League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena game similar to Demigod and Heroes of Newerth developed by Riot Games. Players take the role of a customizable Summoner, who is the avatar for the player. This Summoner is off the battlefield, controlling their upgradable Champions. Both Summoners and Champions grow as they gain experience, gold, and items in multi-player, online combat. A player's summoner persists between games, whereas the chosen Champion will only persist for a single game.
The Summoner is the player's representation in League of Legends and is the only aspect that is constant between battles. Summoners select and fight as a champion of choice for the duration of a match. Summoners are not static entities, but gain experience and influence points from each battle fought. The Summoner levels up through gaining experience, unlocking summoner spells and one point per level which is placed in a mastery tree. Influence points allows the summoner to purchase new champions, runes and rune pages.
Summoners cap at level 30. Riot has said that they expect it to take approximately eight weeks of consistent casual play in order to reach level thirty, and hardcore players will be able to reach the level cap much faster.
As Summoners rank up in levels, they gain access to various Summoner abilities, two of which may be equipped to be taken into battle. These spells are not tied to any specific champion and do not require mana to cast, but are on very long cooldowns and should only be used when absolutely necessary. Some spells are restricted to certain game modes.
- Barrier: Grants a damage absorbing shield for a short duration.
- Clairvoyance: Reveals a targeted area anywhere on the map for a short duration. Only available in Dominion.
- Clarity: Restores 40% of a champion's maxium mana for you and nearby allies.
- Cleanse: Removes all crowd control effects and debuffs from your champion, also momentarily reducing the duration of incoming disables.
- Exhaust: Reduces the movement speed and attack speed of an enemy champion, lowers their defense and damage for a short duration.
- Flash: Instantly teleports your champion a short distance towards your cursor. Can be used to cross terrain.
- Ghost: Your champion gains movement speed and ignores unit collision for a short period.
- Heal: Restores health and grants a short burst of movement speed to you and a targeted allied champion.
- Ignite: Sets an enemy champion on fire, dealing damage over time and reducing all healing effects for its duration.
- Smite: Deals a large amount of True Damage to a monster or enemy minion. Can be augmented by certain items to be cast on enemy champions. Only available in Classic mode.
- Teleport: After a brief channel time, teleports your champion to an allied structure, minion or ward. Can be cancelled to half its cooldown. Has shorter cooldown when used on turrets. Only available in Classic mode.
- Mark: Toss a snowball in a target direction. If it hits an enemy unit the user has a brief window recast the spell and blink to the unit hit.
Runes are items that can be purchased by the Summoner using influence points that passively enhance a Champion's statistics. Each rune has three tiers, with higher tiers becoming available at higher levels. There are four types of runes; glyphs (blue), marks (red), seals (yellow), and quintessences (brown/purple). Glyphs, marks, and seals each have a type of statistic that they improve to a greater extent than the other two. For example, glyphs enhance magical ability, marks enhance offensive prowess, and seals enhance defense. Quintessences are larger runes that have stronger effects than their smaller counterparts.
Each Summoner has no maximum capacity for the amount of runes they can possess, but to have them take effect in battle, they must be placed in a rune page and selected after their champion is chosen. Each rune page can hold nine glyphs, nine marks, nine seals, and three quintessences. Each summoner has access to two rune pages to change as they see fit, but additional rune pages can be bought with Riot points or influence points. One rune slot is unlocked every time your Summoner levels up.
The last and most important impact that Summoners have on the battle is through the mastery system. As the Summoner gains levels, they also gain mastery points that can be assigned to an enhancement in a skill tree. There are three trees, offensive, defensive, and utility, each adding bonuses to the champion the summoner chooses. Most of these talents do add a slight advantage to each hero as it can be used to boost strong points of a hero or strengthen the weakness of champions, much like the rune system. Some talents also improve your summoner's abilities, such as Improved Ignite, which activates while Ignite is on cooldown, increasing the champion's ability power and attack damage by 5. These points can be re-allocated at any time between matches and multiple mastery profiles may be saved and selected in the lobby of each game, allowing the Summoner to shift focus between types of Champions.
The talented fighters selected to join the elite Institute of War, champions are the instruments of destruction in a summoner's hand on the Valorian Field of Justice. Each battle a champion starts off at level 1 with only the blessings bestowed by the summoner's runes and masteries. 40 champions were playable at release and Riot has continously released new champions at a rate of approximately one every 2-3 weeks.
