It doesn’t take someone with their finger on the pulse of the gaming world to know that League of Legends is a popular game. Like, really popular. A Forbes article from 2014 put the number of daily players at a staggering 27 million, and that was four years ago.
With the game’s unbelievable popularity, there are new players flooding in every day. But as attractive as the game is to newcomers, it can also be overwhelming.
With the number of potential champions a beginner has to choose from coming in at over 140, it’s hard to know where to start.
We’re here to help. But before we start analyzing the best League of Legends champions, let’s learn a little about what the game is.
What Exactly Is League of Legends?
We’ll get to champions soon. The first thing we need to answer is a more basic question: What is League of Legends?
League of Legends is a type of game called a MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. MOBAs got their start as mods created for games in the Real Time Strategy (RTS) genre. Today, MOBAs are some of the most popular games on the market.
A MOBA has a few key characteristics that define it. Besides the multiplayer and online aspects, there are a handful of elements that set it apart from its RTS predecessors.
League of Legends contains many complex features, and understanding them is crucial to understanding gameplay and champions.
- Top-Down Perspective – Unlike a first-personto shooter or third person adventure game, MOBAs use the pulled out top-down perspective you see in most RTS.
- Single Player Character – This just means you’ll be playing with a single character of your choice. This differs from RTS where you control many units at once.
- Team Co-op – This is one of the defining elements of a MOBA. Two teams, each consisting of 5 players in LoL, are pitted against one another. Each team works cooperatively to defeat the other.
- Tower Defense – Towers are structures players can use to defend their base and deal damage to enemies. Unlike playable characters, these are stationary structures that don’t need to be manned by a player.
- Inhibitors – In LoL, each team gets three inhibitors. Like towers, these are stationary structures. Once destroyed, the team who destroys it will begin to have super minions spawn at that location. We’ll talk about minions shortly.
- Nexus – The Nexus is basically each team’s home base. After a few conditions are met, a team can target the opposing team’s Nexus. Once a Nexus is a destroyed, the game is over, with the attacking team claiming victory.
- Minions – Minions are non-player characters that attack and hinder the players’ champions. They spawn at different locations depending upon different conditions.
- Lanes – Lanes refer to the different areas of the map. In LoL, there’s a top, middle (mid), and bottom (bot) lane, along with one additional lane called the jungle. Each lane is generally manned by different types of champions.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with some of the games core components, it’s best to run through LoL’s basic training. This will give you a feel for how they work in action. After that, you’ll be ready to dive in.
So What’s a Champion?
A champion is just LoL’s name for the various heroes a player can choose from. Pretty much any RPG or MOBA has different character builds, usually separated into classes.
There are five different roles one can play, with each being unique and necessary for your team.
Every champion has at least four abilities that are unlocked throughout the game by leveling up. Each one is activated by either the Q, W, E, or R keys. They also sometimes have passive abilities (just passive for short) that are always in effect and do not need to be triggered by the player.
Leveling up (like in traditional RPGs) is achieved by destroying the opposing team’s minions, champions, and structures. This will be important in achieving victory. Players can also use gold from fallen minions to buy useful items.
Here are the five roles and what they do.
Attack Damage Carry (AD Carry)
The AD Carry occupies the bot lane. This is your big damage dealer. Eventually, the AD Carry will be relied upon to deal the final blow to the opposing team. This is because of their immense damage dealing ability.
Early on, the AD Carry will need to be protected. This way it can level up and gain access to the abilities your team needs to achieve victory. That’s where the next role comes in.
The support lives in the bot lane alongside the AD Carry. Their job is to make sure the AD Carry is well-protected.
To accomplish this, support champions will usually choose abilities that weaken or hinder the opposing team. Abilities like Exhaust will lower your enemies stats, slowing their movement speed, lowering their attack and defense, and generally making them easier for the AD Carry to kill.
Top Laner Tank
These characters occupy the top lane. They’re powerful melee fighters who can deal up close and personal damage to enemies. They can also be built defensively in order to absorb damage and protect other champions.
With the top lane being far from the action, many tanks will take the Teleport ability. This allows them to travel across the map quickly, dropping themselves into the fray wherever they’re needed.
Mid Laner Mage
Mid laners are spellcasters with super high damage output. They usually take summoner spells that can take out opposing mid laners with scary ease.
With spells such as Ignite, mid laner mages can do damage that gradually lowers their enemy’s health. This means that even escaping opponents are safe from the massive damage dealing ability of a mid lane mage.
Last but not least, the jungler occupies spaces between the lanes. This is where neutral monsters live.
Killing neutral monsters is important, as it allows your team to farm gold. Gold will be critical in buying new and more powerful items to wield against your foes. Junglers can also pop out unexpectedly into the lanes, taking enemies by surprise.
Best League of Legends Champions
Now that you know about the different roles, we can finally jump into exploring some of the best champions the game has to offer. Once you’re more familiar with the game, you’ll find that champions can be built in countless ways to fulfill numerous roles.
In our humble opinion, here are eight of the best champions out there.
Nasus – The Curator of the Sands
Nasus can be built in a couple different ways, but he’s best utilized as a top lane tank. It’s also possible to build him with a focus on ability power (AP) or attack damage (AD). As you get better, you can experiment with these builds more freely.
