12th June, 2017

How to Play League of Legends for Beginners

When you first open up League of Legends it can be a daunting experience, especially if you've never played a MOBA before. Maybe your friends have made you play a game with them, or you just want to see what all the fuss is about. Whatever the reason, learning how to play League of Legends is essential.

In this detailed guide, we’ll be teaching you everything you need to know about how to play League of Legends. We’ll start off by going over the basics but will also be covering more advanced topics. Obviously, there will be a lot to cover so without further ado let's get started!

What is League of Legends?

For those of you that don’t know, League of Legends is currently the most popular video game in the world with over 100 million active monthly players.

League of Legends is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game which was originally inspired by the original mod from Warcraft 3. The standard game mode in League of Legends involves 2 teams battling each other in the arena until a team's nexus is destroyed, or the other team surrenders.

The game currently has over 130 customizable champions with each have different skins that can be purchased in-game. There are also different game modes available to play which are variations on the classic 3 lane game. But the most popular game mode by far is still the 3 lane one.

To get started, first visit the official League of Legends website to register your account and download the game. The next stage is to understand all the champions and their abilities before you can learn how to play League of Legends.

league of legends in game team fight

First Things First

rp and ip screen

Before you make your account you need to think of a good name. Since the game has been around for a long time it’s unlikely you will get the first username you come up with. This username will be the name that players see in the game so make sure it’s a good one. Don’t worry though if you ever get bored of it, you can always pay to change it in the store.

When you first make an account you will start off at level 1, this is called your summoner level. The highest level you can reach in game is level 30 and you will unlock new skills and features at certain milestones.

If you look at the top right-hand side of the game client you will notice you have RP and IP. Both of these are in game currencies that can be used to exchange for boosts, skins or champions from the store. RP stands for Riot Points and can be purchased using real world currency.

RP lets you unlock champions, buy new skins and special boosts from the store. Out of the two currencies, RP is considered better as it allows you to purchase more things. The other currency, IP is called influence points and are earned in game after every match. Every player gets a special win of the day bonus that gives the player a bonus 150 IP for the first winning match of the day. 

The timer resets 22 hours after with a countdown being found on your profile. IP can also be used to unlock champions and buy runes but can’t be used to unlock certain things such as champion skins. It’s best to save up your IP so you can buy more champions, once you have more champions it will make it easier to learn how to play League of Legends.

League of Legends Champions

list of league of legends champions

As of 2017, there are currently 134 champions available to play, with several new ones being released every year. When you first start playing the game you won’t have any unlocked champions, but don’t worry there is a free weekly champion rota. This rota allows you to play a select amount of champion that are free to play for that week. Once the week is over the champions will change allowing you to try other ones instead.

If you accidentally buy a champion, or you buy one and decide you don’t like it then don’t fret as you can get your currency back. Every new account is given 3 refund credits. Once these have been used you won’t be able to get them again so use them wisely. If you’re learning how to play League of Legends then this feature is great as it allows you to try out some champions before you buy them.

When in game, all champions start off at level 1, unless you are playing other modes such as Dominion or ARAM which you start off at level 3. The highest level you can reach in game is level 18. Every time you level up you will gain a new ability point which can be used to level your abilities.

Champion Abilities

League of Legends Tristana Abilities

These points can be put into champions abilities in order to level up their rank and make them stronger. Every champion has a basic attack, a passive and 4 abilities. A basic attack or auto attack is when you right click on an enemy. Depending on what type the champion is will depend on the attack.

The two main auto attacks are ranged and melee attacks. Ranged attacks fire projectiles towards the enemy and don't require to you be as close to the enemy. Melee attacks, on the other hand, require you to be standing next to the enemy in order to attack it.

A champion's passive is a skill that affects gameplay but does not require the player to activate it. This can be things like increasing the attack range of the champion every time they level up (Tristana). Or giving the champion a movement speed boost every time they attack an enemy champion (Sivir).

