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Garen-BannerThere is a scene at the end of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, where Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef (no relation to Edwin Van Cleef, notorious Deadmines end-boss) are stood in a cemetery and have what many regard as the greatest Mexican-stand-off of all time. While the graphical style of the characters leads us to Graves being the closest we get to this in League of Legends, this analogy best lends itself towards the top lane; just you, your opponent and the Jungler(s) in a battle of wits, with everything to lose. The top lane is arguably the most important in the early game; getting a head start on your opponent here will allow you to roam and gank mid and bot lanes, and if you lose your lane then you best pray to your god that your carries can win the game for you.

Today I’m going to introduce you to the top lane, and a handful of champions I feel anyone who is learning this role for the first time should get to grips with. The champions I’m about to talk about aren’t the best top lane champions in the game, but by no means are they bad; they are just simple yet effective champions that will help you learn how to handle the lane without worrying about mechanics. For anyone who is experienced in the top lane, this guide isn’t for you. However, if you are new to ranked games or are simply levelling up and wish to explore the top lane, read on.

Singed

SingedSquareSinged is by far one of the simplest top lane champions you can play. When played correctly, he can be very effective as a tank or a bruiser/tank. Singed’s kit consists of:

  • A poison trail
  • A slow on the enemy
  • A flip
  • A self buff

All of these abilities work in perfect harmony with each other. The simplest tactic for Singed is to activate your Poison Trail (Q), charge the enemy, use Mega Adhesive (W) when they run, then Fling (E) them backwards towards your poison trail. The best part? If they attack and continue to chase you, they’ll run right into your poison trail. Standard builds on Singed also make him a great safe pick, as you can build him as tanky or as damage-focused as you wish. Usual core items include Rod of Ages and Rylai’s Crystal Scepter, both of which offer nice AP damage for his Poison Trail and Fling, as well as a solid amount of health and mana. If things get a little hairy, or you’re just looking to secure a kill, activating his Insanity Potion (R) will give you improved movement speed, armour, magic resist, ability power, health AND mana regen. This means there should be no reason for you to die in a one-on-one situation.

Singed offers a simple yet very effective build for the top lane that allows for mistakes. He is a champion that will remain in your repertoire throughout your ranked and casual play, and is a must for anyone learning the Top Lane. For a full in depth guide to Singed, check out InvertedComposer’s build.

Garen

LikGarenSquaree Singed, Garen is one of the simplest champions in the game, so simple in fact that he has his own little phrase: “spin to win”. Garen offers the player a few simple tools that can be devastating in the early game, when used correctly. Decisive strike (Q) offers not only a solid amount of damage, but a gap closer that also silences the enemy, all in one attack. This means that it’s very easy for you to get close to the enemy, stop them attacking you and then activate your Judgement (E) to deal a second round of damage on the silenced enemy. If things get too much for you, Courage (W) is a handy little shield, and once you are out of combat for seven seconds your passive will give you 0.4% of your maximum health back every second.

Where Garen really comes in to his own, especially in the early game, is Demacian Justice (R). This ability, a clear predecessor to Darius’ Noxian Guillotine, offers a scaling amount of damage depending on how little health the enemy has; the less health they have, the more damage it will deal. Once the enemy reaches anything below 50% health, a quick Q>E>R combo will almost certainly secure a kill. Garen is designed around being powerful in the early game and winning his lane, leading to a swift victory before you reach the late game. The high base-damage stats from his Q and R mean that you can build him tanky and still offer your team a solid amount of damage in team fights. Garen’s kit is very simple and he works well as a top lane champion, with a respectable amount of damage, good sustain, great tankiness (and in the early game) frankly amazing lane presence. For a more in-depth guide on Garen, check out King Kroanin’s full guide, or WingsofDeathX’s build.

 

Malphite

MalphiteMalphite is my third and final choice for beginner Top Lane champions. He’s tanky, he’s got great poke, good overall damage and has one of the best, if not the best, initiates or fight-resets in the game. He’s regarded by many as being overpowered; this leads to him being banned in most games at low to mid skilled levels. So although he is very effective and is a champion you should definitely have perfected, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get to play him right away. Like Singed and Garen, Malphite is very simple to pick up. His kit consists of Granite Shield (Passive) which gives him a shield equal to 10% of his health, making him tanky from the start, allowing you to trade very effectively. Seismic Shard (Q) is his primary method of poking the enemy as well as slowing them down and speeding him up. This helps you engage, chase down enemies or even escape- all of which are crucial to your survival. Brutal Strikes (W) is not a great laning ability, but offers some aid in farming and also some armour. When stacked with his passive, this offers you an even greater level of tankiness in the laning phase. Ground Slam (E) is an AoE attack that scales with armour, slowing enemy attack speed. This works very nicely in the late game, slowing ADC attack speed is a huge debuff to the enemy team.

Finally, the pièce de résistance, Unstoppable Force (R); it is the primary reason to play Malphite and the main reason why he’s banned. It is a charge with 1000 range which knocks up the enemies it hits for two seconds at rank 3. A truly unstoppable ability (Sona’s ult won’t stop it) and it deals a solid amount of damage in the early-to-mid game. This ability can be used to initiate, reset the fight, steal baron, escape, secure a kill or anything you wish. It is one of the most overpowered abilities in the game, and is a great final ability for Malphite. He is simple, with two tanking abilities (passive + W), three damage abilities (Q, E and R), two crowd control abilities (Q and R) and an ultimate that makes anyone ganking you think twice. Malphite’s kit works amazingly well, and the fact he gets banned in so many games is testament to just how powerful he is! LEARN HIM! For a full Malphite guide, check out MakNoon’s winning build, Dolphin Trainer’s Guide!

There are many top lane champions I haven’t talked about to today; like Jax, who is the next champion I suggest you play but didn’t make this list due to serious mana issues if you don’t know what you’re doing. Or Renekton who is very powerful right now. Also champions like Pantheon who will help you stomp soloqueue and Yorick who simply has no direct counter. I haven’t talked about these because they are more difficult to learn. They have more skillshots and modified abilities which require a higher skill level to be able to play successfully. Once you have used the three champions I have outlined, I suggest you move on to the other champions in this list and truly master the top lane.

