About the game
League of Legends is a free to play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) where two teams compete in a strategic battle to destroy each other’s base. The game is similar to Teamfight Tactics and DOTA (Defense Against the Ancients).
League of Legends is a game developed and published by Riot Games. Each player on the five-man team takes control of one of 140 distinctive champions and attempts to carve a path through towers, minions, and enemy players to the core of the opposing team’s base called the nexus.
This game separated itself from other MOBAs by developing a clearly defined role system and a massive number of champions to choose from. Widely considered the most popular esport in the world, League of Legends is one of the easiest MOBAs to learn for new players but also has a high skill cap, allowing for players to develop from clueless dolts to strategic masterminds as they rise through the ranks of League.
This is a classic base-oriented MOBA, so the ultimate goal while playing the game is simple: focus on destroying the enemy nexus. If it was not yet clear, this is an online game played against others. The nexus is a large circular structure holding a crystal located at the very heart of each team’s base.
However, as simple as that goal is, the execution is the really difficult part, and there are a number of different game modes. The number one thing required for champions to reach the enemy’s nexus is gold and experience. There are several ways to get this in League, but so that you understand why these things are required, we’ll first look at the process of destroying the nexus.
Taking down the enemy’s nexus often requires each League of Legends player to escort minions down one of the three lanes and into the base. But a constant wave of enemy minions, the towers in each lane, and the champions controlled by the opposing team will have something to say about it. Getting through all these obstacles takes time. It would be a pretty boring strategy game if you could just run straight into the enemy base and destroy it right away.
We will cover the overall strategy of the game, but to understand that we need to get a better idea of the numerous things that are standing in the way of winning the game. So, we’ll look at the structures and monsters in League.
To get to the nexus, a team will have to get through every structure in at least one lane. The map above is a bird’s eye view of Summoner’s Rift where the majority of League games take place. The map is split diagonally to form the red and blue sides.
There are three lanes, known as the top, middle, and bottom lanes. The area between the lanes is known as the jungle as labeled in the map above.
For structures, there are two outer towers, one base tower at the edge of the base, and two nexus towers defending the nexus. Behind the nexus is the fountain where champions respawn, return to heal, and buy items. The towers will shoot any enemy within range.
Taking down towers and base structures provides champions with gold to buy more powerful items. However, early on in the game, tower shots deal more than enough damage to take down an enemy champion. So, champions utilize their minions to take towers down.
During the game, waves of minions (6 or 7 for each lane) consistently spawn at the base and run down the lanes for each team. These minions fight with the minions of the enemy team and can even push up to and damage the towers. Since towers do a lot of damage, champions can simply kill the enemy minions and allow their own to push up to the tower. As the enemy’s tower focuses on killing minions, the champion can hit the tower.
Once a team pushes up to the enemy’s base and takes down the base tower, they reach the inhibitor. There are three inhibitors in the base, and once the base tower in front of them is down, they can be destroyed easily as they do no damage to enemies. Once the inhibitor is destroyed, super minions will spawn in that lane for 5 minutes until the enemy’s inhibitor respawns.
By destroying towers and inhibitors, teams get a little closer to taking down the nexus, but on top of that, they create a sort of pressure for their opponents. Say the blue team has all their towers and inhibitors destroyed. They are now stuck inside their base, defending their nexus from the super minions that are attacking.
This opens up the map for the red team, allowing them to get stronger by killing neutral monsters, which is a primary way of gaining the gold and experience a team needs to reach the nexus.
There are several different neutral monsters in League. All of them are located in the space between the lanes called the jungle. Most of these monster camps aren’t very strong and only provide gold & experience.
However, three of the neutral monsters are strong and provide powerful buffs to the team that takes them down. These three are the Rift Herald, the Dragon, and Baron Nashor.
The Rift Herald is a big crab creature that can be killed and taken by a champion as an item. When a champion activates that item, the Rift Herald reappears, runs toward the nearest enemy tower, and rams it. This attack takes a huge chunk of the tower’s health.
If the tower crumbles, the Rift Herald moves on to the next tower in the lane. This monster only spawns in the first 20 minutes of the game, so it is great for crushing an enemy team’s towers early.
