League of Legends
|League of Legends|
|Director(s)||Tom "Zileas" Cadwell|
|Genre(s)||Multiplayer online battle arena|
League of Legends (LoL) is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It is a free-to-play game that is supported by micro-transactions and inspired by the mod Defense of the Ancients for the video game Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.
In League of Legends, players assume the role of a character, called a "champion", with unique abilities, battling with a team against other player or computer-controlled champions. In the most popular game modes, the goal is to destroy the opposing team's "nexus", a building which lies at the heart of a base protected by defensive structures. Each League of Legends game is discrete, with all champions starting off each game fairly weak and progressing by accumulating gold and experience over the course of the game.
League of Legends was generally well received at release, and it has grown in popularity in the years since. By July 2012, League of Legends was the most played PC game in North America and Europe in terms of the number of hours played. As of January 2014, over 67 million people play League of Legends per month, 27 million per day, and over 7.5 million concurrently during peak hours.
League of Legends has a large, active competitive scene. In North America and Europe, Riot Games organizes the League of Legends Championship Series, which consists of 10 professional teams in each continent. Similar regional competitions exist in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. These regional competitions culminate with the annual League of Legends World Championship, which in 2013 had a grand prize of $1 million and attracted 32 million viewers online. The 2014 tournament had the fifth largest prize pool in esports history, sitting at 2.3 million dollars.
League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena where players control a "champion" within short PvP or bot battles. As of March 1, 2015, there are 123 different champions from which to choose, all of which are classified by type (assassin, tank, support, etc.), which indicates the champion's gameplay style.
Players gain levels from killing the opposing team's champions, controlled by other players or bots, and minions that regularly spawn and attack the other team's turrets, minions, and champions. In the classic game mode, the map is typically divided into three "lanes", which are paths that spawned minions take; the "jungle", an area between lanes where neutral monsters spawn; and "bases", where players spawn and can purchase items. The three lanes are composed of the bottom, mid, and top lanes, which different champions tend to battle on based on their respective types. The jungle is sometimes considered a lane, where some champions tend to roam in order to collect buffs and assist in the other lanes freely. The player earns a small amount of gold every second passively but can earn more by getting the last hit on minions, destroying enemy towers (referred to as turrets) that guard the lanes, killing neutral monsters located in the jungle, and killing enemy champions. With this gold, users can buy a variety of items to strengthen their champion for the remaining duration of the game. On the classic Summoners Rift, Twisted Treeline, and Howling Abyss maps, the game is ended by destroying the enemy team's last structure on the map, called the "Nexus", from which minions spawn. Other maps have variations of rules and objectives, such as Dominion on the Crystal Scar map, where each team's Nexus loses health if the opposing team controls at least three of the five towers located around the map.
The League of Legends Store allows players to purchase additional options through "Riot Points" (RP) and "Influence Points" (IP). Riot Points must be bought using real money, while Influence Points are earned by playing the game.
The player is identified as a "summoner" and acts as the persistent element in the game. A summoner's statistics and scores are tracked and are accessible to the player. Summoners gain experience points and Influence Points for each battle they participate in. Experience points lead to persistent level gains for the summoner, up to a maximum level of 30. The benefit of gaining levels is unlocking Mastery Points and Rune Page slots (below) which improve the overall strength of the summoner's chosen champion during battles. The summoner can also choose two "summoner spells", which significantly impact gameplay and have a high cooldown rate while costing no mana. Previously in Season 3, Summoner Spells could be enhanced with specific masteries, but those masteries have been removed since the start of Season 4. The only enhancements that remain deal with lower cooldowns. All of the masteries are passive effects, although some augment items which can be activated. They are grouped into offensive, defensive, and utility categories. Masteries can be re-distributed at will between battles.
Similar to masteries, runes affect gameplay in minor ways. Runes are categorized into Marks (offensive), Seals (defensive), Glyphs (magic), and Quintessences (utility). They must be unlocked in the store. To benefit from runes, summoners can arrange them in their Runebooks, which has a limited number of slots for each rune type. However, more rune pages can be purchased from either Influence Points or Riot Points.
