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The best free resources for learning League of Legends

The best free resources for learning League of Legends

| April 9, 2014

League of Legends may be Asia’s most popular game, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to pick up and play. Especially for those who haven’t played MOBA games before, League of Legends can be quite confusing at first, and the community doesn’t tend to be particularly friendly to clueless noobies, so if you want to play, you’ll need to learn how.

I wrote a review of the Summoner School a few months ago, but that costs money. League of Legends is a free-to-play game, so why shouldn’t your learning materials be free, too?

In this post, I’ve collected some of the most useful free resources for learning and improving at League of Legends. We’ve got our favorite picks below, and then a list of additional resources at the bottom of the page.

Best of the Best

The absolute basics

The League of Legends game itself will run you through a couple basic tutorials before you can play a real game, but you may find it helpful to watch a video or two before you even start that to get some of the basics down. This video from the folks at IGN is a little slow to get going, but it’ll give you a great idea of the basics of the game.

Of course, the League of Legends scene is also full of jargon, and that can be difficult to follow. Thankfully the League of Legends wiki has a very thorough, easily searchable glossary.

Building your knowledge and skills

There are tons of resources out there to help you improve, but I think the best single thing you could do would be to watch the unswlolsec video lecture series. These videos are long, and they can be a little dry, but they are clear, and watching even one of them will likely help you improve your game. Here’s a list with a link to each video for your convenience.

  1. Basic Mechanics (Part 1)
  2. Basic Mechanics (Part 2)
  3. Teamfighting
  4. The Silver League
  5. Losing Games
  6. The Jungle
  7. Advanced Mechanics ADC Support
  8. Top Lane
  9. Mid Lane
  10. Support
  11. Solo Queue
  12. Comebacks and Carrying
  13. Ending Games (Part 1)
  14. Ending Games (Part 2)
  15. Venture Beyond Gold

As you’re looking to improve, you’ll probably often have specific questions you want to ask. The Summoner School subreddit on Reddit is the best place for this, as it is populated by lots of helpful people. There are also frequently Platinum- and Diamond-level players there who are willing to offer free mentoring, coaching, game critiques, and other similar services.

Learning specific champions and item builds

There are a ton of guide sites out there, but the best bet is Go there, find a popular guide for the champion you want to play (ideally one written by a respected pro player) and read it thoroughly. There are dozens for every champion so even if you want to try a non-meta pick, you can probably find a guide for it there.

If you want to learn more about champion synergies and good counter-picks for particular champions, is very helpful in breaking down who a champion is strong against, weak against, and works best with.

For the most up-to-date information on champion builds, you can check out Pro Builds, which automatically tracks League of Legends pros. Pick your champion, and then look at the builds and build orders for pros who have recently won games playing that champion.

Knowing your enemies

It can often be helpful after a game, particularly a game that went poorly, to look up your opponents so you can study their build, runes, and masteries to try and see how they beat you. OP.GG is the best site out there for this right now. Unfortunately, although they have plans to support Garena’s SEA servers in the future, they don’t at the moment. So if you’re playing on Garena servers, you’ll want to use LoLQuickFind instead.

Additional free resources

The links above should be more than enough to set you on the path to summoner success, but if you still need more…

Do you know of other great free resources for League of Legends players? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add anything that’s good to this list!

  • Tom McInnerney

    Where’s the clearly superior Dota 2 content?

  • Games in Asia

    Tom is it really necessary to look down on the games other people play?

  • Billy Ray Papa

    Hahahahaha lol… I mean not the lol game…

  • Tom McInnerney

    When you have a game that pretends to be competitive while being pay-to-win, and those players migrate to a seriously competitive game of dota 2 and ruin ranked matches, then yes, it is.

  • Kim Flores Testa

    No, IT’S NOT necessary to look down on games of others.. Of course, League of Legends is based on the DoTA map idea but it’s not a copy..

  • Games in Asia

    Tom In what way is LoL “pay to win”? There is nothing in LoL that affects the gameplay in any way that requires money to purchase. The only things you have to pay for with money in the game are skins. Everything else can be paid for simply by playing the game, and in fact some of the most famous pros, including the current best player in the world, have spent exactly $0 on League of Legends.

  • Tom McInnerney

    Sure, you could grind for months on end to get those rune pages, or every champion, but how many pros honestly got everything they have without spending a single dime?

