Champions and their abilities, the next step in getting them to their full potential is buying items, building them appropriately. In most cases Champions in the same Role buy similar items, with little variation, and one or two of your item choices changes based on the team composition your enemy fields.
Going a tankier Champion means building Health, Armor, and Magic Resist. If the enemies have more Mages than MR will be more beneficial to your longevity. When up against another AD Champions Armor will nullify some damage coming out of the enemy team.
There are also some utility items such as Frozen Heart and Thornmail that help against AD Champions a bit more than AP ones. Some other Tanky utility Items are Adaptive helm, which helps against AP damage, Gargoyle Stoneplate which helps with both AP and AD damage, and Zeke’s Herald which allows some MR and Armor and adds a little more lane pressure. AD Champions fall into two main Categories, Fighters and ADC’s. Fighters need a little more tankiness to them to consistently pump out damage while ADC’s require as much damage output as possible with very little tankiness to them
Fighters will often build things like Trinity force, Black Cleaver, and Spear of Shojin. Ranged ADC’s will normally go the trifecta of Crit items with a lifesteal item and an armor pen item. A normal ranged ADC build goes something like; Infinity Edge, Runaan’s Hurricane, Phantom Dancer, Blood Thirster, Last Whisper.
Melee ADC’s or Assassins like to combine Lethality and Armor Pen with Attack Damage and some tankiness to offer some bursty AD output. Lethality Items include Youmuus Ghost GhostBlade, Dusk Blade, and the Edge of Night. AP Mages and AP Assassins are the two main forms of AP Champions but they share a lot of the same items, Magic Pen is almost necessary on any AP champ.
Some items you may build on a Mage that you wouldn’t normally on an assassin include, Rod of Ages, Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Archangel’s Staff. RoA and RCS add a bit of tankiness and utility that the Mages need for laning and teamfighting whereas Archangel’s Staff offers some utility along with extra mana and sustainf for extended fights. AP Assassins usually heavily focus on AP and magic penetration. Often times they will have items like Mejai’s Soulstealer, Liandry’s Torment, and Hextech Protobelt. Hextech protobelt offers a little bit of utility and tank but makes it easier to engage or disengage depending on the situation.
What are Runes?
Runes are an essential part of the game, and are rather complex. There are Tank runes, Damage Runes and just, so many more kinds. Bare with this section to an extent but also recognize the experimental nature and freedom that Runes allow.
Runes are divided up between five different natures, each with three Keystone runes and nine minor runes. Each Rune Page you make can use a Primary and Secondary nature with three free runes categorized as “Offense, Defense, Flex”. The Primary nature utilizes the Keystone while the Secondary does not.
The natures are; Domination, Precision, Sorcery, Resolve and Inspiration. Domination is popular among junglers and burst Champions. Precision is usually taken by ADC’s and Fighters. Sorcery more or less is used by AP Champions. Resolve is for those who like a little extra tank in their kit. Inspiration is full of utility based runes and is used by a variety of Champions across every lane, but often is used as the Secondary nature.
You can either use the runes to make up for what your Champion lacks in stats or to accentuate what they’re already good at. Most people choose the latter to help scale their Champion faster and more consistently game to game. Runes get changed less frequently than Champions do no that they’ve been out for awhile.
While some are obviously better suited for specific roles and playstyles, they are all very flexible. The Offense, Defense and Flex runes are just that, the Offense rune lets you choose between 9 Adaptive Damage, 10% attack speed, and 1-10% Cooldown reduction (based on level). Defense offers 6 armor, 8 Magic Resist, or 15-80 Health (based on level). Flex allows you to double up on either the Adaptive Damage, Armor or Magic resist Runes.
What are Summoner Spells?
Summoner Spells are a staple in every game mode that isn't TFT. you’re forced to take two no matter what and choosing the right ones are important. The right ones change from meta to meta but Flash is almost always on all ten players on the RIft. Flash offers a means of escape for everybody, while also being able to be used as a means of hard engage. Trading Flashes is often considered on par with trading kills as getting an opponent to Flash means they are down a huge escape tool, which can turn into an easy kill.
