What Exactly Is League of Legends?
by GamerFitnation on July 3, 2014 at 09:00 AM EDT

league of legends-logo

By Kyle Swain

With the world championships and the huge top prize of $1,000,000 and plenty more tournaments to be had, League of Legends has taken the competitive esports world by storm.  For those who have never played or have no idea how such a game works then we have you covered.  This is an all about League of Legends.


league of legends

As is often the case, looking at the roots of some phenomenon is the best way to begin to understand it.  It all began with a modified game in Blizzard’s 1998 StarCraft called Aeon of Strife.  Players were not gathering resources but rather engaging the computer in attempting to siege the enemy’s base with AI allied minions.  This was the beginning of the multiplayer online battle area or MOBA.

Where many got their start into this kind of game came with the engine behind Blizzard’s Warcraft 3. In 2002 many of the fans of Aeon Strife took advantage of the new technology to recreate the game.  It was renamed Defense of the Ancients which is where we get the acronym DOTA that may be familiar today. The Warcraft 3 engine allowed player versus player battles and characters to level up along with the ability to purchase items to customize the player’s avatar.

The 2003 Frozen Throne expansion spawned several versions of this play mode and hundreds of champions to play.  This is where the popularity really began to take off.  A mod that combines some the favorite characters of Meian and Ragn0r spawned Dota Allstars.

Steve “Guinsoo” Freak, who is currently on staff at Riot, continued to modify the game by creating item paths and focusing on player versus player in the arena increasing its popularity by making the game that much better and fun to play.  Soon Guinsoo was leading a team of 12 to continue to balance and improive the gameplay.  All of this happened with no salary or pay of any kind.  This style of game was very born from the ground up at the grassroots level.

In 2005 Blizzard acknowledged the vast and growing popularity of the mod and held a Dota Allstars tournament . At this point Guinsoo decided to leave the direction of the project to another community member IceFrog.  The now official  dota-allstars website was host to 1.5 million users with several more dota participants.  This resume made IceFrog become hired by Valve in 2009.

Riot, formed in 2006, finally launched their free to play stand alone and now successful MOBA game League of Legends in 2009 with Dota 2 following soon after in 2010 with the help of its original creator such as IceFrog.  These new games form what what we know today as current MOBA games.  Blizzard entertainment has even stepped into the ring with their own spin on the genre in their Heroes of the Storm.  There are other spin offs and versions, but these are some of the most popular.  The other notable example is the third-person, as opposed to top down, Smite that uses gods and heroes of history released this year in March.

Map and Objectives

league of legends

In Riot’s League of Legends the ultimate goal  in their most popular map called Summoner’s Rift is to destroy the enemy’s Nexus that is kept in their base.  Guarding the base is a series of turrets that deal significant damage to minions and players especially in the early stages of the game.  The map features three lanes of attack into the enemy base.

In addition to the turrets there are neutral jungle monsters in League of Legends that offer experience, gold, and buffs.  The most notable of these are Red, Blue, dragon, and baron.  The Red Buff offers additional damage that ignores enemy armor.  The Blue buff gives reduced cooldowns for skills and increased mana regeneration.  The dragon gives the whole team additional gold.  Lastly the toughest of the creatures to take down and often requiring the whole team is the baron.  After being defeated the baron buff grants increased health and mana regeneration as well more attack and ability damage.

Lastly if a player manages to take the turrets located in the base they can then proceed to kill the enemy’s team inhibitors.  When an inhibitor goes down your team begins to spawn super minions.  SO instead of the plain jane weaker minions that continually march to your opponent’s base you get these buffed ones.  They have much more health and take a lot longer to destroy even at max level helping to finish off the opposing side.  Super minions are a way to help reward players in League of Legends for making it that far and to aid in defeating the other team.  Every lane has a set of inhibitors and if all three are down then often times it is game over for that team.

Characters and Items

League of Legends

Characters in League of Legends, known as champions, come in various shapes and sizes.  Every champion, however, comes with a passive ability, three skills, and an ultimate ability.  The champions further divide into ranged, melee, attack damage, ability power, and crowd control or support focuses.  Attack damage refers to the damage done by your auto attacks and some characters’ abilities, and ability power refers to the damage done by most other skills on a majority of champions.  The more you have of either, the more damage you and certain champions scale better with one or the other with a few benefitting from both.  Support characters typically don’t deal much damage but have skills that help their team deal more damage or prevent the enemies from escaping.

The items in League of Legends are to increase the power of your controlled champions by adding health, mana, damage or vision granting items known as wards.  If you are successful in the arena you earn money through champion kills and assists or minion and monster kills.  Money is everything and having more grants you an advantage.  The more money you have the more and better items you have to make you stronger and better you perform on the battlefield.  With an item advantage team fights often end in your favor resulting in a nexus kill especially in the late stages of the game when the respawn time is significantly higher.

Current Metagame

League of Legends

A basic guide to the current meta splits the five man team amongst the map with four in the three lanes and one that roams around the map.  The top laners are typically bulky champions that meant to be take hits and dish some damage back.  They are the front lines of team engagements

The middle lane typically has higher burst ability damage champions of some assassin attack damage characters that can roam to other lanes if need be and burst down the opponents in that lane.

The bottome lane usually consists of an attack damage ranged champion designed to be the team’s glass cannon and is aided by a support champion to protect him and ensure kills for the team’s damage dealer.

Last but not least is the team’s jungler.  His role is to deal with jungle monsters and give the team their buffs if need be and most importantly to be an unknown presence on the map.  He is to help gank lanes when needed to give that part of his team an advantage and make the other team more cautious about moving forward in enemy territory.

So there you have it.  This basic guide will help you understand and start any League of Legends adventure.  The game is entirely free to play and any money spent merely means you can give your characters a new look or can build your roster of champions faster.  Since most free champions are just as competitive as those that are not, new players will find themselves on an equal footing with vets in terms of what is available to them if not skill.  The client may be downloaded at Riot’s homepage.  Whether you are on your way to claim the $1,000,000 prize or just looking for way to kick back, League of Legends offers a dynamic gameplay model that keeps newbies and vets engaged.  As always good luck and have fun!


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