    Pay-to-win means there is an opportunity for those with disposable wealth to purchase in game mechanical benefits, no matter now insignificant, to increase their in-game mechanical prowess, no matter how insignificantly.

    That being said, buying everything in the game obviously does not make you pro, or necessarily better than anyone else, but it gives you a clear advantage. Such as owning more champions giving you the freedom of better choices and strategy.

    This has been covered many, many times before.

  • Kim Flores Testa

    There is no “Pay To Win” about it… Maybe he’s pointing about the champions that are yet to be unlocked that MAY cost either IP or RP… Eitherway, I’ll still call it a “Play-to-Win” environment rather than a “Pay-to-Win” one..

  • Games in Asia

    Additional rune pages and additional champions do not confer ANY in-game mechanical benefits, though. You start with two rune pages for free and they can be changed any time you want; the only reason to buy more is for the convenience of not needing to switch them up between games as often. As for champions, you can only play as one at a time, so owning all of them doesn’t really provide any kind of advantage. And given that every player will earn enough IP to buy a couple dozen champions and all the runes you’ll need before you hit level 30 and can play ranked games, I don’t think either of those things offers any advantage whatsoever.

    Yes, in theory, owning more champions might give you an advantage. But in practice, people only like to play and are only good at a small subset of the game’s champion pool, generally speaking, and they’ll easily have unlocked all the champions they want before they reach level 30 and ranked play is enabled. And because there are so many champions, there’s almost never a situation where only one champion will work and you don’t have him.

    Owning all the champions might confer some small tactical advantage if someone actually had godlike skills and could play every single one of them well. But anyone who’s that good would have spent more than enough time in the game to buy them all many times over with IP anyway.

  • Tom McInnerney

    The PC gaming community (especially the MOBA community, bar League of Legends fanatics, but sometimes them also) universally recognise LoL as a P2W game. Having access to more champions gives you an advantage, no matter how small.

    It gives the option for those with money to have an advantage over those without. This fact is indisputable.

  • Tom McInnerney

    I have the utmost respect for the top teams/players in LoL, I see they are skilled and it seems very balanced and high-level, but for everyone else, the ability to purchase things that give you an in-game benefit only allows those with the money able and willing to do so a slight advantage, always taking into account individual and team skill.

  • Kim Flores Testa

    *sigh* The opinion of this person… Hopefully, you’re a gamer not just a player… Should I say, ‘Welcome to the internet and gaming industry’? :v
    You seem to be a type of a person that plays with absolute pressure in-game instead of enjoying it and playing it well… Well, at any case, I just don’t like seeing anyone turning down a game which is liked by others and not by yourself. Just don’t kill the fun of others and you’ll be safe from flaming. Such a close-minded one.. -_-

  • Tom McInnerney

    I am anything but close-minded. I played LoL until level 18, where I found it didn’t quite ring the bells that HoN did for me at the time. And then I moved to Dota 2.

    I enjoy my games when I like to play unranked, I enjoy games that I play ranked, sometimes I don’t enjoy either. And that’s simply being honest, there’s always a time in competitive gaming that you will not enjoy, thankfully it doesn’t happen much.

    But it is always a challenge. And that’s the amazing thing about League/Dota/etc, is how competitive they are as an e-sport, especially at higher levels. But league’s lower-level balance is nothing compared to even HoN. It is proven as a Pay-To-Win game, which HoN became, eventually, in a similar way for free players.

    “Welcome to … the gaming industry”

    Dota 2 allows nothing of the sort of P2W. It is a completey free game, only allowing you to make micro-transactions, like you can in LoL for skins, but for Dota hero items, sets, and skins. None of these skins have stat bonuses, however, as LoL has what I know of very small benefits which are basically negligible, even in my view.

    I don’t wish to flame, that wasn’t the point of my argument in any way. It was simply to inform of the system LoL uses to generate it’s revenue, and it comes at a cost to the games competitive viability and respectability as an e-sport.

  • Games in Asia

    Tom Give me a break. The PC gaming community does not, and has never, “universally” agreed on ANYTHING. For example: I’m part of the PC gaming community, I am not an LoL fanatic, and I don’t agree with you at all. Calling LoL pay-to-win is absurd; paying players DON’T “have access to more champions” than other players. They just have the ability to unlock the same champions EVERYONE can access a bit faster.