Moderation is conducted through a democratic system known as the Tribunal. In this system, player-submitted reports are reviewed by other players on a case-by-case basis. The reviewing players then submit their opinions on the legality of the behavior demonstrated. A consensus renders the decision official. It is notable that players are unable to be permanently banned through this system since "all permanent bans are distributed manually." Reviewers receive a Justice Rating based on their accuracy to encourage thorough analysis of cases. As of May 2014, the Tribunal is unavailable in favor of an automated system that hands out restrictions and short-term bans. Riot Games has stated that the Tribunal is being upgraded.
Game modes and matchmaking
- Tutorial mode is a set of two introductory sessions that teach the basics of the game. It is intended to help new players learn concepts such as the controls and the game's HUD.
- Custom mode allows players to create games that players manually join rather than relying on the game's matchmaking system to create the teams. In custom matches, the teams can be uneven and may include a mix of players and bots (computer-controlled champions).
- Classic mode is a normal or ranked match in which a team wins by destroying the enemy team's Nexus, which can only be attacked if all lane turrets and the inhibitor in at least one lane and all base turrets are destroyed. Classic mode is played in two different styles: 1. 5 vs. 5 on a three-lane map, each team's side having three lane turrets and an inhibitor per lane, as well as two base turrets and a Nexus; and 2. 3 vs. 3 on a two-lane map, each team's side having two lane turrets and an inhibitor per lane, as well as one base turret and a Nexus. The map also has three altars, two of which add bonuses to the players, while the last one heals the players. These altars are surrounded by a jungle. There are three types of matches in Classic mode:
- Normal matches are player versus player. Before the beginning of the match, there are several ways for team players to select their champions. Blind pick matches allow both teams to pick champions at the same time, but each team does not learn what the opposing team has picked until all picks have been finalized; players may therefore incidentally choose the same champion as a player on the opposing team, but players may not choose the same champion as another player on their own team. Draft pick randomly assigns a team captain for each team, who then take turns banning three champions each, disallowing both teams from playing those six champions. Draft players then choose their champions in an ordered back-and-forth format. Because both teams can see which champion each player is picking, no player can pick a champion that has already been picked by another player.
- Ranked matches are available to players that are level 30. Ranked uses a draft pick system exclusively, and players are seeded into a League system based on the outcome of their matches. Winning and losing games influences a player's MMR, which is intended to keep all players' skill levels in any given game as close as possible.
- Co-op vs. AI mode matches players against a team of bots. Similar to the Tutorial mode, it is also intended mainly as a way for inexperienced players to learn.
- Team Builder, released on March 27, 2014, is a normal classic mode queue that allows players to queue up as a specific champion and role of their choice. After submitting your selections to the team builder system, you can build your own balanced team or join an existing one. Team builder is intended to bring players together that complement each other's expectations and intentions the moment they enter the lobby. This allows for more cooperative play and communication between players who are playing a role and champion they want rather than something they are forced to do.
- Dominion mode is a normal match played 5v5 on Crystal Scar, a map with a single circular lane that has five neutral turrets arranged in a star pattern. A team wins by reducing the life total of the enemy team's Nexus, which only occurs if the opposing team controls at least three of the five neutral turrets, until it is zero.
- ARAM (All Random All Mid) mode randomly picks champions that the players are able to play, allowing up to 2 re-rolls if the player is unsatisfied with their pick. Players may also trade with teammates if both parties own the champions to be traded. The mode is played 5 vs. 5 on Howling Abyss, a one-lane map with each team's side having two lane turrets, an inhibitor, two base turrets, and a Nexus. A team wins by destroying the enemy team's Nexus, which can only be attacked if both lane turrets, the inhibitor, and both base turrets are destroyed.
