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League of Legends: How to pick the perfect champion

A League of Legends guide to help you pick your "perfect champion".


Picking a champion in League of Legends is one of the most important parts of the game because it sets the stage for everything that happens during the upcoming match. Knowing which champion to pick can be an incredibly straining task for the new player since there are 131 different choices. Each champion is unique in its own way, so how can you be sure that you picked the “perfect” one? Unfortunately, there is a lot that goes into making sure that the champion you picked is the perfect one, so there’s not just one magic answer that can solve this loaded question. The closest thing I can give to an answer is that by choosing the champion you are most comfortable with, you are choosing the “perfect champion”. While this is far from a perfect answer, the following guide will give a much more in-depth look on how to choose the “perfect champion”.

Melee or Ranged?

The easiest and most basic way to categorize champions in League of Legends is lumping them into two separate categories: melee and ranged. Of course there are a few exceptions who can do both, but think of this as the easiest way to differentiate the champions. Jhin, Ahri, and Kindred are examples of ranged champions; while Irelia, Rammus, and Zed are examples of melee ones. Of course, these champions fall into different class categories like Assassin, Mage, and Marksmen, but we will talk about that later. For now, focus on the fact that some champions can attack from a certain range away while others can only attack while right next to you.

When it comes to picking your “perfect champion”, you have to be able to know which type of champion you are best with. I, for example, can’t play melee champions to save my life, so I stick to playing ranged champions. However, a good friend of mine is the exact opposite and ruins every ranged champion he touches, but he absolutely destroys with melee champions. The point I’m trying to make is that everyone has a different playstyle, so it’s impossible to make a universal statement and say that Ashe is the “perfect champion” because for some, ranged champions are impossible to play. Experiment with the two basic types of champions, and once you find which one is suited for you, read the next step to help decide which Class you should play.

Classes

Now that you know whether you should play a melee champion or a ranged champion, you can start focusing in on the class and position you want to play. The roles in League of Legends are Fighter, Assassin, Mage, Marksman, and Tank. As you know, none of these are actual positions except for support, so every other position allows for some creativity when it comes to who you select for you champion. Before we get into the positions and which champion belongs in what positions, it’s important that we note which class does what in terms of gameplay.

Fighter

Almost every fighter in the game is a melee champion. Fighters focus on building up both damage and health/damage resistance so that they can last the entirety of a team fight and not worry about being burst down by an assassin or marksmen. This class of champions utilizes both their auto attacks and their abilities when fighting. Fighters are usually a bit tankier than other non/tank champions, but due to their damage they have to be focused in team fights. The most common place for fighters is in the top lane, but you will see a fighter jungling every once in awhile. If you enjoy melee champions who don’t necessarily deal the largest amount of damage but stay alive longer than assassins due to their tankiness, the fighter class is for you.

Assassin

The assassin class is made up of mainly melee champions, but there a few ranged champions included as well. These champions are usually played in the midlane, although a few are viable in the jungle. Assassins have one goal: to take out the squishy carry and get out of the fight as fast as they can. Assassins build up a ton of damage, but don’t usually buy health or damage reduction, so assassins are incredibly squishy. (If I didn’t mention it before, squishy means low health and low damage reduction. Assassins, most mages, and all marksmen are are “squishy”.) Since this class is made up of both ranged and melee champions, experiment with the ones who fit your playstyle. I love playing LeBlanc (ranged), but I can’t play Zed (melee) to save my life. Another thing I should mention about assassins is that most are mechanically challenging, and require a lot of practice to understand the champion. It took me about 20 games before I could understand how to use LeBlanc’s combos correctly, and I still make mechanical mistakes with her. If seeing someone’s health go from 100 to 0 is something you enjoy, and you like learning difficult champions, the role of assassin is one you should try out.

Mage

The majority of mages are ranged champions, with a few melee champions being the exception. The role of the mage class is to deal sustained magic damage during team fights, and you mainly see this class in the mid lane. Most mages have high mobility that allow them to roam top and bot, so mid lane is the best place for them most of the time. Unlike marksmen, mages deal their sustained damage by using abilities and not auto attacks. While assassins deal a ton of damage at one point and have to exit the fight because their cooldowns don’t allow them to keep fighting, mages will usually build cooldown reduction in addition to their magic damage to ensure that they can use their abilities as often as possible. Another positive about mages is that they can usually deal damage to multiple enemies with an ability, while marksmen and assassins can only focus one enemy at a time. Like marksmen, mages keep their distance from the enemy to deal damage, but if they get caught out, most can use some abilities to try and escape. Of course, there are the exceptions that don’t have much mobility, but what these champions lack in mobility they make up in raw power. If you like constantly using abilities that can deal damage to whole teams while being able to move around the map fairly quickly, the role of mage is for you.

