League of Legends Gameplay Explained

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League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena, commonly referred to as a MOBA. It’s the most popular game in its genre, with millions of fans, a Netflix series, and a substantial eSports scene. Each game starts with 5 players on each team, and the main objective is to destroy the enemy’s Nexus. Also, there are over +150 champions, giving a wide variety of characters to play.

However, if you’ve never played a MOBA before, it can be overwhelming to learn all the mechanics. Therefore, we’ve created this in-depth guide to help new gamers learn the core fundamentals of League of Legends. This guide covers selecting your character, the different phases during the game, and more. 

league of legends

Bottom Line Up Front

League of Legends has multiple actions going on at once, making it quite a challenging game to pick up for new players. Here’s a shortened version of the game:

  • Players can choose any of the +150 champions to play with unique abilities and play styles. Each team has 5 players, and everybody has a unique role selected before the game starts.
  • Everybody starts at level one with no items to make the game fair. Players can increase their damage output by purchasing items with the gold they earn through killing enemy champions and last-hitting minions.
  • Players can slay various creatures across the map to provide permanent and temporary buffs for their team.
  • The objective of the game is to destroy the enemy Nexus (It’s the biggest structure in the game next to where the enemies spawn), which has 5,000 health. Also, it’s guarded by several towers that deal more damage increasingly.

This covers a small fraction of what the guide has to offer. League of Legends has multiple moving parts that are difficult to learn without looking up in-depth guides. However, the best method to familiarize yourself with the game is by playing multiple matches and getting a feel for the mechanics.

League of Legends Features

  • League of Legends is available for Windows and iOS devices.
  • The game is free-to-play with no pay to win. Players can support the game by purchasing in-game skins, icons, or champions.
  • League of Legends is a competitive team-based game that you can play with strangers or friends.
  • The objective of League of Legends is to destroy the enemy Nexus.
  • There are over 150 champions that feature unique abilities and playstyles.
  • Matches can last between 20 to 50 minutes. In extreme cases, a game can last for more than an hour.
  • Before a match starts, players are grouped into two teams of 5 that face each other.

What Are Champions?

Champions are units that players control on the map. All characters have 5 unique abilities that consist of a passive and offensive/defensive spells. A champion’s kit often has a dash, damage, and ultimate ability. 

Champion Abilities

  • Passive: This ability initiates at the beginning of the game and affects the champion until the end. It cannot be ranked up and scales off the champion’s level. The passive can define a champion’s playstyle. For example, Viktor needs 100 stacks to evolve his abilities, meaning he needs to focus more on killing minions and enemy players.
  • Basic Abilities: These abilities are available to level up once the game begins and are controlled by the Q, W, and E keys. These spells are the core of champions and often consist of damaging, utility, and initiate abilities. Players choose to max one ability first to increase their overall strength and leave initiate spells at level 1 since it does little damage.
  • Ultimate: The ultimate ability is controlled by the R key and is obtained once your champion is level 6. It’s the most powerful ability in a champion’s arsenal as it provides the most damage and utility. Also, it has the longest cooldown that usually lasts for more than a minute.

Champion Types

Champions have different fighting styles depending on their kit. You’ll want to select a character that synergizes well with your team comp. For example, if you have an ADC Vayne, you’ll want to pick a super tank like Mundo to provide peel. League of Legends champions is divided into these categories based on their core abilities.

  • Marksmen: Marksmen are more commonly known as ADCs. These characters provide sustained damage at range. Their kits are based on dealing lots of damage but are extremely fragile. Therefore, ADCs must have a support player nearby to protect them from being killed.
  • Supports: These champions focus on aiding the team by providing utility, heals, and soaking up damage. They are weak alone but ultra-useful paired with an ADC in bot lane.
  • Tanks: Champions that build magic resistance, armor, and health are brilliant at soaking up damage from enemy players. Usually, tanks don’t deal much damage, so they heavily rely on other players. 
  • Mages: These characters have weak auto-attacks but powerful abilities. Mages cripple opponents using potent spells that provide stuns, damage, and slows. Spellcasters can be categorized as artillery mages, burst mages, and battlemages. 
  • Assassins: Perhaps the most fun champions are assassins because you can quickly burst enemy players and escape without dying. However, assassins have low health making them easy to kill.
  • Bruisers: Bruisers are durable champions who can deal decent damage. Their focus is building items that provide AD and health to soak up damage during team fights. Also, they primarily focus on the enemy ADC as they have low health, making them perfect targets for bruisers.

