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The more I try to entice my friends to play Dominion, the more I keep getting questions like, "What types of classes are there in LoL?" And these questions have begun to bother me since I can't provide proper answers. I've come to the conclusion that we, the Dominion community, have no vocabulary to explain each champions' role in the team.
Don't get me wrong, we have lots of words that we use to beat around the bush. We talk about the way in which champions build items (tank, carry) and we talk about their skill kit structure (AD caster, disruptor) or their longevity (tanky, squishy)... but we don't directly talk about the real purpose that each champion fills, or how they fit into team composition, except with the vaguest titles like "support" or "burst". For those of us who study the forums and the game, all these various concepts eventually construct a coherent idea about champ purpose, and we get by with that. But imagine how difficult this is to understand for the players who are just getting interested in Dom, and especially those who are entirely new to LoL. Poor things, they must have no idea what's going on.
So, for the hell of it (and because I needed a way to accurately explain team composition to my noob friends), I decided to try and create a set of descriptors which tells each champions' purpose; a set of definitions which focus on that champion's job within the team, rather than a rehash of mechanics or standard build style. This isn't meant to be too serious, so don't get all put out if I don't list a certain champion as a certain class or whatever. But with that said, I would like to hear feedback about the idea, because I do think this is something that Dom needs. Maybe we can get enough input and community consensus to make a guide about proper team composition, or something. Rawr. Enough mincing, on to the meat!
The Four Primary Classes:
These are the roles at their most basic level. Champions can, and do, get more nuanced and complicated (and I try to cover a lot of that ground in the descriptions of sub-classes) but for the most part, everything is a sub-section of one of these four archetypes. If you're trying to teach an inexperienced player about team composition, or you want to explain the game to someone who has never played LoL, these terms will probably convey the information most effectively.
The job of an enabler is to take a neutral situation and force open an opportunity to let their teammates shine. Whether they're initializing, or running interference, or just plain stepping between your damage dealer and theirs, they keep the squishier classes from getting fully focused or CC chained. Enablers have a high level of commitment: if they step into a battle, they go in 100% and stay there until death, success, or until they're the last ones standing. Furthermore, they're a co-dependent class. Without some Fighters to back them up they won't make much of a splash; in return, they benefit massively from leading a pair or group. Every standard team comp needs an Enabler, this is a must.
The bread and butter damage output class. While every champ brings some amount of damage to the fight, the expectation for the Fighter is that, if they attack, they can deliver a killing blow with certainty. Fighters are frequently fragile, and fairly co-dependent due to this vulnerability. They can 1v1 well enough, but will lose a substantial amount of health in the process, making it best to wait for the presence of a team mate (an Enabler, if possible) if they want to engage. Standard teams will have 2-3 Fighters.
A Bully makes sure your team keeps control of the territory you've won. Their presence acts as a stabilizer so that your team can fight, die, respawn and return without constantly handing the map back and forth between teams each time. Bullies should create a constant presence which forces the other team to hesitate entering your territory without knowing they can overpower you. Though they are the least co-dependent class, this comes at the cost of the efficiency spike in group battles like Enablers and Fighters receive. Standard teams will have one, sometimes two bullies.
These are the specialty champs. They can take on a variety of tasks, depending on the type of harassment they can provide. The thread which ties them together is opportunity cost: Harassers are based on efficiency spikes which occur with the correct opportunity. If they miss those opportunities, or if they try to do their job while the opportunity doesn't exist, then they've failed their purpose. Vigilance is their priority. Because of their fickle efficiency, the entire team must be prepared to accommodate the Harasser. If they don't know how, or are not willing, or there just isn't enough communication going on, you probably don't want a Harasser on the team.
There's a fair amount of diversity within each primary class. Although two champs can both be considered Enablers, they might reach that goal in entirely different ways. For players who know more about the game, or if you're trying to teach a new player about the specific ways to fulfill their primary job, this list contains all the nuts and bolts. These classes are not exclusive, many champions will straddle borders in general, or swap class type depending on item build. Don't worry about that too much. Just think about how these relate to team purpose.
Sponges like to absorb damage. You might think "tank", but that doesn't always mean the same thing. "Tank" describes item builds, not absorbency. Sejuani, for instance, may build like a tank, but she makes a terrible sponge. A sponge needs to be able to wade into the worst of it-- tower dives, jungle groups, gank attempts-- and stay standing. They are the prime initiator class.
Examples: Leona, Singed.
