League of Legends Guide
League of Legends 101 (Champion Roles)written by Vystic
Table of Contents
Now what I've outlined here is...how the roles should be played. You can get by by doing much less then this...it just won't hold up on a truly 'competitive' level. Also these are generalities here, not doctrine. Take the rules to heart, understand why they exist, but above all use your own judgment, common sense, before practicing them. I simply couldn't cover every exception to these guidelines so make sure it makes sense to follow them before doing so. The last thing I wanna do is start telling people how to live their lives.
I am not going to go into specific's here. If you want a guide on how to play a champion this isn't the right place for you. I'm focusing on general information applicable to everyone regardless of if they pick a LeBlanc or a Shen. These guides are meant for everyone who wants to confirm what they know, or hopefully learn something they haven't realized yet.
Roles(What are They?)
A role basically is a way to link similar champion responsibilities together so you can improve your metagame. The four roles of League of Legends are(in order of difficulty to play):
Off-Tank: responsible for not dying, disrupting the enemy team
True Tank: responsible for protecting the carries
Carry: responsible for doing the damage, 'carrying' the team as it is.
Support: responsible for doing whatever is needed as it is needed.
Why This Order
Off-Tanks: making a mistake as an off-tank isn't that bad as you will generally survive it. Simply put this role is the most forgiving for mistakes.
True Tanks: this is not an easy role, because you got to protect carries and they rarely make it easy for you, but it does belong here as your entire purpose is very well defined: stay in front of the carry, save their ass. Yes the execution of this is hard, but it's easier then everything below it. And don't get me started on your survivability...
Carries: Carries, when played right, not only have to combine their spells for maximum devastation but also have to get in position to focus the right targets(the team should be helping them) properly without dieing too soon(preferably at all). Considering how low their health and defense, with respective to the previous roles, will be...this isn't easy to be done 'right'.
Support: support champions are hardest, hands down, for the simple reason that...their purpose is the least defined and most complicated. It is the supports job to do everything they can to make everyone else on the team 'prosper'. This means they must know how to play Off-Tanks, True Tanks, and Carries. This means they have to be able, generally from just watching the minimap, see what everyone is doing, why they are doing it, if they need any help, and if you can provide help in time and to do so. This compounded upon their low health and low damage output makes for a very tricky role that's infinitely more complicated then just 'sitting back and letting their laning partner farm' as people think like to think it is.
*Disrupt the enemy as much as possible
*Do a decent, sustain amount of damage
Definition: This role is usually merged into the True Tank role as they are both roles with a lot of health. But they are in actuality very separate roles with completely different skill sets and responsibilities. To clarify they are your beefy damage dealers. Dr. Mundo is an Off-Tank. They are great at running around and being a general nuisance to the other team, using their health to survive when carries normally wouldn't. Their burst or sustained damage outputs are never 'carry' level but they are close, definitely the second most damaging role. The big 'job' this role has is in a team fight is to get as much 'damage' burned off on them as possible. You want them to focus you, this is why initiating with them, or directly behind a tank, is such a good idea. You can tell you're playing an off-tank when you're beefy(Lot's of health) with a solid method of healing(Dr. Mundo's ultimate, Vladimir's Q, etc.) or a bonus to armor and magic resist or maybe even a spell shield, your 'damage' related spells have a low enough cooldown that you can spam them, and you have a distinct lack of 'strong cc' to make you a True Tank. Off-Tanks love 'slows' but they rarely have anything else 'more disrupting'. This is why they, despite common perception, they cannot be a true tank. They can survive, they can initiate, they can disrupt, but they can't consistently protect anyone but themselves.
How to Not Die
Off-Tanks are never at a 'True Tank' level of survivability but they can take quiet a beating, and usually heal very quickly afterwords. In fact you have so much survivability that I dare say you should never die. A True Tank will sacrifice himself for the greater good, even the best carries and supports get focused down eventually but an Off-Tank? An Off-Tank doing his job won't die....usually(If they are focusing you 5 v 1 in a teamfight you'll die but I don't conciser that your fault so it's not being mentioned.) At the very least you should always have always have a positive K:D ratio. So...how do they do it? How do Off-Tanks not die?
