The woods are quiet. Echoes of clashing steel are drowned out by the river’s rush and the tree’s sway. Out of the shadow walks Evelynn, the demon queen. She brandishes her tail-like horned whips, inviting her victim closer. With spike shield armed, Rammus, the Armordillo plunges into the darkness, prepared for victory.
League of Legends is Riot Games’ free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game (or MOBA) with a top-down perspective (meaning an elevated, bird’s-eye-view of the battlefield). Although it was released in 2009, League of Legends is one of the most popular, well-known esports game in the world. Whether you’re looking for a casual escape or a competitive challenge, League of Legends is the place to be. I’ll show you the what, how and why so that you know all the basics when leaping into League of Legends.
From the outside, League of Legends can look like a complex game (and it is). But, once you strip back all of the layers, the basics become digestible and the leftover complexities of League of Legends lie in championing your champion and working effectively as a team.
League of Legends takes place on a square battlefield filled with different lanes: one at the top, middle and bottom. At each end of the battlefield rests one team’s base and at the heart is the Nexus. Each lane is guarded with attack towers called turrets. From the base, waves of non-playable characters (or NPC’s) called minions are deployed down each lane, attempting to destroy turrets, enemy minions and champions on their way towards the enemy base. Two teams of five players each take on the role of one champion to fight across this battlefield with the help of their minion army in order to destroy the enemy’s Nexus. The team with their Nexus still intact wins. And those are the basics of the game. Now, let’s get onto the branching modes.
Before discussing modes, League of Legends has four maps, but the most popular map is called Summoner’s Rift. This is where all competitive tournament play is, including the League of Legends Esports World Championship. So, we will be focusing on the differing modes in Summoner’s Rift as they apply to most other maps as well. (If you want more info on the other League of Legend maps, click here).
In Summoner’s Rift, there are four game modes: Blind Pick, Draft Pick, Ranked Solo/Duo and Ranked Flex. In Blind Pick, players have sixty seconds to pick their champion and communicate their role to their team through the chat. This process is not visible to the other team, so neither team knows the other team’s champions. In Draft Pick, you are asked what primary (and secondary if your primary pick is already taken) role you want to play as. From there, you will be added to a game where each player is able to ban a champion from enemy use. Then, players choose their champions publicly.
Ranked is another word for competitive in the gaming world. In ranked, after playing a game, based on how well you did overall, you will be assigned a rank. That means players will be placed anywhere between nine different positions from Bronze, Silver or Gold to Grandmaster where they can attempt to climb all the way up to Challenger. Ranked Solo/Duo means you are either joining ranked games by yourself or with one other friend. Ranked Flex means you are joining a ranked game with yourself, one to two other people or a full team of five.
Now that you know the basics behind League of Legends, let’s delve into what makes it special: the champions, the roles and the objectives for success.
When booting into League of Legends, ten champions that present a range of playstyles will be available. Blue Essence, the in-game currency, is collected through winning games, completing missions and leveling up. It is used to purchase new champions that look fun and interesting to you. Players can also use real world money to purchase champions as well.
Each champion plays a certain way. This specific way of play is called classes. In League of Legends, champions are one of seven branching classes: controller, fighter, mage, marksman, slayer, tank or specialist. Each class and its subclasses make each champion play a little bit different from the others. Finding what class suits your play style is what makes League of Legends so enjoyable.
Another very specific element to League of Legends is the roles. Roles basically follow how the map is broken out:
In order to be a successful team, every member needs to work well in their role.
Other match winning variables to take note of are items and leveling up. During a game, killing minions, monsters and champions will reward you with gold and experience. Gold is used to buy items at your base that will boost your character’s overall power in different ways. Experience is collected throughout the game and reward you by leveling your champion up. When your champion levels up, you get experience points to spend towards unlocking special attacks that help you defeat the enemy.
Okay, all of that was a lot to take in. After that tsunami of information, the question remains: “why should I play League of Legends?”. Well, here’s why.
If League of Legends still feels like a big, scary monstrosity too frightening to tackle, fear not! League of Legends has an entertaining and educational tutorial that will teach you everything you need to know. Along with the tutorial, League of Legends has practice modes that pin you against NPC’s instead of online real players. In those arenas, you can experiment and sharpen your knowledge in order to take on real players. League of Legends welcomes new players and is built for you to have fun.
As I have mentioned, League of Legends is one of the biggest games in esports. With that said, there is a lot of prize money to be won in tournaments. Not only is winning a match of League of Legends a rewarding experience, winning cash prizes from tournaments with your esports team is a treasure in and of itself. Find your esports team and become the best!
League of Legends is a growing community filled with both casual and competitive players. Whatever category you find yourself in, find your champions, secure your role and fight for victory. See you on The Rift, champion!