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The Complete LoL Guide

Welcome to Esports One’s Complete Guide to League of Legends, this is where we answer the most critical question, ‘What is League of Legends?’. We hope that by the end of this, you’ll have a clear understanding of how the game works.

Complete LoL Guide

Overview

What is League of Legends?

League of Legends is a competitive online game where two teams of 5 players battle to destroy the opposing team’s Nexus (or base) before their own is destroyed. The game is concluded when a team destroys the opposing Nexus, naming the team winner. Games vary in length; however, the average game time is around 30-40 minutes.
Leage of legends map with nexus highlighted
The Nexus buildings are in opposite corners of the map

Players

Each of the five players on each team starts the game by choosing a single Champion that they will control for the entirety of the game. Each Champion has a unique set of abilities and playstyles, so teams will pick Champions that work well together. The game is a combination of tactics, teamwork, and individual mechanical skill.

What is league of legends? champion example
Champion's with their in-game icons

Gold & Items

At the beginning of a game, Champions start with a small amount of gold to buy items. To win a game of League of Legends, players need to strengthen, becoming able to defeat the opposing champions and structures to destroy the Nexus. A player becomes stronger by earning gold to buy progressively stronger items, improving a Champions’ durability, abilities, and attacks. Gold is obtained in a few ways, including; killing enemy players and minions, destroying buildings, and defeating neutral monsters.

LoL items and gold
This is how a players items and gold are displayed

The Map

Competitive League of Legends is played on a single map named Summoner’s Rift. Each team is assigned a color (Blue or Red) that designates which side of the map they need to defend. The Blue Side Nexus is located on the bottom left, and the Red Side Nexus is situated on the top right.

What is League of Legends? Map with Blue and Red side
Both teams start on the opposite side of the map

Champions

Icons for a few of the Champions
Icons for a few of the Champions
Champion Abilities - What is league of legends
Champions Abilities

What is a champion?

Each player in a League of Legends match picks one Champion for the entire match. There are over 140 Champions in League of Legends which have a range of abilities and attributes. Each Champion has strengths and weaknesses, which means players need to take into consideration both teammates and enemy Champions when deciding on who they will choose.

Champion Considerations

Teams need to have a variety of Champions that thrive in different situations. If a team has too many Champions with similar attributes, then it becomes straightforward for the opponent to counter them. For comparison, an offense in the NFL has players with drastically different physical attributes and skills to fill multiple positions; this is the same for League of Legends. You wouldn’t win with a team full of Linemen playing every position from Quarterback to Wide Receiver!

A Player will consider a range of elements when considering a Champion:

  • Ranged attacks vs. melee attacks
  • Durable vs. high damage
  • Spell focused vs. auto-attack focused
  • Thrive fighting alone vs. fighting with the team

Remember, it’s a team game, so players will aim to have a balanced composition when entering the match, this ensures team chemistry and success. Too many durable Champions and your team won’t do enough damage, too many high damage Champions and your team won’t survive long enough in fights.

The Map

“Summoners Rift”

Regions

The League of Legends map is broken up into three Lanes (Top, Middle, Bottom), the Jungle, the River, and the two teams bases. Each region of the map contains a range of obstacles, non-player controlled monsters (NPCs), buildings, and terrain. Each element of the map uniquely impacts the game, this means players need to understand how to utilize each aspect of the map to succeed in accomplishing the end goal of destroying the enemy’s Nexus.

League of Legends map as it appears in-game

Lanes

A lane is a long stretch of the map, which leads to a single entry point to the enemy’s base. The three lanes are Top Lane, Middle Lane, and Bottom Lane – each player (except the Jungler) will occupy one of these lanes at the beginning of the game, with two players starting in the Bot Lane (we will explain why in the Roles section).

League of Legends map with lanes
The lanes are often referred to by their short version, i.e Mid Lane
Overview of the summoners rift jungle LoL
The Jungle makes up the majority of the space between each lane

Jungle

The Jungle makes up most of the area between each of the lanes. While Lanes are mainly open with very little terrain interference, the Jungle is the complete opposite. The Jungle contains a range of walls, brushes, and places to ambush and be ambushed. Also, the Jungle includes a variety of neutral non-player controlled monsters.