- One for All mode was the first limited-time game mode that was available during the 2013 Harrowing, and it is no longer available. In this game mode, each team was randomly assigned a captain, who then took turns banning three champions each, disallowing both teams from playing those six champions. Players on each team would then select champions at the same time. Each player was only aware of their own team's choices until all picks are finalized, as with blind pick. However, there was no restriction on choosing a champion that had already been picked. Once all players had been chosen, each team was assigned the champion that was picked by the most players on that team, and all players had to play as that champion. In the event of a tie, the game randomly selected the champion. One for All could be played 5 vs. 5 on either the Summoner's Rift or Howling Abyss maps. This game mode later returned at the end of May 2014, with a new twist - both teams were assigned the same champion. This version, called One For All: Mirror Mode took place only on the Howling Abyss (ARAM) map.
- Showdown was the second limited-time game mode, available during the 2013 Snowdown Showdown. Showdown was played either 1 vs. 1 or 2 vs. 2 on the Howling Abyss map. Each team played until one team achieved one of three goals: taking down an enemy turret, reaching 100 team minion kills, or killing the enemy player (or two in 2 vs. 2 matches).
- Hexakill mode was the third limited time game mode. Taking place on Summoners Rift, each team had six players instead of the typical five. Hexakill returned onto the Twisted Treeline Map, in October 24, 2014, as the seventh limited time game mode.
- Ultra Rapid Fire mode was introduced on April 1, 2014 as the fourth limited-time game mode. It was a Classic Draft game, except that all champions had their movement speed increased, gained gold quicker, used abilities without using mana or energy, and had more powerful ranged attacks, among other changes. Several champions were unavailable in this mode.
- Doom Bots of Doom was the fifth limited time game mode, released on July 17, 2014. It took place on Summoner's Rift, where five actual players would play against five AI enemies with extremely modified abilities, making them extremely dangerous. Players won by destroying the enemy nexus, per normal game rules, and they lost if their own nexus was destroyed. There were three difficulty modes available, "1 Bomb", the easiest, "2 Bombs", a medium-difficulty mode, and "5 Bombs", an extremely difficult and hardcore version of the mode.
- Ascension was the sixth limited time game mode and was released as part of the Shurima event on September 10, 2014. It was available only on the Crystal Scar and was held as a 5 v.s. 5 draft pick mode. Similar to the Dominion mode, each team's Nexus could only be destroyed by accruing points, which takes down the HP from the enemy Nexus. Points could be accrued in numerous ways, by killing enemy champions, by capturing Relics of Shurima, or by killing the Ascended. The Crystal Scar map was also modified so that the outermost area of the map was engulfed in a sandstorm, blocking players from entering or exiting the spawning platforms. Players could only exit those spawning platforms via a teleportation item available to everyone, but players could not reenter them unless they die and respawn. The gold and experience gain was modified so that every player gained the same amount of gold and experience, regardless of kills or assists accrued (unless players had gold generation items or perks equipped). In the middle of the map, a neutral monster called an Ascended will spawn, and whomever lands the final hit on the monster will grant their team points while granting the killer a self-buff, which makes them stronger. If the player with this buff is killed, then extra points will be granted, however, while the buff is active, kills accrued by the player with the buff will grant more points.
- Legend of the Poro King was the eighth limited time game mode. It was released alongside the Winter Season for League of Legends. The main characteristics for this game mode is for both teams to throw Poros and successfully hit the enemy champions. Each hit equals 1 point. Once either side has reached 10 points, the Poro King is spawned to push lanes, while the scoreboard is disabled, the Poro King stays alive till dispelled and then the scoreboard will return. The mode ended on January 6, 2015.
The game's developer Riot Games was co-founded by Brandon "Ryze" Beck and Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill. They partnered with Steve "Guinsoo" Feak, the previous designer of the popular Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne custom map Defense of the Ancients, and Steve "Pendragon" Mescon, the administrator of the former official support base for the map to develop League of Legends. Using the original DotA created by Eul (the original Defence of The Ancients map for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos) as a base, Guinsoo made DotA Allstars by inserting his own mix of content, greatly expanding the number of heroes, added recipes and items, and introduced various gameplay changes. Guinsoo then passed version 6 of the map on to a new developer, IceFrog.