When learning how to play League of Legends it’s important to know that each champion has 4 abilities with 3 of them being basic attacks and 1 being an ultimate attack. Basic abilities have 5 ranks each and can be levelled up every time the champion levels up.

A champion's ultimate is the most powerful ability and also has the longest cooldown. It’s important to use the ultimate ability at the right time (normally during group fights) or risk losing the game. Wasting an ultimate is a big no no, but we’ll cover that later. Each ultimate ability has 3 ranks and can be levelled at the champions level 6, 11 and 16.

Of course, there are some expectations. Some champions are unique and don't follow the standard ‘rules’ of abilities. Out of the 134 champions, there are around 10 that have slight differences. But you’ll soon learn which champions they are when you play them in game.

Damage Types

jinx how to play lol

If you’re learning how to play League of Legends then damage types are very important. Different damage types can deal different amounts of damage depending on the enemy's armour or magic resist. Every champion in game will cause damage in different ways. The 3 main damage types are physical, magical, and true.

Physical damage is dealt primarily through auto attacks and some abilities. By having more armour on your champion the damage from physical attacks will be reduced.

Magical damage is dealt through most abilities and can even be added to basic attacks. By increasing the magic resist on your champion this will reduce the amount of damage you receive from magical attacks.

True damage is rare and can be dealt by using some champion's ultimate abilities. True damage skips armour and magic resist and gives 100% of the damage to the champion. When multiple damage types come from a single attack, this is termed as mixed damage. Depending on your champion and what damage they do will also play an important part on their role in game. 

Champion Roles

League of Legends Roles

There are currently 6 roles in League of Legends which champions can be sorted by. Some roles are easier for new players who are still learning how to play League of Legends, while some roles are so important it’s best to leave them for the more experienced players.

Mages

Mages, also referred to as ability power carries (APC) are powerful casting champions that use their abilities to deal magical damage to their enemies. Most mages are ranged champions and have low health and defenses but very high damage. APCs normally play in the middle lane of the map which gives them great mobility.

Marksmen

Marksmen, also known as attack damage carries (ADC) are ranged champions that use their abilities and auto attacks to deal damage to individual targets. Similar to APCs marksmen often have low health and defenses but high damage output.

Tanks

Tanks are most commonly melee champions and have high defenses and health but low damage output. The point of tanks are to disable, stun and protect other members of the team from receiving damage. Stunning a champion while they are doing their ultimate is a great way to win a team fight.

Fighters

Fighters are often referred to as bruisers and are typically melee champions that have moderate defense and damage output. This makes them great duellists in game as they are capable of outputting a variety of damage types.

Supports

Supports are the best at protecting other teammates, especially the APC and ADC. They also have a variety of spells to heal, shield and buff allies. Most support champions also have interrupt spells such as silence and stun which can further help protect teammates.

Assassins

Assassins are extreme mobile and have huge damage output. Similar to mages assassins have high damage output but low health and survivability. But unlike mages they have high mobility which allows them to get in and out of fights at the right time. Assassins can be both physical or magic damage assassins.

Summoner’s Rift Layout

summoners rift layout

Summoner's Rift is by far the most popular map in game. If you’re new to the game then learning this map inside out is vital if you want to know how to play League of Legends.

When you first spawn in the game you will land on your team's summoner spawn base. This spawn area is also where you will find the shop. Items can be purchased from the store that will help increase the power of your champion. Every time you recall to the platform (by pressing B) you will teleport back and replenish your health and mana. The spawn is also guarded by the Nexus lazer which kills any enemies that enter the zone. This is to stop enemies from entering your spawn and killing everyone.

The map has 3 lanes in which minions spawn and travel down. Once they find the enemy minions or champions they will automatically attack them. Each lane has its own name, top, middle and bottom. Every lane has at least one champion with some (bottom) having more than 1. The champions along with the minions fight with each other to try and gain lane control.

