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Introduction to LoL and Laning Techniques

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Uncle Bobble

Junior Member


League of Legends Basics and Laning Fundamentals

This guide is meant as an introduction to League of Legends and will outline the basic mechanics of the game that beginners will need to know. Furthermore, I will try to explain the essential techniques needed for the first phase of a LoL match, the laning phase. The only thing I will assume is that the reader has installed LoL and set up an account; no prior experience is necessary. However, that is not to say that only beginners will find this guide useful. I see plenty of veteran players making ignoring the basic techniques and making the very mistakes this guide is meant to discourage. Anyway, enough introduction, on to the actual game.

I. Basics

Players in League of Legends are referred to as summoners within the game. During the course of a match, a summoner takes control of one champion and uses skills and basic attacks to fight the champions of other players towards the ultimate goal of destroying the enemy base. Summoners are divided into two teams, either 5v5 or 3v3, and must work together to coordinate battles and overall match strategy.

When you first log in to League of Legends, you will be faced with an interface known as Pvp.net. Through this interface you can access the store, check the official forums, check your summoner profile and statistics, manage a friends list, or join a match. If you click the summoner profile button near the top-right corner of the window and then select the champions tab, you can see which champions are currently available for use. There are currently 70 champions in LoL, but they are not all available for use at any given time. Each week, Riot decides on a set of “free champions” which can be used by anyone for the duration of the week. If you wish to continue playing a champion after they are no longer free, you must purchase the champion through the store using IP (in game currency earned in each match) or real currency. You can also purchase runes and skins through the store, but those are less important and will not be discussed here.

The key bindings for controlling your chosen champion within an actual match are quite simple and easy to pick up. Move your champion by right clicking a location on the map or minimap. In most situations, your champion will automatically begin attacking enemies when the come into range, but to target a specific enemy, right click on it. In addition to these basic attacks (also called autoattacks) every champion has four(or more in rare cases) skills plus a passive ability. The four skills are bound to the Q, W, E, and R keys. The passive ability is not bound to a key, as it takes effect without any player input (hence “passive”). The player can at any time return to his spawn point by pressing the B key. This is referred to as “backing”, “going b”, or “bluepilling.” Also, pressing Enter creates a chat bar which you can use to communicate with your teammates or the other team.

There are currently three types of matches available to LoL players, with a fourth coming soon. First, there are custom games, which are typically the most casual type. Players can test out new champions, play with large groups of friends, or set up special types of games with special rules (such as the popular “All random all mid” game). Next, there are normal games, which are more competitive than custom games. Here you are either grouped with other players according to your skill level, or you may form a team yourself with people from your friends list (called a “premade” team). Either way, the game tries to match you up against players of similar skill levels so that it will hopefully be a fair game. Finally, there are ranked games, which can be highly competitive and are only available to experienced players. Since this guide is aimed towards newcomers, I will not discuss ranked games. To start a match, click the “Play” button at the top of the Pvp.net interface. This will take you to a menu where you can select from the match types described above. You must also choose between the Summoner's Rift 5v5 map and the Twisted Treeline 3v3 map. This guide will focus on Summoner's Rift, the more popular map, so when you create a match, you should select it instead of Twisted Treeline.

II. Within a LoL match.

After you have joined a match, you will be taken to the champion select screen. Here you can choose from your available champions the one you would like to play for the next match. Later in the guide I will be using the champion “Ashe” as an example, so if she is not on free rotation and you do not own her, you should do a few matches and earn the IP to buy her. She only costs 450 IP, so it should only take a few matches to be able to buy her. Once you have 450 IP, go to the store, select champions, and find Ashe from the list of champions.

On the champion select screen you will also notice a section for choosing runes and masteries, as well as two boxes for summoner spells. You won't need to worry too much about runes or masteries until later on, but summoner spells are quite important even at the very beginning. For the purposes of this guide, just take ghost and teleport. These spells may not be the best choices for all champions, and as you unlock additional spells and become more familiar with your champions, you will discover other spell combinations that can be quite useful, but for now, ghost and teleport will suffice. After these choices have been made, you will see a loading screen and after a brief delay the actual match will begin.

