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League of Legends

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This article is about the video game. For the Darts Tournament, see BetFred League of Legends.
"LoL" redirects here. For other uses, see Lol (disambiguation).
League of Legends
League of Legends logo.png
Developer(s) Riot Games
Director(s) Tom "Zileas" Cadwell
Producer(s) Steven Snow
Travis George
Designer(s) Christina Norman
Rob Garrett
Steve Feak
Artist(s) Edmundo Sanchez
Troy Adam
Paul Kwon
Composer(s) Christian Linke
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X
Release date(s)
  • WW October 27, 2009
Genre(s) Multiplayer online battle arena
Mode(s) Multiplayer

League of Legends (LoL) is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games for Microsoft Windows[1] and Mac OS X. It is a free-to-play game supported by micro-transactions and inspired by the mod, Defense of the Ancients[2] for the video game Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.

In League of Legends, players assume the role of an unseen "summoner" that controls a "champion" with unique abilities and battle against a team of other players or computer-controlled champions. 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 fairly weak but increase in strength by accumulating gold and experience over the course of the game.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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[6] 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.[7] The 2014 tournament had one of the largest prize pools in esports history, sitting at 2.3 million dollars.[8][9]


Champions Quinn and Jinx (bottom) face off against Taric (top) in the bottom lane of Summoner's Rift

League of Legends is a 3D, third-person multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. In League of Legends, the players each control a character, called a champion, and form two opposing teams.[10] In the most popular "classic" mode, each team begins with a central building, called a nexus, protected by defensive structures. The objective of each game is to breach the opposing team's base and destroy their nexus. Each nexus will also occasionally spawn weak, autonomous attackers called "minions" that travel along paths called "lanes" toward the enemy base. Between the lanes lies an area called the "jungle", where neutral monsters that can be killed by both team resides.

Players begin each game with little power and low health, as a champion's experience points, gold and items are not preserved between games. Instead, players must gain gold and experience through performing various actions in each game. Though players receive a small amount of gold income passively, both experience and larger quantities of gold are generally only attained through combat, such as by killing other champions, destroying defensive turrets, dealing the final blow to enemy minions or killing the neutral monsters in the jungle. Gold can be used to purchase items, which will provide beneficial effects, such as being able to deal or absorb more damage and thus being more likely to be able to kill their opponents. A champion will respawn at their base not long after their death, with the delay increasing as the game progresses.

Each champion has distinct abilities with a variety of effects. These effects vary greatly from champion to champion, effects such as dealing damage, providing buffs to allies or inflicting debuffs to enemies and many more. In addition, other than the standard abilities, each champion also has a passive ability, which provide various beneficial effects. Furthermore, before each game, the players have to select two additional abilities, called "summoner spells", that can be used with any champion.

Other maps includes the Twisted Treeline (consisting of two lanes) and the Howling Abyss (consisting of a single lane with no jungle). The other distinct game mode is known as Dominion, in which players are unable to directly attack the opposing nexus; they are only able to damage it indirectly by killing opponents, and capturing and holding the five towers around the map.[11] Once in a while, riot would also release featured game modes that last for a few weeks, the most popular game mode being U.R.F.

All game modes use automated matchmaking based on the Elo formula, with proprietary adjustments.[12]

Player progression

Though each game of League of Legends is discrete, players (known in game as "summoners") do have some persistent elements. A summoner's statistics and scores are tracked and are accessible to other players.[10][13] Additionally, summoners gain experience points and Influence Points (IP) for each game they participate in. Influence points can be spent to unlock additional options in the League of Legends Store, including the ability to play new champions. Without purchasing additional champions, a player is limited to using a selection of 10 champions that changes every week. Most options, including champions, can be also purchased using Riot Points (RP), which are bought using real money. Using RP is also the only way to purchased cosmetic skins for a player's champions; such skins does not affect the game-play at all.

Experience points lead to persistent level gains for the summoner, up to a maximum level of 30. This persistent "summoner level" is distinct from the champion level that will reset after each battle. Gaining summoner levels unlocks Mastery Points and Rune page slots which will improve the overall strength of the summoner's chosen champion during battles. Additionally, most summoner spells can only be chosen after reaching a certain summoner level.

