So, you want to play League of Legends? Then you have come to the right place. First off, we are going to talk about what League of Legends is and what it isn’t. It is classified as a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or MOBA, which is to say it place you with other players on a map then allows you to attempt to take out another team’s base which is guarded by players and defenses while they attempt to do the same to you. What it isn’t is a team deathmatch where you try to rack up as many kills as possible. As a coach of a High School Esports team, I find that this is the most difficult thing to understand when you first get started. Though getting kills in LoL (shorthand for League of Legends) is important you must understand that the objective is destroying the objectives first and foremost and getting kills only when you can.
The next thing is understanding the layout and positions of the map. The main map of LoL is called Summoners Rift. It is a two-sided mirrored map with three “lanes” that are called top, middle, and bottom. You guessed it top is at the top of the map so on and so forth. In between these lanes is what is known as the Jungle. In each of the lanes are 6 towers, 3 allied and 3 enemies, which are designed to shoot and enemies that go in unprotected or attempt to kill champions. One of the main objectives of the game is to take out enemy towers while defending your own. The only way to do this is with the help of your minions. Minions are small NPCs that start spawning at the 1:00 mark then keep spawning every 30 seconds. These minions take the Towers agro off of you as well as hit the tower with you, however, they are weak so don’t count on them taking it out quickly by themselves also if you do any kind of damage (there are some items they do passive AOE damage that counts) to any enemy champion the towers will immediately start shooting you so be sure not to do damage the champions as the towers do a lot of damage it also increase damage after each tower shot. Once you destroy all three of the lane towers each lane has an inhibitor (inhib for short). Destroying these inhibs allow for super minions to spawn(each new wave of minions for the next five minutes will spawn with a very big and very tanky minion in it) that helps in destroying their bases last two defensive towers and the end goal of destroying their bases nexus. The Jungle doesn’t have minions of defenses it instead has monsters and neutral objectives that give you buffs. The monsters are by nature neutral meaning that they will not attack unless attack and can be targeted by either team. There are three different types of objectives in the jungle that help you out. Drakes spawn in an alcove in between middle and bottom lane, 5 elements give different buffs for the whole game and an Elder drake that gives a damage buff as well as kills any enemy champion that you get below 25% health though this buff only lasts for 180 seconds or until you die. The other two different kinds of objectives are located between the middle and top lane. The first to spawn here is Rift Herald which allows you to summon the rift to dive-bomb towers in your lane, and yeah it just runs and smacks its head into a tower to do a ton of damage though it takes a lot of damage each time it does it until it is taken out. After the 20-minute mark, the Baron spawns. If your team kills this buff, and yes I mean team this thing takes out pretty much any single champion in a 1v1, then any minion wave you or your allies are near become buffed to do more damage hit harder and attack from further away. Each different lane including jungle have its role most of which are named after the lane that goes to the start of the game ie top laners got to top lane, mid laners go to the middle, and junglers go to the jungle. The exception to this is the ADC (Attack Damage Carry) and support roles which both go bottom lane, also some people call the ADC role bot now to make things more simple. I will address the gameplay of each lane separately as they play very differently.
Before we go into each lane a few more gameplay aspects to talk about. The first is the CS (Creep Score). Your CS is determined by having many minions or neutral monsters you get the last hit on. This is very important as each minion or monster you get the last hit on well reward you with gold, if you don’t get the last hit and the minions die by any other source then you get 0 gold from that minion. Gold is used to by items that build up your stats if you want those kills you got to build those stats. So higher CS score equals more gold and more items. As for those items the game does a good job of telling you what to by for the champion you select.
The best way to CS in any lane is to not try to continue to hit minions until they die as more often then not you will end up getting them to one more hit and one of your minions will finish them off before you can get that last hit which in turn means 0 gold from that minion. Instead, let your minions get them down to that last hit of damage then walk in and smack it for all that gold. Now there are three types of standard minions melee minions which have shields and a melee weapons they give you 21 gold, ranged minions that have wands and attack from behind the melee minions which give you 14 gold, and cannon minions that at the beginning spawn every third wave which grant you 45 gold at the start and increase throughout the game as they get more health. Works similarly in the Jungle as there are 6 camps on each that respawn throughout the game and are worth about the same as 4 melee minion kills. CS is the primary way to get gold and get ahead in games. Kills on champions without any bonuses are worth 300 gold so about 15 melee minions. Meaning that it is great if you get a kill but if you are behind by 20-30 CS then you are still behind your lane opponent in gold.
