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League of Legends

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League of Legends
League of Legends logo.png
Developer(s) Riot Games
Publisher(s) Riot Games
Director(s) Tom Cadwell
Producer(s) Steven Snow
Travis George
Designer(s) Christina Norman
Rob Garrett
Steve Feak
Artist(s) Edmundo Sanchez
Troy Adam
Paul Kwon
Writer(s) George Krstic
Composer(s) Christian Linke
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, macOS
  • WW: October 27, 2009
Genre(s) Multiplayer online battle arena
Mode(s) Multiplayer

League of Legends (abbreviated LoL) is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games for Microsoft Windows and macOS. The game follows a freemium model and is supported by microtransactions, and was inspired by the Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne mod, Defense of the Ancients.[1]

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 usually to destroy the opposing team's "nexus", a structure which lies at the heart of a base protected by defensive structures, although other distinct game modes exist as well. Each League of Legends match is discrete, with all champions starting off fairly weak but increasing in strength by accumulating items and experience over the course of the game.[2] The champions and setting blend a variety of elements, including high fantasy, steampunk, folklore, and Lovecraftian horror.

League of Legends was generally well received upon its release in 2009, and has since grown in popularity, with an active and expansive fanbase. 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.[3] As of January 2014, over 67 million people played League of Legends per month, 27 million per day, and over 7.5 million concurrently during peak hours.[4] League has among the largest footprints of any game in streaming media communities on platforms such as YouTube and; it routinely ranks first in the most-watched hours.[5][6] In September 2016 the company estimated that there are over 100 million active players each month.[7][8] The game's popularity has led it to expand into merchandise, with toys, accessories, apparel, as well as tie-ins to other media through music videos, web series, documentaries, and books.

League of Legends has an active and widespread competitive scene. In North America and Europe, Riot Games organizes the League Championship Series (LCS), located in Los Angeles and Berlin respectively, which consists of 10 professional teams in each continent.[9] Similar regional competitions exist in China (LPL), South Korea (LCK), Taiwan (LMS), Southeast Asia (GPL), and various other regions.[10] These regional competitions culminate with the annual World Championship. The 2016 World Championship had 43 million unique viewers and a total prize pool of over 6 million USD.[11]


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.[12] The game consists of 3 current running game modes: Summoner's Rift, Twisted Treeline, and Howling Abyss.[13] Another game mode, The Crystal Scar, has since been removed.[14] Players compete in matches, lasting anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes on average. In each game mode teams work together to achieve a victory condition, typically destroying the core building (called the Nexus) in the enemy team's base after bypassing a line of defensive structures called turrets, or towers.

In all game modes, players control characters called champions, chosen or assigned every match, who each have a set of unique abilities that determine their playstyle - one passive, or innate, ability that cannot be activated and thus gives a perpetual bonus or effect, three normal, or 'basic', abilities, and a powerful 'ultimate' ability that can only be unlocked once the character reaches level 6. Ultimate abilities are vastly more powerful than regular abilities and thus have much longer cooldowns (period of time before they can be used again).[15] A champion's full set of abilities is referred to as its 'kit'. The use of champions' abilities is limited by cooldowns and a resource (usually some form of mana or energy). If a champion runs out of their resource, they cannot cast spells, even if they are off cooldown, and must wait for it to regenerate. Some champions do not have a resource, being limited only by cooldowns, and others have ways of restoring their respective resource. Each champion also has an 'auto' or 'basic attack' in which they deal damage to the target unit within range simply by right-clicking them, with no cost - some champions are melee and have to be closer to use their basic attack, while others are ranged, although to compensate melee champions are usually more durable. The rate at which a champion can basic attack is determined by their attack speed, a stat that can be improved through items. Some champions additionally use ammo and must reload after enacting a certain number of basic attacks. Champions begin every match at level one, and then gain experience over the course of the match to achieve a maximum level of 18. Gaining champion levels in matches allows players to unlock their champion's special abilities and augment them in a number of ways unique to each character. If a champion loses all their health, they are defeated, but are automatically revived in their base after a 'respawn timer' ends - the timer increases in duration as the game goes on. Players also begin each match with a low amount of gold, and can earn additional gold throughout the match in a variety of ways: by killing non-player characters known as minions and monsters; by killing or helping to kill enemy players; by destroying enemy structures; passively over time; and through unique item interactions or champion abilities. This gold can then be spent throughout the match to buy in-game items that further augment each champion's abilities and game play in a variety of ways. Champion experience, gold earned, and items bought are specific to each match and do not carry over to subsequent matches. Thus, all players begin each match on more-or-less equal footing relative to their opposing team.

