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What Is...League of Legends

Updated on February 3, 2014

The online gaming scene has exploded in the past ten years, with games like World of Warcraft, Defense of the Ancients, Minecraft, Starcraft 2, Team Fortress, Quake and Doom creating millions of addicted gamers, always looking for their next win.

League of Legends is part of a new trend - Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) and they differentiate from MMO's (Massively Multiplayer Online) simply because they offer a more condensed team building experience, where an MMO will usually offer a huge open "world" to explore.

Even though the two genres are different, League of Legends (LoL for short), came from DoTA, a mod in World of Warcraft 3. We take a look at the game, scene and give a little guide on what you need to know.

Summoners Rift
Summoners Rift

What Is League of Legends?

League of Legends is the most played MOBA right now - with around five million active players worldwide, it is the one of the fastest growing free-to-play online multiplayer games and has the most vibrant e-sports scene.

Every player selects a champion, that champion has different skills and builds and can be assigned into different roles (lanes). The most popular map is Summoner's Rift, a 5 v 5 three lane battle between two teams.

The objective is simple - destroy all the enemy turrets, inhibitors and finally the Nexus. Each team has parallel objectives, one side is red and the other is blue. There are three lanes, top, middle and bottom, different champions play in different lanes.

Word
Meaning
Gank
Jungler moving into a lane to help.
Creeps
AI minions in lane.
Farming
Champions killing creeps.
CC
Crowd Control.
Mana
For some champions, abilities cost mana.
Energy
For some champions, abilities cost energy.
Laning
In the early levels, players will lane against an opponent.
Sustain
Some champions can buy items that give more health points or better defense.
AP
Ability Power.
AD
Attack Damage.
Minion Camps
Camps the jungler will farm for experience.
Dragon
A large camp that gives the team gold.
Baron Nashor
A large camp that gives the team a buff, extra gold and experience.
Wards
Vision items that show enemy in fog of war.
Should read this to understand topics below.
Volibear
Volibear | Source

Tank

The tank on a team normally has powerful CC abilities, allowing the player to slow/stun other champions and help out in team-fights. Normally, a tank builds defense items that increase survivability in lane and in team-fights. Tanks can also build damage for an extra boost, allowing them to take down squishier champions.

Normally tanks scale well through to the late game. In team fights tanks like to be in the face of the fight, taking the brawn of the damage and making sure the Marksman and Mage are capable of dealing damage.

There is no real way to counter a tank, other than stopping the growth early and making sure all the damage on the opposite team is dealt with before attacking.

Veigar
Veigar

Mage

The mage is a high-burst ability power champion, who works on gaining more ability power and magic damage throughout the game to quickly destroy an enemy champ. Normally found in the mid lane, a mage's abilities normally consist of silence, stun and slow to quickly burst their enemies.

Mages are incredibly good at scaling into the late game, becoming powerhouses of burst damage. They are easily killed due to lack of defensive items, but can use their stun/slow abilities to make sure they keep safe.

In team fights mages try to take down other mages or marksman, while making sure to stay out the line of fire. They can be countered with magic resist items.

Shaco
Shaco

Jungle

Junglers can be split into two categories: tank and carry. Tanky junglers build survivability items and carry junglers build offensive items that will help when killing enemies. A jungler spends most of his time in the jungle and can "gank" lanes, allowing the laner to push further ahead and zone out the enemy champion.

Junglers are normally mid-game heavy champions that help out the team and create possible wins in team fights. They normally have gap-closers or cc abilities to make sure they grab a kill when they gank a lane.

In team fights, a jungler will make sure they try to take out marksmen or mages or defend their own. Since junglers can build ap or ad depending on the champion, it is hard to really suggest a counter, buying wards does help in the early levels.

Caitlyn
Caitlyn

Marksman

Marksman are high damage champions that have the potential to snowball a team fight. They build full damage items and it makes them high priority targets, since they can burst down a champion in seconds. Plays in the bottom lane with the support champ.

In the late game, marksmen earn their stripes by being able to survive and deal enough damage to win a team fight. The pressure is really on, because if a marksman can survive for more than twenty seconds and deal continuous damage, they could end up killing all opponents.