Next is Vision at the beginning of each match you can get free wards which allow you to see into the Fog of War (areas which you and none of your allies have direct vision of). You want to place this ward in are which enemy might try to sneak up on you. This is important because the last thing you want is to be ganked (gang killed) in lane. After all, the enemy jungler or another laner comes in to help kill you and set you behind your lane opponent. One thing I always have to remind new players is that you must try your best to remain in lane unless one of two things happens. Once you have pushed a wave under the tower and you cannot kill the enemy laner under tower i.e. you have help near you to kill him quickly or he is one or two hit away from death, or you are in immediate danger of death. This is because when you are out of the lane you are losing gold and XP. This is why vision is so important as no vision means that you are a prime target to get ganked and at best get pushed out of the lane at worst give a kill and lose even more XP and gold behind your opponent.
So, what is the deal with the positions? Next, I am going to go over each lane and what their main jobs are plus some beginner tips for each different position. We will even give some suggestions for starter champs.
Top Lane (The Lane for those who like to 1v1)
The Top Lane is one of two solo lanes it is also the most isolated lane in the match. The main objective for the top lane is probably the simplest “WIN LANE” well at least that is true for the early game. Top lane in most games has little influence on the early game however if you win your lane you can become a very strong win condition. That win condition can be snowballing your lead into team fights allowing you to be the strongest single champ in the game. Since you get all your minions experience and seldom have to share it with others early on you tend to be one of the highest level champions in the game. The other way is by split pushing. This is when your team groups up in mid lane while you push out either top lane or bottom lane. This helps out by either the enemy team trying to converge on you while your team pushes or by getting towers in whichever lane you are in while also leveling up faster that than the rest of the map. One thing to know about spilt pushing you either need an ultimate that can be used to group up with your teams like Shen or the summoner skill teleport to quickly group up with your team if the enemy tries to force a fight.
So important tips for top lane are mostly about wave management. The best advice I like to give is the learn how to freeze a lane. Freezing a lane is when you only last hit minions to keep the lane in one place. If you can freeze a lane just outside of tower range so your tower isn’t hitting them. This makes you safe from enemy ganks as well as help set your opponent up for ganks. If you get them low enough on hp then you can all in them and kill them. Some other tips in learn your champs combos and use them. Many new players don’t use their abilities correctly and in turn, it means that if you do then you can do a ton more damage. Take for example Ryze my current top laners favorite pick. He knew the e-q combo which is the standard wave clear combo but once I showed him the better damage combo of q-e-q he drastically increased his damage. The champion Ryze has a passive on his q that reset the cooldown if he uses another basic ability since q is his major damaging ability this means he was almost doubling his burst damage with just one move. The best thing to do once you figure out which champ appeals to you watch videos on that champ and map out what combos they use.
The easiest champs to start within the top lane are Garen, Darius, Trynadymere, and Nasus. All of these champs have very few if any skill shots and have abilities give them a good amount of sustain. I would say the best champ to learn at first is Garen. His passive grants him increased healing after not taking damage for a bit, his q gives you a burst of movement speed that can close the gap between your opponents or help you run away from a bad fight, his e or “spin to win” does a ton of aoe damage plus lowers there armor which is great in a team fight, and his r is a delete button for low health enemies. Though the other champs can carry a fight very easily Garen provides a lot of forgiveness for new players. Also for Summoner Spells take Flash and Teleport.
Jungler (The Unsung Hero type of player)
Ok so first and foremost I wouldn’t recommend Jungle to new players, heck even the game hold the ability to jungle, smite, from new players until you get to level 9 overall. This is because while you don’t have a lane you are expected to help gank lanes. Now this being said if you play jungle everyone will ask for a gank, everyone will blame you if they lose their lane, and no matter what it will always be your fault. Maybe exaggerating but as a Jungle main myself I can say this tends to happen a lot. The number one thing to know about jungling is knowing when to gank and when not to gank.