Each week, the game rotates though the pool of champions, offering 10 to play for free, allowing players to test and practice them without commitment. Additionally, as a player completes matches, they earn Influence Points which can be used to permanently unlock new champions. The game also offers multiple champion bundles only available for money to expand a new player's champion options instantly.
During the selection screen, the champions are broadly classified into assassins, fighters, tanks, mages and support. However, quite a few of them can serve multiple purposes depending on the kind of equipment, runes, summoner spells, and masteries the summoner picks.
The champions of League of Legends are cataloged on the associated characters page.
In addition to a steady stream of new champions, Riot also frequently releases unique champion skins for many of its heroes. From simple variations to more "meta" skins such as the Vancouver Olympics bobsled for Corki, players can purchase with Riot Points (in-game currency that cost real earth dollars) to use in matches with their favorite champions. Many older skins are simply a palette swap of the original model with no other distinguishing characteristics. Most newer skins feature original models, many with custom voice acting, sound or particle effects. Some champions have a "Legendary" skin available to them which gives the character a completely new model, sound effects, and/or particle effects and are priced at twice the cost of standard skins. This "legendary" treatment has gradually become the standard practice for all new champion skins, with the "legendary" term and price point being rarely used.
From examining art assets and descriptions that were left in the beta installer some information about a few Champions could be gleaned. Riot developers eventually revealed that these Champions were canceled.
- Voodoo Witch Doctor
- Urf, The Manatee (April Fools Joke)
Fields of Justice
There are currently four maps (also known as Fields of Justice). Riot had previously confirmed they were working working on a "larger" map to release called the "Magma Chambers," but that map was canceled to focus on the Crystal Scar for the Dominion game mode.
- Summoner's Rift - The two bases are separated by a river, which serves as the 'middle' of the Field of Justice. There are three lanes to each base. One lane goes through the middle, and the other two go around the outside of the Field of Justice. On both sides of the river are forests, which are populated with enemies that can be killed for experience, gold, and temporary buffs. The most noteworthy enemy is Baron Nashor, whom is a challenge to take down that usually requires an entire team.
- Twisted Treeline - The Twisted Treeline is a dense forest area set on the Shadow Isles with only two lanes connecting the two opposing nexuses, making it the game's dedicated 3 vs 3 map. The jungle area towards each base hosts an altar that can be captured by either team, granting a team-wide buff that is further improved if both altars are held at the same time. In the very North of the map, a powerful boss monster called Vilemaw has her lair. Defeating her grants the team bonus health and mana regeneration, cooldown reduction and increased attack speed.
- The Crystal Scar (Removed) - The map that all Dominion matches were played upon. Similar to Battlefield, both sides start out with a set number of points representing the nexus health for each team. There are five control points on the map, and controlling a majority will constantly damage the other team's nexus.
- The Howling Abyss - Introduced with the Freljord event patch in April 2013, this Field of Justice is the official ARAM (all random, all mid) battlegrounds, as well as the tutorial map. An icy bridge serves as the sole connection between the two bases, each protected by a line of turrets as well as an inhibitor.
- The Proving Grounds (Removed) - The original tutorial map for the game featured a single lane without adjacent jungle territory. An altered version had served as a map for the custom ARAM mode. It was replaced by The Howling Abyss with the release of the Freljord patch in April 2013.
There are a few common features that most Fields of Justice have in common:
- Bases - Players start in their team's base. Inside there is a shop as well as the structure that they must protect, called the nexus. Each side's minion "waves" spawn from their base and march down the lanes to fight each other.
- Lanes - These are the pre-determined paths that the minions from each side walk down. The majority of the fighting will occur in the lanes.
- Jungle - This term is a carry-over from Defense of the Ancients. In the area between lanes there are neutral monsters of varying difficulty, including an epic monster that bestows advantages upon whomever kills it. The term "jungling" also comes from DotA, and means that a player is focusing on killing the monsters in the jungle instead of the minions in the lane.
- Turrets - Defending each lane are three turrets. These must be "pushed" or destroyed in sequence in order to progress to the enemy minion inhibitor.
- Minion Inhibitor - In each lane, each base has a minion inhibitor, once all the turrets in a lane are down, a summoner's champion may engage and damage an enemy inhibitor. Once a team destroys an enemy inhibitor they will begin to spawn super minions in that lane, that are great for "pushing" or destroying the final two turrets defending the enemy nexus.
