With over 117 million active monthly players, League of Legends (LoL) is considered one of the most popular games in the world. However, that number is growing, and those new to the game may find learning how to play a bit daunting—especially if you’re in a game with so many seasoned players. So, how exactly do you play League when starting out?
League of Legends is a multiplayer, team-based strategy game in which two teams battle in an arena to secure kills and take down their opponent’s base. Each player chooses a character to champion and must work as a team to battle their way to victory.
Whether you just want to know what all the fuss is about, you’re ready to download the game, or you’re still figuring it out after playing a couple of matches, this guide will cover the fundamental basics of playing League of Legends to help you get started.
How To Play League of Legends
There is an enormous amount of information to take in when it comes to playing League, much of which will come to you as you play the game. So, for the purpose of this guide, we will stick to the basics to get you started.
The primary game mode is a 5V5 game that takes place in Summoner’s Rift (more on this later). In League of Legends, the player is called a Summoner, and the character you play is a champion that is summoned to play on your behalf.
The object of the game is to work as a team to destroy the heart of the other team’s base, or Nexus, while also defending your own. Your Nexus is where minions spawn. The enemy’s Nexus is just like yours, but for the opposing team.
Clearing A Path to The Nexus
Before you can reach the Nexus, you need to get rid of the turrets and inhibitors that are protecting it. There are three turrets and one inhibitor on each lane, and two more turrets protecting the Nexus.
Your team needs to clear at least one lane in order to reach the enemy Nexus.
Enemy turrets deal damage to your team’s champions and minions and provide a field of limited vision on the map called Fog of War.
Inhibitors have a health of 4000 and are protected by a turret. When an inhibitor is destroyed, the Nexus will start to spawn super minions, a powerful minion that can easily take down enemy minions and defense structures.
At least one inhibitor must be destroyed to render the Nexus vulnerable. However, once the inhibitor is destroyed, be prepared to act fast as the inhibitor will respawn after five minutes. Once the Nexus is destroyed, the game is won.
Team Comp and Choosing a Lane
The map consists of a top lane, a bottom lane, and a middle lane. In between the lanes is an area called the jungle. The lane you choose also determines your role within your team.
Before a match begins, you have a chance to select which role you prefer to play. The recommended team comp is made of five positions or roles:
- Top: This role is for champions that are strong solo fighters. Their job is to protect their lane and focus on the enemy team’s most powerful players.
- Mid: These are your high burst damage champions that can work both solo and as a team.
- Jungle: Junglers require stealth and skill. They move between the lanes, stalking monsters and attacking once the opponent lets their guard down.
- Bot: Bot lane champions need to be protected early on so that they can amass enough gold and experience to carry the team to victory.
- Support: These champions help keep their teammates alive and focus on setting kills so that bot lane champions can become stronger.
As a new player, it’s a good idea to spend some time playing a few games within each role before settling on a main role. Since certain champions thrive in certain roles, this also gives you a chance to get a feel for different play styles.
Playing In Summoner’s Rift
The main game map for League of Legends is called Summoner’s Rift. This is more than likely where you will be playing most of the time, so it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the map and what you will face during play.
Getting To Know the Map
As we mentioned earlier, the map consists of a top lane, a bottom lane, and a middle lane. In between the lanes, you’ll notice a river and an area called the jungle. This is where monsters spawn that give your champion special buffs if you slay them.
At the start of each match, you will begin at the fountain. This fountain also acts as your respawn point when you die and is the in-game shop where you’ll buy items.
Creatures and Plants In Summoner’s Rift
There are various creatures you will encounter in an LoL match, many of which are found in the jungle. Whether you’re an aspiring jungler or would rather stick to a lane, it’s a good idea to know what you can expect to find on the map.
- Minions: These are spawned by each team’s Nexus. They are dispersed in waves every couple of minutes and help push lanes and protect champions from turrets. Enemy minions also act as a source of gold income when killed.
- Baron Nashor: This is the most powerful monster in the jungle. Killing this monster grants the slaying team bonus attack damage, ability power, empowered recall, and increases nearby minion power.
- Drakes: There are four elemental drakes and an elder dragon. Slaying these grants a unique bonus depending on the element of the drake.
- Scryer’s Bloom: Attack this plant will release a wave of pollen that reveals any invisible objects or players in its path.
- Blast Cone: This plant blasts anyone near it when attacked.
- Honey fruit: When attacked, this plant bursts into five melons that restore mana and health when you move over them.
