Seven Ways to Get Better at League of Legends
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games have come a long way since their humble beginnings. Starting as a mod for Warcraft 3 called Defense of the Ancients, games in this genre are now played by millions of gamers worldwide. At the top of the MOBA pile is League of Legends, a game developed by creators of the original DotA mod.
The total amount of information to take in when starting LoL can be unnerving. There’s a few things a player should know if he wants to improve. Here’s seven things you can do to play better and start rising through the ranks.
7. Play what’s fun…
Let’s face it: You picked up League of Legends because you wanted to have a good time. If you get bogged down in playing what’s competitively viable early on, you’re likely to miss out on a lot of the enjoyment of playing at the low levels. For the early stages of your League of Legends career, that means it’s probably best to play whatever you enjoy. It gives you a chance to explore the roles and champions and learn from mistakes.
Games don’t count for anything until you go into ranked, so there’s no need to worry about your record before that. It’s alright to make mistakes early on, and most people won’t hold it against you if you use these games to play around with builds or champions.
6. …but learn each position
There are five players on each team, and generally the team is composed of five distinct positions:
- The AD (Attack Damage) Carry is a ranged champion that buys AD items such as Bloodthirster, Last Whisper and Infinity Edge. This player will play in the bottom lane, generally with a support of some kind. During the early game, the AD Carry and his support will be guarding the dragon, a powerful monster near bottom lane that gives the team that kills him 190 gold per player. Later in the game, when team fights happen, he sits in the back of his team, hitting enemies for as much damage as possible with auto attacks.
- The Support’s job is to protect the AD Carry from roaming enemies and help him get a lot of gold. As a result, the support doesn’t try to get the last hit on enemies. Instead, this player will be buying items that give gold over time, such as a Philosopher’s Stone or a Kage’s Lucky Pick, and later build into items that help the team, such as Runic Bulwark and Shurelya’s Reverie. He will also buy Sight Wards and Vision Wards so his team can see more of the map. Champions that excel in this role tend to have some sort of crowd control skill, such as a stun or a silence.
- The Mid’s job is to use a large burst of ability damage to destroy the enemy team as fast as possible. Currently, this role is played by champions that scale well with ability power as opposed to having good base scaling, meaning that players will buy ability power items such as Rabadon’s Deathcap, Void Staff and Abyssal Scepter. This player will go to the mid lane, and frequently roam to the top and bottom lanes to assist teammates as needed.
- The Top player doesn’t typically build for damage. Instead, he will play a champion whose abilities have good base scaling. As a result of this scaling, he can help his team without needing to buy damage items. He will build a combination of offensive and defensive items, such as Warmog’s Armor, Guardian Angel, and Black Cleaver for an AD champion or Rylai’s Crystal Scepter for an AP champion. Your role is to get past the enemy team’s top player and attack the AD and AP carries, or protect your own carries from the same treatment.
- The last player’s role will vary. Before level 30, the last player will be a damage-oriented champion that goes to top lane, making 2 players in that lane. At level 30, the fifth player will play as a Jungler (before level 30, a lack of runes makes it hard; more on that later). The jungler kills the monsters in the “jungle,” the area of trees between the lanes, freeing the top player to farm up on his own and become stronger. He controls the large monsters that provide buffs to whoever kills them and assists other players as needed. A jungler will take Smite as a summoner spell, and tends to build defensively, in a way similar to the top lane player, except that AD junglers will build Wriggle’s Lantern for bonus damage to minions and monsters.
Learning what each role does and how other players will interact with you is crucial to becoming a great League of Legends player.
5. Find a Mentor
We all have someone we look up to in life, that guides us through tough times and to whom we partially owe our success. The same is can be true in League of Legends. A mentor doesn’t need to be someone you talk to while playing, although finding someone to duo queue with is a great way to learn and grow. It could be a pro player whose stream you like, or the author of your favorite guide. It may even be some player whose tournament games you watch. If you pick a pro player and have a question about their play, try contacting them. Many are friendly and can be reached on Twitter, through their Facebook profiles or e-mails. The best way to do something better is to find someone that already knows how to do it and learn from them.
4. Save some IP for runes
Influence points, or IP, are the in-game currency of League of Legends. You obtain IP after every game you play, and can use them to buy champions, rune pages and runes. Runes fill rune pages. Every player starts with two pages and can buy more with IP or Riot Points (game currency purchased with real money).
Runes are an important part of the game at level 30. A proper rune page will give a significant advantage over someone without one. Runes come in three tiers- tier 1 runes are for levels 1-9, tier 2 runes are for levels 10-19, and tier 3 runes are for levels 20 and up. Runes aren’t worthwhile to purchase until tier 3, but once you can, you should be putting together a rune page based on the champion you like best. For a good idea of what runes are good for your champion, check out one of the sites with player-made build guides. Solomid.net is run by Team Solo Mid, LoLPro.com is run by Curse, and Mobafire.com is run by the community at large.
3. Last-hitting, also known as “CSing”
The term “CSing” comes from DotA. In that game, minions are called “creeps” and the number of them you kill is called your creep score. You get one CS for every minion or monster you score the killing blow on. This gives you gold which you use to buy items. Obtaining more gold than your opponent will let you buy better items faster, giving you a significant advantage in team fights.
CSing can be hard for beginners to practice because at low player levels, teammates tend not to understand the value of one person in a lane getting “fed” (obtaining a lot of gold) so he can carry the team to victory. One method of practicing your CSing skill is to join custom games and call AD carry or top lane. Custom games, since they don’t affect a player’s ranking or rating in any way, are often treated much more casually than Normal or Ranked games. Another option is to do a custom game with no one else in it, or against a bot. You could join the Public Beta Environment (PBE) server to try out champions and roles in a no-pressure environment with everything available to you. Finally, you could simply play until you’re level 30 on the normal servers and ask for your role.
2. Map awareness
The single most important part of playing LoL well is learning to keep track of where the enemy players are. A map-aware player can either see or sense enemies coming toward him, and react accordingly. Map awareness has two major components: Watching the minimap and warding.
- Every player should be glancing at the minimap periodically to keep track of what lanes are missing and which lanes are pushing. A player who’s not in his lane may be coming to attack you! It’s a good idea to check other lanes to make sure that’s not happening.
- Wards are items that reveal an area around them for three minutes. They’re used to increase the area of the minimap players have vision of at any given time. Properly-placed wards will tell you where opposing players are, allowing you to ambush them or avoid their ambush.
In more general terms, a map-aware player understands where players on both teams are and makes decisions based on that information. Keep an eye on that minimap, and watch for ganks from both teams!
1. Play, then play some more
Nothing will replace the intuition and insight gained from playing a bunch of games. Through experience you’ll commit to memory the fact that Lee Sin tends to start red, gank top then finish his jungle. You’ll know reflexively to dodge when Nidalee’s spear throw is off cooldown. There are many little nuances in the game that are best learned through playing it a lot.
One of the things that makes League of Legends so fun is that it’s different every time you play, but that also means there’s a bunch to learn. Get out there, read some guides, find some friends and have fun!