Know how long you can stay in a fight while still being able to get away safely for starters. If you want to be technical here, approximately take into account everyone's damage and your effective health, offsetting your healing as necessary but the main point here is simply that when fights happen you should be perfectly aware of when it's time for you to GTFO.
Now he's the secret towards not dying, the secret that most people forget – actually GTFO. Breaking off when you can't take anymore is hard, everyone wants to keep going(that 'just one more' mentality) but show some self control and do so. If you have a healing factor find some creeps and regenerate so you can help mop up(or help people retreat). If you don't then stick around at a safe distance to help your carries mop up. Don't abandon your team but if they start chasing you it's time for you to get out(unless you can kill them obviously). When done properly you'll live with a few hundred hp(including Karthus pressing r) Mastering this is hard but definitely required on a competitive level.
Disruption: the most unappreciated thing you can do in this game
In teamfights it's your job to take as much damage as possible before GTFO'ing and living(as stated above) however it's also your job to, while taking this damage, cause as much confusion as possible for the enemy team. When being focused dart in, dart out, bait, switch, do a barrel roll, etc. If the teamfight begins and the enemies are separated this job is easy. Leave the closer group to the True Tank and act as a big scary barrier between the groups, keeping them from uniting. Either the surrounded group will die or you'll severely damage the second group before the teamfight ends. Either way this is a big advantage for your team.
If not you gotta get creative. I find the easiest way to do this is to at the start of the teamfight(in smaller ganks this becomes a bad idea quickly) rush their squishes(they like hanging out together usually) and chasing them around the map as they run from you(if the squishy is fed enough to 'not' be afraid of you then don't chase him). Even if you don't kill them(if they're good you won't) you'll separate them from their team for this teamfight, winning you a huge advantage because that carries significant damage is now not in the fight. But ultimately though it doesn't have to be the carry(keeping the true tank from being in the fight can be even worse in some situations). You want to split them up as much as possible and if you can't focus on cutting off their escape(before they escape, if the battle looks like it's going good) as much as possible. Divide and conquer.
Doing Sustained Damage
As an Off-Tank you should not have to worry about the costs for your abilities. You should only have to worry about the cooldown. It's okay to spam here. In fact it's not just okay it's encouraged but be intelligent with your spammage. Make sure to maximize your ability combos as much as possible. You hurt, make sure they know that.
Initiation will be covered in the True Tank section
*Protecting the Carrying Champion
*Protect the other Carries/Supports
*Protect the Off Tanks(Shouldn't ever really be needed)
Who to Protect and Why
As listed above protecting the carries is the number one job of a True Tank so let's go into it a bit. What I mean by this is not 'protect every champion who is a carry on your team'. No that'll spread you too thin. I mean 'protect the champion who is carrying currently on your team.' Now I'm sure some of you are wondering the difference. It's simple. Brand and Caitlyn are carries. If Brand is going 0/6/3 Brand is clearly not carrying your team currently. But on the other hand if Caitlyn is going 12/2/6, Caitlyn is clearly carrying your team currently. That's the difference. Under this situation your responsibility is to Caitlyn first and Brand second. Now I'm sure you're asking yourself 'how can I tell whose carrying on my team'. Luckily for you the answer to this issue is simple too. Press TAB, look at the scores. The person with the best K:D:A ratio is who is carrying currently(9 times out of 10), protect them. For the record that 1 time out of 10 is when a fed carry, usually do to their builds, is not doing damage. In this situation your first priority should be to the highest damage dealer and so on. Finally you might be wondering about what to do early game or if the scores/damage outputs are evenly matched. Protect them both equally then to the best of your ability. The primary carry of the team will soon show him/herself and then adjust accordingly. Final note: I am not saying you should only protect the champions carrying this game. I'm saying they should be first on your list. Help everyone else too as you can, but remember your duty is to keep that damage alive. Do so, at any cost.
Initiating and Teamfights
True Tanks, and Off-Tanks, account for most of the initiations you're going to see in LoL but how do you do it? Well it's actually not that hard. All an initiation is is you 'leading the charge' or 'devoting' your team to a fight. Firstly check everyone's positioning before running in(else your initiation will lead to a pointless death). Generally you want to make sure that they can be right behind you as you go in. Taking into account different movement speeds can be a lifesaver here. And then use your abilities properly. Ideally you want the first round of enemy burst to be focused on you, which you should be able to live though(otherwise don't initiate), and your team will be able to come in to do some significant damage before the second round of burst comes up. After that your job as an initiator is over, the fight has started.