There are other camps and monsters you will experience in the game, but these are the main ones to be aware of. You can find a full list here.
What is a Champion?
Champions are player-controlled characters that you choose to represent you in the battle arena. Currently, there are over 150 champions to choose from. They boast various playstyles, and some champions are easier to play than others.
There is no need to worry about narrowing in on one champion or position when first starting out. Instead, focus on testing out different characters and roles to find one that suits your playstyle.
Champion Classes in League of Legends
The champions in League of Legends are split into different classes depending on the type of damage they deal.
The six main classes are:
- Assassins: This class of champions does precisely what you would expect; they deal massive damage and have excellent mobility. While their burst damage can instantly kill most non-tank champions, they are quite frail and die quickly.
- Fighters: Champions in this class are melee fighters and thrive in close combat. They can deal a ton of damage and take hits as well, as long as enemies are within their range.
- Mages: These champions are powerful spell-casters and don’t often rely on basic attacks. They require a large amount of mana and tend to have lower defenses. Mages come in several variants and can fit into many different playstyles.
- Marksmen: Champions in this class primarily use ranged basic attacks to deal damage. They typically have the best consistent damage of any class but lack durability and mobility.
- Supports: These champions are most skilled at assisting allies and disrupting enemies. They thrive when working together with an all, as opposed to working solo.
- Tanks: These champions are best at taking hits, protecting weaker allies, and disrupting the enemy team. In return, they tend to lack damage output.
Champion classes help define what a character is capable of, so you can get a quick sense of what an enemy champion might do, even if you aren’t familiar with that character.
How Champion Abilities Work
Each champion has five abilities at their disposal with various effects, some of which are unique to that champion. These include a passive ability, three basic abilities, and an ultimate ability.
Abilities are cast using the keys Q, W, E, and R, so you’ll want to keep a hand on these keys at all times during play.
Choosing Summoner Spells
Champions also have access to two Summoner Spells, which are cast using D and F. These are basically extra abilities used by your champion but are chosen by you.
Quick Tip: While the Summoner Spells you choose are up to personal preference, Flash is typically regarded as mandatory with almost all champions, as it is useful for an easy escape, chases, landing abilities, and dodging skill shots.
Once you hit summoner level 10, you will be able to customize your rune page.
Runes are another way to tweak your champion to hopefully maximize their strengths by granting them unique attributes. They are separated into five main trees: Precision, Domination, Sorcery, Resolve, and Inspiration.
The runes you choose are organized as a rune page, where you will select a primary tree, a secondary tree, and shards.
Choosing runes can be tricky because you can’t have them all. Try to pick runes that will enhance your champion’s gameplay. If you aren’t sure which ones to pick, try looking at a champion guide for suggestions.
How Items Work in League
Items are a way in which you can enhance your champion in-game. Depending on the items you choose, this can boost your champion’s power tremendously.
You purchase items at the fountain shop with the gold you earn by taking down minions, structures, or enemy champions. When first starting out, it’s best to use the Recommend filter when browsing items. As you learn an item’s stats, you’ll better understand which build will work best for your champion.
Communication In League of Legends
Communication is an essential element in League of Legends, and it often determines how well your team does in a match. During a match, you will benefit from letting your team know certain things, like when an enemy champion disappears or when you’re going after a particular monster.
There are a few different ways you can communicate during a match, and there is a time and place to use each one.
Using Pings to Communicate in League
Pings are in-game visual alerts that a player relays to provide information to the entire team. This is a fast way to communicate with your team without breaking your flow.
- Yellow question mark: enemy missing
- Red exclamation point: danger
- Blue flag: assist
- Green arrow: on my way
Once you use a ping, it will show up visually on the map or terrain to relay tactical information to your team.
This is probably one of the easiest and most natural forms of communication. This doesn’t mean you need to start small talk, but calling out positions and missing enemies is highly beneficial to your team.
One thing to keep in mind is to only talk when necessary, so you’re not clogging up the channel.
If you’re playing Solo Queue, you won’t have the ability to communicate with your teammates via voice. Instead, you’ll want to take advantage of text chat to get your point across. However, this can be difficult while playing, so you should avoid typing when you are in a lane.
Now that we’ve gone over the basic fundamentals of how to play the game, you’re ready to pick a champion and dive into Summoner’s Rift. While League of Legends can feel a bit daunting for a beginner, we hope this guide gave you the confidence and tools to give it a shot and pick up some things as you go.