Across matches, players also earn rewards that are applied to their account. Player accounts begin at level one and progress through a maximum level of 30 with experience points earned at the end of every match. As a player progresses they unlock content initially barred to new players. These include 'summoner spells' - high-impact, long cooldown spells with a specific use. Any champion can choose to equip two or eleven summoner spells before a game - some summoner spells are unique to certain game modes and some have been removed over the game's history. Players can also customize Rune pages. Runes grant their champion small, perpetual bonuses to stats, and can be gained through spending 'Influence Points'(IP) which is granted by playing. IP can be used to unlock both Runes and new champions. Additionally, players can unlock masteries, which grant unique bonuses not necessarily tied to stats, as Runes are. Some masteries, called 'keystones', are much more powerful than others and only one can be selected per game, with certain champions synergizing more with certain keystones. Player level is separate from character level; both a level 30 account and a level 5 account would begin at character level 1 at the start of a new game.

Accounts are given rankings based on the Elo rating system, with proprietary adjustments.[16] These ratings are used in automated matchmaking to make games with players of comparable skill level on each team.

Game maps

League of Legends consists of three main maps, or "Fields of Justice." Each have different terrain, objectives and victory conditions, as well as varied summoner spells and items. A fourth map, the Crystal Scar, was discontinued.

Summoner's Rift

A simplified representation of Summoner's Rift. The yellow paths are the "lanes" where endless waves of troops known as minions march; blue and red dots are the defensive turrets that defend the lanes. Not pictured are the two turrets that flank each Nexus - the ultimate goal of the game, which are within each team's base in their corner. The dotted black line is the river that divides the sides.

Summoner's Rift is the most popular map in League of Legends.[13] On this map type, two teams of five players compete to destroy an enemy building called a Nexus, which is guarded by the enemy team and a number of defensive structures called turrets, or towers.[17] One nexus is located in each enemy base on opposite sides of the map, in the lower-left and upper-right hand corners. These structures continually create weak non-player characters known as minions, which advance toward the enemy base along three lanes: top, middle (mid), and bottom (bot) lanes. Players compete to advance these waves of minions into the enemy base, which allows them to destroy enemy structures and ultimately win the match. Between lanes are neutral areas of the map known as the 'jungle', arrayed in four quadrants. Uniquely dangerous monsters populate the jungle and grant bonuses to their killer. The jungle is also home to three types of plants that can aid champions in different ways. A shallow river divides the map between the teams, but doesn't actually impede movement; all champions can wade through it no differently than dry land.

Each team wishes to defend their own structures and destroy the other team's structures. These include:[18]

  • Turrets - Each lane is guarded by powerful defensive structures called turrets. Turrets deal exceptionally high damage and will attack enemy minions and players that approach them. Turrets prioritize enemy minions in their vicinity, but will immediately attack enemy players if they attack allied players. Thus, by advancing an allied minion wave into the range of a turret, a player can do damage to the structure without themselves being attacked. When destroyed, turrets provide gold and experience. Turrets that are destroyed are destroyed permanently for that match and will not respawn. Some turrets, depending on location, will regenerate health over time if they are damaged but not destroyed.
  • Inhibitor - Each lane contains one Inhibitor. Inhibitors may be attacked after a team has destroyed the three turrets guarding each lane. Destroying an Inhibitor will cause the allied Nexus to spawn Super Minions, more powerful Minions that provide a buff to surrounding Minions and are very hard to kill. If destroyed, Inhibitors will respawn after five minutes.
  • Nexus - Each team has a Nexus that can only be damaged once all the turrets in a lane and that lane's inhibitor is destroyed. Destruction of the enemy's team Nexus ends the game.

Some objectives are 'neutral', meaning that they will not attack champions who pass by, but champions can choose to pick a fight with them if they wish to gain a reward at the cost of having to fight for it. They include:

  • Jungle monsters - Neutral monsters spawn at various intervals in the Jungle, and provide the player with gold, experience, and sometimes other rewards for killing them. They are the most common neutral objective, and come in many varieties. One summoner spell, called Smite, allows the bearer to instantaneously deal a large amount of true damage to the target minion or monster, and is thus very useful for securing kills on neutral monsters. Two of the most contested neutral monsters are the Red Brambleback (red buff) and the Blue Sentinel (blue buff). If a champion holding either of these buffs is killed, then the buff is transferred to the killer. This can happen any number of times, at least until the buff wears off.
  • Elemental drakes/Elder Dragon - Elemental drakes are powerful monsters located in the bottom half of the river. All members of the team that kills the drake are provided with buffs that last the entire game and accrue cumulatively. These buffs differ depending of the type of drake killed. A random elemental drake will respawn six minutes after the previous one is killed. The Elder Dragon spawns instead after 35 minutes have passed in-game. When killed, it provides a stronger buff than an individual elemental drake (and also enhances the buffs of all previous drakes), but it wears off with time, unlike the earlier drake rewards. The drakes are flavored after the Four Elements, with each drake granting a thematically appropriate buff to the team that kills it.
  • Rift Herald - The Rift Herald is a powerful enemy located in the upper side of the River. Killing the Rift Herald provides a buff that can be picked up by a member of the killing team which lasts for 20 minutes, persisting even if the holder is killed. This buff replaces the player's warding trinket, though it can be used to summon the Rift Herald to inflict heavy damage to enemy towers. This monster will never respawn after it is killed.
  • Baron Nashor - Baron Nashor is the most powerful neutral enemy, located in the upper side of the River. It will spawn after twenty minutes, replacing the Rift Herald. All living members of the team that kills Baron Nashor are given a buff which grants massively increased combat stats, a shorter recall time, and an aura that causes surrounding minions to become more powerful. Baron Nashor respawns seven minutes after it is killed.

Many of the details have changed over time; League is not a static game, with mechanics being both introduced and removed since launch in 2009. For example, the Rift Herald was only added in 2016; Dragons gave gold rather than buffs from 2009–2014, and the dragons only became elementally flavored drakes in 2016; jungle monsters have been added and retuned; the length of time it took for inhibitors to respawn was 4 minutes rather than 5 minutes for a time; Baron Nashor gave a stronger buff to the statistics of champions but no buff to minions from 2009–2014; and so on.

Twisted Treeline

In the Twisted Treeline, two teams of three players compete to destroy the opposing team's Nexus, which is guarded enemy Towers.[19] It is conceptually similar to Summoner's Rift, but smaller to account for three vs. three rather than five vs. five.[19] Rather than Summoner's Rift 3 lanes of turrets and 3 inhibitors, Twisted Treeline has only 2 lanes and 2 inhibitors, with the jungle in between. The other differences are the addition of two "Altars", control of which grants the occupying team a variety of bonuses, and the replacement of Baron Nashor with Vilemaw, an enormous spider deity. Living members of the team that slays Vilemaw are granted a temporary bonus, similar to the death of Nashor.

Howling Abyss

The Howling Abyss is used for "ARAM" (All Random All Mid) matches, and is five vs. five.[17] The difference between the Abyss and the other maps is that there is only a single narrow lane of Turrets and an Inhibitor, and no neutral jungle area. Thus, rather than skirmishes and hidden movement, the Abyss focuses exclusively on large team-fights in the sole middle lane. Players cannot return to their allied base to replenish health and mana or purchase items unless they have been killed.[19] ARAM was launched as an official mode in September 2013.[20]

Crystal Scar

The Crystal Scar was used for Dominion mode, a discontinued game format where teams of five players competed to capture control points and hold those points for the longest possible period of time.[21] The map consists of a circle with 5 control points. Each team controls a base known as a fountain, located at the bottom left and right hand corners of the map. Each team scores points by capturing and owning more objectives than the other team over time, which is then reduced from the other team's "life" total. These points count down from an initial score of 200. The first team to reduce the other team to 0 points achieves victory. Dominion was launched on September 26, 2011 and was retired on February 22, 2016, although the Crystal Scar is used for certain other rotating formats, such as Ascension.[22][23]

Games types

League of Legends includes several game types players can select.[12][24]

  • The Tutorial is the first game type available to new players. The tutorial is played on the Howling Abyss and is intended to teach new players the rules and gameplay of League.
  • Co-op Vs. AI is available to new players after completing or opting out of the Tutorial. It is played on Summoner's Rift, Twisted Treeline, and (formerly) the Crystal Scar, and pits teams of human players against an opposing team of computer-controlled artificial intelligence champions.
  • Normal Matchmaking uses an automated match making system to pair teams of similarly-skilled players against one another.
  • Ranked Matchmaking is available to players upon reaching account level 30. It uses a similar system as Normal Matchmaking; however, pre-made teams must be of comparable ELO strength, so expert players and weak players are not allowed to team together in Ranked. After playing 10 or more Ranked games, accounts are given a public "rank" that roughly correlates with their ELO ranking.
  • Custom Games allow players to play any map with any combination of player or AI teammates and opponents.

League of Legends also includes three ways teams may choose what champion they will play for a given match.

