The following is a simple guide to watching and understanding League of Legends. This guide is intended to initiate the very casual viewer, and allow them to be able to enjoy watching the weekly League matches and the tournaments without struggling to figure out what is happening during the games.
Let’s just start with the quick version of events to just get you into the game.
First, teams pick the champions they want to play with. Each team has five players, and they all have different roles (explained further down). Two players will go to the bottom lane of the map, one player to the middle lane, and one player to the top. The fifth player will be in the Jungle, that non-lane portion of the map.
The players must get past the opposing team’s turrets and minions while killing monsters and destroying structures along the way.
The first team to get to the enemy’s base and knock down the final structure will be the winners.
Easy, right? Let’s go a bit further.
Two teams of 5 players square off on a map with one end goal: to destroy the enemy’s nexus (a large light located in each team’s base).
Before the teams can get to the nexus, they have to level up by gaining experience. Players gain experience by destroying enemy players or objects on enemy territory. All players begin at a low level with a low amount of gold, so it is to the team’s advantage to level up efficiently. The maximum level is 18. As players gain levels, they also gain newer, more effective abilities to help them as they progress in the match.
Players also earn gold by beating enemy players or completing objectives during the match. The gold can be used during the match to buy offensive or defensive weapons, armor, or consumable items to give a team an edge in battle.
Matches usually run from 20 to 60 minutes in length.
The Map (Summoner’s Rift)
As mentioned above, the primary goal of the game is to destroy the enemy’s nexus, which is located in the enemy’s base on the opposite side of the map.
Each nexus spawns weak non-player-characters (NPCs) called minions which run toward the enemy base via three lanes: top, middle, and bottom.
Players try to push minions toward the enemy base while destroying other objectives along the way.
The first team to destroy the nexus wins.
In between enemy lanes are the Jungle and the River. These areas contain monsters that can be killed for valuable team experience and gold.
There are defensive turrets in each lane on the way to the enemy base. These towers will shoot and kill minions and hapless players who come near them, so they must be taken down before advancing.
The team will then encounter an Inhibitor that needs to be destroyed. Once the Inhibitor is down, the team’s nexus will begin creating Super Minions, which are which are bigger minions that hit a lot harder. These Super Minions will help to defend the team’s territory. Inhibitors respawn after 5 minutes.
Monsters and Buffs
This section is just for terminology purposes. When you watch League Championship Series matches in any region, you will hear the commentators talk about these monsters and the advantages their deaths can give to a team.
There are various monsters within the Jungle and the River. These monsters provide player buffs that can be picked up by a member of the killing team.
-Rift Herald: located in the upper side of the River. Killing this monster provides a buff that makes the surrounding minions more powerful. It respawns every five minutes until the 19:45 mark when it is replaced with Baron Nashor.
-Baron Nashor: located in the upper side of the River. It spawns at 20 minutes, replacing the Rift Herald. All of the killing team members get a buff that makes their surrounding minions more powerful, and they get experience and gold. Baron Nashor respawns every 7 minutes when killed.
-The Dragon: located in the bottom half of the river. The team who kills the dragon get buffs that stack for up to five dragons killed. The dragon respawns every six minutes after death.
-Blue Sentinel and Red Brambleback: These are located in the jungle. They provide combat buffs when killed and each monster respawns after five minutes
-Scuttle Crab: located on both sides of the river. Provides area vision and temporarily increases your allied players’ speed to move through the specified area.
Each team is made up of five players, so each team member will pick a lane and a role. The map is usually divided with two players in the bottom lane, one in the middle, and one in the top lane, with the fifth player in the Jungle.
League of Legends players select “Champions” to represent them in battle. Each one of these characters has a role on the map, and they are divided into different roles: Assassin, Fighter, Mage, Support, Tank, Marksman.
Support and Marksman usually team up and fight in the bottom lane.
Mages usually take the middle lane.
Tank, Fighter, or Assassin take top lane (though Mages and Marksman play there too).
Tank, Fighter, Assassin, or Mages can be found in the Jungle.
Assassin: High damage per second so they can kill quickly. They typically go after “squishy” champions (mages, marksmen) in the beginning of the game and get more powerful as they continue. Can often be found lurking in the jungle, only to jump out and “gank” an unsuspecting enemy in a lane.
Marksman: High damage per second with high speed and escape skills, but tend to be killed easily in the early game. They usually spend time in the bottom lane with a trusty support to help heal them or incapacitate opponents for kills. They get far more powerful as the game continues.
Fighter: A hybrid role, with high damage per second and high survivability. These are typically bigger and slower champions who can dominate a lane on their own.
Support: The heart of the team- they heal their allies, deal damage buffs to weaken the enemy team, and/or shield their allies in combat. Usually slower with high survivability. They are often found warding key areas of the map to make sure enemies don’t slip past unnoticed.
Mage: Powerful damage dealers with low defenses. They typically have high burst and ranged damage and are particularly helpful in securing objectives in the early stages of the game.
Watch a Game
That’s a fast and dirty primer for viewing League of Legends. As with many games, the best way to understand it is to play! The game is free to download and play (CLICK HERE TO START).
You can also just watch a match! Here’s a good one- Immortals v Cloud9, LCS Season 6 Spring Split