League of Legends (LoL) has been around since 2009 and has gone through plenty of iterations, champion updates and eSport events. With plenty of websites for builds, strategies and videos to tell you what to do, it can feel daunting when first starting out or even wanting to improve. The wealth of knowledge can both be a help. but also act to scare off newcomers to getting into LoL.
LoL has come from a niche game to being one of the major competitors in eSports, with dozens of teams going head to head in tournaments, with several voices calling it a real sport or even trying to get it into the Olympics. Besides the tournaments and events held outside of your house, the ranked community of LoL is huge, paving the way for newer games like Overwatch. Getting your foot into that community can be hard however, from other players expecting a certain degree of skill from you or simply being too toxic to accept you.
This short guide of 15 steps to becoming a better LoL player aims to help those looking for a fresh start, as well as those with an already established love for the game. While everyone does learn differently, with several different techniques, the steps below should hopefully be straightforward and easy to do.
Grab your Mountain Dew and snacks, it’s time to enter the Summoner's Rift!
Like any game that gives a choice of Class, Race or speciality, picking one and mastering it is the way to go. Every match you play with a champion is another 30 minutes or so you are training with them, learning their skills, cooldowns, damage and speed, along with some good item builds to go along with both their statistics and your playstyle. The best way to start off with this is in practice mode as there won’t be any other players shouting you down for trying out new things.
With over 130 champions on offer it can seem like a huge number, but can be narrowed down for the style of play you have. If you wanting to be an AD Carry that number jumps down to the 20s, Jungle champions around the 40s. It is all well and good choosing a champion that is cool, but plenty of the champions on offer either never got buffed or simple don’t fit the current Meta.
Last hitting is exactly what it says on the tin, when you hit a minion and it dies, giving you gold and experience. CS means Creep Score, or minion kills and is often referred to as such, and will carry your champion through the earlier parts of the game, mostly applying to players in the lanes rather than Junglers. Again the best place to practice this is in practice mode to start off with, seeing how many normal attacks, spells only or other attacks it takes to kill a minion or what can kill a minion on what percentage of health.
Moving onto Bot or PvP games is where your training will show, as out killing your lane opponent will allow you to both push the lane, meaning their tower gets the kills on your minions, or leaving their champion without backup to allow you a free shot or two. You should always keep in mind if your Jungler or teammate asks you to pull back on CS, to allow for a group attack however.
Wards are what give you and your team vision over the map, revealing parts of the map that are hidden by the fog of war. There are a few types of wards along with totems but the best way to find the ward for you and the situation is to play while using them. Stealth wards give you three separate wards that fade over time, while visions wards are single use but last until destroyed.
Besides learning the different wards and their proper use, you should also practice and learn the distance you can place them, the best places to put them and how to throw them over barriers. If you get close enough to a wall, you can almost always throw it to the other side of the wall and this is commonly done in the middle lane to ward the bushes on either side of the river.
Rather than harassing your team, you should harass the champions, by trading attacks with them or dealing damage to push them out of their lane. To successfully trade, you will want to hit your target for as much damage while taking the least amount of damage yourself. Lane harassing is when you “trade” damage but receive none in return, essentially bullying the enemy into a weaker position as you deny them CS.
However, if you’re facing a champion that can heal over time or that has higher defence than you, you might want to focus on the CS rather than trading, unless you can communicate with your Jungler.
You’ll often get told to go a certain place or lane; Top, Mid or Bot for the lanes or Blue/Red for the jungle buffs. These are often rather simple to learn as their position doesn’t change per match, per season, or update to the game, so once you learn these, you should be set for life in LoL.
Besides learning where these places are, you should also learn what they mean for the team and you and your champion. Certain champions are better in the lanes, while others may seem unorthodox. but can be great if played by great players. Junglers will often call to their allies or have their allies ask for the Red or Blue buffs to help their lane or engagements with their opponents. You should read the buffs and understand if they will help your character before asking for it.
Similarly to learning positions, the map hasn’t changed much over the years, only really improving the graphics and design. So once you’ve learnt the map, once again, you should be set for life. The map has several important locations, aside from Red/Blue buff and the lanes. The bushes dotted around provide you with stealth against the enemy team and often contain their wards, so you should try to find those and destroy them.
Late game bosses also spawn in the forms of the drake, which gives a buff depending on the amount of them killed, along with gold, and Baron Nashor which gives a temporary buff to all alive players that is usually used to steam roll the opposing team. With monsters and bushes in mind, you should also learn the proper escape routes to take when running from single or multiple opponents, drawing them towards a prime counterattack position or merely avoiding their Jungler.
A Jungler is a player who plays mostly within the jungle of the map, focusing on the wolves, golems and buff monsters that live within it. As they gain experience and items, they will start to ambush your lanes, either to help you or to attack you if you’re on opposing teams. This form of ganking is very common, especially in mid-lane. Learning proper routes of the jungle is important, as there are a few different ways to go about approaching the jungle.