League of Legends Champion

League of Legends Roles

The Summoner’s Rift map has 5 roles that require specific playstyles. The type of champion you play heavily depends on the physical location of the map. Here are the 5 roles of Summoner’s Rift:

  • Mid: Mages and assassins go to the center of the map called the mid lane. Being at the center of the map, it’s easy to roam top and bot. Therefore, mid has the most impact in the game because they can help out teammates in most situations.
  • Jungle: These players kill jungle monsters during the early game that are located between lanes. This lets them roam around the map and help teammates by ganking their lanes. Also, junglers must take smite to secure objectives and kill camps much faster.
  • Top: This lane is an island compared to the rest of the map. Usually, the jungler focuses on this lane less because getting your ADC and mid laner ahead is more important. Often players choose bruisers and tanks for the top lane since they are more useful later in the game. Also, top laners take the teleport summoner spell to help secure objectives and help during team fights.
  • Support: This role involves helping teammates by providing heals, shields, and speed boosts. Supports are paired up with ADCs that go to the bottom lane. They are a crucial part of the early game because they let the ADC safely farm.
  • ADC: Attack Damage Carry (ADC) is the backbone of any team composition. Their primary focus is to deal as much damage as possible during team fights. ADCs have low health, meaning they must have a support player to protect them throughout the game.

Runes Explained

Runes enhance the champion’s utility and ability to deal damage. Before the game begins, players can customize their rune page depending on the playstyle they are going for. However, once the game loading screen starts, there is no option to redo your runes. Therefore, you should set up your rune pages beforehand to prevent yourself from choosing the wrong setup.

Moreover, rune pages consist of a keystone, 4 sub-rune stones, and 2-sub runes from a secondary tree. The keystone provides the most benefits and dictates the playstyle of your champion. Currently, there are 5 keystones – Precision, Domination, Sorcery, Resolve, and Inspiration. Furthermore, the sub-runes enhance various aspects of your champion like damage output, health, lifesteal, movement speed, and mana regeneration.

League of Legends provides 2 rune pages to customize, and 5 rune presets that utilize all the keystones. Therefore, if you find it difficult to create specialized rune pages for champions, you can use one of the presets. Also, the in-game store sells additional rune pages for 6,300 blue essences or 590 RP.

League of Legends Runes Guide

Items Explained

The most challenging part of playing any new MOBA is familiarizing yourself with the different elements of the game. Itemization is crucial to perform well during a match because it buffs your champion’s damage and utility. Buying the correct items delivers significant advantages that can sway the team fights in your favor.

The League of Legends item shop has recommendations for you to buy, which removes the need to guess what works best for your character. However, you can look at champion guides that showcase the most optimal items the in-game shop won’t showcase. 

Moreover, sometimes the recommended items are not optimal for the game circumstances. You’ll have to build accordingly to counter the enemy players to give yourself an advantage. For example, if you’re playing a tank and the enemy has selected a full AD comp, purchasing armor is the best option. Another great example is if the enemy mage mid laner is fed, then buying magic resistance reduces their damage while increasing durability.

Furthermore, items have quality tiers depending on the benefits they provide. The highest tiers are Mythic and Legendary, built from basic components. Here are the quality tier categories of League of Legends items:

  • Starter: These items are bought at the beginning of the game and help sustain during the early game. However, starter items don’t build into anything else and are sold once players need inventory space for other items.
  • Basic: These are the basic components of Epic, Legendary, and Mythic items.
  • Epic: These items are built from basic components and provide additional benefits. Often they have a special effect and are the stepping stone to completing Legendary and Mythic items.
  • Legendary: These items have the best stats and significant special effects. However, they do not build into any higher-tier items.
  • Mythic: These items are similar to the Legendary tier as they provide the most benefits and can’t be built into anything else. Moreover, Mythic items have an added bonus that other items don’t have. For example, with Luden’s Echo, you’ll receive 5 magic penetration and 5 movement speed for each Legendary item in your inventory. However, players can only purchase one Mythic item per game.