Disruptors rely heavily on crowd control. They want to shut down a champion for as long as possible while their Fighter companions wreck face. They can initiate, though not as well as a sponge. Instead they run much stronger interference. Their ability to manipulate position and movement prevents enemy champions from diving in on a gamble, or attempting to hit-and-run your squishy champs.
Examples: Blitz, Jarvan.
Support classes aren't front-line players like the other enablers, but they can still make or break any encounter through a mix of CC and buffs. Like other Enablers, they commit everything to the battle, so when a teammate jumps in they have to be fully at their back. Since they aren't on the front line, they can often provide supplementary help like channeling on towers between using spells, which other enablers are generally too busy to do. Supports often augment the boons from their skill kit with their item build, picking up a few auras along the way.
Examples: LuLu, Janna.
Your standard Fighter. Not too tanky, but survivable enough to hold their own 1v1 in the jungle. They need to build a little defense, just in case they take some hits during a battle, but for the most part they can hide behind a comrade to survive if things go south. Brawlers don't have much to worry about except to fight, or run.
Examples: Kayle, Riven.
All fighters tend to prioritize damage over defensive items, but hypercarries are the only ones who can really get away with life steal as their primary defensive stat. This is a blessing and a curse: if they stay out of trouble, they can sustain for long stretches of time; if they get into trouble, they're generally dead. Positioning is of utmost importance, a hypercarry who doesn't know how to place themselves out of range of trouble is not much use to the team. On the other hand, when everything goes right, they're often the most offensively capable type of Fighters.
Examples: Vayne, Tryndamere.
Mages have a tough spot: they need to move and position like a Hypercarry to stay out of trouble, but they rarely get to rely on spell vamp the way hypercarries rely on lifesteal, instead they need to build defense items like the Brawlers do, thus lowering their killing power. In exchange, Mages often come with a few extra tricks in their bag that are special to their champ, and which can save their skin through unpredictability or circumstance.
Examples: Karthus, Brand.
Champions who have a strong mixture of sustain, aoe damage for pushing minions, hit-and-run 1v1 damage, and the ability to survive or escape trouble when it arises. Their primary objective is to dominate the lowest lane so completely that it draws the attention of multiple opponents away from the upper portion of the map.
Examples: Urgot, Yorick.
Moderately successful in other areas of the map, these champions become absolute monsters when they decide to sit down on top of a tower. A Guard won't give up their tower for anything less than 3 champions, or 2 champs and a massive minion push. Sponge enablers and other bullies can often fulfill this role to an acceptable degree, but not in the same beastly way as proper Guards. It can be in the team's interest to help their Guard win an enemy base just to frustrate the other team for a while.
Examples: Heimerdinger, Galio.
The Derps are all around well rounded champions. They can take hits, they can give hits, they can keep up the pace even after a few small fights wear them down. If an enabler is absent, it normally falls upon the Derp to initiate for the Fighters. They're best played by roaming the map: helping fighters control the jungle with ganks, and assisting in defense when nodes get assaulted. Derps have the largest amount of territory to control, but their across-the-board effectiveness makes them adaptable to most situations.
Examples: Warwick, Sion.
Assassins have a single purpose: kill something in the span of two seconds. They jump in, blow all their cooldowns, get the kill, and get out. They make excellent ganking companions. The timing is everything: if they fall short of the kill, they don't have much capacity to escape or survive, and will usually die. If they jump in too late, or waste cool downs on nothing, they aren't adding enough to the team. If they wander into a battle and die before they can score a kill, they're completely worthless. Assassins need to know exactly when to get in, and they need to know how they're going to get out. On the upside, a good assassin can repeat this process over and over and over given a little downtime between ganks.
Examples: Talon, Fizz.
Through the abuse of either stealth or speed steroids, Pooters focus most of their attention on back-capping enemy nodes. In order to be effective, they need to always know which nodes are the least defended and which nodes will draw the most attention away from hot spots when capped. Playing a Pooter means leaving your team with an effective 4v5 for the duration of the game, so you have to create such a nuisance that you can constantly draw at least 1 player on the other team away from battles at all times. Anything less and you're basically an AFK.
Examples: Zilean, Eve.
These champions have a poke with such an extreme distance that it allows them to attack opponents from a number of positions that other champs cannot take. When played well they can pester opponents for long stretches of time with little worry of getting ganked, and if things go bad they should already have a position which allows them to easily escape. On the other hand, if the Artillery player cannot land their skill shots, or if they have a habit of giving away their position, then they add very little to the team.
Examples: Xerath, Nidalee.
So yeah, that's about it. Longer than I expected.
TL;DR- The world shall taste my eggs.