Marksman

The marksmen class is made up of only ranged champions. This class is basically the only class used for ADC, and you rarely see a marksmen in any other position. Marksmen play a huge role in whether or not a team wins or loses because the marksmen is the team’s main source of damage. Unlike assassins, marksmen’s’ damage is sustained because the greater part of the damage source is basic attacks. While assassins and mages build up damage for their abilities, which have cooldowns, marksmen are dealing anywhere from 500-1500 damage per second for the entirety of a team fight. Like the assassins, marksmen build only damage items to ensure that they play their role to it’s fullest potential. The marksmen always gets a support bot lane, since they are the ADC, and the goal of the team is to protect the marksmen at all costs. This is the role/position that I play the most, and I do so because I love dealing damage while not having to be too close to the enemy that I’m fighting. The toughest thing about playing marksmen is that these champions rarely have any escape, so if you get caught out, you’ll die pretty quickly.

Tank

The final class is Tank, and it is made up entirely of melee champions. Tanks are usually played in the top lane, in the jungle, and as support. The main job of the tank is to build as much health and damage resistance as possible so that they can soak up the enemy’s attack during team fights. Think of it as though the tank is the distraction; the enemy team is trying to kill the squishies, but the tank gets in the way and makes it hard for the other team to do anything. Tanks often have a lot of crowd control abilities that allow them to shut down certain enemy players for a short amount of time. Another job of the tank is to initiate teamfights; an example would be Leona using her E to jump into the enemy and then ulting to stun them. While tanks don’t deal much damage, they are the ones who set up the plays for the marksmen and other carries. If you enjoy being a team player that can turn the tide of the game with a single play, tank may be for you.

Knowing When to Use a Champion

Once you go through playing all of the different classes and get a feel of which one suits you best, you’re one step closer to choosing the perfect champion. At this point, play a few champions in the class over and over again (I usually choose 3 champions that are useful in different situations) so that you get a good feel for everything that they can do. Practice farming and making plays in the way that the champion is suppose to make plays. If you’re a tank, don’t try to duel a mage or ADC. If you’re an ADC, don’t try to duel an assassin who has all of their abilities available. Don’t try to learn too many champions at one time, as this could lead to inconsistencies in your play. Another you want to keep in mind is that if you’re playing Mid, you want to try out both assassins and mages because each has their pros and cons.

Take for example when I used to play Mid lane. Mid was all I played, and I focused on only a few champions. I played Ahri, Orianna, and LeBlanc. While all these champions are midlaners, they each play a different role within the team. Additionally, there are times where I wouldn’t choose certain champions due to which champs the enemy team picked. Say that the enemy team has a bunch of tanks; I won’t choose LeBlanc because I know she’s not very good against tanky champions. In this case, I’d take Ahri because I know that she deals true damage, which means that the damage resistance the enemy tanks built up is irrelevant. Now, let’s say I have an Alistar or Leona on my team, and my Orianna ball could be easily transported into the enemy team; I’m going to choose Orianna. If the enemy team has a bunch of squishies on their team, I’m absolutely going to play LeBlanc. Now let’s say that the enemy team is building a composition that I don’t really know how to play against; perhaps I haven’t seen some of the champions before or haven’t played against a champion in a certain position. In this case, choose the champion that you are most comfortable with. For me, I’d choose Ahri because I feel like I know the ins and outs of her kit, and even if I’m against something I’m unfamiliar with, I’d have the best chance of doing well.

Conclusion

Choosing the perfect champion isn’t about choosing the one that everyone else is good with, it’s about choosing the one you’re great with. Urgot is the least played champion in the game, but if you play him and fall in love with how he works and plays, keep playing him (you’ll actually have an advantage because people won’t know how to play against him as I’ve played about 1100 games of League of Legends, and I’ve only seen Urgot in 3 of them). League of Legends has 134 champions, and no two are alike. Finding the perfect champion takes work, and one that’s “perfect” for one player may be the worst champion for another player. Luckily, League of Legends is all about finding your playstyle and the champions that work with it. You’ll eventually find the champions that you’re best with, and after tons of trial and error, you’ll know how to choose that “perfect champion”.


Cameron Tennyson

I study Communication at UC San Diego with the hopes of becoming a journalist one day. In my free time, I write short stories and play League of Legends.

League of Legends: How to pick the perfect champion

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