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What is League of Legends?

Craig Robinson  | 
League of Legends

Image Courtesy of Riot Games

‘League of Legends’, or LoL, has been the most played game in the world since 2012. Riot Games has held control over the online gaming scene for over half a decade. If you identify as a gamer, then you have definitely heard of LoL. League of Legends is a complicated game that has a steep learning curve, but with knowledge comes power.

League of Legends is often categorized as a MOBA, or multiplayer online battle arena, but League has a lot of different genre elements. MOBAs typically have RTS, or real time strategy, components throughout the game. In a nutshell, League of Legends can be described as a MOBA that has two teams, five players each, fight against each other with an objective in mind. MOBAs, like League of Legends, often require more dexterity and strategy than a lightning-fast trigger finger reactions.

How do you play League of Legends?

League of Legends is one of the most in-depth games out there to play and isn’t known for its shallow learning curve. It is a frustrating and unforgiving game but can be very rewarding at the same time. Organizing strategies and becoming familiar with each champion are all daunting tasks. Over time players will be pulling off new strategies and falling into the norm, while the skill gap continues to excel. League of Legends is an ever-changing game and that is one of the main reasons it remains at the top.

League of Legends has six different categories for champions:

  • Assassins- Move quickly and deal high amounts of damage to a single target. These champions are best used for quick fights and jumping out to safety.
  • Fighters/Bruisers- These champions can deal and take a lot of damage. Fighters are excellent in extended battles.
  • Mages- These champions are best used in distance scenarios. If mages are well protected, they can deal a lot of damage while being invulnerable to attacks.
  • Marksmen- Just like mages, marksmen are best utilized when damage is dealt at a distance.
  • Support- The main role of support characters are to amplify their teammate’s strengths and abilities.
  • Tank- Similar to fighters, tanks are best implemented as a “damage sponge”.

Every champion has a combination of abilities and one perk to create a unique combination. There is a lot of information to absorb that can leave new players feeling uneasy. Players with thousands of hours understand how each champion plays, what champions are the best selections for a match, and an in-depth understanding of the game’s mechanics. Putting five players together and expecting results is a poor choice in League, as there is a lot to consider. Every champion and player has a role, and they need to perform that role perfectly.

One of the main goals is to destroy enemy structures like turrets. Turrets can deal a lot of damage, and if there are no other minions around, the turret will deal that damage towards that one champion if they remain in turret range. Players that attack an enemy champion under an enemy turret will become the new target for that turret, as long as no other ally champion has ‘turret aggro’. When attacking a turret, champions need as many minions attacking as possible. If a team destroys an enemy’s inhibitor, it will grant a super minion for five minutes.

In order to fight and keep up against the enemy team, a champion needs to level up. Leveling up requires experience, which is gained from kills. Killing minion grants a little experience, while killing an enemy champion awards quite a bit more. Killing minions in the early stages of a match is crucial, as this is the most efficient way to gain gold and experience. As a player gains more experience and gold, they can spend them on leveling up abilities or buying items. It is important to know that experience is shared between the surrounding champions that are nearby a kill, but not for gold. Gold is only shared between players that recently got the kill or assist on the enemy champion, or on tower platings. The act of “last-hitting” is one of the most important and fundamental skills a League of Legends player can develop.

Gold allows players to buy items which grant champions bonuses. There are different bonuses that can effect champions, like passive armor boosts, or a temporary shield. There are over 200 items in League of Legends, and figuring out the right “build” is a time-draining task. For new players, the game offers hints and recommendations for item builds. There are thousands of build strategies, but selecting the right one for your play style is important to succeeding. A build strategy that might work for your friend may not work for you.

Season 11 League of Legends aims to make this process even easier for new players. Riot Games are updating the shop user interface to make buying items easier to use. One of the new features coming is a better item suggestion, that more accurately shows what items are good on the champion and more importantly why they are good. This should help to make the learning curve much easier, especially when playing a new champion.