  • Blind Pick allows the two teams to select their champions simultaneously. The players only learn the champion selections of the opposing team when the match begins. It is available on Summoner's Rift, Twisted Treeline, and the Crystal Scar for Normal Matchmaking games and Co-op vs. AI, and for all modes in custom games.
  • Draft Pick allows each team to ban three champions each (a total of six champions banned), removing them from the match. Teams then take turns selecting their champions while being able to see the selections of the other team. It is available on Summoner's Rift for matchmaking games, and for all modes in custom games.
  • Random Pick randomly assigns a champion to each player. Players accumulate re-rolls by playing multiple matches, which they can use to randomly select another champion for that match. It is available on Howling Abyss for ARAM (All Random All Mid) games, and for all modes in custom games.

Champion types

There are currently 138 champions in League of Legends as of August 23, 2017, the latest of which is "Ornn, the Fire Below the Mountain."[25] League divides its champion types up a number of ways (additionally, champions can be customized by buying different items in-game and equipping different runes and masteries before games). The most salient difference is the type of damage a champion deals; some champions deal largely physical damage, which is resisted by the armor stat, and other champions deal largely magic damage, which is resisted by the magic resistance stat. Some champions, called 'hybrids', deal a combination of both physical and magical damage and can either choose one to emphasize or find a balance between the two, making it harder for other champions to defend against them; and some rare abilities deal 'true' damage which is not mitigable by either armor or magic resistance. Riot Games has classified all champions as one of six types to aid beginners; each class is also divided into two or three subclasses to differentiate.[26] Not all champions perfectly fit their type, of course. The official Riot classifications are as follows:

  • Marksman: Marksmen, also known as "AD (attack damage) Carries", are ranged champions that usually deal physical damage. These champions are usually high DPS rather than burst; they focus on sustained long-term damage through their basic attacks, and are usually the best at destroying and taking objectives like enemy turrets or elemental drakes, as well as killing tanks. They tend to have weak defense and are easy to kill once caught - leading to them and other carries to be described as 'squishy'. Some ADCs rely heavily on their basic attacks to kill targets, while others play like mages and utilize their spells in combat as well. Examples of marksmen are Ashe, Caitlyn, Jinx, and Jhin.[27] There are currently 18 true ADCs, although other champions that are good at dealing sustained damage, such as some Fighters or Mages, can provide DPS for their team akin to a Marksman.
  • Mage: Mages, sometimes known as "AP (ability power) Carries", are champions with powerful magic damage and crowd control spells, but weak defense and low mobility. Mages are divided into three main groups based on their combat patterns - Burst Mages, such as Veigar and Syndra, excel at killing singular champions from range very quickly, but often have poor sustained or area damage to compensate; Battle Mages, such as Vladimir and Karthus, who excel at unleashing devastating area of effect damage to multiple targets and are not afraid to get close, unlike other mages; and Artillery Mages, such as Ziggs and Vel'Koz, who often have the highest range and damage but are often more squishy to compensate, relying on their team's protection to set up kills. There are currently 29 true Mage champions, although other classes such as Controllers and Marksmen that rely especially on their spells are sometimes categorized as Mages as well.[28]
  • Slayer: A champion who specializes in killing one or more champion as fast as possible, usually within melee range.[29] Slayers tend to go after the enemy's AD/AP Carry and other 'squishy' champions, but tend to have weak defenses themselves if caught, and rely on their potent mobility to pick and choose their fights. Slayers are divided into two subgroups: Assassins, such as Zed, Fizz, and LeBlanc, who have the highest mobility and up-front burst damage to quickly kill a target and escape, but lack sustained damage; and Skirmishers, such as Yasuo, Riven, and Fiora, that often have more limited or situational mobility in exchange for situational defensive tools and high sustained damage to cut down foes of any class. There are currently 18 true Slayer champions, but any champion that can kill a target quickly and safely is sometimes categorized as one as well.[28]
  • Tank: Champions who are especially hard to kill and soak up damage for their team. In exchange, they usually deal less damage, relying on their innate toughness and crowd control abilities to win fights. Tanks are divided into two main subgroups based on their goal - Wardens such as Tahm Kench, Poppy, and Braum prefer to protect and shield their allies from danger, while Vanguards such as Malphite, Sejuani, and Zac have more high-impact engage options to force a fight with enemies, and generally have crowd control that can affect multiple enemies at once. The line between Vanguards and Wardens is not as distinct as with other classes, as a tank's ultimate goal is to protect their team and deter the enemy regardless of which subgroup they belong to. There are currently 22 true Tank champions, although some Fighters and Controllers can opt into tank items and embody the class if necessary.[30]
  • Fighter: Champions that blend the attributes of a damage dealer and tank, combining moderate survivability with damage, but never really outperforming either in each respective category. There are currently two types of fighters - Juggernauts, such as Darius, Illaoi, and Garen, who have much more extreme melee durability and damage but limited to no range, mobility, or crowd control, and Divers, Fighters that excel at singling out a target and forcing a fight with them thanks to their potent mobility and damage, although they are not as durable to compensate. There are currently 27 Fighters, but many champions with sustained damage like Battle Mages and some Tanks can be classified as a Fighter as well.[28]
  • Controller: Champions whose spells allow them to protect allies and hinder enemies, generally referred to as defensive casters as opposed to their counterparts Mages, offensive casters. Controllers are not expected to be meaningful damage threats (although they can be) but instead offer unique tools to their allies to succeed while utilizing powerful crowd control on enemies from range. Controllers are divided into two main groups - Enchanters, such as Lulu, Bard, and Soraka, that are much more defensive by nature and focus on amplifying their allies through heals, shields, and buffs to protect and enhance their combat skills, and Disruptors such as Zyra, Anivia, and Taliyah that forgo traditional defensive buffs for more spell-based damage and crowd control. Disruptors share such glaring similarities with Mages that they are almost universally treated as such, but their greater emphasis on disruption rather than raw damage differentiates them. Disruptors generally excel more at enabling kills than taking them. There are currently 16 classified Controllers, although many of which bleed into other classes, such as the Mages and Wardens.[30]