Down the centre of the map is the river which connects all 3 lanes together as well as paths that lead through the jungle. Many neutral monsters spawn and roam the river with larger neutral monsters living in the jungle itself.

Each team has a player that roams the jungle killing these monsters and helping to push other lanes when required. If a lane is losing to the other team then that lane can request the jungler to come over to help them fight.

League of Legends Objectives

Fighting on summoner's rift isn’t just about getting as many kills as possible, (although it does help) it’s not the main objective of the game. A team only wins when the enemy’s nexus is destroyed, or they surrender. Many things contribute to the victory of the match and it’s important to understand how you can help your team win. If you want to learn how to play League of Legends and win then make sure you’re taking the primary objectives.

Primary Objectives

inhibitors and turrets

We can split these objectives into primary and secondary objectives. Primary objectives are important things your team will need to achieve in order to win. The first important primary objective is experience. Every champion needs to gain experience in order to level. Higher champion levels mean higher stats and therefore more destructive power. Think about it, a level 1 vs a level 3, who would win?

You might think that was all a bit obvious but when you dive a bit deeper you can see why it's often looked over. There’s a reason the top and middle lane only have 1 champion in lane. The aim of that lane is to have a champion that levels really fast. If you had 2 champions in the middle or top lane then they would share XP. This would slow down the levelling for that champion and within 10 minutes your enemy could be several levels higher than you.

Collecting gold from minions is another very important primary objective. Without gold, you can't buy new items which means your champion won't be as powerful. If you ever watch any professional League of Legends players play matches you’ll notice how high their creep kills are. Last hitting a minion gives you gold which you can spend in the store. Every time you miss killing a minion you cost yourself gold. There are other ways to collect gold, such as destroying turrets and killing jungle monsters, but this is the fastest way. If you’re new and still learning how to play League of Legends, then working on improving your creep score is vital as it will help you get more gold in games.

The final primary objective is destroying structures. As one of the ways to win is to destroy the enemy’s Nexus the only way to do this is to destroy the enemy’s turrets and inhibitors. Every turret destroyed gives the whole team gold and helps you advanced closer to the enemy’s base. Destroying inhibitors in the game causes super minions to spawn which help push your minions to the enemy's nexus. Protecting your inhibitors is as important as destroying the enemies.

Secondary Objectives

league of legends wards

Secondary objectives are things like placing wards on the map, killing the dragon and baron at appropriate times and getting monster buffs. These secondary objectives help you to achieve the primary objectives much easier. By killing the Baron, everyone on your team gets a powerful buff. This helps you destroy towers and inhibitors much faster than without the buff which puts you one step closer to winning the game.

As you’ve probably noticed, kills are not objectives. This is one of the biggest misassumptions for new players who are learning how to play League of Legends. They do help you take control of certain objectives but kills themselves don’t win the game. If you watch professional games you’d be surprised at how low the number of kills are and how long it takes for the first blood to happen. It’s pretty common for the first blood to take over 10 minutes, this shows that victories are secured through objective control rather than kills.

Now we’ve given a general overview of summoner’s rift and the different champion roles available in game you’re now one step closer to learning how to play League of Legends. In the next part of our how to play League of Legends guide we’ll be looking at specific strategies for each lane and what you should be doing to win your lane.

Game Phases

game lanes map

If you’re new to the game then understanding what phase the game is in is vital if you want to learn how to play League of Legends. The three main phases of the game are as follows.

Early Game

Also known as the laning phase, the early game focuses on farming minions and denying XP to opponents in the lane. Denying XP and gold is accomplished by forcing opponents back to base through constant lane harassment. During this phase basic items and wards are purchased from the store in order to win lane dominance.

During this phase the dragon and herald are realistic objectives if given the right circumstances.

Mid Game

During the mid-game phase players begin to roam and start to group up for ambushes or to take primary objectives such as towers. Players are also over level 6 and have their ultimate ability to use in team fights and skirmishes.