Heal and Barrier are used by ADC’s and Mid Laners usually to mitigate some of the incoming damage from their lane counterparts. On the other hand, many people like to take Ignite on whatever role they’re playing to increase their damage output in lane and counter Heal if timed correctly.
There are some other Utility style Summoner Spells like Teleport, mostly used by Top laners but has a few use cases for Mid and ADC roles, which literally teleports your Champion to another part of the map when you target a friendly minion, ward or tower. Exhaust is usually taken by Supports and some mid laners to slow incoming ADC and Assassin Champion damage. If you’re facing some heavy Crowd Control comps, taking Cleanse can be a game changer which nullifies all disables that aren’t Airborne or Suppression debuffs.
Where should I be when my team is fighting?
Teamfight positioning is super important and it includes some split second decisions on either side of the fight to mess up or secure a strong position. Some of this may seem rather obvious but it can be hard to remember in the thick of things where you should be when a fight is going on.
Tanks and fighters for the most part should be soaking poke and looking for the engage or counter engage.
Ranged ADC’s should be a secure distance away from whoever they’re auto attacking to help ensure they have the necessary room to maneuver and navigate the rest of the fight.
Supports and Assassins usually can be wherever during a teamfight, as long as they’re able to do their job without getting nuked down to 0hp. Utility and AP Supports should stick near the back or just outside of the main fight, producing heals and shields to sustain whoever is taking the brunt of the damage while also preparing to help disengage and possibly die for the greater good of the fight.
Assassins should look for a way around the fight to dive the backline effectively and pick off the biggest threats to the fight. Some are well suited for short Frontlining because if they are not focused down super quickly, they can cause a bit of chaos on the Frontline.
Mages can be Frontline or Backline depending on their kit and stats. High health Mages can withstand the poke, and if they have CC of their own then being able to run up and stun/snare/root/spook while putting out damage can turn a teamfight rather quickly. Some Mages though focus on burst style play and should stay near the backline looking to counter any engages set in motion by the enemy team.
Baiting out the enemy and using the Bush strat can help teamfights, but being clustered up has certain drawbacks one should be weary of. Any Area of Effect skills can ruin the surprise.
Can I watch professionals?
While the pro scene is vastly different in terms of utilization of the meta and optimal play styles compared to solo que, it is almost a guarantee that you will learn a lot by watching them play. Streamers are also a good place to go when you’re confused about how something in the game works.
Simply put, they’re better than us. They know more than us. They get paid to play the game, so why not tune in and learn a thing or two? Watching the pro scene is also a great way to learn about how the game works and familiarize yourself with the terminology used throughout the game and community. My own mother watched my brother compete at the Collegiate level and can actually have some more or less intuitive conversations about a game she’s never played before.
How bad is Tilt in League?
League of Legends is often considered a very volatile game, but let’s be honest, so is every other Multiplayer game. A lot of players tend to struggle with keeping a cool head in this game. Whether it be raging at teammates or simply keeping your chin up after a tough loss. There are plenty of good ways to help keep a positive outlook, or to reset your mental.
Mental health is very important, and some of us take games too seriously and it can come back to hurt us through no fault of our own. It can be easy to forget that it is just a game for most of us no matter how passionate about it we are.
After you take a heavy loss, or my personal rule is two losses in a row, get up and walk around, fill up your water (that you should be drinking!) use the restroom, grab a snack. Sometimes, instead of queuing, it may be more beneficial to go through the replay and look for ways that you could have improved on your position or awareness.
There is an automated ban system, and it is there for a reason. It is abused sometimes but for the most part, it does its job. Do your best to control your temper and thankfully, there is a mute button to help ignore the unwanted chatter. Keeping a cool head and allowing an open line of communication normally does benefit the team environment however.
You can come up with your own Mental Fortitude routine, if you can avoid the tilt you can power through the toxicity that comes with any competitive game. Having a duo partner can help or hinder your overall game experience and mentale, keep that in mind when playing with friends, and maybe try playing Ranked Flex or Normal games when with a group of people, for a more enjoyable experience
How much strategy is in League?
Like any other game there is a lot of strategic thinking involved. This ties into playstyles and the more you practice a strategy the better equipped you are to play the next game and the better you become at the game.Try new things in Casual and attempt to repeat those scenarios in Ranked play.
