A noob’s guide to the League of Legends meta

So I’ve been playing League of Legends this past month and I’ve been having a really good time.  I played a lot of vs CPU games and it was fun but it got a little repetitive unless I was trying out a new champion so I ventured into PvP.  Uh-oh.  Among others one of the things I had to figure out was the “meta” of who plays where and why.  Here’s what I think I learned for you fellow noobs.

As a basic primer, in League of Legends there are three lanes of minions pouring from opposing bases in opposite corners of a square map.  If no one did anything then they would run into each other, kill each other and it would never end.  So there are 5 champions played by the players who get involved, making it a game.

With that covered it’s time to talk about which types of champions typically play in which lanes and why or what some people call the “meta”.

Now, as a note, in League of Legends PvP, you’re going to run into some asshats.  I don’t know what it is, but there are a lot of sore losers playing.  There’s nothing you can do for a lot of it, but one thing people get upset is choosing champions for the common “roles” top, mid, Jung, ADC and support.  What?  That’s what I thought at first.  I did some research and while there’s plenty of room for alterations to this common strategy, it does make sense.

These roles are:
Top – a character to solo the top lane.  Usually tanky.
Mid – solos the middle lane.  Usually focuses on ability power.
Jung(le) – roams the jungle area between lanes
ADC – Attack Damage Carry.  Weak champion with high damage output.
Support – Supports the ADC.

So where do we start? First I should talk about two resources, gold and experience(XP). Aside from killing champions and turrets, XP is gained by being near a minion or monster when it is killed. You don’t have to kill it or even damage it. If there are multiple champions around, the XP will be split. Gold is gained from monsters and minions from getting the last hit on them that kills them. An important skill is concentrating on getting the last hit on every minion possible as opposed to hitting other targets. On to the roles.

Carry refers to the idea that they will carry the team. Attack damage refers to the fact hat they concentrate on their attack damage stat and do most of their damage through their basic auto-attacks and abilities that use attack damage. Many of these characters will have low health and armor. If they are left in a lane alone, they will often get whittled down and either die or have to go back to base and start missing out on experience and gold. At the same time, they benefit much more from items than levels for upping their attack damage.

Enter the support. The support character hangs around and splits the XP with the carry, which is fine since they don’t care as much about that. They don’t take any last hits in order to load up the carry with gold. They ward the area so that the carry can avoid sneak attacks from the rivers or jungle and generally allow the Carry to stay in the fight longer. Some supports do this through healing like Sona or Soraka. Some do it through harassment or buffs like Blitzcrank or Thresh. They won’t get a lot of gold, but by giving it to the carry, the team should be better off.

That sounds great you say. We can put a carry/support pair in 2 of the 3 lanes and dominate! If we did that we would would be losing a resource, the XP and gold from monsters in the jungle. In theory, if one team has all 5 champions in lane and the other has one in the jungle, then the team with the jungler will end up with an advantage in both gold and XP, giving them the advantage. Since the jungler will be roaming the map anyway, they have the additional responsibility of sneaking up and attacking enemies in lanes or “ganking”, a word with which I have many problems.

So given that we have 2 more lanes and 2 more champions, we’ll have to put one in each. But who and where? Well we put the carry/support bottom so that they have quick access to the dragon which is an earlyish game resource for gold. The Baron is at the top, but he doesn’t come into play until later in the game, when people have usually grouped up for an team fight in a lane.

Since the other lanes will be getting all the experience for themselves, a character who focuses on ability power is a good idea, since they will benefit most from leveling quickly. These characters are usually mages, so we put them mid because it’s the fastest to get back to fighting and it’s good to have their crowd control(cc) abilities and burst damage(damage that happens very quickly, in a burst) able to help out in either other lane.

We still want a tanky champion for team composition which fits nicely with the fact that the top lane will be farthest from help. They want to be able to do some damage and survive. If the jungle is tanky then this can be more damage oriented.

Well that’s the idea as I understand it. Jungling is hard for beginners(people at my level) will often forgo it for 2 top champions. If the other team is doing this and your team uses a jungler then your top lane champion will be left 2 against 1. This isn’t the end of the world if they play defensively, but that can be difficult when we’re just starting out.

Again, there is plenty of room for different strategies, but this is what most people expect to use and it’s a good place to start while you figure out the league.

If there’s anything I missed that beginners should know, leave a comment. Don’t let the asshats get you down!

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