During this phase the middle turrets are the main focus along with the Dragon and Herald. Vision control also becomes important and having plenty of wards around the map help increase the vision. If you're learning how to play League of Legends then map vision is an important part of the game. Although we’ll briefly mention it here, we’ll keep mentioning it throughout the guide just to get the point across.

Late Game

Once the game has reached the final late game phase champions are nearing level 18 and have their core items completed. Champions will be very powerful with many being able to easily kill multiple enemies. Respawn timers will also be extremely long and have a significant impact on the game.

The primary objectives of the late game are to take the turrets, inhibitors and ultimately the nexus. If the game is not progressing anywhere then taking the Baron can give that final buff to help one of the team's win.

If you’re learning how to play League of Legends then understanding each lane is important. By knowing what responsibilities your teammates have will help you make better decisions in the game.

League of Legends Lanes

Top Lane

top lane aatrox

Champions on the top lane are known as the tanks or bruisers of the team. These champions normally are very defensive and can take a beating from lots of enemies before returning to base. This also means they can hold the lane on their own and benefit from more XP and gold for themselves.

These bruisers and tanks play an important part in the game later on during team fights and have the specific role of disrupting and stunning certain enemies such as the ADC.

The top lane is fairly simple, avoid getting ganked, get the last hits for gold and take the enemy's towers.

Jungle

jungle lee sin

Champions that play in the jungle are referred to as the jungler with each team having one. The jungler stays in the jungle to gain XP and gold from neutral minions rather than sharing a lane. This means the jungler levels faster as they don’t share XP with other champions while also allowing mid and top lane to also play solo.

The jungler is a unique role as it is different to the other roles and doesn't have an actual lane compared to the rest. If you’re new to the game and want to learn how to play League of Legends then the jungle role will probably be the hardest. It involves a lot of roaming, map awareness, and decision making.

Mid Lane

middle lane zyra

Mages and assassins normally play in the middle lane as they have the abilities and power to play solo. Mages and assassins require a lot of gold and XP to become powerful so having the lane to themselves helps them achieve this faster.

The distance from the turret to the centre of the lane is much shorter than in other lanes which makes it easier for fragile champions to play in. The mid lane is also perfect for roaming as you can follow the river to either the top or bottom lane to assist a lane.

The mid lane is fairly simple as well. Try to get as much gold and XP as possible without dying.

Bottom Lane

bottom lane graves

The bottom lane is normally a duo lane with a marksman and support champion sharing the lane. The marksmen or ADC are initially weak at the start of the game and require lots of gold and XP before they become powerful.

The supports job is to protect the ADC until they become strong enough. In order for this to work the marksmen needs to get all the last hits on the minions in order to get enough gold. Support characters don't rely as much on gold or XP and is fairly common for them to have the lowest level in the game.

The two champions will normally play in the bottom lane as it’s the closest lane to the dragon. If a fight breaks out and the other two enemies in the lane are killed then they can easy kill the dragon by the time they have respawned.

The bottom lane is all about making sure the ADC gets powerful and fed. This means getting the the last hit on the minions and champion kills. If you’re learning how to play League of Legends, then this can be one of the hardest lanes to master as it required good co-operation with your teammate.

The Purpose of the Jungler

If you’re learning how to play League of Legends then the role of the jungler can be the hardest.

Since the Jungler is the only champion in the game that does have his own lane it can be a bit confusing on what exactly they are meant to do. Rather than farming minions in a lane and defending a tower a jungler farms monsters all over the map and helps defend lanes that are struggling.

While jungling the jungler will normally roam around to pick off enemies that are caught out. This might be the enemy jungler on low HP fighting a minion that makes an easy kill or a team fight were the ADC is caught out of place. The jungler will constantly be on the lookout for opportunities all over map whether it's to help defend a lane, secure a kill or take a primary objective.

The first essential thing about being a jungler is their use of summoner spells. The most common combination is flash and ignite for the mid or top lane, as they want to prioritise kills. The bottom duo lane will usually take heal and flash with the support taking exhaust as they want to prioritise survival.