The first rule of ganking is to know your champs and the champs in the lane. For example, if you want to level 2 gank, which is ganking right after you get your first buff, ask yourself these questions. Do I have and hard CC (an ability to hold an enemy champion in place) on my champ or my ally who will be level one? Do we have enough damage to kill them before they get back to their tower? Can I close the gap quickly enough to CC them or kill them? If the answer is yes to all of these then go if no to any then don’t. The same need to be asked before any gank, also be very careful about ganking to help a losing lane. Jungler is almost always behind in levels after level 4. This means that if you try to kill an enemy champ who is ahead of you and your ally they might be able to take you both and then become almost unkillable. So either wait to fight them under your tower or ask for help from another lane. Other than ganking and farming your jungle camps your other job is to help secure as make drakes, rift heralds, and barons as possible. The best way to do this is the gank bot lane for drake or top lane for the rift. If you get the kill or force them to base, then go with whichever lane to the objective and take it down while you have a numbers advantage. You can solo both drake and rift for most junglers after level 7-8 some junglers can solo earlier such as Shyrvana since her passive gives her 20% bonus damage to drakes. Rift can be solo killed at level 8-9 though it will take a while to kill so be sure you have lane priority, where the minion wave is pushed up to the enemy tower, in both top and mid if possible.
So good junglers to start on are Rammus, Master Yi, Zac, Xin Zhao, and Warwick. These all have very different skills but fil the jungle role very easily. Rammus is a tank who while not dealing with a lot of damage does have good CC in his taunt, which makes enemies target him with auto, which also helps deal damage since his w returns a portion of damage dealt to him back. Master Yi is a carry meaning he just does a lot of damage. While not particularly good at ganking since he has no CC he does have enough damage that if you gank someone who is low health or overextended you can get a kill, but he shines late game for damage. Zac like Rammus is a tank though he is great at ganks since he can jump from the jungle to almost anywhere in a lane and knock someone up plus has two other forms of CC. Xin Zhao and Warwick both do a lot of early game damage, plus have CC to be able to kill most lanes very quickly. However, both fall off in the late game.
Another big hint about playing in the jungle is to kite monsters as you kill them. If you just stand their auto-attacking the monster you will take more damage which means having to go back to base more often which sets you back and could cost you the game. For buffs hit them 3 times the walk away since your base attack speed is high then there’s they will only get two hits in. Raptors(also known as chickens) attack the small ones while walking around and use your abilities to kill them all before killing the big one since it has much more health. Wolves the same as chickens. Gromp ie the big frog also has increased attack speed for the time it would take for him to use 5 attacks so CC him or kite him early before auto attack him down. Krugs (or the big rocks) you will want to try and use one to block the other one from attacking you since they can’t attack through each other. Also for Summoner Spells take Flash and Smite.
Middle Lane (For those who like the do it all)
Out all the lanes mid is the most impactful throughout the game. The main objective of mid lane is like top to “Win Lane” however since it is in the middle of the map it also can roam to other lanes to help get kills, or help get both the objectives. Another norm for mid laners is to pick someone who does AP (ability damage) since top laners normally go bruisers who do AD(Attack Damage). However, this is not always the case and some mid lane is now as assassins who do AD in a big burst to get a lot of early kills such as Talon or Zed. If you go the AP route then you want to win your lane and roam to get kills only when your wave is pushed in and you have some time to roam without losing much CS. If you play an assassin, then you will want to attempt to kill your enemy laner or at least force them back to base and then roam to get kills. The assassins fall off later in the game so you will want to get a lead as early as possible so you can snowball the game and end before you fall off. If you go the ap mage route then you want to scale up to do as much damage possible late-game since most people don’t build a lot of magic resist.
Some good mid laners to start on are Anne, Veigar, Ryze, and Pantheon. Anne Veigar and Ryze provide the AP mage type role while being forgiving to new players. They also have good CC to help out with ganks whether you are being ganked or are ganking someone else. However, they do have limited mobility which means their roams will be limited. They make up for the late game scaling. Pantheon fills more of the assassin type. He doesn’t require as many skill-shots as many of the other assassins have though he does have great point and click CC, meaning all you have to do is press a button then click the enemy, and a lot of burst damage. His ultimate allows you to jump into either top or bot for and quick gank. What sets him apart is that his shield ability means that even in late game he can be useful as a tank whereas other assassin types if they get behind provide very little help to their team.
My big hint to mid laners is to know when to roam. The best roam times are when you push a cannon minion wave into the tower. This should provide you with a 25-30 second window before they could push a wave of minions into your tower. Once you do this check you map. Are other lanes pushed up to an allied tower? If so make your way down for a gank if your allies can help you or if you can safely 1v1 the champion. If your allies are pushed up to their tower your best bet is to either go into the enemy jungle and steal a camp/ place a ward or if you have a lot of gold to spend the go back to base. Also, be sure to account for a counter gank from the enemy jungle if you have not seen him before your gank. So if you don’t think you can take on the junger or escape if he comes then don’t roam. The last hint about roaming, NEVER STAY after you fail to get the kill. If you think well I almost got him to let me stay and see if I can get him when he comes back out. You are going to let your lane opponent get ahead of you, even if you get a kill they are getting free minion gold and XP while you are losing that. If you fail to get the kill then it puts you even further behind. Also for Summoner Spells take Flash and either Ignite if you want early kills and have good early damage or Teleport if not.