Beginner AP Carries

March 14th, 2013

ryze banner

In my (hopefully) long-awaited return to writing for News of Legends, after a rather busy month at home, I want to talk about the AP champions out there and who you should be learning if you’re picking this role up for the first time in your LoL career. In my previous article I talked about the three support champions you should learn if you’re new to the role; today I’m going to be talking about AP champions. I’ve avoided using the phrase “mid lane” champions because currently the meta-game isn’t the most stable, and the classic AP Carry mid isn’t necessarily what people will be using in every game. We’ve seen champions like Talon, Lee Sin and Kha’Zix all being very effective in the mid lane, but none of those fit the description of an AP Carry. For those who know the world of AP Carries, this isn’t the article for you. However, for someone who is nearing thirty or perhaps just wants to learn AP Carries for the first ever time, this is the article for you. We will not be breaking ground with any new game-changing strategies; I will simply offer a push in the right direction for your first steps towards playing an AP Carry. Learning the following champions will give you a solid base from which to jump-start your League of Legends experience playing AP champions.

If you already know the role of AP Mid and wish to learn the top five champions for the position (not necessarily the easiest 5) then check out DCGreen’s guide to the top 5 AP Mid champions.

Ryze

RyzeRyze is by far one of the best AP champions you can possibly start to play with. He’s by no means the most powerful champion out there but he has a great kit that allows for mistakes, which is essential in learning any new role. What sets Ryze apart from most AP champions is that his abilities scale with mana, meaning that the more mana you have, the more powerful you become. This means than in the early game you can kill two birds with one stone, as stacking mana means you’re less mana-dependant and you’re more powerful. Two of the most standard early-game items for Ryze are Tear of the Goddess and Catalyst the Protector, which will give you a solid amount of mana, health, and through Catalyst’s passive, good health/mana regen when you level up. This is very important as the less you have to worry about mana and health, the more you can focus on killing minions and your enemies. Items like Glacial Shroud which you build into Frozen Heart add to this tankiness even further. Ryze’s abilities must not be forgotten, as they are also why he is such a good champion for those learning. A simple single high-priority spell, Overload, coupled with some nice CC in the form of Rune Prison, means that you have the ability to freeze and burst down champions or use that CC to escape if things get a little hairy. The bonuses gained from his ultimate, Desperate Power, coupled with the AoE from Spell Flux means Ryze has frankly ridiculous levels of sustain. If you’re playing Ryze properly you should never have to worry about your health or mana. Ryze isn’t the most exciting champion, but he is the first you should learn if you’re getting into AP Carries.

Once you have learnt Ryze you will have an easier time learning: Annie
For a more in depth guide on Ryze, check out Nukemumg’s Guide to Ryze

Akali

Akali is one of my favourite AP champions, simply because if the enemy doesn’t know how to counter her, it’s pretty much game over. AkaliSquareGet a few kills on Akali and once you’re level six the game is now heavily in your favour. Akali has ridiculous levels of burst, sustain, and team fight utility. She is certainly a step up in difficulty from Ryze, but because of her potential to single handedly turn the tides of the game, if played properly, I feel she is a must-play champion for the beginner to AP carries. I’ve chosen her over champions like LeBlanc and Veigar who are also known for their burst because Akali will give you much more use in the long run, as within the current meta she is still highly relevant. Akali has a flat 6% spell vamp (+1% per 6AD) so from level one she has a good base level of akali pros and conssustain. Once you throw in the fact that the Hextech Gunblade is the first item you complete, Akali will have 26% spell vamp + 17% life steal (Flat 10% from Hextech + ~7% from the 45 attack damage from Hextech stacked with her passive). Also remember you only get â…“ of the spell vamp for AoE attacks. At this point you should have little-to-no issue with sustain in the laning phase or in team fights. The thing that makes Akali frankly overpowered is her Burst. With a triple-stacked Shadow Dance and full energy plus a Hextech Gunblade, you should have absolutely no issue bursting down any champion that isn’t stacking pure health or magic resist, and even in the early game you will still be able to do this unless they rush a Warmog’s. Akali has great team fight capabilities with her Twilight Shround, making her invisible when not attacking in her circle. Two things happen at this point; you either get a free reset and chance to regenerate some energy, collect your thoughts and strike where it’s most effective, or the enemy is forced to waste money on pink wards or an Oracle’s to see you.

With huge levels of sustain, even larger burst, the ability to snowball and carry extremely hard and still being relevant in ranked play, Akali is a must for anyone wanting to learn AP champions. For a more in depth guide, check out PhoenixKami’s build

Once you have learnt Akali you will have an easier time learning the following champions: Katarina, LeBlanc, Orianna.

Karthus

KarthusSquareKarthus is a great champion. Although he’s not seen too much at top level play anymore, he’s a fantastic AP character who you should learn early on. Karthus’ strength lies in three key things: the ability to farm, his passive, and his global ultimate. Starting with his ability to farm- his Q (Lay Waste) is fantastic for last hitting minions, and although you should theoretically be able to do it with your auto-attack, Karthus enables the player to farm a little easier than most other champions. Karthus’ passive allows him to remain active for seven seconds after dying. Although you can’t move, you can still activate your abilities, helping you to secure kills or even continue farming. This works fantastically in team fights where you die with Defile active, as you’ll continue to deal huge amounts of AoE damage. The biggest reason to play Karthus however is Requiem, his R ability. Requiem is a global ultimate, meaning it will hit every enemy on the map regardless of where they are, even if you can’t see them. Requiem is great for picking off enemies after team fights, helping other lanes if they need someone finishing off after an engagement, or even as a pre-emptive strike before you engage a team fight. It can even be cast once you’ve died. Karthus offers a great deal to anyone learning the role, and will help you master farming as well as paying attention to other lanes, to make full use of Requiem. Karthus is a relatively simple yet still effective champion, which allows the player to practice a variety of different key skills in their pursuit of perfection.