Once the match begins your champion will spawn at one of the corners of the map with the rest of your team. Immediately next to where you spawn, you will see a structure that is known as the shop. You can purchase items from it by clicking on the small green button near the bottom left corner of your screen. More on the shop later.

If you look at the mini-map in the bottom right corner of your screen, you will notice that there are three diverging paths leading connecting the bottom left and the top right corners of the screen. These are called “lanes” Each lane contains six structures (three for each team) known as towers which attack nearby enemies. Creatures known as “minions” spawn in groups at the nexus, which is right next to where the champions spawn, and proceed in a line down the lanes. Once they arrive at a tower, they attack it.

The area between the lanes is known as the “jungle”. Within the jungle are additional creatures grouped together at specific spawn points. Some of these creatures are especially powerful, and grant the champion which kills them a “buff”, which makes the champion more powerful. These creatures are the Lizard, the Golem, the Dragon, and Baron Nashor. More on these later.

In order to win the game, a team must destroy the towers of the other team leading into the enemy team's base. Once they have destroyed the third turret in a lane, they can destroy the “inhibitor” of that lane, which allows more powerful minions to spawn at the destroying team's base. Finally, the two nexus turrets must be destroyed, exposing the nexus itself. When the nexus is destroyed, the match is over and the team that destroyed it wins.

A match is divided into three phases: the laning phase, the mid game, and late game. In the laning phase, champions from each team meet at the middle of a lane and engage each other's minion waves. Typically the focus of this phase is to prepare for a successful midgame, so often champions will not aggressively attack the enemy team. Sometimes, though, a team will shift champions from lane to lane in the hopes of creating a numerical advantage in order to execute a “gank,” or attack on an enemy champion or group of champions. During the mid game, the champions on a team typically group up and try to destroy the enemy team's towers in order to prepare for the final assault on the enemy base. Finally, in during the late game teams will engage in 5v5 “teamfights” in the hopes of killing enemy champions and rendering the nexus undefended. Matches sometimes do not even last into the late game, having been finished during the mid game.

III.Customizing your Champion

The effectiveness of a champion is determined primarily by the champions statistics, or “stats”. The essential stats are as follows:

          1. Attack – Determines how much damage a basic attack inflicts
          2. Ability Power – Determines how effective a champions abilities are
          3. Attack Speed – Determines the number of basic attacks a champion may perform per second
          4. MovementSpeed – Determines how quickly a champion moves across the map.
          5. Armor – Reduces the amount of damage dealt to a champion by basic attacks and some abilities.
          6. ]Magic Resistance – Reduces the amount of damage dealt to a champion by most abilities.
          7. Hit Points – Determines how much damage a champion can take before being killed
          8. Mana – Used each time an ability is cast. When mana is depleted, no abilities can be cast.

Each time a minion or champion is killed, all nearby champions gain Experience Points. When enough experience points are gained, the champion levels up and its stats are increased. The most significant way to increase stats, however, is by purchasing equipment at the shop with gold earned by killing minions, champions, or towers. A champion can only carry six at a time though, so it is important to choose the correct items.

Champions also unlock and level up skills when they level. To level up a skill, click on the button above the icon of the desired skill, near the bottom of the screen. There are several different types of skills.

          1. Self-targeted – Only effects the champion that casts the skill.
          2. Single target – Effects the champion or creature that the player right clicks on immediately after activating the skill
          3. Area of Effect (AOE) – Effects all potential targets within an area.
          4. Skillshots – Abilities which must be manually aimed using the mouse.

The order in which you level up your skills and the combination of items that you purchase drastically effect the power of your champion a poorly built champion is often practically useless, while a well built champion can sometimes win matches single-handedly.

