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Learning League of Legends, part 2: I have no idea what I'm doing

A bewildered Pat learns how to last-hit and finds the champions tab on his profile. It's all go.


My experience with League of Legends so far is akin to learning a language: waltzing through the early bot matches is ordering a coffee in French; stepping up to human opponents feels like managing the café. But I can win. I can know what I'm doing.

Learning League of Legends is an occasional series in which I attempt to not completely suck at LoL. Get the first part here.

I really do have no idea what I'm doing. My cluelessness extends in all directions, into League of Legend's every hidden corner. For example, I had to unlock Ashe, the only champion I have any knowledge of whatsoever. I don't know why. She was there last time I played (which was, admittedly, roughly two weeks ago thanks to some fabled thing called "holiday"), then she wasn't. Freeing her cost some Influence Points (IP), and this was after I got to a pre-match screen and had to quit out in a panic because she wasn't listed as an option, scuppering the game for everyone else involved. Sorry, other dudes. I don't know what's happening.

Despite checking the latest patch notes, I'm still none the wiser as to why she'd been blanked (let me know in the comments if you do: I'm genuinely baffled), but, whatever the reason, there was a resultant positive. It forced me to check out the champions tab on my Summoner Profile. This, I now know, shows all the champions available and allows the unlocking of others with either IP or Riot Points (RP). You can buy RP if you don't have enough. To be able to play as the newly-nerfed Azir, for example, I'd need an extra 575 RP over my current 400. That'd cost €5, and I'd be left with change. Seems reasonable. Fortunately, I had enough IP to unlock Ashe, so now I'm all happy again. And I'm slightly less dumb than previously. Slightly.


The champions tab. I'm glad I know it exists.

Everything I uncover just affirms how far I have to go. Looking at this tab made me realise I don't have to panic over my champion choice, provided I apply a little forethought. Clicking on any avatar brings up a screen with an overview, including whether or not the champion is a tank, ranged, close-combat or whatever, but, more importantly, provides videos of all their abilities. With a little research, League gives you everything you need to know about each champion and the way it behaves. You can also filter by primary role, so looking for a tank to practice is as simple as selecting the option on the drop-down.

The lesson I learned (and there's always a lesson to be learned in LoL) is that you should boot regularly, even if you just load the client to patch. League gets updated often, and you need to keep abreast of major changes. I don't want to be quitting out of lobbies and causing others to search for new matches. Not cool.

But I have made some progress, nonetheless. I've promoted myself to Intermediate in my bot matches. A friend's currently coaching me, which is a great experience and undoubtedly accelerates my understanding of the game in general, and it was obvious the Beginner tier in Co-op vs. AI was becoming too easy. To be fair, despite my hilarious stats (funny in that I'm lucky if I ever get to actually kill anyone), Intermediate feels relatively easy, too. Hopefully the next article will be about playing human opponents.


You're able to familiarise yourself with champion abilities in-client and out-game.

In terms of gameplay, pretty much everything I'm learning right now is about last-hitting, one of the most basic League concepts. The idea is that you time your attacks to "last-hit" enemy minions by dealing the killing blow. This gives you gold. The more gold you get, the more you can spend on increasingly powerful items in the shop. This boosts your chances of scoring champion kills and, obviously, winning. It's a vital skill, one you can see pros performing with horrifying ease.

Thus, I have vaguely more of an idea of what I'm doing than I did previously. But I still have no idea what I'm doing. I compounded my sense of hopelessness in an enjoyable way by watching some professional matches in an effort to increase my knowledge. It sort of worked. More importantly, I may have finally found a game I enjoy viewing for "fun". Anyone who knows me will be well-versed in my hatred of e-sports. Turns out my aversion to competitive gaming comes from ignorance! Who knew. I watched Fnatic beat Origen in the EU LCS Summer Play-offs Grand Finals before I disappeared on my family summer holiday, and can honestly say it was a transformative experience. I've embedded the video below for you, in case you missed it. Origen pushed Fnatic to a fifth round, but eventually got stomped in a thrilling finale.

That's it for now. My experience with League of Legends so far is akin to learning a language: waltzing through the early bot matches is ordering a coffee in French; stepping up to human opponents feels like managing the café. But I can win. I can know what I'm doing. I'm aiming to face living enemies for the next article. It's important to have goals. Given I play like a dead shark in the centre of a desert 300 miles from the sea, you can expect it to go badly. But of course it will. You don't learn unless you learn.

Watch the match below to see League played so well it'll make your brain bleed.

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