 League of Legends Items

Summoner Spells Explained

Summoner spells are one of the unique features in League of Legends. Before each game starts, players can select 2 summoner spells that aid them during fights. The abilities vary on what they provide, and some summoner spells are better suited for specific champions. Here’s a list of the League of Legends summoner spells and what they do:

  • Flash: This is the most popular spell taken in almost every game. It blinks your character a short distance, making it great to engage or evade enemies.
  • Ghost: The summoner spell increases your movement speed for a short duration. It’s the perfect option for those who need to stick to enemies. Some examples of champions who rely on Ghost are Singed, Tryndamere, and Darius. Often Flash is replaced with Ghost to leave a summoner spell slot for Teleport or Ignite.
  • Heal: The ability heals you for a small amount. Often ADCs take this as they are vulnerable to getting focused.
  • Barrier: Using the ability provides a shield that soaks up damage.
  • Exhaust: temporarily reduces the enemy’s damage and slows them.
  • Clarity: Replenishes missing mana, which is excellent for spell-focus mages.
  • Teleport: Lets you teleport across the map to a ward, minion, or tower.
  • Cleanse: Remove any debuffs your character has. It’s a perfect summoner spell if the enemy has multiple crowd control spells.
  • Smite: This is taken by junglers to secure Baron and Drake more easily. Also, smite lets you purchase jungle items that heal you when fighting monsters.
  • Ignite: The perfect summoner spell for assassins is Ignite because it can help finish low-health enemies. Also, it provides a healing debuff so the enemy can’t use potions to negate the damage.

Objectives Explained

League of Legends’ objectives is the most important part of learning how to play the game. Securing them increases the chances of winning by gaining more gold and buffs. Understanding how each objective impacts the game can help players prioritize what to go for.

Monster Objectives

  • Blue and Red Buffs: These are jungle camps that, when killed, provide a buff. It’s visible on enemy and friendly champions as a colored circle appears underneath them. The red buff delivers an ignite-like effect onto enemy champions, and the blue buff reduces ability cooldowns while replenishing missing mana.
  • Rift Scuttler: This is a small crab that roams between the dragon and Baron pit. It doesn’t fight back, making it easy to kill. It’s often contested between junglers because it provides a lot of gold. Also, after killing the crab, a circle of vision spawns in front of the Baron or Drake pit.
  • Rift Herald: The Rift Herald spawns after 8 minutes and despawns after 19 minutes and 45 seconds. After defeating the beast, it grants Eye of the Herald that can spawn the creature anywhere on the map. Its primary use is to destroy towers as it can charge up a devastating attack.
  • Baron Nashor: Baron Nashor is the biggest and most contested objective in League of Legends. Defeating it grants the best buff in the game called Hand of Baron. It increases your champion’s damage, armor, and movement speed. Also, it makes minions more durable, so pushing down towers is much easier.
  • Drake: The dragon spawns in the pit between the bottom and middle lane. There are several types of dragons that provide various buffs to your team. After killing 4 dragons, your team receives the soul that grants even more benefits.
  • Elder Dragon: The Elder Dragon spawns 5 minutes after a team has received a soul. The Aspect of the Dragon buff slowly burns enemies that are attacked. Also, it instantly executes enemies that fall below 20% health.

