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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.

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