River

The River runs diagonally through the center of the map and divides each team’s side of the plan. Three powerful non-player controlled monsters are found in the River (Baron, Dragon, and Rift Herald). Due to its location, the monsters, and openness, a lot of combat occurs in this part of the map.

Overview of the league of legends map with river highlighted
The two blue circular areas are where Baron, Dragon and Rift Herald reside
Home base League of Legends
This entire area is called the Home Base as it holds all the important buildings.

Home Base

Each team’s home base contains multiple buildings and the all-important Nexus. Due to its walls, the enemy team can only breach the base by entering through one of the three lanes. The home base also contains the Fountain, which is where players will start the game, respawn after dying, heal to full health, and purchase items from the Shop.

Fog of War

This is a crucial element of the map. Not only is there a range of terrain to move around, but players also need to deal with Fog. Fog is a shadow that covers any area of the map where a team does not have a player, ward, building, or minion (see image above). If a team does not have one of the previously mentioned personnel or objects in an area, they cannot see if an enemy is moving around there. Fog allows teams to move around the map in the enemy’s blind spots to set up ambushes. Teams must try to reveal as much of the map as possible so they can spot enemies, as it is tough to track down an enemy player if you can’t see them.

Roles

Similar to any competitive team sport, each League of Legends player has designated a role in their team (identical to ‘Positions’ in traditional sports). The roles are as follows; Top Laner, Jungler, Mid Laner, Bot Laner, and Support. They are named after the region of the map they occupy at the start of the game (except the Support). Each role starts the game matched up with the same opposing role from the other team, i.e., a team Mid Laner matches up against the enemy Mid Laner.

LoL top lane icon

Top Laner

The Top Laner role occupies the Top Lane of the map, this player trends towards picking Champions that are on the durable side or have a way of quickly escaping danger. This is due to the Top Laner being very exposed to enemy ambushes (known as ‘ganks’) as the lane is long, lacks hiding spots, and has very few escape routes.

Jungler

The Jungler is the only role that doesn’t spend the majority of their time in a lane. Instead, they traditionally occupy their teams’ Jungle. They favor high mobility Champions so they can quickly move between lanes assisting their teammates. This role utilizes the Fog to hide their whereabouts so they can ambush the enemies with the element of surprise.

LoL Jungler Icon
LoL Mid Lane Icon

Mid Laner

The Mid Laner, like the Top Laner is the only other role to start the game in a one on one situation. The Mid Laner is positioned in a unique spot of the map, the dead center, so they can quickly move to either side lane, or Jungle, to help out their teammates. Traditionally players in the Mid Lane will pick high damage Champions; this ensures they can kill enemies quickly when they move around the map. The negative to starting in the middle of the map is Mid Laners are exposed to the side lanes and Junglers ambushing them.

Bot Laner

Bot Laners primarily occupies the Bottom Lane, along with the Support role. The reason for this is because they favor Champions that are very vulnerable early in the match, but with help from the Support, they become the highest damage dealers in the game.

LoL bot lane icon
LoL Support Icon

Support

Supports share the Bottom lane with the Bot Laner. Their purpose is to help the team in any way possible; this includes providing vision around the map, saving players in danger, and helping start fights when they see winning opportunities. They often sacrifice their own life and money to strengthen their teammates.

Minions/Monsters

Minions

Minions are non-player controlled monsters that continuously spawn and move down their designated lane (mindlessly) attacking the closest enemy Champion, Minion, or Building. Each team has streams of their Minions generating in each of the three lanes, fighting for their team. Minions won’t ever leave their designated lane since their purpose is to help assist each team siege the enemy base through their designated lane. Minions may seem insignificant but are extremely important to a team’s success.

There are multiple types of minions:

  • Melee 
  • Ranged
  • Canon
  • Super Minions 

Killing minions will earn players gold to buy items and experience to level-up.