The jungler on the other hand will normally take flash and smite. Smite is a great spell especially when you are soloing high level monsters. The spell on its own deals damage to a minion and grants a unique buff depending which minion it is used on.

Smite Buffs

baron smite

These buffs can range from DoT buffs to buff that stun enemies every so many auto attacks. The list of buffs are as follows.

  • Gromp (giant toad) - Grants a DoT buff that deals poison damage to enemies who attack you. Great for killing monsters faster or adding more damage to your champion.
  • Wolves - Grants a roaming spirit eye that watches over your jungle. If any enemy champion enters your jungle it will alert you of their presence.
  • Raptors aka chickens / wraiths - When smiting the raptors you will be granted with a special buff that allows you to see any enemy wards near you. Although the vision doesn't last long it's a very useful buff that will help you de-ward your map.
  • Krugs (stone giants) - Grants a buff that periodically stuns monsters and deals true damage to turrets
  • Red buff brambleback - Will grant you the added damage red buff but will also heal 20% of your missing HP.
  • Blue buff golem - Will grant you the blue mana buff that restores a % of your mana every second. When using smite it will also restore 25% of your missing mana.

All these buffs help increase the junglers strength which means they can clear the jungle faster and therefore level and gain more XP quicker. These buffs also help junglers kill enemy champions easier or take turrets and towers.

Objective of each Lane

league of legends objectives

Every lane has their own objective in game so it’s important to know what the objective is and how to achieve it.

Top Lane

The aim of the top lane is to level up as fast as possible and become a very strong and powerful bruiser. Top lane can be very aggressive and involve lots of diving and harassment. If you harass your enemy enough they will have to teleport back to base and thus lose XP and gold. If you can keep this up then eventually you will gain a huge advantage in lane.

If you can harass your opponent, take down the towers and avoid dying from ganks then you’re doing it right. During the early phase of the game the enemy will most likely be focusing on harassing you and denying you XP. When you get to the mid game it's most likely the jungler will be attempting to gank you so make sure you have vision on the river.

Jungle

League of Legends Scuttle Crab

As previously mentioned the jungler is a unique role that is completely different compared to the other lanes. It involves a lot more roaming and map awareness to spot and capitalise on opportunities.

The main aim of the jungler is to support lanes while simultaneously levelling and keeping map vision. It can sound very demanding, but most junglers are high mobility physical champions that have no problem roaming around the map very fast.

If one of your lanes keeps getting harassed and has to keep teleporting back then they will be losing XP and gold. If you see this happening then you should assist them with a gank or help put pressure on the lane. If someone has to teleport back then you can help protect the tower and pick up some XP that otherwise would go to waste.

As a jungler it's important to have plenty of wards and keep vision on important objectives such as the red and blue buff as well as the baron and dragon. The last thing you want is the enemy team stealing your blue buff and having two. When fighting the dragon or baron it's important to use you smite to secure the kill and stop the enemy jungler from attempting to steal it. If you hover over smite it will tell you how much damage it will deal depending what rank it is. If you click on the dragon or baron it will give you the HP and you should be able to time the smite perfectly.

Mid Lane

The objective of the mid lane is similar to that of the top lane, become as powerful as possible whilst destroying the turrets and avoid dying. The mid lane can be more dangerous as you’re must more vulnerable to ganks from the enemy jungler and the tower is further away from the centre of the lane.

The best way to avoid ganks is to make sure you have vision wards in the bushes. The majority of the time the jungler will hide there and the enemy mid laner will try to lure you in. Sometimes it’s very obvious what they’re trying to do. Sometimes not so. In the worst case scenario you should pop flash to get back to your tower, but if you have good map awareness you should notice when something is not right.

As the game progresses you will probably want to start roaming down the river to help out the other lanes. If the enemy laner ever disappears it's always best to alert your teammates and follow them if they’re heading to another lane.