Bot/ADC Lane (The guy who like to sit in the back and snipe)
This lane should as long as the game goes long enough should have the most damage overall. The name Attack Damage Carry says it all. Your job is to scale up so that in team fights you can shred through the enemy. The champions do here are almost all ranged champions who do have abilities though they also have good damage from their auto-attacks. They build critical strike and attack speed items mostly to do the most damage possible. They are however by nature very squishy, have low hp and base defense, which means that without help can be easily killed before they can do their damage. Therefore, they are pair with support who we will talk about last. ADC champ tends you be behind in level as you share XP with allied champions near you ie your support. However so will the enemy ADC. You should be able to keep up in pace with the game with your gold/items as long as your CS enough.
The best champs to start within this role are Ashe, Miss Fortune, Tristana, and Vayne. These all scale very well, have very forgiving abilities that do not require many true skill shots and are all good at farming. Ashe and Miss Fortune do great damage with a very good team fighting ultimates. Tristana and Vayne do great single target damage and have the mobility to get them out of bad situations. Though these champions are not great in the early game they do fulfill the role of an ADC very well. My personal favorite ADC and the one I start all my students on is Ashe. Her w does decent damage and slows enemies who are hit by it which can be used to chase down enemies or slowing down pursuers. Her q buffs her auto attacks and here r is global, meaning it has unlimited range, that if you hit a champion will stun the longer the arrow flies the longer the stun. Making her very good and safe throughout the game.
My biggest hint to bot laners is to learn to kite your enemies. Kiting means that you stay out of their range while hitting them. Now you will not be able to kit other ADC’s you will be able to kite melee champs. The best way to do this is to do an attack then take a one-click step back then attack again. Throwing in whatever abilities you can in their as well especially those that slow the enemy down. If you have Ashe then you can more than likely get 2 attacks in if you get your slows off. This skill lets you be a great carry the late game as the enemy will try to run at you and kill you. Also for Summoner Spells take Flash and Heal.
Support (For those who are the real team players or those who hate farming minions)
Support champs’ goal in the early game is to allow for your ADC to safely farm for the late game. They can do this in a variety of ways such as pushing the enemy team away from the minion wave by threatening them with CC or high damage. They can also buff/heal their ADC to make sure they stay safe from the other team. One thing all supports need to do to help their team is ward effectively. This is the reason they are given a special item that after you complete the in-game quest gives you ward every time you go back to base. Early game you wards should go in the ganking paths from the river to alert you to an incoming gank. You can also ward to bushes in lane if the support is trying to use them to CC your ADC however remember that the ADC can ward those easily without losing CS. Later game your goal shifts the either buffing you team or if landing CC on the enemy to start a team fight.
Some good champs to start down here are Sona, Leona, and Jana. Sona and Jana are enchantresses that both heal and shield their allies. Sona works well for beginners since she simply has to press her buttons and it buffs/heals all allies in the area while also attacking enemies in the area, her R is good CC as well with a forgiving hitbox. Janna is good for a similar reason, though her CC has a long start-up and it can be hard to hit her R heals everyone on your team during team fights and can turn the tide of a fight. Leona is the other side of the support pool, she has to heal or ally shield ability without items but she does have 3 different hard CC abilities and builds very tanky which means that you can make a mistake or two without risking death.
My hint for support players is to know when to roam. While your job is to help you ADC out your CC can help get your Mid lane a kill and get them ahead. Now that being said your not a Mid lane style of roaming that can roam whenever you get a wave pushed in as that will leave you ADC open to get killed. The best time to roam is when your ADC pushes a lane and goes back to base for items. If you are not low on health this gives you plenty of time to walk to mid lane to help out there. Even better if you can get your Jungle to come with you for a 3 man gank. With three people you should be able to even dive into the enemy tower’s range to secure a kill then go back to base to reset and walk back down to your ADC to resume your duty as guardian. Also for Summoner Spells take Flash and Exhaust unless you fell your duo can get an early kill in which case you can take Ignite.