Each champion may have a preferred starting buff or side, as well as asking for assistance on the first mob of the game. While the Jungler should know the jungle like the back of their hand, you should also learn the basics - even if you’re not a Jungler. You should know where buffs are, if you can take a monster and where to hide if the enemy Jungler is prowling around.
Like any team game, a consistent group of players is almost a necessity. Besides being able to keep a consistent roster of characters, the bickering among friends rarely progresses to the point where people leave, as the composition is stronger. Since the game is free, you can simply ask some friends to start with you or hop in a game or two. Don’t be afraid to talk to your team in random play too, as some great teams form through random games.
Once your team is formed, you can organize 1v1s and 2v2s to practice single or team fights. In a solid group, you won't only play against others, you can train one another more effectively than in practice or Bot modes. As you play in a group more often, you will also learn to combine tactics and work together more efficiently, making you better in the progress.
One of the worst things you can do in a team game is get angry. The LoL community is toxic enough as it is, so if someone makes a mistake or rubs you the wrong way, just tell them constructively. Shouting down the mic or mad typing not only takes time away from the game but it also messes up everyone’s concentration on the game.
The same applies to a situation where you’re the one getting yelled at in the game. Instead of shouting back or ignoring them, let them know if you’re trying something new or made a mistake. A lot of the time you can diffuse a situation before it gets too heated, while other times the player is just an idiot who wants to vent about their own failures. At the end of the day, it’s just a game and yelling won’t get anything done.
As you continue to play matches, grow closer in your group and level up, you will notice that certain champions do better against you or you often are on the losing end of trades. This can come down to the opponents skill, but it can also mean their champion counters yours, either by having higher defence to nullify your attack or outputting abilities that make your own pointless.
With the wealth of sites for builds and information, you can find a full list of your counters. The same also applies to your opponent, as your champion could be greatly suited to shutting down another and you should also find who you counter. As you continue to play and branch into other champions, you will be able to counter pick enemy teams which can upset the balance of power greatly. If you are facing a counter, make sure to let your Jungler know, so he can throw more help your way.
By now, you would have played a few games, both in practice mode and vs real players. You should have noticed that every champion has different abilities, cooldowns, damage and reach, and you should learn these. While it might seem daunting at first, with over 130 enemies to face, that number quickly drops when it comes to PvP and ranked, as not every champion is played. Simply ask your teammates or look only for “popular” champions.
Once you’ve got the roster down, start to read their abilities and understand how they affect your champion. Will damage over time abilities make trading harder for you? Does that champion have a reflect ability? How long until that ability locks you in place again? All of this knowledge will prove essential at higher level play, especially if you suspect a gank is on the way.
Not only is your own skill a contributing factor, but your items, runes, and masteries are also valuable things to keep in mind. These will differ somewhat on your own playstyle, if you prefer to harass more than team fight, but also change depending on where you play and who you face. A good default build is a great starting point, buying runes that boost your main attacks and defences to masteries that aid your ability cooldowns or style of play.
There are quite a few defaults online that can apply to several champions at once, so it is a good idea to read up on these. Like a champion, your runes and masteries can also with countering an enemy, as if your opponent is more attack focused, you might want some more gear focused to defence or if the enemy has a lower health pool, you might want higher damage to harass easier.
Following on from the previous point, you should setup Item Kits to quickly buy items at the start and during the match. Being able to click on your items within a second can save a teammate's live if they're in need of assistance. You used to easily be able to setup Item Sets, but that feature wasn’t used enough and was ditched, but can still be accessed if you use the earlier launcher. If you don’t want to use Item Kits, you should still keep a mental note of different kits.
LoL is all about adapting to the battlefield, your runes and masteries might be setup for Mid lane, but if you’re called to swap lanes or face a champion that pushes you out, you need to be able to adjust and win. The same goes for items, but these can be easily changed mid-game, though sometimes at a loss of gold and time.
The best advice anyone can give when attempting to join in any sport or competitive scene is to watch the professionals and learn from the best. Find a player who has your champion in their rotation, or mains them, learn their item setups, runes, masteries, and how they play and you might learn a thing or two. Maybe you can combine your attacks with another champion or there is a hidden counter.
Besides learning your own champion, you can also see how other champions are played, as well as learning maps, items, cooldowns and other player tactics. While you don’t necessarily need to take notes, watching other people play can give you amazing insight into your enemies and own teammates. If you’re not a fan of watching other people play, you can instead read up on the pro team’s style of training and warmups to improve your own.
LoL is an ever changing game, from new champions being added, items getting altered or removed, champions getting buffed or nerfed and more. You should always keep an eye and ear towards the news and talk amongst players. With any change, you might see a champion being used more often or your counters getting weaker or stronger, and you should adjust to suit that.
Going back over the previous steps, you might see a change. Maybe you do less damage, so you need to trainr you CS. Maybe someone’s ability became a reach attackm so your trades will be harder or that go-to item you loved is now gone and you need a replacement. Even if nothing comes out in the news, the Meta can change randomly, either by a pro player talking about a new strategy or team formation. Be prepared for change.