At one point or another, we have all looked up a guide on how to improve our gameplay. Whether it be in order to improve our general skills or our proficiency on specific champions, more often than not, the forums we read and videos we watch all highlight the importance of developing solid fundamentals. Unfortunately, this advice usually generates more uncertainty than it resolves. That being said, an amazing community has been formed around this 11-year-old game with caring members who have created amazing resources. All that is left to do is find this information which comes in the form of articles and videos.
In an effort to ease the growing pains of new players and sharpen the skills of existing enthusiast, I have compiled a list of fundamentals to focus on along with useful resources to develop these fundamentals further. These fundamentals are split into general fundamentals, that are essential throughout each stage of the game, laning fundamentals, for laning phase, and mid-to-late game fundamentals, for the rest of the game.
Champions & Item Builds
As much as it pains me to say it, if you want to be able to beat any match up or team composition, you must first know what every champion in the game does. That’s right, EVERY champion. Flexibility is a big part of the game and being flexible in how you approach match ups is the only way you are going to stand a chance, or have any fun. Don’t get it twisted, you do not have to play every champion. Go ahead and be a one trick! But you at least need to know what every other champion does (abilities), as well as their playstyles, and power spikes. Non-negotiable.
There are a lot of hidden or unnoticed things about abilities that you can discovered by reading about individual champions on websites like:
In all the above pages you will find information about itemization, playstyles, counters, as well as people who you can reach out and voice ideas to. Speaking of items, knowing what items to build is key. For absolute beginners, knowing when to go Ninja Tabis vs Mercury Treads is a good place to start. Blindly following a set build path is alright to begin with but eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, you must be able to decide what items each unique game calls for.
Team Compositions & Win Conditions
Envision a pyramid. Near the top sit a lonely few who have devoted more time and effort into the game than some people have devoted to their jobs. These are the people who can confidently say “I am the win condition” and play whatever they want against anything their opponent’s pick. For the rest of us, things are not so simple. Taking a moment to look at the enemy’s, as well as your own teammate’s, picks is vital. Really, really, really think hard as to why Katarina might not be an optimal pick into a team with Zilean, Kayle, and Poppy.
There is no shame in not being confident in solo carrying your team. A big part of the fun in playing League is working together with others. Simply being able to identify what your team composition is missing and trying to fill the gap will win you more games than you think.
The most basic and balanced team compositions need to consider elements such as AD/AP damage split, utility, tanks, engage, range, wave clear, CC, disengage. Learn more about 5 basic team compositions in League, win conditions, and tips on drafting in these articles.
CS & Farm
Given that minions are the primary means at which you gain experience and gold for those coveted level and item power spikes, being able to consistently and reliably farm minions is of paramount importance. While you should not tilt the instant you miss a cannon minion, nor should you flame your jungler for helping you push the wave following a successful gank, missing minions in lane when you are not being pressured by the enemy is shooting yourself in the foot. The good news is, everyone makes mistakes! Even world champions miss cannon minions from time to time, but here are some tips to avoid that:
Finally, although CSing is a vital component of the game, there will be times where you will be fighting a champion that counters your pick, a champion you have never played against before, or an early game lane bully as a late game hyper scaler. In these cases, it is perfectly alright to give up CS in the early stages of the game and soak up experience. If you know you outscale, play for the late game. For an explanation of the theory, practical elements, and technical tips on CSing, check out our guide here.
Map Awareness & Vision Control
Aside from protecting ourselves from ganks, gaining vision of the enemy jungler allows nearby lanes to play safe while allowing other lanes to be more aggressive. Later in the game, good vision control can let you pick off unsuspecting enemies rotating between lanes, in their jungle, or before an objective. It is a known fact that spending 75 gold on a control ward to avoid gifting 300 - 450 gold to the enemy is a worthwhile investment. That being said, you could have the entire enemy jungle lit up like a Christmas tree and it would be completely meaningless if you do not pay attention to your mini map and make use of that information.
As long as you put down wards, take a look at your mini map, and use the information to plan your next move, you are off to a great start! The next thing to look into is how to improve the efficiency of each ward and when to place wards safely. Additionally, these tips and tricks are great ways to improve map awareness while these articles explain basic and advanced concepts of vision control.
Creating a Numbers Advantage
To round out the general fundamentals, the concept of numbers advantage should always be considered when thinking about fighting the enemy. In the laning phase, this could mean which team will be able to rotate and help their teammates first. In the mid and late-game, this could mean picking fights and forcing objectives when the enemy has a player without Teleport farming a lane on the opposite side of the map. One of the best ways to comeback while behind is to create and capitalize on opportunities through superior numbers. Note that it will give you an advantage but not guarantee success in fights. It is a funny world we live in, some people can 1v9 every game while others struggle to 4v5 in a teamfight.