    If you want to talk facts, show me data that says paying players perform better or win more in League of Legends than non-paying players. THAT would be indisputable evidence that LoL is “pay to win”. Anything short of that is just a theory. Does it make logical sense that being able to unlock champions faster might confer some tactical advantage? Maybe, although I don’t think many people who’ve actually played the game for an extended period of time would feel that way.

    But just because something makes logical sense doesn’t make it “an indisputable fact”. And I have seen nothing, in my experience as a player or in my research and contact with the companies in question as a journalist, that indicates players who pay more win more.

  • Tom McInnerney

    It is simple logic that if you can buy in-game benefits, you have an in-game benefit. Buying champions means you have access to them faster and easier than any non-playing player could ever have.

    Even if one champion is only available to those who pay, or is available to everyone, but those who pay get it quicker simply by having the wealth to support this practise, means the person who bought it has an advantage.

    It does not, and I repeat, it does not mean they will always beat someone without the champion, this is one of the first points I made (yet you failed to read this I see).

    But it gives them an unfair advantage, no matter how insignificant. Players are not on an equal playing field until they have the same benefits as each other.

  • Games in Asia

    That’s nonsense. Dota 2 has purchasable skins, right? So, logically, players who haven’t been playing for as long are less likely to be able to recognize enemy champions if they’re not using default skins. They may also have more trouble recognizing skin-specific ability animations/particle effects/etc. This gives paid players an advantage: they can use their skins to confuse less experienced players in this way; non-paying players cannot.

    Now obviously, anyone who has actually played Dota 2 knows that’s ludicrous. Sure, there might be some tiny theoretical advantage there. But it’s so insignificant that it is overridden by all the other factors that decide games, and thus it has no measurable impact on the final outcome.

    The same thing is true with what you’re saying about LoL. Is there, in theory, a difference that *could* give some players an unfair advantage? Sure. Is there *any* evidence that this difference actually affects the outcome of games in any way? If there is, you certainly haven’t presented any.

    I am quite capable of reading; at no point did I suggest you said that paying players “always” win. But if we’re going to say a game is “pay to win”, that means that one can “pay to win” at it, i.e. paid players will have a higher rate of success in the game than non-paying players. That is what pay to win means. So, if LoL is pay to win, then we should be able to see, statistically, that players who pay more win more. Otherwise, how could the game be “pay to win”? If paid players and non-paying players win and lose at the same rate, then the game cannot, by definition, be “pay to win”.

  • Tom McInnerney

    You misunderstand the definition of pay to win. It means having a paid advantage, not paying to win every game by default.

    LoL some skins give stats. Dota 2 they do not, and will not, ever. LoL rune pages help with better customisation. Mainly though, restricting access to champions is what makes it pay to win. Players can pay for a hero that no-one else can get without spending years grinding it. It’s like playing WoW and paying your guildmaster you give you the good loot. Essentially bribing for an in-game advantage. Those with more champions than others have strategic advantages if they paid for them. They still have the advantage if they didn’t pay and earn every single hero through 6 years of 14 hours a day League playing, but there are very few people in the world with that sort of dedication.

    Well, if they had statistics for that, it might actually prove players who buy champs win more. But again, pay-to-win is paid advantage, not paid wins. Please get your definitions right. What we would see, however, is that people who own more champions have a larger compendium of skills, they have more experience due to buying champions with real money (RP) and learning different play-styles, or some that suit their play-style better. Statistics may show those who purchase champs have better all-round average skill, whereas those who cannot, and can only play the 10 or so champs in 1 week (compared with someone who gets 100+ in 1 week), clearly has a mechanical disadvantage inherit in the game itself.

    You cannot argue that paying for in-game benefits does not give a player an advantage. Like I said, this is the third time to be exact, paying for in game benefits does not mean you have more skill. It just means you have a better technical advantage. This, you cannot fathom to contest.

  • Games in Asia

    Pay to win means one can pay to win more. It’s not difficult to understand, the meaning is right there in the words.

    But if paying in League of Legends offers an advantage, then paying players will win more. That’s the definition of what an advantage is—an edge that, all other things being equal, makes winning easier. If (once we account for other disparities like playtime and skill) paying players DON’T win more, then paying doesn’t offer an advantage, period.

    I don’t think there’s much need to even take the argument further than that unless you have evidence suggesting that paid players do win more, but for the record.