For a full guide on Karthus, check out this guide by Reginald

Once you have learnt Karthus you will have an easier time learning the following champions: Anivia, Morgana (skillshots!)

Others

This list is by no means definitive, and there are of course other champions who are suited to players wishing to learn the role of AP Carry. Other champions that may be as effective include Annie, Veigar and Lux. As previously mentioned, this post is not a guide on the most effective champions, but merely a nudge in the right direction for someone wishing to learn the basics of the AP Carry.

 

Until my next piece (which hopefully won’t be another month =D) I wish those of you just starting out in ranked, or gearing up for it as you level, the best of luck and enjoyment in your endeavours.

 

Hersir.

Selecting Your Support

February 9th, 2013

taric bannerjpg

Last week I talked about what Junglers you should be playing if you want to learn the role and prepare yourself for ranked play in Season 3. Today I’m going to continue along that theme with Support Champions. As was the case last week, if you’re already playing ranked games as a Support player then chances are you will know everything I’m about to tell you; but if you’re new to level thirty play and want to climb the ranked ladders with your team as someone who mainly plays Support, then this is the guide for you. I will run down what I think are the three best Support champions to really get to grips with the position, many of which will become champions you’re playing as you’re reaching the top ranked tier. This is not a guide to each champion but a friendly nudge to three supports that you must learn if you want to play that role. For those of you who know the role of Support and want to read a little more, check out my guide on Synergising your Support.

 

So which Support champions should I play?

 

Taric

TaricSquareTaric is simply fabulous, he truly is outrageous. Taric is my go-to Support champion for Soloqueue because of how versatile he is in the laning phase. If you’re playing with someone like Vayne and you need to be defensive early because Vayne just needs to farm, the passive armour aura on his Shatter (W) is fantastic in the early game, coupled with his Imbue (Q – Heal) means you should be able to keep your Carry alive. If the enemy ADC gets a little too aggressive you can always stun them with Dazzle (E). These exact same abilities can be used if you’re playing aggressively! A favourite combination of mine is Ashe + Taric for sheer burst. Once you hit level 6, the Dazzle from Taric followed by a Shatter, Radiance (R) means the enemy is stunned, has lower armour and and you and your allies have bonus magic and physical damage. You throw in Ashe’s Enchanted Crystal Arrow (R) and a few auto-attacks with Frost Shot (Q) enabled and there’s no chance the enemy is ever getting away. Both the armour reduction and the increased damage that Taric gives are both AoE spells which means he scales fantastically in to the late game and for team fights, and his Dazzle with a 1.5 second stun is invaluable in the late game, allowing for almost anyone you catch to be burst down. Taric is a brilliant support and is one that anyone learning the role has to learn.

 

Sona

Despite the fact that Sona has less health that a Melee Minion at level one, she is still an incredibly powerful support, with great mobility, poke, burst damage, crowd control and sustain in lane. She is without a doubt one of the most versatile support champions in the game and is one you must master if you wish to play support effectively. Sona has a great selection of abilities which makes her suited to a multitude of different situations. Her passive,SonaSquare which modifies her auto-attack depending on which aura is active, can be used to devastating effect. Stacked with her Hymn of Valor (Q) she can do large amount of burst damage. A simple auto-attack followed by a quick Q will have the enemy ADC or Support thinking twice before coming close to you again. Sona’s Aria of Perseverance (W – Heal) isn’t the most effective heal in the game due to her rather poor AP ratios (25% AP on her W) but that doesn’t mean it can’t be effective. Stacked with her Passive, an auto-attack with her (W) aura up will reduce the targeted enemies damage output by 20% for 4 seconds. You add in the fact that this aura gives off Armour and Magic Resist to allies nearby and you have an extremely effective initiation composition. Her Song of Celerity (E) while giving off a passive movement speed boost as well as burst movement speed when activated will slow the enemy by 40% for 2 seconds, while 0.5 seconds shorter than Exhaust in terms of active time on the enemy, the amount slowed is greater. Crescendo, Sona’s (R) ability is one of the best stuns in the game. It’s a long, wide AoE stun that is fantastic for either engaging the enemy or resetting a fight in your teams favour. If done correctly it can turn fights around or even help you chase down enemies and secure the kill. There’s little doubt surrounding Sona’s effectiveness as a Support champion, and although she does have her downsides, such as been extremely squishy at the start and being very mana heavy before you get some mana regen (I recommend Chalice of Harmony), she has the potential to be a game changing support.

Nunu

NunuSquareDespite the fact that Riot recently hit Nunu on the head with the nerf bat, and the fact that his recommended items are for his Jungle build, he is still a great utility Support. Consume, Nunu’s (Q) ability isn’t amazing in lane, as although it gives some great health regeneration it will kill all but the Siege Minions and you don’t want to be stealing CS from your ADC. Nunu’s main utility comes from his Blood Boil (W) and Ice Blast (E). Blood Boil is one of the best steroids in the entire game, giving both you and the target 25/30/35/40/45% Attack Speed and 8/9/10/11/12% movement speed increases. Considering that an ADCs primary damage output is their auto-attack, free attack speed increases are extremely effective, allowing for faster farm, coupled with increased movement speed means your ADC can get in, auto-attack a few times and get out before they’re had chance to react. Once you throw in an Ice Blast (E) which deals considerable AP damage (85/130/175/225/275 +100% AP) as well as slowing the enemies movement speed by 20/30/40/50/60% AND decreasing their attack speed by 25% for 3 seconds, there’s little the enemy can do to escape you. This combination can be used either aggressively to pounce on to an enemy or defensively if you are engaged upon and need to slow the enemy and escape. Absolute Zero (R) on Nunu is by no means the easiest ability to time properly. The 3 second channel time which can be cancelled early if needs be (although that reduces the effect) is fantastic in team fights, slowing the enemy movement and attack speed and dealing large amounts of AP Damage. The main downside is for the full cast you are open to attacks for 3 seconds and any stun, such as a Dazzle from Taric will cancel the cast early. Nunu is tanky, self-sustaining and has fantastic support utility, and once mastered can be used in the Jungle as well as Support, so is a support that I highly recommend anyone learning this role learn to play.