IV. Laning Techniques: Farming

As I mentioned, the general goal of the laning phase is to prepare for the mid game. To do that, players try to accumulate as much gold and attain as high a level as possible. This process is referred to as farming. If a champion farms poorly during the beginning of the game it can be a very difficult hole to climb out of, and if a champion farms much better than his opponents it is generally a decisive advantage. It is no exaggeration then to say that farming is the single most important skill for the laning phase. Surprisingly, many LoL players do not grasp this concept,and foolishly neglect the skill. Readers of this guide should have a decided advantage against such players.

Fortunately, this is actually a fairly simple skill to learn, and Ashe (you did buy Ashe, didn't you?) is fairly good at it. You'll want to take Volley (bound to the W key) as your first skill. Though you shouldn't use it primarily for farming, it can be a good tool toward that end if need be. Instead, your primary technique for farming is known as “last hitting”. Since you only get gold for minions that you actually kill, not merely ones that you have damaged, it is essential that you are responsible for the final blow which brings the creatures Hit Points down to 0. Instead of allowing Ashe to autoattack blindly, continuously click on the map to make Ashe run back and forth, thus preventing her from attacking. Make sure you are behind your minions and watch their HP (Hit Points are displayed in a bar above each minion's head), and when it gets sufficiently low, quickly click on the low-HP minion and one attack should kill it. At first it will be difficult to gauge how low a minion's HP needs to be for a last hit, but with practice it will come naturally to you. Employing this technique will ensure that you have a healthy amount of gold for the first time you return to base to shop.

As Ashe, your target gold amount for your first trip into the lane is about 2200. This will allow you to buy basic boots (which can be found under the “Movement” shop section), allowing you to outmaneuver your opponent, and a BF Sword (found under “Attack” → “Damage”) which will significantly increase your damage output and make you much more dangerous to enemy champions. Once you have 2200 gold, disengage from the minions, stand next to your tower, and bluepill (B key). This will return you to the shop, where you can purchase the items. Then, you can activate your summoner spell “Teleport” by clicking on its purple icon, select a minion, and immediately go back to what you were doing.

You want to continue to farm in this manner throughout the course of the match. Later on, you will be able to inflict much more damage per hit, so it will no longer be necessary to wait for their hp to get low. Also, as the game progresses it will be more and more useful to farm with Volley, since you will want to quickly take out a wave of minions, get their gold, and get back to defending other tactical objectives.

Here's a great video by my friend Vienna demonstrating proper last hitting. Also, he goes into some other things you'll want to know, so it's a great video for a new player to watch:


V. Laning Techniques: Dealing With Other Champions

Unfortunately, laning can be made more difficult by enemy players who want nothing more than to throw a wrench in your plans. They will constantly try to disrupt your farming, either by harassing you with ranged attacks, trying to draw you in to an early fight, or ganking you. Since you do not want any of these things to happen, it is important to develop techniques for avoiding such unpleasantries.

Your first layer of defense is effective positioning. This refers to the actual location within a lane that you occupy and control with your champion. Since Ashe is a ranged champion, you will have the luxury of remaining a fair distance behind the minion wave, where you can last hit in relative peace. Some champions do have a longer attack range than you though, and others can use skills to close the gap, so it is not sufficient to merely sit back and think yourself safe. You must keep a close eye on what your enemies are doing. If a melee champion moves up into the minion wave, try to hit him with a basic attack or a volley. If you have a point in Frost Arrows (bound to Q), your volley will also slow him, which will further discourage him from trying to engage. If you are laning against champions with skillshots, such as Ezreal, Morgana, Kennen, or Blitzcrank, make sure that you keep a wall of friendly minions in between you and them at all times. This will prevent them from hitting you with their skillshots, which can be particularly deadly in the early stages of the game.

