As one of the biggest esports in the world, there’s basically no way you haven’t heard of League of Legends by now. Long enjoyed from dank LAN parties to the glossy international stage of Worlds, League of Legends has grown from a mere game into a huge all-encompassing fandom, esport, and competitive arena. Fans from across hundreds of countries tune in regularly to watch their favourite teams play, and you could be one of them.
You’d be forgiven for finding it all a bit daunting at this point. The huge RGB-infused stages, the mythos surrounding each team and their fans, and the jargon and fast pace of every game make LoL a little difficult for newcomers to understand. Fortunately, breaking into the world of LoL fandom isn’t as hard as it seems.
Beyond all the noise and lights, LoL is an esport that will capture your attention, holding both depth and simplicity in its gameplay. With a little help from our guide, you’ll soon be able to sort your Drakes from your Barons, and follow along with the rest of the LEC Summer Season Playoffs and beyond.
First off, let’s take a look at the basics of gameplay.
You’ll notice as you tune in to your first LoL match that the commentators are speaking at approximately the speed of light. The truth is, they have to in order to keep up with the lightning-fast gameplay of a match, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hope to understand what’s going on.
The main point of the game is to break into the opposing team’s Nexus (base) before they do the same to you. Each team has five members who each take a unique role. The map is split into top lane, middle lane, and bottom lane, three names which are often shortened to top, mid, and bot. Between these lanes sits the Jungle, a less open terrain with low visibility. The River runs across the three lanes diagonally, splitting one team’s area from another. Each player’s role is named after the area they start in (aside from the Support who starts in bot) and are top laner, mid laner, bot laner, jungler, and support.
You’ll hear casters get very excited when the first Drake shows up after five minutes. Killing these scaly beasts will give a buff to whichever team manages it, and getting four of them puts those buffs into overdrive – although it’s got nothing on a Baron. At almost 20 minutes in, the Baron will spawn, granting one of the most powerful buffs in the entire game to whoever slays it.
The best way of learning, as with most things, is by doing. If you tune in to the Rift enough times, you’ll start to notice terms and phrases that reoccur. Now you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to start watching, and there’s no better time than when the LEC Summer Season Playoffs have just kicked off. You’ll get to see Europe’s finest players go head-to-head for the chance to take on the World Championships stage in the autumn.
The first place to go is the official home of LoL, lolesports.com. Right there on the homepage you can dive straight into live games, keep an eye on your favourite teams, and see upcoming matches ahead of time. For those who like to play as well, linking your Riot Games account to the website gives you a chance to earn in-game rewards. If you’re wanting a more mobile-friendly or interactive experience, the LEC also has official channels on YouTube and Twitch.
In the matches leading up to the finals you’ll see G2 Esports, MAD Lions, Rogue, Misfits Gaming, Fnatic and Excel Esports battling it out in best-of-five games.
Each team has their own playstyle and personality, and finding one you can get behind really adds some energy to the experience. G2 have a reputation for charm and confidence, while MAD Lions entertain fans with memes and plucky spirit. Following along and picking a side is the best way to learn the ups and downs of a LoL match.
Players will also favour certain Champions for their games, so keeping an eye on which position picks which Champion could help you hone your own style.
Fight your own battles
Another great way to learn more about LoL is by playing it yourself. Can you ever really understand a game if you’ve never thrown yourself in at the deep end? Luckily, LoL is entirely free to play and easy enough to learn. Perfecting it may take years, but the initial controls are simple to grasp.
If you’re wanting to go this route, be sure to grab a companion app to help you learn and master the game. Companion apps for LoL are desktop apps that give you stats and guides, and even show you tips while in-game. Two popular apps you could start with are Porofessor or Facecheck, both of which could be downloaded free on the Overwolf appstore.
Porofessor, allows you to see in-game analytics while you’re deep in the field, and then compare your performance to others at your level and even the pros. You’ll be able to see how each game differs from the last, and can turn your focus to those micro-decisions that can sometimes cost you the Rift. Porofessor is already used by more than 6 million summoners, so get it free here.
The Facecheck app is named after a term used in LoL for wading into a low-visibility area and putting yourself in danger. Generally speaking, a bad move. Facecheck removes the need for this, giving you an at-a-glance summary of the enemy’s skills and playstyle by using an innovative tagging system. It also allows you to set shortcuts for moves, giving you a streamlined route to victory with a single click. Facecheck is fun and easy to use, and is a great app for new players. Check it out here.
The Overwolf platform is home to a huge selection of LoL-specific apps that can boost your performance and enhance your understanding of the game, so be sure to visit the Overwolf appstore and search for more useful apps that will improve your LoL experience.