The idea of a spiritual successor to Defense of the Ancients was that it would be its own stand-alone game with its own engine, rather than another mod of Warcraft III, began to materialize at the end of 2005. League of Legends was born "when a couple of very active DotA community members believed that the gameplay was so much fun and so innovative that it represented the spawning of a new genre and deserved to be its own professional game with significantly enhanced features and around-game services."
Riot Games officially opened its office in September 2006, and currently[when?] has over 1,000 people working on League of Legends. According to Marc Merrill, when creating the various champions in the game, instead of leaving the champion creation to just a few people, they decided to open up the champion creation process to everyone in the company based upon a template where they could vote on which champions made it into the game.
League of Legends was released on October 27, 2009.
Riot Games self-publishes and operates the game and all of its customer service aspects in North America. Riot Games has signed deals regarding the distribution of League of Legends in Asia, Europe, and North America. By July 2013, the game has been released and was distributed in Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, Philippines, and South Korea. No public announcements regarding other regions have been made.
In Asia, Tencent Inc., China's largest Internet value-added services company best known for its QQ Instant Messaging client, has been in charge of the distribution to Tencent's growing 300 million Internet user base through its leading QQ Game portal. The deal was one of only a handful of partnerships to bring a U.S.-developed online game directly to China.
In Europe, Riot Games has signed an international licensing partnership with GOA, the videogames department of Orange's Content Division and Europe's largest gaming portal. On October 13, 2009, GOA and Riot announced that they would start channeling server access for players located in Europe to GOA's dedicated servers. This restriction meant that players located in Europe would not be able to play on Riot's servers in the United States. Due to negative community feedback, the channeling decision was rescinded October 16, 2009.
On March 23, 2013, the cinematographic studios in Rome hosted the Italian launch of League of Legends. More than 1,500 people were present, along with Riot Games developers, journalists, and various guests. The show schedule included a cosplay contest and a challenge match between two Italian clans.
On July 14, 2009, Riot Games announced that League of Legends will be free with "no catch". There will be a digital copy for download, but there is also a Digital Collector's Copy that will be available to purchase that contains exclusive skins, $10 credit for Riot Points, and 20 champions to access without unlocking them normally via gameplay as well as 4 "special" runes. This Collector's Pack is currently available for US$29.99. Even though the game is free, Riot Games "plan[s] to continue to add content (characters etc...) with a full production team at very frequent intervals." Using both free-to-play and freemium models, the game is supported by microtransactions (see store) rather than ads or boxed copy sales.
On February 25, 2010, Riot Games announced that League of Legends would be distributed in Southeast Asian countries by an unspecified publisher and blocked SEA IP addresses pursuant to its distribution agreement. The community has raised a number of concerns about the deal and the immediate IP block. On July 16, 2010, Riot Games announced that Garena would publish the game in Southeast Asia. Additionally, Southeast Asian players had the ability "transfer accounts" to import their progress stored in North American or European servers into the Southeast Asian server.
In April 2014, Riot Games announced its Toyko office as a part of their efforts to push the game into the Japanese eSports industry. In conjunction with their announcement of a localized client in the works at the Tokyo Game Show 2014, it was revealed that Japan would feature its own League of Legends Japan League where teams would compete on the professional level.
In a release published in November 2011, Riot Games claimed that League of Legends had accumulated 32.5 million players, 11.5 million of whom play monthly, of which 4.2 million play daily. According to Riot in October 2013, the game had 12 million active daily players and 32 million active monthly players. In January 2014, the game had 27 million active daily players, 7.5 million concurrent players at peak times, and 67 million active monthly players. Global concurrent users online peaked at over 5 million players as of March 2013.
In March 2012, League of Legends became the #1 title in Korean PC cafés. In July 2012, Xfire released a report stating that League of Legends was the most played PC game in North America and Europe, with 1.3 billion hours logged by players in those regions between July 2011 and June 2012. League of Legends is also very popular in the Philippines, and, as of July 2013, it is the second most played game in internet cafés in the country (just behind Defense of the Ancients). In Taiwan, it is estimated that almost 5 percent of their entire population played the game, with almost 1 million players subscribed on the server.