Having ways to quickly shut a marksman down or stacking armor can vastly decrease the effectiveness.

Sona
Sona

Support

Support plays in bottom lane with the marksman, providing support and applying pressure in the lane. Supports normally have heal or CC to defend their marksman, allowing them to farm creeps without being killed. They do not gain a lot of gold and normally spend it on gold or team items.

Normally supports do not make it to the late-game because they fail to gain enough money. Buying ward and gold items can help the team and the support will make sure they can protect and help in team fights, without being killed to quickly.

Meta

The meta shifts in different ways. Back in Season 1, when League of Legends was just starting, different champions played in different positions. The 'types of champions' I have wrote about fit the current meta.

Gameplay

Every game is a little bit different - a lot of gamers will tell you how one-sided some games can become and how long others can last. This is just a guide of how an average match will take place.

First 10 Minutes

In the first ten minutes, each lane wants to gain as much experience and gold as possible. Creeps give gold for every last hit and teams will constantly farm the lanes, trying to gain kills wherever possible for extra gold.

Top Lane

Since the top lane will start a sustain item, usually both players want to farm. Unless one player takes a damage heavy champion, in which case the other with sustain has to try to make sure they don't get killed early.

Mid Lane

Mages are more volatile in the laning phase, unlike top lane, mages health points are low and can be easily killed with the right plays. Low health points and high burst allows one player to win a battle simply by outplaying the other. Both mages normally start a mana or ability power item.

Bottom Lane

Marksman will start a damage item, while support will buy wards, alongside an item to earn more gold or a tank item. The laning phase is normally a test of skill and partnership, if the support and marksman gel together, they can beat out the opponents with better timing in fights.

Jungle

The early jungle levels can either open up early ganks or more farming. Early ganks may help a lane progress quicker and build the champion, at the cost of the jungler growth. Junglers generally build one item to help clear minion camps quicker and then go for damage or tankiness.

Team fight
Team fight

10 - 30 Minutes

At this point, it does not matter who is where. Once a lane destroys the first inner turret, the team will group up and start taking objectives. It may take up to 20 minutes before a lane is completed, depending on how fast the lane can be pushed.

Once a team has grouped up, they can start looking at objectives. These include dragon and inner turrets. Inner turrets allow better access into the enemy jungle, while dragon offer tema gold.

Inner turrets can be taken down and open up the inhibitor turrets. Once inhibitor turrets are down, the inhibitor is open and can be destroyed. Once destroyed, your lane will start producing "super-minions", a more powerful AI creep that can push the lane quicker.

Baron Nashor
Baron Nashor

30 - 40 Minutes

After one inhibitor goes down, the team can either think about taking a second or third in different lanes or look to acquire Baron Nashor's buff. Both are extremely difficult tasks - to get another inhibitor, they will have to repeat what they did to the previous lane. Baron Nashor takes a lot to get it down and is the toughest creep in the game.

Once a team has two inhibitors or Baron Nashor buff, the game can be finished. The team does this by attacking the Nexus turrets, two of the last turrets in the game. Once they are down, the team can start hitting the Nexus, a large base where all minions are created.

The Nexus being destroyed ends the game.

Staples Center
Staples Center

E-sports

League of Legends has went beyond just a game and in fact many identify it as a sport. Currently, it is the biggest e-sports game in the world, with millions of people tuning in to watch the LCS (League Champion Series).

The LCS spans across many months and all regions get a chance to show off their talent in the Spring and Summer split. This happens in every region and is made to bring the best teams from the region to the top of the leaderboard.

Once each region has its best teams, they are sent off to Worlds. Teams from all across the world are put into different groups, where they battle for the top two spots to progress into the finals.

The top seed from North America, China, Korea and Taiwan is placed against the four teams who made it through the group stage. Each team goes up against another until the final. The Season 3 championship gained over 32 million views.

The winners last year, SK Telecom T1, won $1 million from Riot Games.

Alternatives

There are other MOBAs available to try out - I have not played DoTA 2 yet, but I have tried out SMITE and really enjoy Magicka: Wizard Wars. Here are links to all three, if you do not want to try out League of Legends, but want something similar.

DoTA 2

SMITE

Magicka: Wizard Wars

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