 

Surely there are more supports?

Yes! But these three are just the three that I feel anyone wanting to learn the role must master. Once each of these are perfected you will have 3 solid champions are your disposal that work with a variety of ADCs. There are supports out there that I haven’t mentioned that I think one should learn, such as Lulu, Leona, Lux or Thresh, but each of those has a higher skill cap and shouldn’t be tackled until you are confident playing Support. Sona is by far the hardest of the three champions but is one I felt was worth mentioning due to how satisfying she is to play, and how easy she is to learn the basics of. I hope that those of you who read this will take something away from it and become the better supports this game desperately needs.

Join me in a few days when I’ll be taking on the task of outlining the must-learn Mid Lane Champions that you should know.

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Junglers for Beginners

February 3rd, 2013

maokai banner

The Jungler has the most potential to turn a game around, yet it is the position that most people find the most daunting. They have the ability to focus on any lane they desire, to slow down the enemy jungler and to help out failing lanes. They can act as an initiator or tank in team fights, or even a bruiser carry depending on who you play. All this makes the Jungler  certainly the most versatile role in the game. In a return to my series on guiding the beginner to ranked play in the right direction, I want to point out a few of the changes that were made to the Jungle and then show a selection of Junglers that are highly recommended to anyone wanting to learn the role. For the seasoned Junglers among us, you will already know everything I’m going to say. For those of you wanting to tackle the behemoth that is the Jungle, read on! I am not going to talk about the best champions to play in the jungle for those experienced in the position. This isn’t going to be a meta-breaking discussion on how, if you play it just right, you can run Leona in the jungle- this is a simple point in the right direction for those wanting to pick up their first Jungle champion.

So what were the main changes to the Jungle?

Season 3 brought around a lot of changes to the jungle, most notably a change to how jungle creeps behave. The main change here was a massive increase in the amount of health large jungle creeps have, with a reduction in the health of smaller jungle creeps. This meant that sustain junglers like Warwick or Fiddlesticks were suddenly viable, and also that the jungle was no longer the sole realm of the AoE clear. Additionally, Hunters Machete was added to the game. It gives a small amount of true damage when attack monsters as well as 10% increased damage to monsters and the Spirit Stone upgrade is even stronger. Suddenly, AP junglers were far more viable, and with Madreds/Wriggles and Spirit Stone available, the field was wide open for junglers no one thought viable before the pre-season 3 patch.

hunter's machete

 

So which Junglers should I be trying out?

Nunu

NunuSquareNunu is a beast in the jungle. He’s primarily used because the combination of his Blood Boil (W) and Ice Blast (E) make him impossible to catch in the Jungle, which means he’s a fantastic counter jungler- but he also works great for those just starting to jungle. He has Consume, a mini-Smite, as his Q and his counter-jungling abilities mean if anyone tries to counter-jungle you, there’s no chance they’re getting away unless they burn flash, which is still a success. Nunu has a relatively quick clear time due to Consume and Blood Boil and if you manage his passive correctly, he isn’t as dependant on getting Blue buff as some other junglers. For full Nunu builds and guides check out this and this build on the Solomid guides page. He doesn’t have the strongest ganks due to not having a hard gap closer, so landing his Ice Blast is crucial to making ganks work. This can take some time to get used to, but once you’ve mastered his ganks and his counter-jungling, there’ll be no stopping you.

 

Amumu

Amumu is my favourite jungler, and for good reason. His Bandage Toss (Q) is a fantastic gap closer if you’re good with skill shots. The AoE damage output from his Despair (W) and Tantrum (E) aren’t bad, but his main ability AmumuSquareand the primary reason you might struggle to play him because he’s often banned in every game: Curse of the Sad Mummy. His (R) ability still remains as one of the best ganks in the games. Freezing the enemy in place for 2 seconds allows your own AoE damage and whoever you’re helping out with a gank to burst an enemy champion down. There are also better hard resets to team fights in the game. While Amumu is an incredibly strong ganker once he hits level 6, he does have downsides, primarily that he’s so Blue buff dependant. Despite various changes to Amumu over the last few years and various item changes- if the enemy team manages to successfully invade at the start of the game meaning Amumu doesn’t get Blue buff, he will be on the back foot until the next one comes up. Despite all this, we’ve seen time and time again through tournaments that Amumu is still incredibly viable with the right team composition, and is a champion that any budding jungler should know. For a full in depth guide on Jungle Amumu, check out this guide from TSM substitute Dan Dinh.

Maokai

MaokaiSquareLike many of the recommended champions for the beginner’s Jungle, Maokai is tanky. With the right build, outlined in this guide by TSM jungler TheOddOne, Maokai can be a powerhouse of ganks and CC. His Arcane Smash (Q) works as a knock-back that slows and damages enemies hit. Add in Twisted Advance (W), makes for a 1/1.25/1.5/1.75/2 second root and 20/27/34/41/48% slow throughout the game. Throw in a Flash or Exhaust depending on your preference and there’s no way the enemy is escaping your ganks. Perhaps the biggest downside to Maokai is the fact you must fully commit to fights. There’s no skirting around the edges, his Q, W and R all require you to be in the middle of the action. This isn’t too much of an issue and generally you build him tanky, but it can be a little daunting for someone new to the jungle. Once Maokai is perfected he is a champion that will stay in your repertoire for a long time, as he is still viable at high ranked bracket play and makes regular appearances at professional tournaments.