League of Legends Minions
Blue and Red Side Minions fighting in a lane
LoL Wolves jungle monster no background
Wolves Jungle Camp

Jungle

Jungle monsters are non-player controlled and are neutral, as they do not belong to either team. These monsters won’t attack players unless they attack them first. The Jungle contains a range of monsters, some of which are alone and some in groups. Each type of monster gives different amounts of gold and experience to Champions, and in some rare cases, they will temporarily strengthen a player (called a buff).

Epic Monsters

These are considered the most powerful monsters in the game, as they are challenging to kill and heavily contested by both teams. Defeating these monsters will provide benefits to your team, making it much easier to win fights against the enemy and to destroy their buildings.

Baron no background - What is LoL
This is the strongest epic monster in the game, Baron!

Buildings

Turrets

Turrets are a defensive structure that appears throughout the three lanes and in each base. Each turret belongs to a team and will attack enemy minions or Champions in range. A team must destroy each turret in order before moving onto the next.

LoL turret no background
Red Side Turret
LoL inhibitor no background
Blue Side Inhibitor

Inhibitors

Each team has three Inhibitors in their base, located at the start of each lane. Inhibitors are the building that is responsible for spawning minions. If a team destroys their enemy’s Inhibitor, they are rewarded with Super Minions in that lane. Inhibitors will reappear 5 minutes after being killed.

Fountain

At the beginning of a League of Legends game, all Champions will start in their Fountain.

The Fountain also has a range of other benefits and uses:

  • Heals Champions to full health and mana
  • Contains the Shop to buy items
  • Champions respawn here after death.
LoL Fountain screenshot
The Fountain is located behind the Nexus
LoL Nexus no background
Blue Side Nexus

Nexus

Destroying the Nexus is the ultimate goal in League of Legends, this building cannot be attacked unless the turrets defending it are destroyed first.

Gold, Leveling & Experience

Why Do Players Need Gold?

Gold is one of the essential elements of the game; players must try to earn as much as possible so that they can buy progressively stronger items.

LoL player gold
A players gold total is displayed under their items.
Ashe LoL farming minions
This is the Champion Ashe receiving 14 gold for killing a minion.

How do players earn Gold?

Players earn Gold in a range of ways; the most common is from killing minions and enemy Champions. Gold can also be obtained from killing neutral and epic monsters.

Champion Experience

Gaining experience is the key to leveling up as each level requires a certain amount of expertise (the amount necessary increases with levels). The higher the level, the stronger the Champion gets.

Players earn experience the same way as Gold, with the addition of passively receiving experience from being near minions when they die.

LoL experience bar - What is LoL
When the purple experience bar reaches the top, Tristana will become level two.

Leveling

Each time a Champion levels up, they can either choose to learn a new ability or to strengthen an existing one. Leveling also increases Champions’ attributes, such as health, damage, and mana. The higher the level, the stronger a Champion gets. Players aim to level up quickly to gain advantages over enemy Champions.

Items & Wards

Items

Items are one of the main methods of making a Champion stronger (in combination with leveling). Items have a gold value that directly correlates to how powerful it is, with the most potent items being the most expensive. Players purchase items within the shop that is located in a team’s Fountain.

Items in League of Legends
Items in the shop that players can purchase appear brighter

Items provide a range of bonuses and abilities that will help a Champion in combat including:

  • Providing extra health and durability 
  • Bonus damage to attacks
  • Increases to the potency of a Champions abilities
  • Giving an extra ability, for example healing a teammate, or slowing an enemy

Each Champion has items that they will tend to purchase each game. However, these will be slightly adjusted based on the Champions that the enemy team has.

LoL control ward no background - what is LoL
This is one of the many types of vision wards.

Wards

Wards are an essential item in the game as they provide vision in hidden areas around the map. Teams will use the vision that wards provide to control areas of the map that are in Fog, unknowingly detecting enemies that may be sneaking around in the Jungle.

Additional Resources