League of Legends is a ton of fun. A unique gameplay style, strong visuals and sound effects, and a constantly evolving meta make the eight-year-old game feel fresh. But it can also be challenging for new players to pick up. Well-designed games have a lot of nuance; that way, players are rewarded and challenged as they continue to learn and play the game. But that can make the learning curve seem high.
To help new players, we’ve put together a list of 10 Tips and Tricks that can help improve your League experience. These are things nearly all experienced players use to get better. For more help playing League, read our Beginner’s Guide and explore some of Riot’s tutorials.
You may not skip a division using these moves, but they will definitely help you improve.
1) Unlock the Camera
We don’t even know why this is an option. It’s stupidly obvious that the camera should never be locked in the first place. But when you first create an account, you’ll notice that in gameplay, the camera follows your character around. It allows you to see in a small circle of vision around your champion, but nothing more.
The toggle to unlock the camera is the “Y” button. You can also see all in-game settings by hitting “Esc.” Unlocking the camera means you will use your keyboard and mouse to direct the camera. This unlocks a world of possibilities: You can pan around the map, seeing what your teammates are doing. You can see enemies that have been revealed by other allied units further away from your champion. A big part of League is learning to use your eyes as well as your fingers; unlocking the camera is your first step to improving map awareness. Speaking of which…
2) Look at the minimap
As a beginner, there’s nothing wrong with focusing on your champion. You want to learn how to last-hit, how to trade, how to hit skillshots, etc. But to get past the beginner phase, you have to look at the map. We’d even toggle the map to be extra large in the game settings.
A common claim from low-ELO players is that they have better mechanics than their current ranking (“my high-ELO friend told me I have amazing mechanics!”). But often, this requires them to focus on themselves, ignoring the fact that League is a team game and the only way to see what your team (and the enemy team) is doing is to look at the map. Good League players understand that looking at the map is a mechanic, and they can do all the other stuff while keeping their map awareness high.
So how often should you look at the map? Honestly, you can’t look at it enough. Some people have tried an internet metronome that beeps every few seconds to remind them to look. Others will look every time they hit a minion. You could look at the map every second and it wouldn’t be too much.
Obviously, looking at the map is only the first step. You have to learn how to read it; the best players can take a glance and immediately know where their teams strengths are, guess at where the enemies are (even ones you can’t see), and intuit where and when the next play will be made. That can only be learned through experience. But you’ll never get that experience unless you look at the map.
What if you see something on the map, like an enemy setting up an ambush? How do you communicate that to your teammates? By using pings. Riot’s support website gives a pretty good guide on what pings are and how to use them. Tap “G” or “V” and left-click to ping; holding the keys down while swiping your mouse in a different direction produces different types of pings. Test the different options out in a custom or bots game.
What types of things should you ping? After all, you don’t want to over-do it and annoy your teammates. Common things to ping include enemies you see, objectives (what you want to do next), and map movements (where you want to go). As you get better and your map awareness increases, you’ll want to ping wards (vision—more on that later), where you expect enemies to be, even plays you want to set up minutes in advance.
Pings are a great way to communicate with your team. The other way is to use the in-game chat, which can be…less than useful.
It’s a lot of fun when the chat is positive and people are working together. But because League is competitive and because players chat in anonymity, the chat can become a bit toxic. It’s not uncommon for teammates to blame each other for bad plays rather than focus on how they can improve themselves. Blaming and abusing others in chat does zero good and only promotes losing. So don’t be that guy.
Sometimes, it’s easier to just ignore people and Riot has given us some tools to do that. You can type “/mute” or “/ignore” in the game chat (enter chat by hitting “Enter” in-game), followed by the player you want to silence (such as “/mute Player1”). Mute blocks chat while ignore blocks chat and pings, so you might want to mute first and then ignore if their behavior doesn’t improve. You can also also mute or ignore “allies,” “enemies,” or “all” if you’re looking to play in peace and quiet.
5) Quick Cast
The default way to cast spells is to press the associated Q-W-E-R key. That brings up a range and location indicator on your screen. You then left-click on the spot where you want that spell to cast.
But that click wastes valuable time, especially when trying to land skill shots. Quick cast (also known as smart cast) allows you to forgo the click; pressing the key will immediately cast the spell at the location of your cursor. You can toggle smartcast on/off for any or all of your abilities in the game settings menu (hit “Esc”).
