How to play League of Legends for the absolute beginner
Over the past few months, Esports and competitive gaming have had this major spotlight thrown on them in South Africa (*Cough Mettlestate Cough*) opening up the door for so many people who are now discovering this type of gaming for the very first time, or at least taking note, and that’s a good thing. At the end of the day there is still this very real, and very great divide between the spectators and players, making the jump from one to the other can be overpowering and overwhelming, so for a lot of people, they don’t even try.
Talking from a gamers perspective, that’s really sad because when it comes to competitive games, playing the game for yourself and making some friends (and enemies) along the way, is where the fun really lies.
Back when I first started playing ‘competitive’ type games, I was still basically a child so I went into it with all the confidence in the world and with a huge group of friends who went into it with me. I got to enjoy the experience of learning the game, but if I had to imagine doing that now and jumping in alone for the first time? I wouldn’t even know where to start.
After spending the last few weeks talking to a lot of people in my life about this I decided to be the change and try and help, basically, I’m going to be taking different online games from different genres and giving you the basic tools that you would need to take that plunge into this whole new world of gaming and we’re gonna start with my favorite game.
With that, I present to you, How to play League of Legends for the absolute beginner.
First things first, let’s talk about what League of Legends (League or LoL for short) is:
League of Legends is a free to play MOBA, which stands for “multiplayer online battle area” developed by Riot. It’s one of the most popular online games in the world right now with over 100 million active players every month and it’s also, currently, the most watched esport in the world.
And BAM look at that! You’ve already learned your first thing about LoL and we’re not even 2 minutes in yet.
Now let’s move onto what the point of the game is:
You pick a champion to play and get placed into a team consisting of 5 players (called summoners), each team gets a base of their own on one half of the map that they need to work together to defend their base while simultaneously trying to destroy their opponent’s base. A base consists of a “Nexus” (the most important thing in the game) and a bunch of towers that will fire at your opponents (or your team) if you get too close without cover. Whichever team destroys their opponents’ Nexus first, wins the match.
And look at you go! You now officially know more about LoL than what I do about Rugby. Or most traditional sports really…
Okay so you know what the objective is, but if you want to start playing what’s step one? Well, step one is picking a character to play. So when you click play and get sorted into your team you will need to choose a character to control for the duration of the match, each character (called a champion) is unique and has a different set of skills and abilities.
Let me warn you, there are a LOT of champions to pick from, 136 to be exact, with more being added all the time. So before you find yourself drowning in a sea of new faces, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the basic champions for each role. So what is a role? Well, roles are basically like positions in traditional sport. It’s a position that you will play on the map that requires a specific way of playing. But don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds… it’s way, way worse 😉
Let’s break it down:
As we learnt before, you get placed on one-half of a map in a team of 5. The map has three distinct paths (paths are called lanes in-game) that you take to destroy your opponent’s base. These lanes are referred to as:
TOP (the topmost lane)
MID (the middle lane)
BOT (you guessed it, the bottom lane)
The spaces between these lanes all fall under one area known as the Jungle. Each of these lanes and Jungle have a specific type of champion that does well there.
The type of champions you get, and where to play them, can get broken down into:
Top Lane: (1 Champion) Role: TOP
The type of champions you would typically take to play in the top lane are your “hard to kill” tank-like champions. These are champions that can take a lot of damage without dying and they don’t necessarily do a lot of damage but they are able to survive without a lot of help from other players.
Some of the best top champions for a new summoner are:
Darius and Wukong.
Mid Lane: (1 Champion) Role: MID
The type of champions you would typically take to play in the mid lane are your Mages. A Mage, known as an AP (which stands for Ability Power) champion, is a champion with powerful magic damage. Ability Power can be thought of as “how much damage my spells do”.
Some of the best mid champions for a new summoner are:
Lux and Annie.
Bot Lane: (2 Champions) Roles: ADC and Support.
Bot lane mixes things up a bit, instead of having just one champion per side in lane, there are two. Let’s focus on the ADC first. ADC stands for Attack Damage Carry, and that’s usually what they are supposed to do, carry the team (carrying the team is pretty much like the star player in sports who scores all the goals for their team). ADCs are usually Marksmen (think of a Marksman as someone who stands at the back of a fight and shoots) they are ranged champions and deal really high DPS (Damage Per Second) so in essence, they are your killing machines. But most of the time they don’t have a lot of health, so you need to make sure you can stay out of reach of your opponents if you decide to ADC.
Some of the best bot ADC champions for a new summoner are:
Ashe and Jinx.
Then we have the Support role, now Supports are pretty simple, they aren’t there to really do much damage or fight too many fights, their main purpose is to keep the ADC alive. They do this in a great many ways, some Supports give the ADC health, some give movement speed so they can run away from a fight, some freeze the opponents in place for a few seconds, but they almost always use Magic (AP – Ability Power) and they are the champions that more often that not, make or break a team.
Some of the best bot Support champions for a new summoner are:
Morgana and Sona.
Okay, so if you’ve been paying attention and you’re good with maths, then you’re probably going “but that’s only 4 champions and I thought you said a team consists of 5?” and if you are, then you’re 100% right. That’s because our final champion doesn’t play in a lane, it plays in all of them. Our last role is Jungle (remember when I said that the area between the lanes was called Jungle? Well that’s where our last champion like to roam). In the Jungle there are lots of ambient monsters that give some nice champion and team bonus’s when killed, the Jungle champion will kill them while traveling through the jungle between all the lanes and helping his team wherever he can.
Jungle champions usually have a fast movement speed (all the better to travel with) and a fast attack speed (all the better to kill things with) and they have the ability to jump into a fight and help win it for their team (jumping into fights with your team, or helping your team ambush the enemy is called Ganking).
Some of the best Jungle champions for a new summoner are:
Master Yi and Amumu.
And that’s it, GG (a customary greeting in LoL when the game ends meaning Good Game) that is everything that you need to start playing League of Legends.
But before you get too excited, the operative word is START, there are still so many things you need to get used to and learn, what items to buy and how ruins and masteries fit into your build but that’s where LoL has you covered, the game has a built in a Training mode that takes you through all the basics step by step, and when you’ve got that down you can play Co-Op VS AI which is a team of 4 other real people playing with you against the computer, it’s the perfect space to learn, discover and become comfortable before you press that play button and go into a real, competitive, 5v5 game.
I really hope that you find this guide helpful, as I’ve said, it’s far from everything but this is the info that I wish I had when I first fired up the game.
If you want to take what you’ve learned today and put it into practice you can download League of Legends here. Otherwise, if you’ve already played a few games and have any questions, leave them in the comments down below and I’ll try my best to help you out.
But now, go forth o mighty summoner and show them all what you’re made of.
I'd love to chat to you some more.
I usually send out a weekly mailer with a recap of blog posts but also some personal anecdotes. If you want to know about competitions or just catch up in a more personal setting then you might like to receive the mailer.