During the teamfight don't focus the tanks(usually). Be aware that generally the team(or at least a random team) will focus the target you're attacking. This isn't necessarily a bad thing so go for the squishies or the deadliest champion you can. If somebody is fed on the enemy team, that's who you are, or at least your cc, aiming for. If not then the squishiest first as you are able. Do not be afraid to change targets as the enemy team moves around you if you have too. Don't let yourself chase and be separated from your team. Your goal right now isn't to do damage, but to be scary enough that they keep focusing you as long as possible, then to use your cc to help your team as much as possible, so your team can kill the targets. So get in there, be disruptive. Go booga booga booga but even now remember your first priority. Protect your carrying champion at all costs!
When it's Okay to Die
True Tanks die. It happens. That being said ignore the people who say “I'm a True Tank so it's okay that died anytime a fight happened.” Even True Tanks should try to minimize their deaths as much as possible. That being said it is your duty to sacrifice yourself if it can save pretty much anybody else on your team, especially the carrying champion. A good True Tank only dies when he chooses too and that should be rarely. Yes you can dive under a turret for a possible kill with one health bar and live 50% of the time, that doesn't make it a good idea, that doesn't make it right, that doesn't inflate your e-cock, that doesn't make you pro. It makes you needlessly reckless and needlessly reckless people, not matter how good intentioned, lose games.
Those pesky Off-Tanks
If you have a good Off-Tank on your team you should not have to worry about saving him throughout most of the game, he'll go and do his thing( and live) but this is in a perfect situation(or maybe a pro ranked team). Generally speaking sacrificing yourself to save him, if he isn't carrying, isn't worth it. So try and save him as much as possible when he's in trouble, but don't die for it...unless he's carrying.
*Balance out you're teams damage output with the other carries
*Maximize your damage
*Focus the right targets in order, depending on the situation
How to Balance your Damage
There are two main types of damage in this game: Magical damage and physical damage. Yes there is true damage but that isn't relevant to this discussion as it can't be countered. Ideally your entire teams damage output should be as close to a 50 50 split between these two as possible. Pro players do this calculation subconsciously almost in the champion select screen, using this as one of the main reasons to pick one champion over another. If you have a Leona, Vladimir, Singed, Leblanc, and Ryze as your team comp yes you do hurt a lot. Yes you even have a good amount of CC...but your enemies can just buy magic resist and nobody can hurt them(easily) anymore. This is not ideal so when picking a carry make sure to balance your total damage output with the other carries. If you want to be technical about this take into account that non-carries do less damage and effect the 'magicalness' and 'physicalness' of the team less although this isn't extremely more useful then just giving everyone the same value.
Certain champions excel at this balancing damage output over others. Teemo comes to mind. Teemo can be built as a magical carry(Shroom-tastic~!) or a physical carry(Auto-attack-centric~!) so you can even go so far as to adjust your build according to the enemies counter build(counter counter building). Note: this is only viable on a select few champions. If I see a Vladimir going physical damage citing this as the reason that person clearly didn't read the disclaimer. (>_<)
Your Damage Output and You
This is where your build is put to the test. Ideally as a carry you're going to have to balance quite a few things in order to get the optimal amount of damage out. In fact I'll probably make this into a completely separate guide later on but for right now I'm going to only cover some basic stuff. There are three 'quantities' towards your damage output. Damage quantities(attack damage, ability power, crit chance) directly translate into damage. These should always be your top priority for reasons discussed next. Then you have your Modification quantities(spell vamp, lifesteal, attack speed, cooldown reduction, crit damage, crit chance.) These stack upon your base damage, improving them. A good end game build uses these optimally but early on you need damage quantities to have something to 'build' upon for end game. If you just get attack speed, but do no damage, that's not going to help you much now is it? Finally we have your counter, or penetration, quantities(Magic penetration and armor penetration since dodge is all but removed.). These are used to 'counter' your enemies existing, or built, resistance to your damage. Usually it is best to get damage first while this on the side but exceptions exist. Example: the damage gained from a Brutalizer, usually by the time you could get it(~lv 7), is greater then the damage gained from a B.F. Sword.