You might want to get used to your champion’s spells and their direction, speed, and range before moving to Quick Cast. Some pros still use the click function for some hard-to-aim spells where Quick Cast requires a lot of practice and confidence. But you should learn how to Quick Cast the majority of your spells.
6) Attack move (click)
Now that you’re not clicking to cast spells, left click is free for something more useful: Attack move. This functions similar to a real-time strategy game: Your champion will move towards the click location but will stop to attack the first enemy encountered.
Attack move has significant advantages over right-clicking. First, if you right click and miss the target, your character will walk that way and ignore everything else until you click again. That’s an easy way to get killed. By using attack move, you will stop and attack the nearest target.
The standard attack move command is to hold “A” while left-clicking. But this is cumbersome, and many high-level players will change their game settings so that attack move requires only a left-click (attack move click). This requires some behind-the-scenes tinkering; here’s a guide for how to accomplish it. You can then use left-click for attack moving and right-click for movement only.
All of this rolls into a LoL mechanic called kiting. We could write a book on kiting, but for now, just try using attack move and learn how to walk and fight at the same time.
7) Pay attention to minions (creeps)
Ah, our little AI-controlled friends that march dutifully down the lanes. Taking care of them is a big part of playing League. This can be frustrating to some—LoL is supposed to be player vs. player, right?
But getting good at hitting minions empowers you to fight. Beginning players will want to get good at last-hitting creeps. This means you have to monitor minion health bars along with the attack patterns of your allied minions (and fellow players). For ranged champions, you’ll need to get a feel for how long it takes for your projectile to hit the creep. And learning how to do all this when pushed under your turret is especially difficult.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Experienced players know how to read minion health to abuse enemies trying to last-hit. The best players will understand how to manipulate entire waves (groups of creeps): When to push, freeze, or bounce a wave. These are high-level strategies that allow teams to control the map.
For now, just focus on last-hitting. The golden rule is that you should kill 10 creeps/minute. The best pros often fall short of that mark, but it’s something you should aim for each game.
8) Ignore epic monsters
As mentioned in our Beginner’s Guide, League’s jungle features a variety of powerful monsters. Two of these, Dragon (or Drake) and Baron are known as epic monsters. They are hard to kill but grant the killing team powerful advantages that can last the whole game.
As a beginning player, our best advice is to ignore them. If you’re just starting out and someone starts pinging the team to take Baron, the best advice is to throw out a bunch of danger pings and avoid that area like the plague. Dragon is a lot easier, but professional teams mess up these objectives on a regular basis.
So just ignore them. If you’ve just killed the entire enemy team and nobody can interfere with your attempt, it gets easier, but even then, there are other positive things you can do (destroy turrets) that are a lot easier for beginners to pull off. Kill the minions, ignore the monsters.
9) Buy wards and use them
Wards are little items that provide vision for a certain radius. Their usage gets a little complicated, but we’ll make it simple for you. At the start of the game, get a Warding Totem from the shop. This is a free trinket that exists outside of your normal item inventory and allows you to periodically place a green invisible ward. The Totem uses a charge system; you get one charge upon purchase and over time, you can stack up to two charges. Placing a ward consumes a charge and puts the trinket on a small cooldown.
The ward will provide vision for a set duration before disappearing. While you’re in lane, place the ward somewhere to give you vision of the surrounding area. Common spots include bushes where enemies can lurk, especially ones that lead into the jungle and river.
If you’re a support, prioritize buying a Sightstone and swap out your trinket for a sweeper that reveals enemy wards (and invisible units). A lot of new supports prefer to build damage items in order to feel useful, but remember, knowledge is power. And at some point, invest in a control ward (this is not just for supports). The control ward reveals invisible units and disables enemy wards within its detection radius.
Beginning players should aim to constantly put down wards whenever they have a charge for the trinket or Sightstone. Work with your team to put down vision around the area of the map you want to play around.
10) Don’t worry about wins and losses
We get it. League gets competitive. But when you’re first starting out, it’s okay to lose a few games. Even good players go on winning and losing streaks, and sometimes, it feels like they have little impact on the outcome of a game.
So don’t sweat it. Have fun. Worry more about your individual play and learning from your mistakes (and from other players). Take breaks and remember: League is supposed to be fun!
Bonus: Play with friends!
At its best, League is a collaborative game that involves high-level team play. Connect with friendly players you’ve met in the game and try to queue together. Playing with your IRL friends is also a ton of fun. You’ll be surprised by how many people around you play LoL (have we mentioned that it’s the most popular game in the world?). Using apps like Discord or Skype to chat live with friends can take your play to another level.