A relatively simple concept, priority is being able to safely pressure the enemy laner and being the first to rotate towards your team should something happen. In the early game, this is particularly important as champions have less health and resistances so being able to get to a fight first and burst down the enemy makes all the difference. If your jungler is fighting the enemy jungler in the bottom side river, and you as the mid laner get there first, you will be able to assist in killing the enemy jungler while protecting your jungler from dying. Unfortunately, if the enemy bottom lane has priority, you will be stuck in a 2v3 until your bottom lane arrives to help. Just remember, having priority means nothing if you do not decide to rotate.
Priority can be generated from superior pushing abilities and kill pressure. Fair warning, mindlessly pushing up makes you susceptible to getting ganked, be sure to practice good map awareness and only push when the enemy jungler is not close! Finally, priority allows you to protect your jungler, place wards, be first to objectives, roam, and so on.
In a standard game of League, there are numerous factors that cannot be controlled. Proper wave management should not be one of those factors. Through proper manipulation of minions, you can dictate the pace of the lane, keep yourself safe from ganks while keeping your opponent in constant danger of getting ganked, pressure lanes in preparation for objectives, and find great recall timings. Good players can pick champions into losing match ups and come out on top in large part due to their understanding of wave management.
Thankfully, for such a vital aspect of the game, wave management is a relatively simple skill. Minion waves can either be kept even, frozen, slow pushed, or fast pushed. More on those terms can be found in this article or these videos:
Another important aspect of the laning phase is trading. Knowing how and when to trade are important regardless of whether you are an early game lane bully or a scaling late game champion. Improper trading could reduce your effectiveness as a lane bully while only taking good trades can help scaling champions thrive in the laning phase. Of course, being able to trade effectively is also reliant on knowing your opponent's champion strengths as well as your own. With proper trading you can generate gold leads, gain priority in lane, and even win unfavourable match ups.
Of course, there are many factors that need to be considered before effective trading can be achieved. Some of these include observing level and item advantages, playing around cooldowns, knowing where the enemy jungler is, and factoring in minion damage. All concepts you should have an understanding of with the help of the resources listed in this article. Additional factors to consider as well as advanced concepts can be found at:
Mid-to-late Game Fundamentals
Objectives are a major part of the game. Aside from killing minions and enemy champions, killing objectives is the only other thing that can create advantages for your entire team. In fact, without neutral objectives to accelerate the pace of the game, late game scaling compositions will be at a huge advantage as there will be no reason for them to step out of their base. Whether it be passive bonuses or enhanced pushing abilities, denying the enemy access to these benefits is as important as claiming it for your own team. Given the importance of objectives, it is vital that you keep your eye on the clock and prepare for objectives before they respawn. Proper ward coverage and having your entire team in position will allow you to rush the objective or make a pick on rotating enemies. Be sure to arrive at the objective 30-40 seconds before it respawns.
While the second video is slightly outdated in terms of the Elder Dragon, the rest of the information within is still handy when thinking about objectives. Just remember that according to GOSU.AI, teams that secure Dragon Soul have an over 78.89% win rate and 62.6% of games are won by the team that secures the first dragon.
Rounding up our list of fundamentals is the thrilling teamfight. Proper teamfighting involves understanding your role in the ordeal as well as what your enemy intends to do. Some team compositions shy away from straight up 5 v 5 teamfights, looking to split the enemy team up to generate a numbers advantage. Remember, even if your team is not as strong as theirs in a straight up teamfight, you will still need to find ways in order to contest objectives or the enemy will perpetually group up and push your team around. Following good preparation, you will have a clear idea of your win condition, established vision of the area, have each player play to their roles, and be mindful of positioning. As a tank, there is no point in soaking up damage if your team cannot also trade some damage back. In this case, taking too much damage might lose you the ability to contribute meaningfully in the ensuing fight.
Of course there are a multitude of things to consider before engaging in teamfights. Some basic things include item and level advantages, terrain considerations, and identifying key targets on the enemy team. Additional information can be found at:
And That's a Wrap!
That brings us to the end of this listicle. As mentioned in the beginning, there is a host of other resources available in various websites created by members of the League community to help with improving gameplay. It really feels great to be part of this community and I hope you come to love this game as much as I do. Good luck!