With 126 champions, over 100 items, dozens of runes, and mastery points, diving into League of Legends can be a daunting task for new players. The game has a notoriously high skill cap, and players are constantly adopting new strategies, item builds, and team compositions. While Riot provides support by offering tutorials and item recommendations (which are often wrong in the current metagame), it is not enough to cover every aspect of the game. In this article, I’ll go over the basics that new players need to know in order to dominate the field of justice.
1. Last hitting
One of the most important aspects in League of Legends is earning gold. Gold is the in-game currency used to buy armor, weapons, wards, and consumables. Gold directly affects your champion: The more gold you have, the more items you can afford, and thus the more powerful your champion is.
Although gold can be earned by killing champions, towers, and other objectives, the most important method is by farming minions. Minions spawn periodically throughout the game, and each minion is worth a small amount of gold; however, you only earn gold from the minion if you kill it with a finishing blow. This concept is known as “last hitting” in the League community.
Last hitting is an incredibly important skill for new players to learn because it is the most reliable way to earn gold. Even though champion kills are worth more than killing a minion, you cannot rely on champion kills as your main source of gold since champions can get away and fight back. My best advice for new players is to create custom game and just practice last hitting minions. Every champion has different attack animation so get comfortable with your champion’s range and speed. Also, learn how much damage your spells do, and watch how much damage ally minions do as well. Once you get confident in your last hitting skills, start playing normal games and practice farming while fighting real opponents.
Oh, and when last hitting as a group, it’s best to let the mages, assassins, or ranged carries get the last hits; However, if a teammate is close to buying an essential item, let them have the gold instead…
Another crucial skill new players must learn in order to become successful is warding. Wards are items that can be purchased at the shop or obtained through the yellow trinket, an upgrade available to all champions at the start of the game. Wards grant players and their allies vision for a limited duration and can be placed anywhere on the map. Furthermore, players can buy two different ward variations: Green wards are invisible and grant vision, while pink wards grant vision and detect invisible units, including enemy wards and stealth champions. So make sure to protect pink wards or hide them so they’re not destroyed by the enemy team.
Many players overlook wards because they don’t increase combat stats. Wards will save you during the early game since they provide valuable vision near your lane and in the river, which is where enemy junglers usually attack from. In most games, enemy junglers will get their blue and red buff, then look to gank – leaving the jungle to attack an enemy lane. Place a ward near the river soon after the game starts. If you’re in the middle lane, ward one side and stick close to it. A well-placed ward can warn you of those encroaching junglers and prevent a death.
Furthermore, wards can be used keep track of important objectives as well. Objectives such as dragons, barons, towers, and jungle buffs need to be watched because of their individual and global bonuses. Placing green wards near these objectives makes it difficult for the enemy team to contest them. Alternatively, wards can be used when taking these objectives. If a ward spots an enemy on the other side of the map, then it lets your team know that pushing a tower, or killing a buff is safe because the enemy team is unprepared to contest you.
Wards play a critical role in a larger concept called map awareness. We’ll talk about that next.
3. Map awareness
Map awareness is the ability to observe the mini-map and keep track of objectives. While the concept seems simple, it’s harder to apply during a match as you’re switching off between dueling enemy champions, farming minions, and looking out for incoming danger. Map awareness takes constant practice, and even professional League of Legends players have difficulty keeping track of their surroundings.
Since map awareness covers so much information, here are the aspects of awareness new players should focus on learning:
- If an enemy champion leaves their respective lane.
- Incoming ganks from enemy and ally junglers.
- Buff timers. Blue, red, dragon, and baron are all timed in the tab menu.
- If any enemy champion is isolated.
- If a tower is exposed.
- Opportunities for team fights.
4. Item Optimization
While it’s impossible to ignore the importance of gameplay mechanics, new players have to focus on decision-making skills as well. League of Legends has almost 200 weapons, and players must be able to decide which item to buy at what time.
Before purchasing an item, players should first take a look at what stats benefit their champion the most. Certain champions, such as Xin Zhao or Master Yi, have attack speed-based abilities so purchasing items that increase attack speed or give buff to auto attacks should take priority. Meanwhile, burst mages, like Annie or Syndra, depend on high amounts of ability power to kill their target as quickly as possible, so items that grant ability power should be purchased first. So take some time to study your champion’s skills. Just because a champion is attack damage based, does not mean that all attack damage items are good on them, and the same goes for mages.
Moreover, consider the enemy team and ally team composition before making purchases too. For example, if the enemy team consists mainly of attack damage champions, then it would smart to buy armor rather than magic resistance for defense. Conversely, players can look at their own team composition when deciding which items to buy. If your team lacks a role like tank or bruiser, then buy items that increase survivability and damage like Abyssal Scepter, Zhonya’s Hourglass, or Black Cleaver. This method applies to support champions as well, who typically buy items that benefit the team.
Another option for new players is to look at professional streamers or champion-specific guides. They offer advice and explanations on common item builds. However, try to come up with your own item builds too. Just because an item build is unpopular doesn’t mean it’s bad – especially as you develop your own play style. Keep experimenting with new builds until you find one that is both successful and works with the way you like to play.
5. Champion Selection
Even though players make most of their decisions in game, the process of champion selection before a match starts is also crucial for winning. In many cases, players lose matches not because of their skill level, but because of their inferior team composition. Thus it is critical for new players to know how champion selection works in order to create a balanced team.
Prior to picking a champion, look at what your team needs. A typical team consists of a ranged carry, support, a mage or assassin, a tank, and a bruiser or secondary mage. While champions can fill multiple roles, this team formula is good for starting players because it offers a strong combination of damage-dealing champions and a solid frontline. The most effective way to create a great team is by communicating with other team members during post-game chat. No one likes the player that instantly locks in a champion without consulting others.
6. Smart Casting and Key Bindings
One of the simplest ways for new players to increase their skill level is by using the smart cast feature. With regular casting, players have to press a key and then click on an area or target, which is indicated in blue, to activate the ability. Smart casting allows you to streamline this process by eliminating the last click so that abilities hit wherever the mouse cursor is. Smart casting speeds up ability combos by allowing you to cast multiple spells quickly. Summoner spells and active items can also be set to smart cast. To activate smart casting, go to the key bindings menu in game and change the settings.
Another easy way for new players to improve their gameplay is to create custom key bindings. Every ability in League of Legends can be re-assigned to new keys or mouse buttons. Activated items like Zhonya’s Hourglass or Blade of the Ruined King can be re-bound to more accessible keys or buttons. For example, I like assigning my number one and two item slot to my extra mouse buttons so I can quickly activate them when needed. In a game where every second matters, even small changes have an impact.
With this advice in mind, you will have a much easier time figuring out League of Legends, and hopefully have more fun while you do it.