 

Warwick

Warwick is a pretty underrated Jungler and not one we see a lot of at high Elo (or should I say brackets?), but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective first Jungler. Although he doesn’t have the fastest clear times, Warwick’s WarwickSquarestrengths lie in the fact he has ridiculous levels of sustain. Both Warwick’s passive, Eternal Thirst and his (Q), Hungering Strike, give him good sustain in the jungle. This is even more important now that large Jungle creeps are much stronger. Sustain is never a bad thing and Warwick has plenty of it. Warwick’s ultimate, Infinite Duress, is also incredibly powerful if used correctly. At level six, if the lane you’re ganking is paying attention, you are almost guaranteed to get a kill. It is the combination of these two features that makes Warwick a great jungler. Yes he’s not the fastest clearer and yes he is incredibly dependent on his Infinite Duress to effectively gank, but his sustain makes him a great choice for someone wanting to learn jungle routes and ganking without having to constantly worry about health.

 

Dr. Mundo

DrMundoSquareNo discussion on Jungling is complete without talking about Dr. Mundo, which is why he’s earned the 5th and final spot in my most important beginner jungle champions guide. The first thing we notice about Dr. Mundo is the fact he doesn’t use mana, so this means we’re starting at Red Buff (or Wraiths if you so choose), but not Blue Buff. Mana is perhaps the biggest factor in holding many junglers back in the early game, but Dr. Mundo doesn’t have to worry about this. All he needs to worry about is his health, but once you have either a Warmog’s Armour or Spirit Visage, this isn’t an issue. Mundo can be played like a bruiser or a tank, and coupled with the fact he has very fast clear times due to the AoE of Burning Agony (W) and the steroid from Masochism (E) means you can gank lanes incredibly early. The lack of CC on Dr. Mundo is detrimental, so having some CC in lanes is important to making him successful. He can use his sheer tankiness as well as high damage output and frankly ridiculous sustain from his Sadism (R ) to make sustained ganks or repeat ganks on the same lane very rapidly. Mundo offers a different yet equally effective situation in the jungle compared to his blue buff dependent counterparts.

This is by no means a definitive guide to Jungling, nor is it an in depth discussion on every jungler, or even each of the champions I’ve listed. What I hope to have achieved is to help those of you who wish to play the role of Jungler throughout Season 3 to decide on a champion to play. For those of you with little to no experience in the jungle, you can’t go wrong with the champions I’ve listed and briefly described above. I hope that I’ve at least pointed a few of you in the right direction and I wish you the best of luck in your jungling career. Go gank some Teemos!

You can read my previous guide on AD carries here

Fizz_splash big

“Riot Pls” is the usual term used when a gamer, frustrated by a mechanic in League of Legends, wishes Riot had done something differently. In a break from my usual topic of covering what is obvious to Professionals but maybe not to the beginner of ranked play, I’m going to talk about what Riot can learn from other MOBAs out there, most notably Valve’s entry to the genre, DotA2. From the client, to matchmaking, to certain in-game mechanics, Riot has a lot to learn in terms of what makes a user base stick to playing their game. This is something that genre competitor Valve and Esports competitor Blizzard have been perfecting for over a decade. This is not going to be a rage filled rant, but hopefully a balanced view of some things Riot could learn from its competitors to greatly improve the game.

Queue Trolls and Forced Dodging

Lets be realistic here, if you’ve played ranked or even normal League of Legends, you’ve encountered a troll in the team select stage. This person will be adamant they’re playing their preferred position regardless of pick order (the official manner in which roles are given out) or team synergy, or even the skill level of your team mates in certain roles. At this point you have two options:

dodge timer ss1 – Play the game with the troll and hope for the best. You might have been able to quickly rework your team composition around the troll to get something workable, but even then it is likely your annoying team-mate isn’t going to cooperate in the game, so your chances of victory aren’t great. On the plus side, they might do something you can report them for if they’re stupid, however this is little consolation if you’ve just lost some precious Elo.

2 – Dodge. You now have to sit and play ARAM for 30 minutes while you wait out the timer, or for an hour if it’s your second game of the day. Meanwhile the troll gets right back in to another game and is potentially going to be doing the exact same thing to the next unfortunate group of people. This option is what most people will choose to do; after all, waiting 30 minutes is far better than losing Elo.

Neither option is great for anyone. Either way, the innocent party usually ends up as the one getting the penalty.

 

So how does DotA 2 deal with the same situation?

The main way that DotA2 deals with this is having champion select in the game proper, not before the game. You are loaded in to the map, on the game servers where everything is being recorded, and then you select your champion. DotA2 has a less strict meta-game compared to LoL, which does make champion select somewhat simpler, but the main point is that if a troll decides to attempt to ruin a game with a useless pick, they are going to be forced to play that game, they can’t try and force someone to dodge.

So what can Riot do?

One of the main issues Riot faces is the fact the game client (or lack thereof; it’s just an Adobe Air application) is separate from the actual game client. The champion select is based on a different server to the game server, so there are no records of pre-game chat and it’s simply not possible for us to have champion select in the actual game. Reddit user ArchangelPT comes up with an interesting idea in this post from earlier this week. He suggests having a system in place whereby after a game is dodged, the other players on the team can choose to forgive the dodging player if they felt the dodge was necessary. While this is a great idea on the surface, some other Redditors did come up with one major issue: vote rigging. It wouldn’t be too hard for you to agree to dodge and forgive the dodger if the enemy team composition isn’t one you think you can beat, and you don’t feel like playing the game. It is however still an interesting idea that could be developed into something workable until Riot produce a proper game client that would allow them to having a more robust system.

 

dota2 player left

 

Players leaving mid game

There have been many proposals as to what the situation should be if one player leaves the game, most of them rotating around the idea of increasing the passive gold gain for the team without a player, but like many things this would be abused. DotA2 offers a very simple yet effective solution to this problem. If a player leaves the game, after five minutes anyone else can leave the game without penalty; though of course there are criteria that need to be met and there are some penalties. The leaving player will be put on a lower priority for finding games if they leave two games within a set time period. Game records are still made as well, if First Blood has been given then the first team to leave gets the game counted as a loss and the other team gets recorded as a win.

But why haven’t Riot implemented this if it’s such a great system?