Another factor to consider for dealing with enemies in the laning phase is the brush. The brush is the tall grass that you see at the bottom right and top left corners of the map, as well as in several places throughout the jungle. A champion standing outside of the brush is unable to see or target champions within the brush, but champions within the brush do not have such limitations. An enemy in the brush, therefore, is especially dangerous, since the only way to respond to his aggression is with skillshots. Fortunately, Ashe's volley is a skillshot, and can counter the brush to some extent. If you see an enemy occupy the brush, volley it from the edge of your range and then back off so that they cannot respond with an attack of their own. If you can consistently hit them in this way, it will discourage them from exploiting the brush. The same trick can work in reverse, however, so while the brush can be a valuable tool for you to use to control the lane and threaten your enemies, do not consider yourself completely safe within it.

Additionally, it is often a good idea to respond to enemy harassment with harassment of your own. Make sure you punish enemy champions who expose themselves or enter your attack range with a volley and a quick autoattack. Volley has quite long range and a wide arc of damage, so it is fairly easy to hit with. Enemies can avoid it easily enough by staying behind their minions, but that makes last hitting and harassing more difficult for them. If you can strike fear into their hearts with Volley, their farming may suffer and it can cause them to be very weak later on in the match. Just be careful to only use Volley when you have a good chance of scoring a hit, as you will quickly deplete your mana pool if you carelessly use it at every chance.

One of the more often neglected techniques to be considered is known as map awareness. League of Legends is a 5v5 game, and any time one team can bring superior numbers to bear, it spells almost certain death for an unaware champion or small group. It is therefore extremely important to keep track of the whereabouts of the enemy team. Besides keeping one eye on the minimap at all times (which you should always do), there are several tools available to players to help in this endeavor.

First, vision wards. These are consumable items that can be purchased at the shop for a small amount of gold. They take up one item slot, and once deployed on the map, extend the line of sight of the team who bought them. If you place your wards well, you will generally know well in advance if the enemy team is trying to set up a gank, and you will have time to fall back to the safety of your tower or base. They do disappear after a while though, so you will need to purchase more of them and redeploy periodically. Teams will often neglect these and in doing so put themselves at a huge disadvantage. As a general rule, if you have the gold and an open item slot, go ahead and buy a ward or two.

Next, player communication. It is important for you to let your teammates know when a champion from your lane is missing, as it could mean they are trying set up a gank on a vulnerable champion. Players do this by typing “mia” (standing for Missing In Action) into the chat window, sometimes followed by where they think the missing champion may be heading. Your teammates will see this and know to fall back to a more secure position. If they fail to notice this, however, you can still help them out by pinging. You can at any time press the G key and then click a location on the map or minimap, and your whole team will here a ringing noise and see a marker on the map. Do this to indicate the path you think an enemy champ is taking towards your teammates, and it will be hard for them not to notice that they need to fall back.

Finally, there are champion skills which can help out. Ashe, for example, has the Hawkshot ability (bound to E) which can be used periodically to reveal a small location on the map. You want to put a point into this skill by level 5, and from that point on, use it frequently whenever there are enemy champions missing. Aim for where you think they might be, or where a dangerous gank might come from. Hawkshot is not a substitute for vision wards though; merely think of it as a useful supplement.

You may not always want to avoid a fight, however. If you know you have the advantage (i.e., you know that enemy champions are not waiting to gank you), it can be to your advantage to force an early fight. If you have harassed effectively and your enemies are at low HP, or they are being overly aggressive near your tower, try to coordinate with your teammates and gank them, or just take them out yourself. Once Ashe achieves level 6, she can unlock her ultimate skill, Enchanted Crystal Arrow, which deals a fair amount of damage, stuns an enemy, and slows surrounding enemies. Initiate the fight with this ability, then activate your Frost Arrows to slow the target, and use Volley and autoattacks to finish them off. If you have more than one target, you want to focus your attention on the one that can potentially do more damage. These champions also tend to be easier to kill, so there is no reason to choose a different target. Even if you are confident that you can win such a fight, there are always risks involved. You need to carefully weigh these risks against the potential rewards of a successful fight. If you are farming poorly, but see an opportunity to swing the momentum in your favor, go for it. If, however, you already have an advantage and would have to put yourself in danger to go for the kill, it may be better to just continue to focus on farming, as it is a perfectly reliable way to gain gold.