There are currently 7 champions (Cho'Gath, Fiddlesticks, Singed, Urgot, Kennen, Gnar, and Blitzcrank) that do not necessarily fit into any class thanks to their unique playstyles, although each displays characteristics of some classes more than others.[30] Fiddlesticks, for example, is a sentient scarecrow whose spells often require him to stand still and ambush enemies, which creates unique gameplay patterns for him that is entirely separate from other damage-dealing classes. Gnar is a small prehistoric creature that fights with a boomerang from afar like a Marksman, but can transform into Mega Gnar, an enormous beast with powerful melee damage and crowd control - a mix of a Vanguard and a Juggernaut.

Champion classes generally determine what part of the map the champion gravitates towards during the game - this is referred to as their 'role'. A Marksman usually goes to the bottom lane with a Controller or Tank, called the support, that can help protect them from harm in the early levels as they accrue gold and experience from killing minions. The support is also expected to buy 'wards', which provide vision in an area around them, so that allies are not ambushed as easily and can see greater portions of the map - the support is also expected to destroy enemy wards. A Mage, Disruptor, or Assassin usually goes to the middle lane, which is the shortest and most centralized lane and thus usually the most dynamic - 'mid lane champions' usually end up being the ones with the most kills and exert a large amount of influence over the course of the game. The top lane is more isolated from the rest of the map, and so a Tank or Fighter usually goes top, since they are the most self-sufficient and can adapt to a variety of situations. This has led top lane to be colloquially referred to by players as an 'island'. The role of a top laner is usually to 'push' a lane by quickly advancing down it with their minions, and not pay as much attention to their other 4 allies, although this is not always so. Between each lane is the jungle, home to an array of fearsome monsters that are hard to take down, especially in the early game. Each team has a 'jungler' champion that does not go to a lane and instead heads to the jungle; these champions usually have ways to heal or shield themselves so that they can fight multiple monsters in succession, or any other effective ways to 'clear' monster camps effectively. The jungler's job is to 'secure' objectives and make sure their team reaps the rewards of powerful monsters such as the elemental drakes and Baron Nashor. The jungler will occasionally visit a lane and attempt to gank the enemy laner, working with their teammate to bring down the laner in a 1v2 scenario. The jungler is not constrained to any particular class, although as a rule of thumb Mages, Controllers, and Marksman are poor junglers, with other classes being able to achieve at least some level of success, although there are exceptions (for example, Fiddlesticks is a staple jungle pick). The success of a jungler is usually determined by whether they can clear the jungle efficiently and how potent their ganks are. The jungler is widely regarded as the most important role, alongside the ADC, for their importance in taking down objectives.[31]

Special game modes

Riot Games, starting in 2013, has released a number of special limited-time game modes. These special modes would usually be accessible for two weeks, then retired. In 2016, Riot announced that "Rotating Games Mode" would be a recurring event, so that every weekend a previously released game mode would be made accessible again for that weekend.[32] The current game modes in the rotation are as follows:

  • Ascension, a 5v5 mode in which champions do battle on a modified Crystal Scar. In the middle resides the champion Xerath (a malevolent and powerful mage), who can be killed to temporarily 'Ascend' the killer, granting them increased size and stats. Teams score points by 'Ascending' their champions, scoring kills, and collecting Relics. The first team to 200 points wins.
  • Hexakill, a 6v6 mode on the Twisted Treeline. Because the Twisted Treeline is normally a 3v3 mode, the doubled number of champions adds a fast-paced and chaotic feel.
  • One For All, a 5v5 mode on the Summoner's Rift where each team can only pick one champion, e.g. all members of the same team must play the same champion. This leads to unique and fast-paced gameplay that cannot be replicated elsewhere, as having one champion synergize with 4 other versions of itself can often produce bizarre and overpowered results. Otherwise, all rules of the normal 5v5 Summoner's Rift mode still apply.
  • Nemesis Draft, a 5v5 mode on the Summoner's Rift in which the two teams pick their opponent's champions. This often leads to unconventional and ineffective team compositions that must work together to succeed. Otherwise, all rules of the normal 5v5 Summoner's Rift mode still apply.
  • Nexus Siege, a 5v5 mode on the Summoner's Rift, which has been cut in half at the river (only one base is open to attack). Each team takes turns defending and attacking the base, with the team that destroys the Nexus the quickest emerging victorious. Depending on whether one is defending or attacking, the team gains access to powerful siege weapons and tower upgrades that can turn the tide of battle, unique only to this mode.
  • Legend of the Poro King, a 5v5 mode on the Howling Abyss. Unlike ARAM, players are allowed to select their champions, but are limited to two summoner spells: Poro Toss and To the King! Poro Toss allows the champion to throw a small arctic creature called a poro in a line, dealing damage to the first character struck. Once a team has successfully landed 10 Poros against the enemy team, they summon the Poro King, a massive creature that will help them push down the lane. The Poro King has his own abilities and can be fed a variety of Poro-Snax to grant him new ones. Otherwise, the goal remains to destroy the enemy's Nexus.
  • Doom Bots of Doom, a mode on the Summoner's Rift. Five players play against five CPU opponents, which play as greatly enhanced versions of certain champions. The CPUs' champions' abilities are greatly enhanced and are much harder to play around and against, making this mode a challenge even to skilled players. After 15 minutes, 'The Evil Overlord of the Doom Bots' (an enormous Teemo, a champion jokingly referred to as Satan due to his frustrating abilities, dressed as a devil) spawns and will make a last effort to destroy the team's base. If they manage to survive the Doom Bots and their Overlord, then the team wins.
  • Hunt of the Blood Moon a 5v5 mode on the Summoner's Rift. Players are limited in their champion choice to 20 Slayer and Fighter-type champions. Players start at level 3 and gains increased experience and gold over time, at a greater rate than normal modes. Champions additionally gain a variety of bonuses to encourage combat, such as increased movement speed and lower cooldowns on their ultimates and summoner spells, and can only buy offensive items. Minions do not spawn and turrets will periodically disappear to encourage frequent combat. Champions gain points by killing champions and Spirits of the Blood Moon, that roam the enemy jungle. Demon Heralds will additionally periodically spawn that grant a large number of points. If a champion scores three kills in a row, they gain a special buff that heals them, renders them invisible, and grants them bonus true damage on their next attack. The first team to 350 points wins.

Special game modes not seen in the rotation include Black Market Brawlers (a 5v5 mode on the Summoner's Rift with unique items and special minions) and Definitely Not Dominion (a temporary return of the Dominion mode on the Crystal Scar).

The Ultra Rapid Fire (URF) mode was originally a 2014 April Fools' Day prank that proved so popular it became a proper rotating game mode; in URF, champion abilities have no resource cost and have their cooldowns reduced by 80%, double the normal cap of 40% that can be attained through items. Additionally, champions have increased movement speed, faster passive gold gain, and increased attack speed.[33][34] Because some champions are naturally much more powerful in this mode because of how their kit works, this mode is not seen as much because it is difficult to balance.

Business model

League of Legends is funded through microtransactions using Riot Points (RP), an in-game currency which can be purchased by players in the client store. RP can be used to purchase champions, champion skins, ward skins, summoner icons, and certain multi-game boosts. Alternatively, players earn Influence Points (IP), a secondary currency, by playing matches. IP may be used to purchase all in-game items besides skins, which cosmetically alter the appearance of champions. Conversely, RP may be used to buy all in-game items besides Runes, which provide boosts to the power of champions in matches, and may only be purchased using IP. Runes can only be purchased by IP, but more "pages" that the runes are placed on (in order for runes to take effect in-game) can be bought through both IP and RP. League of Legends is free-to-play and all in-game purchases with a material effect on game-play may be acquired by continually playing the game.

