League of Legends for Dummies - A Guide: Part 1

LoL: An Introduction

So you want to play League of Legends. You’ll find countless guides on forums, websites and videos breaking down complex parts of the game, but there are very few guides covering the basics of the game. 

What the heck is MIA? What is a nexus, and why do I need to blow it up? That’s where Ge’NeL comes in. We’re giving you all the basic information you need to know to have a great first game of LoL, and everything we wish we’d known in our first game. 

What is League of Legends? LoL is a free-to-play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (F2P MOBA). What does that mean? In most MOBAs, you get to pick from a huge list of characters, and LoL is no exception. With 139 champions available on the current roster, there is something out there for everyone (and we’ve got skins if you want to be pretty, or scary). 

The whole idea is that you’re constantly fighting the enemy team in an all-out brawl to blow up their shiny crystal before they can blow up yours. There are little girls dealing big damage, tons of swords and guns, killing dragons, blowing stuff up and saving teammates from walking into certain death. If any of that sounds interesting, stay with us. There’s a lot to learn, but you’ll be causing carnage on the Fields of Justice before you know it!

Getting Started

You’ll need to download and install the game before we can do anything. Head over to the League of Legends site  to create your account and download the game. Get through set-up and install, then patch. It might take a while — remember, more than 130 champions — but it’s worth it.

While you patch, think of your summoner name. This is the name that is going to be seen by everyone you play with and against. You can change it, but name changes don’t come cheap, so pick one you really like up front. Once you’ve chosen, there goes that “ding!” you will come to know and love.

Now you’re probably looking at something like this:


The tutorial has some great moments. You’ll play as Ashe, a long-standing marksman on the League of Legends roster. The game shows you how to level up an ability, what minions are, what all the structures are and other key features.

However, the tutorial has its issues as well. In the screenshot below, you can see I am barely missing any health, but the game will force you to use the summoner spell “Heal” to advance. Heal, and most other summoner spells, are there to save you from death as opposed to just topping your health off. Summoner spells have long cooldowns and are always important, so make sure you are only using them when you really need them.


The other cringe-worthy aspect of the tutorial is the set of items the game has you build for Ashe. All champions in the game have abilities, and different factors contribute to those abilities’ power. Ashe is an Attack Damage Carry (ADC) which means she scales off of Attack Damage, or AD. The tutorial has you build a tank item called Thornmail, which is an item you would almost never actually use on Ashe. 

Despite its flaws, the tutorial is worth playing and will help clarify and reinforce some of the points listed in this guide.

I recommend everyone new to League of Legends play through battle training. It starts you off in champion select, which is where you begin every game of League of Legends. This is where you pick your champion, skins, summoner spells (as you unlock them) and runes (once you reach Level 8). 

Once you’re done looking around champion select, you can load into the game. There, it shows you the map, reminds you to buy items, reminds you not to just walk up to turrets and a host of other valuable tips. Sure, as a veteran player who knows the limits of their champion, the constant pop-ups and game pauses can get annoying, but I know how helpful this version of the tutorial would have been when I started playing.


Now, pick your favorite pretty picture and let’s really get started!

Terms to Know:

  • MOBA - Multiplayer online battle arena

  • META - The commonly accepted play style / team composition at the time

  • MIA - Missing in action / missing

  • ARAM- All Random All Middle

  • Ult - Ultimate ability (Default R)

  • CC - Crowd control; stuns, silences, slows

  • Soft CC - Crowd controls that do not completely stop control from their player (slows, roots, silences)

  • Hard CC - Crowd controls that completely stop player control (stuns, fears, suppression)

  • Hard Despawn - When a minion or monster despawns or goes away despite being in combat

  • DoT - Damage Over Time

  • TP/Tele - Teleport

  • OP - Overpowered

  • Jg - Jungle or Jungler

  • APC - Ability Power Carry

  • ADC - Attack Damage Carry

  • FF - Surrender (Forfeit)

  • B - Base or basing (ex. “I’m b” or “They’re b”)

  • KS - Kill steal; most often used when a support gets a kill instead of a carry

  • Rep - Report; done in post game screen

  • Feed/Feeding - To die a lot to the enemy team, intentionally or otherwise (ex. “Stop feeding!”)

  • Int/Inting - Intentional feeding; intentionally dying to the enemy team to make them stronger

  • Tilt/Tilting - Getting mad or upset and allowing it to affect your gameplay negatively (ex. “Don’t Tilt!”)

  • Clown Fiesta - A term used when a game has completely gone off the rails and crazy things are happening. Usually one team is significantly ahead of the other or both teams are making a large number of mistakes.