The Dragon is a neutral monster that continues to respawn throughout the game after it’s killed. There are six different types of dragons that can spawn (only one spawns at a time though). The team that kills the dragon gets gold, experience, and a small stackable buff that changes depending on which dragon they killed.
Once a team has killed the dragon four times, they get a powerful permanent buff to their entire team called Dragon Soul. After this, the only dragon that will spawn is the Elder Dragon which when killed gives a temporary buff to the team that slays it. Killing the Dragon is a longer-term investment than the Rift Herald. Killing a few early guarantees you might be able to get a soul later and finish off the game.
Baron Nashor is the most powerful neutral monster. After 20 minutes have passed since the start of the game, Baron Nashor spawns and takes the place of the Rift Herald on the map. Killing the Baron gives your team the most gold of any neutral monster as well as buffing your team’s champions and minions. Acquiring the Baron buff is a great way to crack the enemy’s base or end the game.
Now that we have covered the plethora of obstacles and the many ways to earn gold and experience, we can talk about the 5 champion roles in League.
Top Lane – the champion that plays in the top lane is often a 1v1 fighter or a tank. Their job is to protect their lane from enemy control and to focus on the most powerful members of the enemy team in a team fight.
Mid Lane – mid laners are often the high burst damage champions. Their job is to secure control of the mid lane by outplaying their opponent, allowing their team to more easily take the important neutral monsters
Jungle – A jungler’s job is to get stronger by killing jungle camps, to secure the important neutral monsters, and to disrupt the enemy team’s lane champions.
Bot Lane – bot lane’s job is to amass gold & experience as quickly as they can. This champion is often the highest DPS champion on the team and oftentimes needs to be protected early so they can carry the game later.
Support – A support's job is to keep other members on the team alive, set up kills, and protect their lane partner in the bot lane.
So, if everybody plays their roles well, what determines which team wins? Two things: gold and experience. As a champion gains experience, they gain levels that give them access to more spells, health, and mana.
As a champion gains gold, they can buy more items which allow them to do more damage and protect themselves better. Champions in any given role that have more gold and experience than their counterpart on the enemy team will be the stronger of the two.
Because of this, the basic strategy in League of Legends revolves around getting more gold and experience than the opposing team. An easy way to understand the game is as a race for these two resources. At the beginning of the game, teams should fight to gain control of their lane by getting more minion kills (primary) or champion kills (secondary) than their opponents.
This lane control puts pressure on the enemy team and allows the controlling team to take neutral monsters, making them stronger. As they get stronger, they can use their strength to set themselves up to get more strength.
For example, let’s say the blue team gains control over a lane, they can put pressure on the enemy towers by pushing their minions into it. This forces the red team to respond by protecting that tower and buys the blue team time to start killing a neutral monster like the Rift Herald or Dragon. Then the blue team leverages the monster buff they gained to either destroy towers and gain gold (Rift Herald) or stack to a powerful buff (Dragon).
Either way by controlling the lane, pressuring their opponents, and using that pressure to take neutral monsters, the blue team puts themselves ahead of the red team in gold and experience which makes them more powerful. Then they use that power to push the red team’s towers and push them back to their base. The stronger the blue team gets the more towers they destroy. The more towers they destroy the more of the map they can control as the red team gets pushed back.
Pretty soon parts of the map that the red team controlled early on (like their side of the jungle) are now controlled by the blue team. The blue team can push the red team back, take the red team’s jungle monsters, and then back up and take their own camps too or take a big neutral monster like Baron.
If they aren’t careful, the weaker team bleeds resources like this, getting weaker and weaker until they are pushed back to their nexus and lose. All of this can be accomplished by snowballing a slight gold and experience lead early on.
The strategy, mechanics, and potential for outplay make League a great challenge for solo players. However, one mistake by the team that is ahead can result in a complete reversal of control and loss, so playing well and making good decisions as a team is the most vital part of the game.
That is what makes League such an amazing game for teaching people teamwork and communication. Though one person can carry the team to a win, doing so against a team that is communicating and playing well together is extremely hard. So, above all else, don’t fight against your team. Fight with them! If you are looking for more information about League of Legends, head over to our League of Legends webpage where we dive into more specifics.
Garrett White lives in Houston Texas with the most amazing woman in the world, his wife. Any time he isn’t running D&D, playing video games, or reading a book, he is writing short stories and articles about one of those things.