Structure Objectives

  • Turrets: Towers are the first structure you’ll encounter during a game. Outer turrets have 5 plates that provide 150g each when destroyed and last for 14 minutes. Going inside the range of the structure without minions provokes the tower into attacking your champion. Also, damaging enemy players under the tower will attract aggro, so make sure you have enough health to engage the opponent.
  • Inhibitors: This non-hostile defensive structure sits behind the inner turrets. There are three inhibitors, one for each lane. Destroying them spawns super minions instead of cannon minions, which have more health and deal significant damage. Also, it gives access to attack the inner turrets that protect the Nexus.
  • Nexus: The Nexus is the most important objective in the game. The first team to destroy the enemy’s Nexus claims the victory for their team. Moreover, a damaged Nexus can regenerate health, making it a difficult structure to destroy.

league of legends Nexus

How To Play League of Legends

Now that we’ve covered the basics of League of Legends, it’s time to dive into how to play. The game has many moving parts that can make it seem challenging to play. However, after playing a few matches, you’ll get familiar with the game’s core mechanics.

First, you’ll need to queue up for a game by selecting your main and secondary role. A screen will pop up afterward for you to accept, which takes you to Champion Select. This is where you’ll choose your champion, runes, and summoner spells. Below is a step-by-step guide to successfully go through Champion Select.

Step 1: Select the champion you want to play. If you can’t see your champion, there is a search bar at the top for convenience. It’s important to hover your champion, so your teammates don’t accidentally ban your champion.

Step 2: Afterward, the banning phase begins, where players can choose the champions they don’t want to face. The best option is to ban your counter to have an enjoyable early game.

Step 3: Lock in your champion once the banning phase is finished. If you forget this step, you’ll be kicked out of the lobby and receive a 5-minute penalty.

Step 4: Most players won’t have multiple rune pages, so you’ll have to set it up during Champion Select. The best method is to look up champion guides and copy what pros do. This way, you don’t need to guess what the most optimal runes are for your champion as other players have tried and tested what works best.

Step 5: The last step is to select your Summoner Spells. Most often, players choose Flash with another spell that compliments their playstyle. Once the Champion Select timer finishes, your screen will transition to the loading page.

League of Legends Game Phases

League of Legends has 3 phases, which determine how you should play. Knowing what to focus on can provide a competitive advantage to help you be an asset to your team.

Phase 1 – Early Game

The early game is the most important phase because it can heavily dictate how the game will go. During this time, players focus on farming and ganking to get an advantage early. This phase can last anywhere between 00:00 to 20:00.

Early game is where you make your first impressions of the enemy players. This part of the match is focused on showing that you are skillful and great at making successful trades. The enemy players will second guess their actions and avoid fighting you by doing this.

However, the early phase heavily depends on the type of champion you are playing. For example, hyper carriers like Jinx or Vayne want to farm and buy their core items. On the other hand, characters like Teemo want to poke down the enemy to gain advantages early.

Phase 2 – Mid Game

Mid-game is all about taking objectives and catching the enemy off guard. Usually, team fights happen near the dragon pit, so make sure you ping your jungler to ward it. This is where early-game advantages come into play as teams can snowball their leads and ultimately destroy the Nexus.

However, if your team is behind, you may have to give up certain objectives and wait for favorable fights. Playing as a team can eliminate how far behind you are by picking off opponents and reducing the enemy’s advantage.

Moreover, some advanced tactics can be used during the mid-game, like split pushing or the 1-3-1. Split pushing is where a top laner goes to one of the side lanes and takes down towers. This draws in enemy players, often leaving other lanes outnumbered by your team. Therefore, you can easily win fights and push down objectives even if your team is behind.

Another great strategy to implement is the 1-3-1, which is often done when playing as a group of 5. Two players will push the side lanes while three players remain pushing mid. It’s brilliant because the three players can easily roam to whichever lane needs help.

Phase 3 – Late Game

The late game is one of the most hectic situations in League of Legends because everybody has scaled and completed their build. It’s a crazy mess that can end within a team fight or ten. This is where skill and decision-making become important. The best strategy is to stick with teammates to ensure you are never in an outnumbered fight.

However, one small mistake can lead to a domino effect of the enemy taking objectives like Baron, making it challenging to defend your base. Every action matters on a magnitude higher than ever, meaning you have to be alert and ready to fight at any given moment. The late game is perhaps the most fun and riskiest stage of League of Legends.

League of Legends Beginner Tips

Tip 1 – Try out multiple characters: If you’re just getting into League of Legends, don’t worry about searching for the perfect champion. There are so many characters in the game with different play styles. Try them all out and see what works well for you; with so many options, you never know what character you’ll love to play.