Setting and lore

League of Legends takes place in the fictional world of Runeterra. In Runeterra, the champions of League of Legends are a collection of heroes and villains who have a variety of backstories, often related to the political struggles of the various countries of the main continent of Valoran. Additionally, some champions are extraplanar and come from worlds other than Runeterra, but are visiting for their own purposes. These champions sometimes clash with each other, roughly reflected in the gameplay of League of Legends.

The setting has gone through two phases: the 'original' setting that was canon from 2009-2014, and the rebooted setting from 2014–present.[35] The original setting was very focused on justifying the exact mechanics of a game of League in the world of Runeterra. The MOBA predecessor to League, Defense of the Ancients, featured two warring sides with two separate hero rosters; however, in League, any combination of champions was legal to create a team. To explain this, in the original setting, Valoran was functionally ruled by extremely powerful time mages who could intimidate the other nations into compliance with their whims. They created the "Institute of War", also known as the "League of Legends", to resolve disputes and act as something like an international sports league. In these disputes, "Summoners" (aka the game player) could control any of Runeterra's greatest heroes or villains in their struggles, thus justifying why a team of 5 characters who all hated each other might form. Additionally, these time mages would actually power-down the characters to "level 1" before each match to make things 'fair'; some character's backstories even involved them explicitly having their powers sealed by the Institute of War due to them being too powerful otherwise, such as the demigoddesses Kayle and Morgana. This explained why characters might participate in multiple matches and have to relearn the same skills each time. After a match, a "Judgment" would sometimes be handed down, with the winning Summoners able to give land and privileges to those they favored.

The narrative team at Riot eventually decided this setup was too constraining, and "rebooted" the story behind League of Legends in 2014.[36] In essence, the original story put too much emphasis on the faceless player stand-in Summoners and the Time Mages of the Institute; "the very idea of all-powerful Summoners made Champions little more than puppets manipulated by godlike powers."[35] Any interesting champions the Narrative team created were rendered as secondary, mere servants to the Summoners, unable to influence their own destiny. Many champion's lore did not give them reason to join the Institute, such as serial killer fire spirit Brand or void monster Rek'Sai. Riot wished to let champions take the center stage and have stories of their own, pursuing their own unique goals. For example, Riot has since released a plotline about a lost empire in the Shurima desert[37] and a plotline about a clash between the pirate Gangplank and the pirate-hunter Miss Fortune in the city of Bilgewater,[38] both of which were driven by the champions of League of Legends, not Summoners. Riot compared this style of narrative to comic book characters and classic literature, where interesting characters can have many adventures over time and not necessarily have all of them make sense in the same continuity.[35] A side effect of this is "that the game and story aren’t one-to-one copies of each other."[35]

The world of Runeterra consists of a number of countries and city-states, locked in a web of rivalry, alliance, and conflict.[39] The two largest and most powerful entities are the states of Demacia and Noxus, who have fought wars in the past, and are in a Cold War-esque state currently, with each seeking to quietly undermine the other. Demacian champions tend to value themes like chivalry and honor, while Noxus prides itself more on trickery, strategy, and ruthlessness.[40][41] Piltover and Zaun are a city-state at the forefront of technology; Piltover, the "respectable" half of the city, has a "steampunk" style, while Zaun, the neglected undercity of Piltover, is a darker vision of the power of technology, engaging in ethically questionable research.[42] The Freljord is an icy domain riven by a three-way civil war between rival claimant Queens Ashe, Sejuani, and Lissandra.[43] Bandle City is a peaceful domain of yordles, a race of small humanoids unique to League of Legends. Ionia is an island nation with a number of themes, including music, monks, and ninjas.[44] Bilgewater is a port town with a pirate theme. The Shadow Isles are an island chain that was magically corrupted, and have become haunted by a malign force known as the "Black Mist" which leeches life and empowers the undead.[45] Targon is an ancient mountain peak with Greek mythology theme. Shurima is a fallen empire lost to the desert with a somewhat Egyptian theme.[46] Icathia is another fallen and abandoned city where Void monsters from another dimension have crossed into Runeterra, with a Lovecraftian theme.[47]

Of the current maps, Summoner's Rift is set at the Institute of War from the 'original' League storyline; the Twisted Treeline is set in the Shadow Isles;[48] and the Howling Abyss map is set in the Frejlord.[20]


The game's developer Riot Games was co-founded by Brandon "Ryze" Beck and Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill, who were roommates while they attended the University of Southern California. 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.[49]