Practice last hitting minion waves or “Farming” to help increase your gold per minute, having more gold always leads to an advantage in lane and in turn, teamfights.
Every minion is worth gold and every neutral monster (except drake) are worth gold. While everything else in Laning Phase is important, nothing is more important than farming, other than staying alive. In the Jungle, practicing jungle pathing will help you time out Ganks better and ensure that you’re almost always able to play at a consistently increasing level.
Pathing depends on a lot of things; which Champions you and the other Jungler are, which Champions your laners are, how far pushed up/in they are, whether or not you invaded or got invaded, and sometimes, whether or not your laners want your help. In future guides we will discuss optimal pathing, but for the most part, in lower Ranks, one or two paths will suffice game to game. Just remember that efficiency is key and if you’re backing at the wrong points in time you can fall behind rather quickly.
You will hear a lot of pings, and familiarizing yourself with what they mean is important, is someone asking for help? Telling you to be careful? or simply pointing out where they see somebody else so everyone can keep track of where danger zones may be? It is also possible that pings are being used to flame other teammates but this just clutters communication and hinders the overall effectiveness of your team play.
Map awareness is crucial to decision making in game and pings can help increase your teammates map awareness when used correctly. Map awareness is being able to read within the lines of what you can see on the minimap. You are better equipped to make decisions if you’re able to keep track of everything going on within the game via the mini map. We will go into more detail in a bit.
What is Vision?
Knowledge is power and that is no different on Summoner’s Rift. the more of the map you have lit up, the more you know where people are and are not. Knowing what is safe and what is dangerous is a key to surefire victory. Seem obvious? Then why does a majority of players treat vision as an afterthought?
Most likely because during laning phase it really is a tertiary objective. ADC’s are trying to farm, poke, then ward while Supports are trying to poke, sustain, then ward. Solo Laners are a little more aware of their need to ward, as an impending gank could spell their doom, but even so, their focus is more farm, trade, ward.
Jungling vision is another matter, your wards can either be used to lessen the stress on your laners by placing wards near your lanes to offer some more insight on whether or not they will get ganked soon, or to help pinpoint where the other Jungler is by warding a camp. If the aren’t at Blue buff when it’s up, then they are either on their way or looking to gank.
There are a few different kinds of vision. Normal wards include the likes of Stealth wards available from the Totem Ward Trinket and the Support Items and Control Wards. Control wards have four health points and are used alongside the Oracle Lens to try and counter Stealth wards of the enemy team.
Stealth Wards are invisible and run on a timer, they are effective for awareness in an area, base level vision. Control Wards are used to control vision in an area of importance.
Oracle Lens is a Trinket that is most often used by Supports and Junglers, as well as laners that play against Teemo. They are used to further increase control over a point of interest. Vision control over an area can help increase the odds of a team taking a neutral objective like Baron or Drake.
Some Runes under the Domination tab offer alternate forms of vision such as Zombie Ward or Ghost Poro. Zombie Ward offers another ward to placed when your Champion kills an enemy ward while Ghost Poro can be left in a bush. When an enemy Champion moves through that bush the team with the Ghost Poro gets Vision and a ping on the map.
Should I use the Replay feature in League?
One of the best ways to pinpoint mistakes and learn more about how each game can vary is to go back and watch the replay of a game you just played. Study your movement and decision making and that of other players. Try not to get caught up in the “my Bot Lane just fed and there was no coming back from that” look at how each lost situation could have been remedied. As mentioned before, watching others play is also a good way to fine tune your own decision making, but watching yourself mess up in real time can be both humbling and lead to self improvement.
If you’re used to a certain way of play, and feel as though you couldn’t keep up with your standard, there’s a reason. You can find that reason and make corrections by going back and comparing your decisions from game to game.
Where do I go from here?
League of Legends is a very complex game with inner workings so deep that only the upper echelon of players can master all of these tips. However, Even just knowing these things exist can increase your odds of climbing the ranks and assist you on your journey to the top. Make sure to check out all of our guides and to keep playing. Playing the game is one of the best ways to better yourself, and while practice may not make perfect in this ever evolving game, it does warrant a stronger understanding of one of the most played games there is.