Bottom Lane

The bottom lane requires great communication between the ADC and support players. If the support keeps stealing all the kills then the lane is not going to work. The ADC won’t get all the gold they require to become strong enough and most likely you will lose the lane.

Top stop this from happening it important there is communication on when to attack and when to back off. There’s nothing worse than the ADC going in and the support stays back not paying any attention.

The role of the support is to protect to the ADC and sacrifices last hits in order to do so. They spend most of their gold on support items that benefit both players and provide vision for their team. The ADC needs the protection in the early game because they are slow and weak but as the game progresses they will get stronger and stronger.

The ADC will be focusing on last hits and keeping their creep score high. If the opportunity arises then they will want to dive the enemy to secure a kill as it provides XP and extra gold. Overstretching the lane can be dangerous as the run back to the tower can take a while and makes you more vulnerable to ganks from the jungler or mid lane.

Having vision of the bushes and the end of the river can give a heads up when another enemy is approaching the lane. Retreating is a good idea as the jungler won't wait in the bushes forever, eventually they will have to leave or they will be losing precious XP.

When to Push Lanes

pushing a lane

Pushing the lane is important as if you don't push the lane you’ll never be able to destroy the towers. When an enemy teleports back from their lane to buy new items this is a great chance to either attack the tower with the minions or recall back as well. Depending on what phase the game is will depend on the best actions.

In the early game it's probably best to recall back and let the minions die to the tower. This denies the enemy XP and gold whilst almost damaging the tower. During the mid-game it's probably best to stay and destroy the turret to secure the gold for your team.

When to Take Dragon

league of legends dragon

The best time to take the dragon is when you’ve just kill bot lane or everyone has teleported back. If you have enough HP and mana then the ADC and support should easily be able to kill it, even during the early game. If you need any help then it's best to call your jungler over to help secure the dragon and kill it faster.

If you’ve just had a team fight at the bot lane and you won then instead of recalling its best to try and push for dragon as well. If both of the enemy laners are dead then there is still the jungler that could steal the dragon so watch out. If all 3 of them are dead then the dragon is basically yours for the taking.

When to Take Baron

league of legends baron

If you’re in the mid phase of the game and are approaching the late game then it’s time to start thinking about the baron. During this time it's important to have vision on the Baron to stop the enemy team from trying to steal it from you.

If at any time you see the enemy team grouping up or clearing the wards around the Baron then the chances are they are preparing to take it. If you notice this you must ping it on the map and get you and your team over there to contest it. Giving away a free Baron is the worst thing you can do. If your jungler is good enough then he might even be able to steal it during the team fight.

It’s important to know that the Baron is not vital to win the game and you can easily win games without ever killing the baron. The Baron just gives you that little extra if you need a boost in the late game to win.

The Final Push

league of legends push

So you’ve been in the game for 30 minutes and several towers have been taken but you’re not sure what to do. You should mainly be focusing on killing the dragon for the gold and buff. During this phase of the game your team should be grouping up and looking to take the remaining turrets and start on the inhibitors.

Once you have an inhibitor it makes the game a lot easier as there will be constant pressure on that lane and will always be pushed into the base. All you need to do now is focus the attack on another lane or the inner turrets to take them down and take the nexus.

What Next?

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our guide on how to play League of Legends, we’ve covered a lot of stuff through the guide. Some simple and obvious, some not so. But now we’re at the end of our guide, what's next?

If you want a more advanced guide then check out our Ranked Guide

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If you’re still looking to learn more about League of Legends and increase your skill then best way to learn is by watching professional players. Many professional players who play League of Legends stream themselves playing on Twitch.tv. If you’re looking to increase your game knowledge and skill then you should be studying professional players.

There are always top players streaming on Twitch.tv so depending what role or lane you are looking to learn about there is always someone playing.

Now you know how to play League of Legends it’s time to get stuck in and pwn some noobs in ranked. If you don't have an account already then be sure to check out our smurf store as we offer a range of level 30 unranked smurf accounts. Click below to view our store now.


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