  • GL HF - Good luck, have fun!

  • GG WP - Good game, well played!

Out of Game


As you level up your account, you’ll unlock new game modes and maps. 

The majority of LoL is played on Summoner’s Rift. It’s the lovely 5v5 map you were on during Battle Training. Summoner’s Rift is the map that professional LoL is played on as well, so if you’ve got dreams of playing on the big stage, you’re going to be seeing a lot of green, and this guide will help you manage it. 

There are four modes for Summoner’s Rift. Blind Pick is where you do not know what the enemy team will be playing and you might be playing against people playing the same champions as you. Draft Pick is what a lot of people use to practice for ranked play. You will be able to pick champions you do not want to play against in the “Banning” phase. Then the selection of champions alternates back and forth between the two teams. You know what you’re playing against, so you have more time to plan and pick champions that counter the enemy team. Ranked Solo/Duo is the next level up of competition that you unlock at Level 30.

You gain league points (LP) based on winning and losing, and you can play with one other person. Ranked Flex is just like Ranked Solo/Duo except that you can queue up with as many people as you would like.

ARAM is on the Howling Abyss map and only has a single lane. It is centered around fighting and pushing the enemy structures. You can not pick your champion in ARAM, but it’s a great way to test out new champions and see if you enjoy them!

Twisted Treeline is a 3v3 map. The game is similar to that on Summoner’s Rift but there are less structures and the map is scaled down. There is ranked play for Twisted Treeline, as well.

Out of Game; Into Game

Runes are selected out of game but provide you in-game effects. 

There are five rune trees: Inspiration, Sorcery, Precision, Domination, and Resolve. Until you reach Level 8, you won’t be able to change your runes or personally select your pages. The game will select the best rune page for you based on your champion. After Level 8, you’ll be able to personalize your runes to your champion and playstyle. I recommend looking at op.gg for specific champion rune pages.

Summoner Spells are also selected out of game, but give you two in-game abilities. There are nine summoner spells available in Summoner’s Rift:  Ghost, Heal, Barrier (unlocked at Level 4), Exhaust (4), Flash (7), Teleport (7), Ignite (9), Smite (9), and Cleanse (9).


Stay in Your Lane. Literally!

There are 139 champions as of Jan. 1. Inevitably, there will be someone in that huge and ever-growing roster you will enjoy playing. There are five roles in League of Legends that, for the most part, need to be filled every game. These are Support, Marksman (MM), Top, Middle (Mid) and Jungle (JG). These roles take different types of champions, and despite the fact that each and every champion in League of Legends is different, they each fit into some categories. 

There are three lanes in LoL: Top, Middle, and Bottom. The lanes each have turrets running down them and are where the players will spend the majority of their game. Marksman and support both go bottom lane, while middle and top lane each have one person. Minions spawn and run down each lane, clashing with each other as they meet.

These categories include Utility, Marksmen, Tanks, Mages, Assassins and Bruisers. A lot of champions have two categories they fall into, such as a utility tank or a utility mage. Utility speaks to the ability a champion has to help their team through means other than damage. This can be done with shielding, healing or crowd control. Utility champions are often played in the support role. Marksmen’s main source of damage is usually auto-attacking and attack damage. They are generally played in the Marksman role, but can be used in other roles depending on skill and team composition. Tanks’ main goal in the game is to soak up as much damage as they can for their team. Tanks often have a lot of crowd control, but their main stats are health and their resistances. They can be played in any role aside from marksman. Mages are probably what you think of when you think of a witch or wizard, and you’re right! They usually gain power from ability power, and do their main damage through spells. They are often played middle or support. Assassins lurk around, waiting for their moment to strike. There are both AD and AP assassins, and they can be played top, middle or jungle. Bruisers are tankier damage dealers. Their strength comes in having more resistance and damage combined than their enemies. Bruisers are often played top and jungle. 

Gimme, Gimme

There are two types of currency in LoL: Blue Essence (BE) and Riot Points (RP). Blue Essence is earned by leveling up, disenchanting champion shards you don’t want and completing missions. BE is what you buy champions with, because you don’t start the game with any. Riot Points are acquired with real money. They can be used to buy champions if you just can’t wait to grind out the BE, or they can be used on in-game cosmetics. Keep in mind, buying an experience boost with RP will only boost the leveling of your account, not your leveling in-game. 

In our next installment, we will talk strategy and in-game play. Stay tuned!

Was this guide helpful? Did we miss something? Let us know on our Ge'NeL fan page or by tweeting us at @genelmag!