IGN initially awarded League of Legends 8.0 out of 10 in 2009, highlighting an enjoyable game design, inventive champion design with good customization options, and lively visuals. However, the game's confusing launch was criticized: it was felt that the title was released too early, with some features missing and others to be removed. Finally, the reviewer noted that high level players in the game have "little patience for newcomers", though the reviewer believed that matchmaking (not implemented at the time of review) would solve the problem by matching players of similar level together.
Leah B. Jackson of IGN re-reviewed the game in 2014, changing IGN's score from 8.0 to 9.2. Jackson hailed the game as a "firm as an example of excellence", praising the variety of champions, rewarding progression systems, and fast but intensely strategic team play.
Awards and nominations
|December 14, 2009||IGN PC Best Strategy Game 2009||Readers' Choice||Winner|
|December 21, 2009||Gamespy Gamers' Choice Awards 2009||PC Gamers' Choice||Winner|
|October 8, 2010||1st Game Developers Online Choice Awards||Best Online Technology, Visual Arts, Game Design, New Online Game, Audience Award||Winner |
|October 29, 2010||Golden Joystick Award||Online Game Of The Year||Winner|
|October 21, 2011||Golden Joystick Award||Best Free-To-Play Game||Winner|
The 2010 World Cyber Games Grand Finals in Los Angeles hosted a League of Legends tournament, at which teams from China, Europe, and the Americas competed. The Counter Logic Gaming team from North America won the tournament, earning a $7,000 prize.
Season 1 Championship in June 2011, held at DreamHack in Sweden, featured US$100,000 in prizes. The European team Fnatic defeated teams from Europe, the USA, and Southeast Asia to win the tournament and received US$50,000 in prize money. Over 1.6 million viewers watched the streamed broadcast of the event, with a peak of over 210,000 simultaneous viewers in one semi-final match. After Season 1, Riot announced that US$5,000,000 would be paid out over Season 2. Of this amount, $2 million was to go to Riot's partners, including the IPL and other major eSports associations. Another $2 million was to go to Riot's Season 2 qualifiers and championship. The final $1 million was to go to small organizers who apply to Riot to host League of Legends tournaments.
After a series of network issues during the Season 2 World Playoffs that led to several matches being delayed, Riot revealed on October 13, 2012, that a special LAN-based client had been quickly developed, designed for use in tournament environments where the effects of lag and other network issues can be detrimental to the proper organization of an event. The LAN client was deployed for the first time during the first quarter-final and semi-final matches played following the re-scheduled matches, and was in use during the finals. On October 13, 2012, the Taipei Assassins (TPA) of Taiwan triumphed over Azubu Frost of South Korea in the Finals of Season 2 World Championship with a score of 3 to 1, and claimed the $1 million in prize money.
In October 2013, Korean team SK Telecom T1 and Chinese team Royal Club competed at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. SK Telecom T1 won the grand prize of $1 million, and Royal Club received $250,000.
As of 2013, League of Legends is the most popular e-sports game in South Korea.
On July 11, 2013, Riot manager Nick Allen announced that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services now recognizes League of Legends pro-players as professional athletes and the P visa visa application process is now simplified for them. These changes allow professional players to stay in the United States for up to five years.
On February 7, 2013, Riot Games made the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) in Europe and North America. This is a league system where ten teams compete to stay in the league. A season consists of two splits, each split separated into a regular season and a playoff. The top three teams from each continent advance to the world championships.
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The strategy elements are sound, and it can be fun to just pick a lane and start chewing through minions as you work your way towards enemy towers and champions. But sometimes it feels like League of Legends throws too much at the player, both in terms of the number of champions and the general confusion of the larger battles. While that's not enough to dampen your enthusiasm of the game, the vague status of the launch and the more-than-occasional hostility of the community just might.
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