As a tank, Nasus is made especially powerful by his passive Lifesteal ability. This grants him the opportunity to regain health every time he deals damage. In turn, this prolongs his life and lets him stay in the lane as long as possible.
Beyond that, his Siphoning Strike gets more powerful each time he deals the final blow (last-hit) an enemy. Paired with his area of effect (AOE) ability, Spirit Fire, this makes Nasus a big-time damage dealer.
His ultimate also happens to be one of the most powerful and deadly in the game. Fury of the Sands causes Nasus to grow in size and get a huge boost to health. It also allows him to use Siphoning Strike more frequently, even further increasing his damage dealing skills.
Garen – The Might of Demacia
Like Nasus, Garen is another natural tank, great for use as a top laner. His passive is Perseverance, which causes him to regain health much quicker than other champions.
Decisive Strike is a powerful ability that silences enemy champions. This makes them unable to cast spells for a short time. Couple this with Courage, Garen gains defensive bonuses every time he last-hits an enemy. That’s just one more thing that makes him the perfect tank.
Finally, his ultimate is an ability called Demacian Justice. This attack is more powerful the more damage an enemy has taken. As such, it’s perfect for swiftly executing battered enemy champions.
Shyvana – The Half Dragon
Shyvana is a versatile character who makes the perfect jungler. With a passive ability that lets her deal more damage to dragon type monsters and gain stat boosts every time she kills one, she can clear out jungles with unparalleled speed.
She also has the ability to deal double damage with her Q, Twin Bite. Burnout surrounds her in fire, dealing AOE damage. It also speeds her up, allowing her to run through jungles and clear them fast.
Her ultimate quite literally turns her into a dragon. This grants a big health boost and allows her to knock back enemies. This increases her already formidable position as a defensive tank, absorbing damage and repelling foes all at once.
Volibear – The Thunder’s Roar
Giving Shyvana a run for her money as a top tier jungler, Volibear is a tank built to last. Although he can be built offensively or defensively, his Chosen of the Storm passive automatically regenerates health when he falls below a certain point. Even with less speed than Shyvana, his ability to last in the jungle is unrivaled.
A powerful combination is using his Frenzy and Roar abilities in tandem. While Frenzy grants him continually increasing attack speed with every attack, Majestic Roar is an AOE that slows enemies. Used together, this is a deadly combo.
His ultimate, Thunder Claws, deals additional chained lightning damage to multiple foes every time he hits with a basic attack. This allows him to hit up to eight enemies at once, making him especially formidable in team fights.
Annie – The Dark Child
Annie is an ideal mid laner, great for doling out damage in team fights with her powerful AOE abilities. With moves like Incinerate, Annie can produce a cone of fire that hits multiple foes at once.
Her Ultimate is equal parts oddly funny and incredibly utile. She summons a massive, demonic teddy bear named Tibbers. Tibbers lasts for 45 seconds and deals big AOE damage. In team fights, this ability can turn the tide of the whole game.
Morgana – Fallen Angel
Like Annie, Morgana is a mid laner with powerful AOE abilities. Though she can be built as a support, her ability to target many enemies at once and deal high damage makes her an ideal mid lane champion.
Her Q, Dark Binding, anchors an enemy in place for three seconds whenever it hits. While that may not seem that long, this can make a world of difference in LoL.
If she can manage to hit multiple enemies with her Q, she can then use Tormented Soil to deal AOE damage to everyone in the affected area. Enemies will take damage as long as they stand on it, so that three seconds counts.
Morgana is a great late-game champion, able to flip a potential loss into a win when it really counts.
Caitlyn – The Sheriff of Piltover
Caitlyn is an AD Carry champion, perfect for bot lane combat. She also boasts one of the longest ranges in the game, meaning she can deal damage without taking it.
Her basic Q is a shot that passes through enemies in a line. Using her Yordle Snap Trap ability to trap and damage enemies, she has the potential to trap and line up multiple targets, maximizing the effectiveness of her Q ability.
Ace in the Hole is an ultimate that does bonus damage at long range can target any champion Caitlyn can see. This makes it the perfect finishing move to take down an opposing champion.
Ashe – The Frost Archer
Last but not least, Ashe is a powerful bot lane character due to the fact that she is different from most others. With a mix of AD and AOE abilities she can use at range to great effect.
Ranger’s Focus can be activated once her autoattack stacks four times. It gives her a boost to damage and speed, making this great for a solo duel. With her Volley attack, she hits a group of enemies at once, also slowing them. This is great for clearing minions.
Her ultimate can be used across the entire map. Enchanted Crystal Arrow can target any champion that any member of your team can see. Stunning the target for 3.5 seconds, this makes Ashe a perfect champion for starting a fight as opposed to finishing it, slowing your enemy as your team moves in for the kill.
Now It’s Your Turn
Now that you know a bit more about the champions at your disposal, it’s time for you to try them out for yourself. We didn’t even get to cover support champions, so as you can imagine, the potential builds are limitless.
With so many options, LoL suits all play styles. Unlike RPGs such as Skyrim, LoL’s MOBA format combines the best elements of many genres to create a thrilling multiplayer experience. Knowing all that, it’s easy to see why League of Legends continues to be one of the most popular games in the world.
But if MOBAs aren’t your thing, that’s ok too. There endless options available to you. Read about just a few here.