- The Nexus - The final piece of resistance to enemies, and the objective of each game. The nexus is defended by one or two turrets, however these two turrets are more powerful and will slowly regenerate health when left alone. It is important when making the final push to have a decent minion army to help push through or a proper tanking champion to take the damage.
- Baron Nashor - An homage to Roshan from DotA, Baron Nashor is the epic monster on the Summoner's Rift map. Killing the Baron usually requires the whole team, though he can be defeated by a smaller group later in the game when the champions are higher level and carrying stronger items. Anyone attacking him is very vulnerable to an ambush by their opponents. He has various attacks, knock backs, and stuns as well. Killing him grants a large amount of gold, and gives a buff to the entire team for three minutes which powers causes players to grant a powerful buff to any nearby minions. This allows the team to be extremely aggressive, pushing into the enemy base with charged-up minion armies. Baron respawns seven minutes after being defeated.
- Rift Herald - A miniature version of Baron Nashor. The Rift Herald has a lot of health and usually takes 2 people minimum to take down. He spawns very early in the game and despawns 20 minutes into the game. The Rift Herald's eye opens when in combat and striking it deals a very large amount of true damage to the herald.
- Dragon - The Dragon is a very tough enemy at the early stages of the game, second in difficulty only to Baron Nashor, although the dragon can easily be solo'ed later on by most champions. He has high hitpoints and his attacks deal significant damage while applying an attack speed debuff. Killing the dragon no longer grants gold as of the season 5 (October 2014) updates, but it grants a stacking buff to the team which lasts the entire game. The buff effects include increased damage, movement speed, and greatly increased damage to enemy minions and structures. The dragon respawns six minutes after being slain.
- Ancient Golem - A large animated stone creature. Killing it grants the "Crest of the Ancient Golem" buff that greatly increases mana regeneration and reduces the cooldowns of all abilities for two and a half minutes. Because the buff creates a blue circle around a champion enhanced by it, it is commonly referred to as "blue buff." Killing a champion with "Crest of the Ancient Golem" will transfer the buff over to his killer, refreshing the duration. Respawns five minutes after being defeated.
- Brambleback - A large vine monster. Killing it grants the "Crest of Cinders" buff which adds bonus damage over time and a slow effect to all normal attacks for two and a half minutes. In opposition to the ancient golem buff, the Brambleback's buff is commonly named "red buff" and killing a holder of the buff will also transfer and refresh the buff. Respawns five minutes after being defeated.
- Krugs - In the north and south on Summoner's Rift, two small golems known as Krugs spawn. They give more gold and experience than normal minions, but are more difficult to kill. They respawn frequently. Smiting the large Krug gives the "Gift of Heavy Hands" buff, which stuns any minion/non-epic monster every 5 autoattacks. This buff lasts a few minutes.
- Wolf Pack - Two smaller wolves accompanied by a bigger pack leader. Respawn frequently.
- Crimson Raptors - A group of four bird creatures, one stronger than the others. Respawn frequently.
- Gromp - A large bullfrog-like creature. Respawns frequently.
- Golems, Wraiths, Wolves - Each half of the map has three frequently respawning Jungle camps surrounding the altar, granting gold and experience to anyone who kills them.
- Vilemaw the Spider - A large boss encounter on the north side of the map, grants a powerful buff for several minutes to all members of the team that kills it. Respawns every 5 minutes.
League of Legends: Dominion was a mode that was added to the game but now is no longer playable. It was retired in February 2016. It was played on a new map called The Crystal Scar and its gameplay is quite different from the Classic maps like Summoner's Rift and Twisted Treeline.
Instead of focusing on taking down turrets to reach enemy's Nexus in order to win, in Dominion players will compete in a Capture-and-hold style gameplay. There are five Control Points on The Crystal Scar, each with its own distinct appearance (The Windmill, The Drill, The Boneyard, The Quarry and The Refinery), along with The Seal, which contains powerful buffs. The Crystal Scar also has Health Relics placed at some points on the map, as well as some Speed Shrines.
Dominion is designed for quick and dynamic matches, which is why players start at higher level and more gold than in regular matches. Players also constantly receive gold and experience to eliminate the need for farming and to ensure the quick flow of the game. It also features new items specific for this mode (And some of the other items were made unavailable).