    There is no champion that takes “years” to grind for. The most expensive champions cost 6300 IP. If we assume a modest average of 3 games played per day, and at least one win per day, players will earn about 480 IP a day, meaning they can earn enough to buy even the most expensive champions with IP in less than two weeks. There is no hero that other players have to “spend years grinding to get”. The most expensive champions can be unlocked in less than two weeks even playing just 3 games per day. Most champions cost less than 6300 IP, of course, and so take even less time than that to unlock. Continued in next comment…

  • Tom McInnerney

    Meaning is not always literal. And pay “to” win, not “pay and you win”.

    Here’s an excerpt from a large reddit thread debating different F2P games:

    “I would argue that champions are indeed power. If you’re playing ranked having more champions to choose from is a huge help to your team. Perhaps you’re doing the bans and have first pick. There’s a champion that got through the banning stage that would work really well in your planned team composition, but unfortunately you don’t own it and it’s not currently in the free rotation so you have to settle for second best. Obviously there’s a lot more to it than that but you get the idea.
    Now on to the runes. The runes aren’t that terrible in my opinion but they’re still kind of ridiculous. The real problem is the rate at which you gain IP from playing. It’s unbelievably slow. Perhaps if you got the same amount of IP as your first win of the day it would be different, but that’s not the case. If you hit the IP cap per win every single game and won each one that’s still only 145 per win (168 for ranked). The vast majority of tier 3 runes are 410 IP which means it’s about 3 wins with the max IP you can earn from it. That means 3 hours of play time. Multiply that by 9 for each of the three types of runes and add 3000 more IP for quintessences and you get over 100 hours per rune page if you need all the runes.
    Now say you buy a boost to help mitigate that time sink. That boost will double the amount you’re getting from this scenario of winning games constantly for maximum IP potential. This makes it 50 hours and change to get a brand new rune page. That’s half the time needed! Nicely done with the convenience right? The problem is that it still takes more time than a lot of jrpgs to get one runes page. Also, by devoting this all to runes you wouldn’t be unlocking any more champions.
    Not only that but the way you buy RP for the boosts and the way the boosts are set up is nonsense as well. You have to buy RP in set amounts, none of which are the same amount as actually buying something in game. The boosts available are either per win or for a set amount of days. Perhaps you wanted to be cost efficient with your money and spend the least amount of time and money getting a new rune page. This would involve getting 650 RP for $5 and buying the 3 day IP boost since there’s no possible way to get enough IP in one day (or two for that matter). Now all you need to do is spend a few days doing pretty much nothing but playing League and winning each game. Does the problem seem a little more pronounced now?
    Maybe I expect too much from a F2P game. Maybe not. It’s up to other people to decide what they think about that.”

  • Tom McInnerney

    As an addendum to this, there have been several instances in tournament play where professional players have picked the wrong rune page or even had to play with no runes at all (due to a penalty) and still end up dominating their lame and the game.

    I think the main difference with that is that they’re competitive players. People who have played the game so extensively that skill and team comp are much bigger factors than the moderate bonuses that runes give you. On the other hand someone who isn’t even close to professional play in personal skill or matchmaking might get a much bigger boost from having the right runes. You do bring up a good point though. Runes aren’t essential to playing well, they merely help a bit.”

  • Games in Asia

    …now, since you keep talking about the advantage conferred by having more champions, let’s talk about that. Realistically, the only advantage this can really give you is that you may have an easier time counter-picking the champion your opponent picks. And if all of LoL’s 118 champions were truly unique and each only had one counter pick, that would indeed be a huge advantage.

    However, that’s not the case, and there are many champions with similar kits. As a result, pretty much every champion works very well with a variety of other champions, and is effectively countered by a variety of other champions. Check the counter-picks on, for example, for each champion there are generally at least 4 or 5 popular counters.

    That means that to have access to an effective counter for basically any champion your opponent might select, you don’t really need to own every champion in the game, you only need 1/4 to 1/5th of them, which works out to about thirty, or less. Now, there are ten champions free at any given time. Two more are free permanently if you do little stuff like “Like” the LoL Facebook page. There are 11 champions that cost so little you can earn enough to buy them in 3-4 games, and another 32 that are cheap enough to be easily attainable in a week, if not less than that. This means that within a month, any LoL player can have access to a stable of champions big enough to counter-pick almost any enemy champion, if that’s how they choose to spend their IP.

    Of course, most don’t choose to spend their IP that way, because counter-picking a champion doesn’t really confer an advantage unless (a) both players are otherwise equally skilled and (b) both players are equally comfortable playing the champions they’ve picked. That’s rarely the case; most players actively choose to focus on just a few champions and master them rather than trying to accrue a huge stable of champs to counter-pick opponents. A counter-pick isn’t an advantage unless you’re as good at playing that champion as you are playing the non-counter champion you might otherwise have picked.