Like with many things, Riot is afraid of abuse, and rightly so. It wouldn’t be too difficult to abuse someone on your team to get them to leave so you can get away from the game you’re not going to win without losing Elo. On top of this we must remember that DotA2 doesn’t actually have a formalised ranking system. The closest it gets is a system similar to hidden Elo in LoL normal games, though this is expected to change with the move from Beta to Full Release. This is important because a lot of League of Legends is balanced around what the best people playing the game can do. Yes, you might think Blitzcrank is OP and needs a nerf, but in reality until we see him being abused to a game breaking level at a major tournament, this isn’t going to happen. This makes taking anything from another game without a comparable system hard to properly analyse as we can’t see the full effects. Naturally, this is something that I suspect Riot will have thought about, but presently it isn’t something that they seem to be pursuing.

Region LockingDota2 region select

One of the biggest downfalls of League of Legends is the fact it’s region locked. You create an account on a server group, i.e. NA, EU-West or EU-North East and you are stuck on that region’s servers. This is problematic for many not wanting to play on servers close to them or those with friends in different regions. This problem is made even worse once someone has invested a lot of money in RP and so doesn’t want to create a new account to play with distant friends. DotA2 gets around this by simply having region select built in to the game queue, you can choose to play on whatever server you wish to before you queue for a game, completely removing the problem created in League of Legends.

So where does this leave us?

In the last few days, since I started playing a few DotA2 games, I noticed a few major things I think LoL could improve on- but it is incredibly hard to see just how well they could be implemented into League of Legends effectively. All in all, Riot have managed to balance the game pretty well considering the handicap of not having a proper client. For any major change to come about, full investment in a standalone League of Legends client would be needed, and that is something I hope we see before too long. The issues I’ve stated aren’t enough to make me stop playing the game (and perhaps this why Riot don’t seem too rushed to improve it) or enough to make me play DotA2 permanently. It does raise certain questions as to whether Riot is working on the larger issues, as opposed to focusing simply on more champions and game balance.

What are your thoughts?

The ABC of ADC

January 18th, 2013

adc banner

The ADC is the powerhouse of any team. They are the sustained damage in team fights, they are one of your main tower pushing players and completing an objective such as Baron or Dragon without them is something that will be infinitely harder. This week I’m going to talk about a few different aspects of playing ADC, that while may be obvious to the Pro’s, aren’t necessarily obvious to the low-to-mid Elo players amongst us. Aspects such as: the season 3 Armour Penetration changes, last hitting and positioning. A solid grasp of all three of these parts of playing ADC should give anyone learning the role a good basic understanding of the theoretical and practical sides of playing.

Last Hitting

I have always maintained that out of all the roles in a game, the ADC must have the most technical knowledge of how League of Legends works. They must make the most of every last situation, knowing exactly when to last hit, knowing when to engage and who to focus in a team fight. They are the person that needs to have the highest understanding of the basic fundamentals of the game. The first of these is Last Hitting, that is, getting final bit of damage on to a Minion (or Creep) to kill it, thus earning the player the gold. Last hitting requires the player to know how much basic attack damage they do as well as the damage output level from the enemy Minion wave, so they can avoid letting the Minion die to another Minion.

Practicing Last Hitting is something that is probably the easiest thing to do. You can set up a simple Bot Game and practice away as much as you like, and this is probably the best option for you. Having an understanding of your chosen champion’s attack animation, as well as how it changes as your attack speed increases as well as how it is affected by your ping, is something that can be learnt, for the most part, in practice games. If you take the time to practice the technical aspect of Last Hitting in Bot Games, then when you reach PvP games it will become natural to you, and instead of focusing on the enemy opposition in lane as well as Last Hitting, you can focus your concentration on the enemy.

What benefit does last hitting give me?

Last hitting gives you a huge gold advantage. Getting a kill on a champion without a kill streak gives the killer 300g. Caster minions give 15g and increase at 0.5g every 3 minutes. Melee minions give 20g and also increase at 0.5g every 3 minutes. Siege minions give 40g and increase at 1g every 3 minutes. What this means is, if you kill every single creep spawning from the first 3 waves, you will have gained roughly 355g, which is more than you would gain from a kill, and at this point we’re only 3 minutes into the game. This doesn’t even account for experience gained from killing Minions. If we remember that the amount of gold each minion is worth only increases throughout the course of the game, then it is very clear just how important killing those little minions is. As we see professional players hitting the high hundreds in Minion kills at the end of the game, it’s easy to conclude that they are gaining thousands of gold from this very simple process.

Armour Penetration

When the Pre-Season 3 patch hit, Armour Penetration was given a bit of a reshuffle in how it works. Prior to the patch, flat pen, such as Brutalizer’s +10 ArP would take effect first before ArP percentages such as Last Whisper’s +35% ArP*. What this meant was, if you hit someone with 100 Armour, the Brutalizer would knock it down to 90 Armour and then your Last Whisper would ignore 35% of that, giving an effective armour level of 58.5. What happens now is that the Last Whisper ignores 35% first, knocking it down to 65 armour, then Brutalizers ignores a flat 10 armour giving an effective armour level of 55. This is 3.5 armour less than before. This is just one situation with rather low armour figures and only two items that give armour penetration. What this basically means is we’ve seen a buff to both types of ArP so bruisers and tanks are suddenly slightly more squishy.

*ArP figures used are post-patch for simplicity in comparison.

So what do I do with this information?

Building ArP runes is now a much more viable option compared to before for the ADC. Although simply buying Last Whisper and using ArP runes won’t make you better than before, due to the percent nerfs on ArP items, it does mean building ArP across multiple items is much more effective, such as using ArP runes as well as Last Whisper and Black Cleaver. The most important thing to remember is that nothing is fixed. All that has happened is that ArP in the right situations has become more practical and with items like Black Cleaver there is less of a negative trade between building flat AD and ArP, you can now build both to a greater effect!