VI. Early Game Objectives

While it is true, as I have stated, that farming is your primary goal most of the time in the early game, there are other things to consider. You cannot win without destroying the enemy towers leading up to their base, and you will have a hard time winning if the enemy has control of the jungle and the buffs within, especially the dragon. Furthermore, it will be worth the effort if you can make sure that the enemy champions that scale particularly well (often referred to as “carries”) do not get farmed.

If you find yourself dominating your lane, farming well, and either killing the enemy champions or repeatedly forcing them out of lane, it may be a good idea to try and down their first tower. This can be risky, as it requires you to move further away from your own tower, and therefore further away from a safe zone, but if you succeed the rewards are significant. It becomes extremely important to have good map awareness when you do this, as you will be especially vulnerable to enemy ganks, and enemies will be even more desperate to gank you. If you decide that you are safe, you will want to stop last hitting and simply kill the minion waves as quickly as possible. Once you reach the enemy tower, focus all of your attacks on it while it destroys your minions. When your minion wave is completely destroyed, fall back and wait for the next one to arrive. Once the tower is down, you'll want to quickly fall back and probably shop, as the enemy will likely be headed your way.

It is also important to prevent your enemies from taking all of the buffs in the jungle. They provide a significant advantage to the champion that acquires them, and you will have a very hard time fighting such a champion. The dragon rewards the team that destroys it with a sizable quantity of gold for everyone on the team. If one team is able to kill the dragon repeatedly, they will accumulate a commanding lead in gold, and will be hard to defeat. To prevent this, you want to make sure you always have a vision ward near the dragon, and it will be worth it to fight the enemy to prevent them from taking dragon. Your enemy will also try to prevent you from doing dragon yourselves, so keep that in mind when you try to take it.

Finally, it is important to understand that some champions are incredibly difficult to stop if they acquire enough gold. These champions can sometimes single-handedly win a match, so it is essential that you pay them special attention during the laning phase. Always harass these champions as hard as possible, always try to coordinate ganks to disrupt their farming, and always focus on them when early fights do break out. If you can shut down these carries, you can seriously hinder the enemy team from having enough damage output for later phases of the game. Some examples of these champions are Twitch, Master Yi, Miss Fortune, Tristana, and Tryndamere.

VII. Some General Advice

  • Play cautiously. Most new players are far too aggressive and they end up giving the enemy team easy kills. Don't be one of these players; be careful until you are comfortable with your champion.
  • Play a wide variety of champions. If you want to be effective at LoL, you are going to have to understand the capabilities of all of the champions. There is no better way to do this than playing them yourself. Also, you may find that some champions are much more fun to you than others, so you want to expose yourself to as many as possible.
  • Chillax. It is easy to get caught up in the sometimes competitive atmosphere of LoL, and there is no quicker way to ruin your gaming experience. If other players are trash talking, either develop a thick skin and make a joke out of it (but not a bad one, you could get banned), or just don't respond to it.
  • Get your friends to play. It's always more fun to play with people you know in real life, and often times your friends will just want to mess around and do silly builds. This is a good way to play the game without having to worry about pulling your weight for people you don't know or care about.

    Gratitude to summoner Vienna for making a demonstrative video and helping review the guide itself.

    Edit: Sorry for the weird formatting in places, tried to fix that as well as I could.

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Junior Member


This remembered me the basics, good guide, it made me remember stuff that is always important to take in mind, like the farming and not letting people go between your turret and you

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Senior Member


Looks good, definitely +1.

The video link in the last-hitting section seems to be broken, though.