    TL;DR, any advantage that paying players might have in being able to more easily make counter picks is negated WELL before they reach level 30 and can begin competitive play. Moreover, for the vast majority of players, counter-picks don’t confer any advantage ANYWAY because the fact that their champion counters another is offset by the fact that they aren’t as good with that champion as they are with others. The pro and challenger level is where being able to counter-pick really confers an advantage, but at that level everyone has access to every champion anyway, so whether or not they paid for them is irrelevant.

  • Games in Asia

    Oh, and with regard to your last point: LoL has a massive player base. It would be easy to find and adjust statistics that compared only players at the same skill level and with the same amount of playtime on their accounts but different levels of spending, and then determine based on their win rates whether spending actually conferred an advantage. I am aware spending doesn’t make you a better player, but statistics can be adjusted such that differences in skill level, playtime, etc. aren’t a factor. With a userbase the size of LoL’s, this would not be difficult.

  • Games in Asia

    In fact, there’s probably a simple way to resolve this: I’ll contact Riot (and maybe Garena and Tencent) and see if they have these statistics and are willing to share. I suspect they do, and that would pretty much put the matter to bed one way or the other.

  • Tom McInnerney

    I’ll get to counter-picking in a moment.

    Play-style. Play-style, play-style, play-style. Not having all the champs makes it impossible to know theres that one champ out there that would suit you better than all the other combined. It will take you a very, very long time (years was an exaggeration, but I’m sure for many people it is a reality) to grind the IP required to buy every, single hero. Each one.

    Counter-picking, again, without having access to every champion, it will never be possible to choose the ‘best’ champion in ‘any’ situation. Therefore, sometimes you will be left behind, like what the redditor said, you will have to go with “second best”.

    Second best is a very ugly word in high-competitive e-sports in the largest entertainment industry in the Western and Eastern world. It screams “disadvantage, sometimes loss”.

    All in all, new players are forced to (unless paying) use the cheap or free champions, and will stay in that state until they either pay or grind to level 30. A balanced game (a play-to-win game, which is what LoL in a sense is, but only half-baked) would allow even the newest of players to choose any champion they like regardless of skill cap, how OP he/she is, their personal skill, team skill, counter-picks, and whatnot.

    League does not in any way provide for new players wanting to get straight into the high competitive learning curve.

    We all know Riot has to make money, and we all know Valve doesn’t need to as much, with the incredibly popular Steam platform for PC game shopping and gaming, so I understand why they use this model, but it is very evident that new players will always be at a disadvantage – outside of their skill-level. Meaning even if they’re naturally brilliant at the game, they are left-behind due to not getting all the champions straight off the bat. They have to work for them, like an RPG, but an RPG that let’s you buy gear (champions, in a way (the way that metters)) in order to progress past other noobs.

  • Tom McInnerney

    That would be awesome, guys. I’d love to see those stats.

  • Tom McInnerney

    Well, I think I might have to check into the doctors now, my fingers are about to bleed. Nice chatting with you, I hope I didn’t get too emotive. :)

  • Andrei Udarbe

    season ! but who the is that at behind of nunu?


    Fancy giving us a spot on the list? We’re like a better ChampionSelect :)

  • Nizar Lasatan


  • Jaret Nikolai

    Lmao. A guy just had to argue with a website about a goddamned game. If ya don’t like the game don’t play it. If you want to be good at something, you practice. And that’s it. Either you’ll come out as skilled or talented, end of story. And if things don’t work out, then tough luck. That’s the limit of your abilities, try doing something else. GAMES ARE FOR FUCKING FUN. THAT’S IT. IF YOU DON’T ENJOY IT BUT OTHER PEOPLE ARE, DON’T RUIN IT FOR THEM YOU BAG OF DICKS.

  • Richmond Dejesus Seralvo

    madali lang

  • Alvin Mel Flores

    He wants a game that is totally for charity, and is like asking money from people on streets w/out return, LoL maybe have runes but you will also be matched with people with runes. Get over it <.<

  • Emmanuel Joseph Ellaga

    How about learn how to win Dota 2 with pinoy and russian teammates?

  • C. Custer

    @ChampionCounter: Ooh, I actually really do like your site better. Added!

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