Tip 2 – Learn the Map: Summoner’s Rift is the main map of League of Legends. Most game modes and ranked are played on the map, so learn every small detail. If you’re a beginner, focus on learning all the objectives and when they spawn. Luckily, you can press TAB to open the champion interface and look at the timers at the top of your screen.

Tip 3 – Focus on farming: Minions are your main source of gold, so you should make an effort to last hit them. In the early game, most players focus on killing minions but stop during the mid to late game since a lot is going on. To give yourself a better chance at winning, focus on farming during the most intense stages of the game. This lets you purchase items much faster and significantly out damage your opponent.

league of legends


Question: What Are The Best Summoner Spell Combos?

Answer: League of Legends features several summoner spells that deliver unique benefits. Before the match starts, players can select two summoner spells to benefit their play style. Multiple summoner spell combos have great synergies:
Flash and Ignite: Flash is brilliant when you need to close the gap while fighting, and Ignite is perfect for finishing off enemies.
Teleport and Ignite: If you plan to play top lane, then consider taking Teleport with Ignite. Teleport lets you roam across the map and help secure objectives. Also, ignite gives you 1v1 potential in the top lane.
Smite and Ignite: Junglers must take Smite to secure Baron and Drake. However, taking Ignite is a rare occurrence, but it can help tremendously in skirmishes because it reduces healing while dealing true damage. Additionally, most junglers have a gap closer, so taking Flash isn’t necessary.

Question: What Are The Top 3 Assassins In League of Legends?

Answer: League of Legends has a huge selection of champions with different characteristics. Perhaps the most fun to play is assassins because they can burst down enemy champions and roam quickly around the map. Here are 3 assassins that have brilliant kits:
Zed: This champion can be at a disadvantage, under-leveled, with half an item, and still kill the enemy squishes with a single combo. His kit grants him multiple blinks and powerful execute damage, making Zed tricky to deal with for ADCs. However, his biggest weakness is Zhonya’s Hourglass because it can negate his ultimate’s damage.
Kha’Zix: This assassin is one of the most dangerous junglers in League of Legends. He can jump long distances, 1-shot squishes, and kill objectives solo. Once you reach levels 6, 11, and 16, you can evolve one of his abilities to increase the utility or damage. Also, players roaming alone are marked as isolated, making Kha’Zix deadly in a 1v1.
Pyke: Perhaps the best AD support is Pyke because of his diverse kit. He can dash, hook, and execute enemy players, making him super tricky to face. Also, he can roam easily by using his W that increases his movement speed.

Question: What are League of Legends Objectives?

Answer: League of Legends features multiple objectives for players to fight over. Securing them provides benefits to your team that helps achieve victory. Take a look at the top objectives to fight over:
Towers: Several turrets across the map grant gold when killing them. During the early game, the closer turrets have tower plates that provide 150 gold each when destroyed.
Drake: The dragon spawns between the middle and bottom lane. All dragons have a specific element that greatly benefits your team when killed. Killing 4 dragons grants a soul that enhances your team even more.
Baron: Killing Baron is the fastest method to win a game. It buffs your character tremendously by increasing damage and defensive stats. Also, minions have more health making it easier to take down towers.
Rift Herald: This creature provides the Eye of the Herald item, which spawns the creature when used. The Rift Herald charges an attack on towers that deals a lot of damage.
Nexus: The Nexus is the most important objective because destroying it ends the game. However, you’ll have to go through multiple towers and kill the opponents before getting to it.

League of Legends Gameplay Explained: Summary

That concludes our guide of League of Legends gameplay explained. We’ve covered the most important topics to help new players familiarize themselves with the game. Remember to take the time to learn the game’s core mechanics not to get surprised while playing. There’s a lot to learn about League of Legends, and the best method is to start playing.

So what are you waiting for? Queue up for a game and see how fun it is playing League of Legends! With over +150 champions and new releases always coming out, there’s a lot of content to explore.

Read More: League of Legends Terminology

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