What is this 'Focus' You Speak of?
Focus is attacking one champion over another due to their threat during a teamfight and is your main 'active' responsibility. It is your job to know who hurts on the enemy team(a quick 'whose fed' check on using the TAB key combined with your own experience should answer that) and kill them before they can actually hurt. If it's a squishy champion then usually your damage alone should be enough, if that champion is well defended(the enemy team is doing their job) or durable(that champion in particular is smart) then you're going to need to enlist your team to help you out here. If it's not widely known who to focus, tell your team who to focus. If it is known who to focus...focus that champion. That's the easy part of this step.
This is the hard part. Don't get too caught up in dealing with the 'priority target' that you lose sight on how the battle is going. Battles are dynamic not static. For instance if you're chasing a fed Vladimir whose already used his pool(why else would you chase him?) and the enemy team is retreating around you with no health the 'focus' has changed. Don't chase Vlad now, he's out of position and can't help his team, turn around, and help your team mop up. Yes this will probably allow Vlad to live but it'll also probably secure a few more kills on your team, and might even save a few lives. In the ensuing push you will have a nice advantage to dive him on. In short: remember that the focus target is always changing in a team-fight and keep on target with who it is. Pings are perfect for coordinating the change in targets if you're quick with them.
For information on not dying see what I explained for it under the Off-Tank role. The stakes higher and now you have significantly less survivability to work it under. Carrying is hard work bro.
This is the art of appearing 'vulnerable' to the enemy so they focus you, so you can turn around unexpectedly and kill them(It's exactly as hard as it sounds). The only difference is who is doing this killing. Kiting is when it's all you. Baiting is when you're luring them into your team and while I'm only covering this in the Carry section this is by no means exclusive to them. Giving the right opportunity every role can do this, it's just Carries will have more opportunity(Off-Tanks are a close second).
Ideally you want to be low health for this to work, but not so low as to make you one shotable(if this one shot is a skillshot that's slightly more acceptable). Know how much damage you can take from the team/champoin you're facing and don't have any less health then that(If it can be avoided.). The more comfortable you become with this, and the team you're doing this with, the less health you can have while doing it. Next make it a point to always stay 'just out of range' of the enemy champions. You don't want to go too far away as then they'll stop chasing, but if you stay too close they'll kill you(if they won't why aren't you just killing them now?). Ideally you want to be close enough they can 'just' damage you, only hurting you minimally but do what you can with whoever is chasing(sometimes this just isn't possible.) Then run them into your team, or begin the arduous task of picking them down slowly. If kiting be prepared for them to eventually wise up and leave(Usually they don't but be prepared for it.) If they do, if they're now low enough, and if you can catch up, turn around and finish them off. If not let them go. You should never let the kiter become the kitee. When don't properly this is as pro as it gets...when done properly.
How to do everything while not going insane
Support is the easiest champion to get away with playing badly(because their responsibilities are so vague) but the hardest to play properly(because their responsibilities are so vague). I would strongly recommend not playing a support champion in any competitive(ranked or tourney) setting until you have a deep understanding of the other roles. This is because it's your job to not only help your laning partner as much as humanly possible but also the other two lanes, and jungle, as much as possible. This is the most common misconception about Supports. You aren't just babysitting your lane, you're babysitting your entire team. You have to be able to tell, from your peripheral vision on the minimap(as you'll be busy keeping your carry alive. Yes that level of babysitting takes all your attention >_<) how the other lanes are doing, if they need help, if you can provide this help in time, and to do so if able. Supporting isn't easy bro.
Know your teammates
A good support knows who he is supporting. He knows who is really aggressive(and thusly in need of your supervision) and who is passive. In a random situation this obviously isn't possible but you should still be aware, if vaguely, on when certain champions are aggressive. You should know that most Vladimir's will be passive until lv 7 as their damage up until that point is horrid. You should know that Lee Sin jugglers love lv 2 ganks and will most likely start at a lane straddling their red. You should know the basic mentalities of the champions you're playing with and against and use this information to make your life easier(Example: if Vladimir is going to be passive until lv 7 then I can safely ignore mid after lv 2). If you don't then just watch everyone as much as possible and learn, learn fast.