Champion Position

As with the rest of the basics covered in this article, positioning is crucial to you been a competent ADC. Correct positioning in the laning phase will allow you to maximise your Minion Kills while avoiding poke from the enemy team, as well as being able to make attacks on the enemy if needed. In team fights, correct positioning will allow you to do the maximum amount of damage without dying. Chaox writes: “ To position well, you need to keep track of all 10 Champions in the game and where they are and what they do.” To read all of Chaox’s generic ADC guide click here, and for a more in depth guide on positioning see YouTube user AwesomeFusion’s video on positioning.

The role of ADC is not an easy one to learn, but is one that is crucial to playing the game at the highest level. I hope throughout this piece I have given some insight into what the basics of ADC are and why you should be doing them. For a more in depth look into the role of ADC, keep an eye out for fellow writer ChefoSLR’s upcoming series on ADC’s.

Will Someone Please Ward?

January 13th, 2013

warding banner

If you could turn the fog of war off, and have perfect vision of the enemy team at all times, you would, and you would almost certainly win every game you played. So why then, is warding something that few seem to appreciate? Today I am going to write about warding: the attitudes towards it in low to mid ELO games and why it’s important to do, with some information on how to do it effectively.

Attitudes towards warding

Anyone who’s ever played Support in soloqueue, be it through that being your favourite position like myself, or through simply getting last pick and being forced to play it, knows how frustrating most teams attitudes towards warding can be. There have been countless games where the statement “you’re the Support, you do the warding” has been said. While this statement is true if coming from your ADC in the laning phase, outside of the laning phase this is anything but true. While Support should be warding throughout the game, they shouldn’t be the only one doing it. Even with the Season 3 Mastery changes and full GP/10 Quints, supports still average the lowest gold income in the game, yet many players expect them to be warding everywhere at all times.

Warding is so easy yet so important.

It is clear from the fact that players want Supports to ward that they appreciate the importance of vision in the game, yet they refuse to pay the 75g to aquire it. One thing I think many don’t realise is that paying 75/150g for a couple of wards, which keep you from being ganked, is a far better investment than 150g towards your next item. After all, there’s no point in having items if you’re not alive to use them. The fact of the matter is, if every position bought one ward after the laning phase, the game would go so much more smoothly. If we assume the Support has a Ruby Sightstone and is using Vision Wards on Baron Nashor and Dragon, having the rest of your team buy one ward each gives you nine wards on the map! This is more than enough to cover every situation for being either aggressive and warding the enemy jungle as you push, or your own jungle if you’re being defensive. 75g is nothing to a Carry and the reward gained from it is huge. If you take away anything from reading this, I can only hope that it’s that warding shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the Support.

Xpecial ward map

Map courtesy of Xpecial


So how can you ward effectively in game?

The object of warding is to gain vision of crucial areas of the map that you expect your enemy to be in. Gaining vision of these areas, especially when your enemy doesn’t have vision, gives you a huge advantage. In the laning phase it helps protect against ganks from the jungler and helps you make the most of your advantages; if you see the enemy is on the other side of the map you can push objectives like Dragon or Baron Nashor. Learning to ward effectively is a rather simple job and is one that will improve your game to no end.

In this guide to Support by TSM player Xpecial, we find a very useful section on ward placements for a variety of different situations. The information is based on playing as Blue team and suggests the most important positions for wards throughout the game. If we take the nine wards suggested earlier, as a team it is more than possible to cover large chunks of the map giving you a major advantage.This guide however is before the pre-season 3 changes and so fails to mention the utility of Sightstone. It does however give a great overview of basic ward positions.

I keep hearing about Sightstone being the best GP/10 item right now, is this true?

Sightstone doesn’t have any direct GP/10 stats like Philosopher’s Stone or Kage’s Lucky Pick, so the GP/10 you are hearing about comes from the money saved on buying wards throughout the game once you have it. In his Decemeber 8th Support Video Xpecial estimates the GP/10 gain from buying Sightstone at roughly 8GP/10. League of Legends user Siky formalises the math behind this in this thread on the official forums, and for those wanting a very in depth guide on the math behind why Sighstone is a great GP/10 for supports, Reddit user NuffzetPand0ra gives a fantastically detailed explanation in this thread.

While the math behind it is interesting for those who enjoy the theorycrafting side of League of Legends, I would not be doing my readers justice if I did not attempt to explain it in a concise manner.

Philosopher’s Stone costs 700g and gives the user 5 gold per 10. This means it takes 23 minutes of having the Philosophers Stone for it to return a profit to you. Because a Sightstone costs 700g and wards cost 75g each, we have to place 10 wards (rounded up from the exact figure of 9.3 wards) before we start saving money. If we place the maximum two wards as soon as we can every 3 minutes, this means after 3*5=15minutes the Sightstone has returned its cost in saved money. From this moment on, every ward you place with Sightstone saves you 75g, but as you can place two wards at once you’re saving 150g over the two wards you would have had to purchase at full price. This is a saving of 150g every 3 minutes or a saving of 50g every minute, which then through the simple sum of 50/6 gives you a saving of 8.3g every 10 seconds. This is 3.3gold per 10 higher than the highest GP/10 item Philosophers Stone.

As we can see from some rather simple math, Sightstone is the most effective GP/10 item you can buy early game as a support.

GP10 fixed

GP10 is always important


So where does this fit in with warding?

This is a fairly simple question really. Buying Sightstone as a first or second item gives a greater gold return in the long run that any GP/10 item you can buy, and with the added bonus of giving you four wards between every return to base. At this stage, Sightstone is a very strong item, allowing the support a lot more flexibility in lane and a greater gold return than before.

With Sightstone Riot has given players the opportunity to be a lot more flexible with their warding. Buying a Sightstone and a Vision Ward as a support in the laning phase will allow for the warding of Dragon and lane and ganking bushes around river with ease, making it that much harder for you to be ganked, which is after all, the entire point of warding.