Gaining a level also grants a Mastery Point and a new Rune page slot, which can be used to provide small bonuses to a player's champion in battle. Mastery Points can be freely distributed into different Masteries that grant predetermined bonuses; they are grouped into offensive, defensive, and utility categories. Similar to Masteries, Runes also affect gameplay in minor ways. However, the runes that fill the rune slots can only be purchased from the store using Influence Points. To benefit from runes, summoners must arrange them in their Rune books, which has a limited number of pages. However, more rune pages can be purchased from the store with either RP or IP.[13]

A player's behaviour is also tracked between matches, and players that displays poor behaviour are sanctioned. These sanctions are sent out by an automated system, and range from a warning, to a chat restriction,to temporary and permanent bans from the game. This system replaced an earlier system which sent game logs to the community to collectively decide whether a player's behaviour was sanctionable, this system was known as the Tribunal. However, permanent bans are still reviewed manually."New player reform system heads into testing". Retrieved July 7, 2015. .

Game modes

  • Tutorial mode is a set of two introductory sessions that teaches 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, 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.[14][15]
  • 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.[16] 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.[citation needed]

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."[17]

Riot Games officially opened its office in September 2006, and currently[when?] has over 1,000 people working on League of Legends.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

League of Legends was first announced on October 7, 2008. It was in a closed beta from April 10, 2009, to October 22, 2009. It then transitioned to open beta until release.[18][19]


League of Legends was released on October 27, 2009.[20]

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,[21] 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.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24]

On May 10, 2010, Riot Games announced that they would take over distribution and operation of the game in Europe.[25] To do so, Riot Games established a European HQ in Dublin.[26]

On July 14, 2009, Riot Games announced that League of Legends will be free with "no catch".[13][27] 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.[28][29] 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."[30] Using both free-to-play and freemium models, the game is supported by microtransactions (see store) rather than ads or boxed copy sales.[31]

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.[32] 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.[33] 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 March 2013, Riot Games released a beta version of an OS X client in addition to their Windows client.[34]

In April 2014, Riot Games announced its Toyko office as a part of their efforts to push the game into the Japanese eSports industry.[35] 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.[36][37]


Popular reception

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.[38] 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.[39] Global concurrent users online peaked at over 5 million players as of March 2013.[37][40]

In March 2012, League of Legends became the #1 title in Korean PC cafés.[41] 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.[4] 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).[42] 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.[43]

Critical reception

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 78.72%[44]
Metacritic 78%[45]
Review scores
Publication Score A- [46]
AllGame 3.5/5 stars[47]
Eurogamer 8/10 stars[48]
Game Revolution B+ [49]
GameSpy 4/5 stars[50]
GameZone 4.5/5 stars[51]
IGN 9.2/10 [52]
Publication Award
Gamespy Gamer's Choice Award for PC Game of the Year (2009)
IGN Reader's Choice Award for PC Best Strategy Game and PC Best Multiplayer Game (2009)
Gamasutra 2010 Best Online Technology

2010 Best Online Visual Arts
2010 Best Online Game Design
2010 Best New Online Game

2010 Audience Award

League of Legends has received generally favorable reviews, and currently holds a Metacritic score of 78 out of 100.[45]

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.[53]

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.[52]

As compared to fellow MOBA games Heroes of Newerth and Dota 2, Mike Minotti of VentureBeat considered the game the easiest to learn and to have fastest gameplay pace of the three.[54]

In 2015, the game placed 15th on USgamer's The 15 Best Games Since 2000 list.[55]

Awards and nominations

Date Awards Category Result
December 14, 2009 IGN PC Best Strategy Game 2009 Readers' Choice Winner[56]
December 21, 2009 Gamespy Gamers' Choice Awards 2009 PC Gamers' Choice Winner[57]
October 8, 2010 1st Game Developers Online Choice Awards Best Online Technology, Visual Arts, Game Design, New Online Game, Audience Award Winner [58]
October 29, 2010 Golden Joystick Award Online Game Of The Year Winner[59]
October 21, 2011 Golden Joystick Award Best Free-To-Play Game Winner[60]


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.[61]

World Championship

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.[62] 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.[63] 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.[64]

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.[65] 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.[66]

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.[67]

As of 2013, League of Legends is the most popular e-sports game in South Korea.[68]

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.[69][69] These changes allow professional players to stay in the United States for up to five years.[70]

Championship Series

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.

Other tournaments


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