The original inspiration for "DotA" was a 1998 mod for StarCraft created by community member Aeon64 called "Aeon of Strife".[50] After the release of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its subsequent World Editor in 2002, DotA was created by another modder, Eul. He ported and expanded the "Aeon of Strife" mod to the new engine and named it "Defense of the Ancients". Guinsoo later made DotA Allstars by inserting his own mix of content to "DotA", greatly expanding the number of heroes, added recipes and items, and introduced various gameplay changes. Guinsoo then passed the mod to IceFrog after accepting a job at the newly formed Riot Games.[51]

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."[52]

Riot Games officially opened its office in September 2006, and, as of 2013, has over 1,000 people working on League of Legends.[53] 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.[54][55]


League of Legends was released on October 27, 2009.[56] 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,[57] and South Korea. No public announcements regarding other regions have been made.

The game is distributed in China by Tencent Inc., the largest Internet value-added services company in China best known for its QQ Instant Messaging client. The game has been distributed 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.

On July 14, 2009, Riot Games announced that League of Legends will be free with "no catch".[58][59] 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.[60][61] 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."[62]

In Europe, Riot Games initially signed an international licensing partnership with GOA, the video games 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.[63] This partnership did not last; on May 10, 2010, Riot Games announced that they would take over distribution and operation of the game in Europe.[64] To do so, Riot Games established a European HQ in Dublin.[65]

On July 16, 2010, Riot Games announced that Garena would publish the game in Southeast Asia.[66] 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. The game has since been distributed by Garena in Taiwan as well.[67]

In March 2013, Riot Games released a beta version of an OS X client in addition to their Windows client.[68] The Mac client was since moved out of beta and OS X / macOs players have had full access to League.

Riot has since expanded to many countries, after the initial North America / Europe / Korea / Garena's Southeast Asia launch. In 2012, a Brazilian and Turkish server were added; in 2013, Latin American & Russian servers; and a beta of a Japanese server was launched in 2016.[69][70][71][72]


Popular reception

In a release published in November 2011, Riot Games stated that League of Legends had accumulated 32.5 million players, 11.5 million of whom play monthly, of which 4.2 million play daily.[73] Riot said 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.[74] Global concurrent users online peaked at over 5 million players as of March 2013.[72][75]

By March 2012, League of Legends had become the #1 title in Korean PC cafés.[76][77] League continues to be popular in Korea; it remained the #1 game until the middle of 2016, when Overwatch displaced it, and is still the #2 game (disclaimer: these numbers do not include home playership rates).[78][79] 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.[3] 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).[80] 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.[81]

Critical reception

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 78.72%[82]
Metacritic 78%[83]
Review scores
Publication Score A-[84]
AllGame 3.5/5 stars[85]
Eurogamer 8/10 stars[86]
Game Revolution B+[87]
GameSpy 4/5 stars[88]
GameZone 4.5/5 stars[89]
IGN 9.2/10[90]
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.[83]

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.[91]

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 an example of excellence", praising the variety of champions, rewarding progression systems, and fast but intensely strategic team play.[90]

As compared to fellow MOBA games Heroes of Newerth and Dota 2, Mike Minotti of VentureBeat considered League of Legends as the easiest to learn and to have fastest gameplay pace of the three, while the other two feature more complex gameplay mechanics and are considered closer in style to the original DoTA All-Stars.[92][93]

In 2015, the game placed 15th on USgamer's The 15 Best Games Since 2000 list.[94]

Awards and nominations

Date Awards Category Result
December 14, 2009 IGN PC Best Strategy Game 2009 Readers' Choice Winner[95]
December 21, 2009 GameSpy Gamers' Choice Awards 2009 PC Gamers' Choice Winner[96]
October 8, 2010 1st Game Developers Online Choice Awards Best Online Technology, Visual Arts, Game Design, New Online Game, Audience Award Winner[97]
October 29, 2010 Golden Joystick Award Online Game of the Year Winner[98]
October 21, 2011 Golden Joystick Award Best Free-to-Play Game Winner[99]
December 3, 2015 The Game Award eSports Game of the Year Award Nominated[100]

Professional competition

A League of Legends show match at Gamescom 2014

League of Legends is one of the largest eSports, with various annual tournaments taking place worldwide.[101] In terms of eSports professional gaming as of June 2016 2016, League of Legends has had $29,203,916 USD in prize money, 4,083 Players, and 1,718 tournaments, compared to Dota 2's $64,397,286 USD of prize money, 1,495 players, and 613 tournaments.[102]


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External links