Even then there are a few tricks for making this task even simplier. Watch the minimap and TAB screen as much as possible. That's 90% of the information you need to know. CS, and obviously score, tells you whose winning against who. The champions being beyond the 'midline' of the map means they're pushing an advantage. The longer they stay beyond this midline the stronger the advantage and the more likely the enemy jungler will come and gank. Sounds like something you can help with? Because it should.
Clairvoyance and you
Supports carry clairvoyance because without it doing their job becomes neigh impossible and after the last changes knowing how and when to use it is more important then ever. In general during the laning phase you want to use CV to watch the jungler and after the laning phase to finds people without face checking. Know where he's starting, where he is on his path, and for the love of god let your team know when he gets/loses any buffs or even appears to be coming for a gank. If you know where he is, he can't surprise anyone with a gank now can he? If you're perfect you'll never lose site of him, but you're not so what should you do if you do? CV the longestly held most aggressive position when it comes up next, letting your team know that he's mia immediately. Don't bother trying to find him until the buffs come back up. Remember the above section? This is half of what I'm talking about.
Now up until this point I've talked about using CV defensively but CV is an offensive spell too. You notice ezreal trying to aim his ult? CV. You notice a lane getting ready to dive but is a little 'unsure' of its safety? CV. People trying to juke through bushes? CV. Note: If the person is 'effectively dead' anyways it might not be best to waste CV on them. Don't be afraid to use CV as much as you think it'll help but on the other side of the coin make sure to save CV for when you're certain your team will need it. It's a delicate balance, you'll figure it out.
Letting your carry farm
Another nice thing that will assist you in your team babysitting is that most supports don't 'need' farm(gold per 5 items FTW) so they don't have to worry about last hitting. If your carry is certain to miss the creep take it, but otherwise just focus on monitoring your partner, watching the jungle, harassing the enemy champions as safely as possible, monitoring the other lanes(in this order).
The Main Reason for Watching Everyone
Most support champions can't really effect the other lanes, beyond a helpful CV, in case something goes wrong so I'm guessing you're wondering why I recommending every support watch these lanes so intently. Well if you're not Soraka(due to her ult obviously), or Blitz and Karma(they can rush to mid fast enough to help) then you're right, you won't be able to do much with the 'how the other lanes are doing' information...immediately. You see once the laning phase ends your job to your laning partner is over. It is time for him to leave the nest and be a big carry with the other players. However if another lane had done poorly during the laning phase you have to go back to babysitting mode and guard him as best as possible as you both(no more letting them get all the farm. You need it now too) have to farm up to get even with everyone else together. Knowing how shut down they are helps a lot here as you can plan around it and obviously two, or in worst case scenario's three, people farming together is safer and better then one person alone....assuming nobody has/gets a level disadvantage.
Coming to Grips with being Expendable
Supports are...expendable. It's okay for you to die. You shouldn't seek out death(see True Tank section) but you shouldn't be afraid of it. Provided you get your ultimate off, what happens next normally doesn't matter too much. If it comes between you dying and...anybody else dieing that's okay. Just make sure your sacrifice is necessary. I can't tell you how many Sona's have swapped 'death' with me as Vladimir just as my pool came off CD.
People say wards are the supports and junglers job only. People are wrong. Wards are everyone's job but supports generally are expected to buy the most. This isn't hating on support players and yes I know you don't get a lot of gold but you should always(except end game when your build is done) have 1 ward in your inventory and the rest across the map as needed. Why keep a ward in your inventory? That is for the precious seconds before a teamfight is initiated after it is inevitable to happen. Put the ward down in a very key position(usually a bottleneck or a bush the enemies will move through) without a ward and go to the fight. Now everyone can't be juked. One ward can literally win the teamfight for everyone. Don't worry about the standard 'placement' rules for this ward either. Teamfights can happen anywhere and this wards needed location can thusly be anywhere. Finally the reason this ward should be with you, opposed to anyone else, is because of the fact that your farm will be the lowest. This means that by end game you're the most likely person to have room for this ward. Until Riot gives us a ward slot in our inventory this is how the meta's gonna to be.