Establishing lane control is vital in League of Legends. If a champion is not establishing control over their lane, then a champion will consequently fall behind in leveling. Lane control is established by killing minions and enemies, leveling up, and defending turrets and structures. If a champion clears and controls and lane, they will have a direct line of sight towards the enemy’s base.

There are open areas between each lane called the jungle. The jungle is where monster camps are that spawn unique monsters every few minutes. The jungler’s job is to destroy these monsters as they provide buffs to the entire team or individual champions. Killing the monsters at the right time in order to activate these abilities can be an important momentum shift.

One of the more difficult parts is understanding the dragon feature. The dragon was once a way for a team to gain lots of gold every few minutes. Nowadays every dragon spawn comes with a chance to become one of four elements. Every element provides different buffs, such as health regeneration with Ocean, or bonus movement speed with Air. Teams will look to kill these dragons every time they spawn for these bonuses. After a team kills enough dragons they will get the dragon soul which proved the dragons buff for the remainder of the game. When that happens the next dragon that spawns is the Elder Dragon, which is a big end game objective. The Elder Dragon has an execute attached to it, meaning getting an enemy to a certain health point will automatically kill them.

The other major objective is the Baron Pit. There are two objectives in the Baron Pit. One id the Rift Herald. This boss spawns around eight minutes in and can spawn again as long as players kill it before 13:45 in-game time. When players kill the boss it drops an eye, that can be used by players to spawn in a friendly Herald that can charge at enemy towers for huge damage.

The other monster in the Baron Pit is the Baron Nasher. The Baron Nasher gives all players on the team who got the last hit on Baron a powerful buff. The buff increases the total amount of AP, AD an aura that buffs nearby minions and a four-second recall. This buff lasts for three minutes or until killed. These three objectives are exactly why it is important to have a jungler and strong teamwork to get these buffs.

Who are the best teams?

Several League players face the fan-fatigue that NBA or NFL players live through. Lebron is considered one of the best basketball players to ever live, but another basketball fan may think the opposite. As esports grow and expand, fan views and opinions weigh heavily on players.

Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg is a mid-laner for TSM and is considered one of the best LCS players. Even as Bjergsen struggled throughout the splits in the last few years, on paper, he still managed to lead the league in KDA and kills. This tends to be a frequent occurrence in the LCS. However, the narrative is slightly changing, as Yilliang “Doublelift” Peng, one of the more popular names in NA league of Legends has shifted the spotlight over to Bjergsen.

One of the best marksman players in the world is Gen.G’s Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk. The former world champion was on Samsung’s World winning roster in 2017. Since that team rebranded to Gen.G, Ruler has been their franchise player. Now that Gen.G has finally made it to Worlds 2020 after a period of absence, Ruler’s strength in 2020 makes him feel as deadly as he was in 2017. The most important thing about this narrative is that Ruler has brought former T1 player Kim “Clid” Tae-min and other names in Korea to his side, showing the world he is still a capable marksman superstar.

Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is a South Korean League of Legends player for T1. Faker is known for his highly technical gameplay along with the ability to play almost any champion flawlessly. Faker is one of the only players, along with his former teammate Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung, to have won the world championship three times. T1 offered a new contract to Faker with an “unprecedented” offer that would keep him on the team in 2018. As of 2020, Faker is part owner of the T1 organization and an active player in the team even after all these years at the top.

Although, as alluded to, there is another international star gunning for Faker’s prestige. The new superstar in the LPL known as knight is killing it in 2020. Top Esports has had this prodigy on their team for years at this point. Now that all the other parts of the team are at a superstar level, knight is the knight in shining armor. Knight is the LPL Summer Split MVP with seven first-place accolades. We haven’t seen a player like this in a long time, and perhaps this is the year he begins his mid-lane dynasty against the world.

Who are the best players?

Several League players face the fan-fatigue that NBA or NFL players live through. Lebron is considered one of the best basketball players to ever live, but another basketball fan may think the opposite. As esports grow and expand, fan views and opinions weigh heavily on players.

Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg is a mid-laner for TSM and is considered one of the best NALCS players. Even as Bjergsen struggled throughout the split, on paper, he still managed to lead the league in KDA and kills. Regardless of the TSM roster change, adding three new players, Bjergsen proved his place in NA… again.

Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black has been playing League since 2011 as he appeared with multiple teams. Since his start, he has made his mark time and time again throughout NALCS. Aphromoo took home the prize and recognition as MVP of the spring split, which was a first for an NA support player. His ability to make plays and support his team has launched the new 100 Thieves organization past the “new guys on the block” tag. Aphromoo isn’t just a rock to the team, but he is one of the most entertaining players to watch.

Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is a South Korean League of Legends player for SK Telecom T1. Faker is known for his highly technical gameplay along with the ability to play almost any champion flawlessly. Faker is one of the only players, along with his former teammate Bae “Bengi” Seong-ung, to have won the world championship three times. SK Telecom T1 offered a new contract to Faker with an “unprecedented” offer that would keep him on the team. After SK Telecom T1 got swept during the 2017 world championships, you can expect to see Faker take that anger and turn it into an in-game beating.

What are the biggest events and/or tournaments?

The League of Legends World Championship is the yearly professional championship hosted by Riot Games. At the end of each season, teams compete in the championship for the title, the 70-pound Summoner’s Cup, and the $1 million championship check. In 2017 over 60 million people tuned in to watch the championship, which crushed the previous year’s record of 50 million. The LOLWC has been praised for its ceremonial performances and broadcasting quality. In 2017, over $2 million was raised through sales of the 2017 Worlds Championship Ashe skin, which went towards player salaries and prize pools.

The Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) is a yearly League of Legends tournament that has been held since 2015. It is the second-most important tournament of the year besides the World Championship. The MSI marks the half point of the season as the Spring Split champions from each of the five major regions compete. The MSI features five of the major competitive teams from each regional league along with a wildcard team from a lesser-known region. The wildcard team is picked through the International Wildcard Invitational, which is held a few weeks before MSI.

What are the biggest leagues?

As of 2018, there are 14 professional ‘League of Legends’ leagues around the world. As for the LOLWC, or League of Legends World Championship, there are 5 premier leagues that have 3 allocated spots, while the rest are split between the 9 remaining regions.

Here is how it breaks down:

  • LEC- European League
  • LCS- North American League
  • LCK- Korean League
  • LPL- Chinese League
  • Where can I watch “League of Legends’?

League has a worldwide professional scene that has been established with regional leagues along with numerous annual international tournaments. Hundreds of players around the world practice daily to keep up in ranks. Along with gaming comes additional training like agility workouts, mechanical skills, teamwork, and personality training.

Most professional gamers retire around the age of 21-23. It has been scientifically proven that reaction times begin to lower around late teens to the early 20s. However, even after competitive gaming, players continue to establish their brands.

Many pros stream themselves playing and practicing so fans and supporters can interact with them. Many players will practice for 6-8 hours a day with their team through scrimmages and game footage, however, that is not shown to the public. Most of the fun starts around dinner time when players are out of “work”.

Imagine sitting down and watching Payton Manning or Steph Curry warm up for a game. Imagine asking questions towards the best players in the game, and interacting with them on a one-on-one basis. This is how streaming helps propel players to household names. Players are allowed to interact and chat with fans while answering questions and helping newcomers with strategies and tips.

We have talked before about how complicated League can be, however, Riot Games is on the case. Each game that is streamed online, there is a cast of commentators and announcers whose jobs are to explain the game and breaking down the hype. Of course over time League will be easier to follow. Until then, Riot knows how complicated League can be on the surface, so they have you covered.

Craig is passionate about two things: History and Gaming. Whilst at university, Craig focused his degree on history and voluntarily wrote about esports on the side. Nowadays, he tends to write about esports whilst enjoying history as a hobby.