The goal in Dominion is same as in classic games, but it is achieved differently. To win, one team still has to bring down the enemy team's nexus health to zero. Nexus cannot be harmed directly, but it is slowly damaged if one team controls more points than the other team. The rate at which nexus is being destroyed depends on how many points one team controls over the other. If the number of controlled capture points is the same, neither enemy team's Nexus will receive any damage. Enemy nexus can also lose health when an enemy is killed (that effect no longer exists once the nexus' health drops below 100), and by completing newly introduced Dynamic Quests.
Instead of the normal scores, Dominion features a new "Personal Score". Players increase their Personal Score by completing Quests, defending Control Points, capturing enemy Control Points, killing enemies, assisting allies, etc.
ARAM is an abbreviation for "All Random, All Mid", a custom game mode originally played on Summoner's Rift and later adapted to a special version of the tutorial map, Proving Grounds. It has since been replaced by the Howling Abyss.
As per the rules of the mode, all players pick randomly assigned champions among their owned pool as well as the weekly, free champion rotation, although it is possible to select either blind pick or tournament draft mode. Champions start the match at level three and gain bonus starting gold as well as a passive experience boost, allowing for faster leveling. However, once leaving the base, a player can no longer buy items from the shop until he or she dies. Additionally, the recall option to teleport to the homebase is disabled on Proving Grounds and the fountain won't restore mana or health anymore. For sustain during the game, four relics respawn periodically along the bottom side of the lane.
ARAM, once only available as a custom game option, now has a dedicated matchmaking lobby as of April 2013. The game mode takes place on the new single-laned Howling Abyss map and includes pieces of lore offered by the two new shopkeeper characters. A new feature is the ability to reroll your randomly selected champion. Players can store a maximum of two rerolls. Points for replenishing rerolls are awarded at the conclusion of ARAM matches.
League of Legends is free-to-play, with a premium edition for those who wish to pay. People wishing to pay can purchase Riot Points using real currency. Riot Points cannot be used to purchase anything that would give one player a advantage over another such as Runes. Instead, only Champions, Champion Skins, Rune Pages, and Boosts can be purchased Riot Points. 'Boosts' give players greater rewards after finishing a match, such as extra points to spend on Runes, or more experience points for their Summoner.
There are two ways that a player may create their account. Either they can create a free-to-play account or purchase the Collector's Edition. Those who purchase the Collector's Edition have 20 Champions unlocked from the start with a bonus skin and 10$ in Riot Points, while free-to-play accounts only start with access to ten heroes who are on a weekly rotation.
Every player gains Influence Points every time they play a match. These points can be used on extra Champions, or new runes. Champions cost from 450 to 6300 influence points, and their prices are usually scaled based on difficulty to play. Runes increase in price as they increase in power.
In November 2009, Riot introduced a way to buy Riot Points via SMS and Playsafecards.
League of Legends is often updated for special events and holidays. During these special events, unique skins for champions are offered for a limited time. Special "mid tier" runes are also offered. Some previous events include:
- Snowdown Showdown - (December 17, 2009 to January 6, 2010) - The first official event of LoL which featured a winter themed map and holiday themed skins for champions. Health were replaced by Egg Nog (same effect) and Zilean, Teemo, Tristana, Nidalee, and Nunu had unique skins briefly available.
- Winter Games Celebration - (February 12, 2010 to March 2, 2010) In honor of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, LoL changed the winter map again to feature olympics-related decorations. Unique skins will be available for Jax, Veigar, Amumu, Corki, Twitch, Anivia, Kassadin, and Fiddlesticks.
- The Harrowing 2010 - (October 18, 2010 to November 2, 2010) This Halloween patch added a new themed map, as well as new creeps and new skins for Dr. Mundo, Poppy, Katarina, Fiddlesticks, Ryze, and Vladimir. Health potions are replaced by candy corn, mana potions by mana-encrusted apples, and different colored candies for elixirs. The map also randomly features the ghost of Urf, the manatee champion, as an un-attackable mob. Special "Tier 2.5" quintessances were also made available for purchase. The runes had slightly lower stats than Tier 3 runes (almost barely a difference), but their cost was almost half the price of the Tier 3 equivalents.
- The Harrowing 2011 - (October 18, 2011 to November 1, 2011) This Halloween patch added new limited edition skins for Blitzcrank, Annie, Nidalee, and Nocturne. Many other champs received "Halloween skins", though they were not in a limited quantity like the previous four. All health potions, mana potions, and elixirs were changed just like The Harrowing 2010. The only other significant change was that minions were also Halloween-themed: purple minions had pumpkins on their heads, while blue minions wore bat wings on their hats. "Tier 2.5" quintessances were also brought back for purchase.