Warding is a thankless task for most players, but is one that is truly essential to the outcome of the game. If done properly it can change the outcome of nearly any given situation, and can give your team the advantage in combat, in farming and in lane. I hope throughout this piece I have expressed the frustration many support players feel when warding, as well as provided information on how to ward and the best ways to do it.

Synergising your Support

January 9th, 2013

Sona

Picking a support champion that synergises with your ADC is one of the most important things you can do in team select.

A great team isn’t just a composition of five competent players controlling their five best champions; a great team is one that selects champions that work together, champions that synergise out in Summoners Rift through abilities that can work in harmony to provide results greater than the sum of their individual parts. This week’s article, my first for News of Legends, is about why the champion you pick to Support with is incredibly important for the outcome of your game. This piece is part of my new series of articles aimed at the relative beginner to ranked play, for those hoping to climb up the ELO ladder and maximise their League potential. When Xpecial is choosing his champion he isn’t going to simply pick the one he’s most competent with, but the one that works best to counter the enemy team and the one that works best with the rest of his team.

Why is synergy important?

Have you ever been in the situation where your team lacks the right initiation? Or perhaps once you’ve initiated you lack crowd control? Or maybe you simply don’t have enough sustain in fights? Or even that you’ve got no one peeling and your Carries are getting burst down leaving you to die in a horrible mess each team fight. This is caused by poor team synergy. In soloqueue it’s perfectly understandable that you can’t be responsible for your whole team and even if you’re first pick it puts you on the back foot for trying to synergise, as you don’t know what your team is going to pick or who you’re playing against. At this point discussing team composition in champion select is your best bet, along with choosing a champion you’re most competent with. However, in premade 5s or being last pick in soloqueue you are more than able to pick a champion to synergise and avoid the awful situations where your team just doesn’t gel because you’re missing one key component.

Synergy is the concept of using two or more Champions abilities to provide an added bonus in combat, a key example being Leona’s Zenith Blade and Corki’s Valkyrie. Both Champions can go from nowhere to the midst of the battle in less than a second. Using Leona’s Zenith Blade then Shield of Daybreak (E -> Q, or Q -> E if you’re confident you can land the E so not to put Q on cooldown without hitting anything) to dash in and stun the enemy ADC or Support allowing Corki to Valkyrie in and clean up for kills works incredibly well in bottom lane. The same is true for Leona and Tristana. Every ADC and every support will have a champion that they synergise best with and that will give you the best chances of success. Finding this bottom lane combination is one key in a series to unlocking the door to dominating your bottom lane.

Leona Zenith Blade

So how do I synergise with my team?

Finding a support that synergises with your ADC and your team is something that after time you will come to know. You will come to know what support best counters the enemy kill lane, or which support you need to pick to help your team in the late game the most, but in the meantime there are several utilities available to anyone learning the support role. While it is not possible for me to cover every single Support and ADC I can hopefully point readers in the right direction for learning how to do this.

On the very basic level this page developed by Reddit user Nebu based on information provided by another Reddit user Spellsy allows a Support player to input allied ADC, as well as enemy ADC and Support which returns the optimal Support you should play, as well as providing some reasoning behind it. This is a great little web app for those learning the basics of Support Synergy however some champions like Teemo, often seen in the ADC role at lower elo brackets, are not featured, as well as uncommon but not unseen support champions like Zilean and Fiddlesticks. It is also very important to remember to take anything with a pinch of salt until you learn from experience.

ChampionSelect is also an incredibly useful tool to get the basics of counter picking and team synergy, listing full counters for ADCs as well as the Supports they work best with.

Graves champselect

Who Graves gets countered by, counters, and works well with, according to Championselect.net

To get a more detailed view on what Supports work best with certain ADCs we need to look at the professional levels, and what TSM bottom lane partners Xpecial and Chaox are doing. In this video by Xpecial he explains in detail during the loading screen why one would pick Janna to counter the very aggressive support of Leona on the opposite team. Janna is chosen due to her ability to use Howling Gale (Q, commonly known as Tornado) to knock back Leona after the engage effectively resetting the fight. While Leona and hopefully the enemy ADC are knocked up and unable to attack, his Ashe ADC will have 0.8-1.1 seconds (dependant on level) to free attack the enemy if all abilities are timed correctly. Xpecial provides a great example of why team synergy is important. It is also worth noting that Janna’s other abilities work well to counter Leona. Her Eye of the Storm (E) allows her to protect the ADC when Leona uses Zenith Blade as well as using Zephyr to slow the enemy ADC lowering the amount of time it has to attack your team. All of these factors would have been taken into consideration during champion select, and is something that any player aspiring to climb ELO must also think about.

To gain a clearer understanding of why Xpecial chose Janna to counter Leona and to better understand why who you pick is important, we can look at what the situation would have been like with a Support who does not synergise well in that team composition, most notably, Sona. If we take the team composition and situation as exactly the same but replace Janna with Sona, and have Leona use Zenith Blade on to either the ADC Ashe or Support Sona the situation is completely different. In that situation Sona’s only truly effective form of defense would have been to use her Ultimate ability Crescendo, which with a cooldown of 140/120/100 seconds compared to Zenith Blade’s 13/12/11/10/9 cooldown puts her on the back foot for a large chunk of the game. This would allow Leona to re-engage the fight very quickly, stun locking either the ADC or Support allowing Vayne to Tumble and Condemn one champion very easily, most likely securing a kill. Sona would have very little in the form of defense against Leona’s stun, as her Song of Celerity or Aria of Perseverance with a stacked Passive wouldn’t be enough to help her escape or heal through the damage respectively. In a situation with Leona and Vayne fighting a Sona and Ashe, the odds are ever in the favour of Leona and Vayne, for the reasons explained above.

Learning what support to pick to synergise best with your team, or even what champion to pick if you don’t play support is something all players need to learn. It will come with time and it will come with practice. It will also be hard, as you may have to reevaluate how to tackle champion select, and you may often have to move away from the champions you are most comfortable with and move towards ones that are better for your team. In the long run however, you will become a far better player and your team will thank you for it.