League of Legends: A guide for new players

A few things before I get to the good stuff.  First of all, if you don’t have patience enough to read this guide in its entirety, just stop now.  Go away.  You won’t learn anything here.  Otherwise, read on.  Second, I understand that most of these tips are common sense.  However, most of these things are not immediately apparent to players new to the game.  In fact, I would even wager that there are some long-time players out there that could benefit from what I have to say in this guide.

So, on that note, let the guide begin!

Character Selection/Team Composition

There are a number of things to be aware of when you select your character, and most of these are related to the rest of your team.  In a 5v5 match, each team should have a good balance of offensive and defensive champions; having a tank, an off-tank, a support champion, and both AD and AP carries is considered optimal.  I highly recommend reading this guide (or any guide on MOBAFIRE, really).  It not only provides excellent suggestions on how to play each role, but also offers the reasoning behind why each role is important.  Being able to adapt to any role based on the choices of the rest of your team offers the best chances for success in any game you play.  But for most new players like me, this is really just a moot point.  To use myself as an example, I only know how to use one champion effectively — Vladimir.  Attempts to use any other champion almost always results in dismal failure.  In time, that will change.  But for now, as I grow and learn as a player and adapt new playstyles and archetypes, it will have to be as it is.

That being said, I believe finding your own prefered playstyle is key.  Selecting one champion to serve as an anchor for you to be free to learn the mechanics and nuances of the game, in my opinion, is a preferable start on the road to being an accomplished League of Legends player.  Becoming mired in a large selection of poorly played champions can only serve to hamper your mastery of the game as a whole.

Zone and Map Awareness

To start, I think that you should watch the following video several times.  Once is not enough.  If you have never seen it before, this video will instantly improve your game at least two-fold.  I guarantee it.

Learn to lane like a pro. Watch this video NOW!

As each game progresses it is important to be mindful of your own creep waves.  A quick glance at the minimap can allow you to assess potential opportunities to destroy unattended turrets.  At the same time, doing so can also allow you to defend turrets being pushed by the enemy team.  Turrets are the true objective of the game, not your K/D ratio, nor your team-kill score.  Destroying enemy turrets while defending your own is an effort toward certain victory.  Being aware of creep waves will allow you to do so — they peel back the fog of war as they march.

The minimap also offers information on the position of enemy players who are not obfuscated by the fog of war.  This is important throughout the game, but I believe it is most important during the start of the game, which is commonly referred to as the “laning phase”.  At this early stage, having an eye on enemy champions can save your life and allow you to stay in lane gaining experience and gold.  Pressure can be applied to an entire team simply by stepping out of view.  If one of your teammates calls “mia” (which is short for “missing in action”) watching the map for those champions to reappear can relieve the map pressure caused by the fog of war.  Similarly, you can assess the awareness of your opponents simply by stepping into the enemy’s fog of war for a moment or two and watching how the other lanes react.  If they immediately go on the defensive and pull away from the xp-line or move toward their turret, then you know your lane opponent has called out a warning that you are missing.  You can use this to your advantage as well, if you notice that one of the other lanes isn’t responding to the threat.  You can probably take this that they are unaware that you’ve gone missing, and are probably a good target for ganking.

To reiterate: calling “mia” can give your teammates a chance to defend themselves against possible threat and stay in-lane.  At the same time, using enemy fog of war can provide an opportunity to assess the awareness and responsiveness of your opponents.  Watching the movements of enemy players can improve your game drastically.  As much as you can, glance at the minimap.  I promise that you will not only improve your own game, but you will assist your team in improving their game as well.

Overconfidence & Aggression

There is a point in a player’s development when a breakthrough occurs.  They “click” with their chosen champion, and notice an immediate improvement in their own overall performance.  As I mentioned above, this happened to me with Vladimir.  As far as I know, there is a champion out there for everyone, as I’ve read threads on the official forum about this phenomenon, and it seems as though everyone has a different “go-to” character.  But when this happens for you, a hard lesson will soon follow.  A lesson on overconfidence and undue aggression.  Becoming overconfident is a pitfall I’ve fallen into far too many times to recount, and I’m sure is the same for many other players out there.  Heed this warning: don’t assume you can walk into any fight and win simply by virtue of your champion mastery.  There’s an old saying that goes, “No matter what, someone, somewhere is bigger, badder, tougher, stronger or better than you.”  If you’re religious, this is universally true.  Otherwise, you can count on probability to back it up.  Even those guys that are at the very top of the game ladders lose sometimes.  Even they are not infallible.  And I’ll guarantee that they have learned this lesson at least once, if not a number of times over for each champion they have mastered.  The point is simple.  Playing defensively, especially in the early game, is the best way to increase your chances of success and victory.

That’s not to say that aggression should be avoided.  In fact, the nature of the game makes that assumption wholy untrue.  At some point, you will have to aggress.  And when that time comes, I suggest taking a cautious approach, rather than diving in head-first and hoping for the best.  Testing the waters of your opponent’s skill is much safer.  Poke your opponent and step back.  Take a few jabs if you have to.  But each time you do, be sure to absorb your enemy’s reaction.  Do they overextend?  Do they retreat?  Observing these things can allow you to better position yourself offensively, or set traps for your opponent to walk into.

Kill Stealing

Finally, I want to make a quick note about the concept of “kill stealing” or “KS” as it is commonly called.  There is no such thing.  League of Legends was built from the ground up to be a team-based player-vs-player game.  As eSports go, keeping this in mind is crucial to being an effective and respected teammate.  I don’t recall ever hearing a professional sportsman complaining that his teammates are stealing his touch-downs or home-runs or slam-dunks.  Your own personal stats are important, yes, but not to the detriment of team cohesion.  In this game, it is never good to assume that you are a solo-god and can easily destroy your enemies without help from your own team.  Any player that does so is surely a feeder waiting to happen.  Either that or they are nowhere to be found when a critical team-fight occurs.  So, for the sake of your team, the game’s community at large, and your own experience, please, for goodness sake, don’t take “kill-stealing” to heart.  I’m certain that your teammates had no intention of taking your thunder, but instead, were simply trying to help.

If you enjoyed this guide, please leave a comment.