- The Harrowing 2012 - (October 25, 2012 to November 13, 2012) This massive Halloween patch added a re-worked version of Twisted Treeline, a new champion in Elise, the Spider Queen, updates to the background lore of several champions and offered Halloween-themed skins for Fiora, Hecarim, Ryze and a legendary-tiered Zombie Brand with a dance animation mirroring Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Additionally, this event marked the first appearance of ward skins.
- Snowdown Showdown 2012 - (December 19, 2012 to January 6, 2013) The year's Christmas celebration event offered winter-themed skins for Fiddlesticks, Katarina, Veigar and Ziggs, new temporary wards skins as well as a new gifting center to purchase Riot points, champions or skins for other players. Several new summoner icons were also tied towards donating various gifts to friends.
League of Legends operates on a season-based schedule similar to battle.net ladder seasons, each season bringing massive changes to the gameplay.
- Season 1 - Began on July 13, 2010 with the arrival of ranked match-making, a ladder system and a new interface. The season concluded on June 20, 2011 at the Dreamhack LAN with the European team Fnatic beating Against all Authority in the grand final for a $50'000 first prize. Over the tournament, more than 1.6 million unique viewers had watched the competition with as many as 200'000 simultaneous viewers.
- Season 2 - Following the overwhelming public interest during the season 1 finals, Riot announced a total of $5 million in prize money to be handed out over the course of the game's second season. The season officially started on November 29, 2011 after changes to the masteries as well as a complete re-work of the Summoner's Rift jungle and other balance changes. It concluded at the World Finals a year later on October 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, where the Taiwanese Taipei Assassins defeated the Korean Azubu Frost team. At the time, the event was the most watched videogame tournament with more than 1.1 million unique concurrent viewers at peak times and a total of 8.2 million unique viewers total.
- Season 3 - Beginning on December 4, 2012 with the pre-season 3 patch, Riot introduced the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). Eight teams from North America and Europe respectively had to qualify to compete in the LCS, a seasonal tournament with weekly matches broadcast by Riot live with professional commentators, match analysis and interviews with players. The top-ranking teams at the end of the season will be elected to represent the region in the Season 3 World Finals.
League System (Season 3)
While ranked play in the first two seasons used a elo-based ladder system, Riot introduced a new League System in February 2013, which split the ladder into six tiers (bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond and challenger) with five divisions in each tier except challenger.
After being initially placed into a tier and division, players gain or lose league points depending on their performance. Reaching 100 league points then triggers a promotion series, either a best of three for a chance to advance a division or a best of five to advance to the next higher tier.
Outside of the game's ladder seasons, League of Legends is featured in e-Sports tournaments such as Major League Gaming, IGN Pro League or Dreamhack, many of which are partnered directly with Riot and winners may earn opportunities to compete in the LCS.
Many professional players offer live streams of their daily practice on streaming services such as Twitch.tv, interacting with their fanbase or giving general advice. Due to the game's massive popularity, League of Legends is consistently the most watched game on these sites at most hours.
- Tom "Zileas" Cadwell, the Design Director of League of Legends, was previously a professional Starcraft player.
- Pendragon, the head of community relations, is responsible for the website dota-allstars.com.
- Urf the Manatee was a Champion whose information was released on April 1st, 2009. It was confirmed to be an April Fool's joke, and is unlikely to be released. However, Riot later released a skin for the champion Corki titled "Urfrider Corki." Instead of riding a helicopter or other flying contraption as he normally does, Urfrider Corki rides a hovering Urf into battle. Urf as also shown up in other skins such as "Urf the Manatee" for Warwick and Fisherman Fizz.
- Each of the champions has a unique taunt, dance, laugh and joke. For example, a joke can be told by typing /joke or /j in chat. Holding shift and pressing numbers 1-4 will also play the respective emote, for example Ctrl+4 makes your champion laugh. Any sounds the champion makes from these commands can be heard by nearby players of either team.
- The game features several easter eggs such as special interactions between characters due to their lore. For instance, any ninja champion loses one health for every other ninja on their team while characters wearing sunglasses suffer one less damage from Leona's passive Sunlight ability.