A HoTS Player’s Guide to Learning League
In December 2019, Blizzard made the decision to downsize the Heroes of the Storm development team and effectively end its support of its esports scene. Our own team was saddened as many of us are Blizzard fans and play HoTS (we even have a Grandmaster player!). Although HoTS still lives on as a playable game, there are many competitive players who are switching to games such as League of Legends.
If you’re looking to make a smooth transition from HoTS to League, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll give you for tips to help you become familiarized with the main Summoner’s Rift game mode, understand mechanics such as farming and last-hitting, and help you find the right champion for your personal playstyle.
1. Understand the basics of Summoner’s Rift
In Heroes of the Storm, there are fifteen maps (“Battlegrounds”) which are featured in competitive play – in League, there is only one, Summoners Rift. This is the map that the professionals play on and it’s where you’d be if you were trying to climb the ranked ladder. There are other maps in League (which we’ll mention later), but for now, we’ll focus on Summoner’s Rift since it’s where you’ll likely be spending most of your time.Here are the basics of the map:
- There are two teams, blue team and red team, which are comprised of five summoners (players).
- The ultimate goal for each team is to destroy the opposing team’s Nexus (basically the core from HoTS). This is the only way to win and secure a victory.
- Throughout the match, minions will spawn from each Nexus and continually go down the three lanes, known as Top lane, Mid lane and Bot lane, toward the enemy Nexus.
- Killing minions grants players gold and experience which allow their champions to grow in power. Gold allows players to buy items and experience allows players to level up and rank up skills (more on these aspects in tip #2).
- In each lane, there are a series of towers which will attack minions and champions. Summoners must destroy all towers in at least one lane to be able to attack the turrets which guard the Nexus, and must destroy both of these towers.
- Destroying towers and other structures gives gold and allows minions to push further up a lane.
- The areas between the lanes are the river and jungle. Neutral monster camps spawn here which provide buffs and act as objectives (see tip #5).
- Unlike HoTS, contesting these camps and objectives is not mandatory, however, they can help secure a lead or end a match.
That’s it! These components will remain as your constants but you’ll never experience the same game twice. The variety and complexity in League comes from the many champions in the game, the different strategies to work with your team, and the choices that the players in the game make.
Tip: If you just want to get a tactile feel for League of Legends and its champions before diving into Summoner’s Rift, you can also try out Twisted Treeline (3v3), Howling Abyss ARAM (all random, all mid), or Nexus Blitz.
2. Get used to Gold and Items
This next tip relates to one of the core gameplay differences between League and HoTS – gold and items. In Heroes of the Storm, progression and power gain occur as you gain levels and make choices in your skill tree which augment your character’s unique abilities and grant utility actives. League is quite different in that your progression is tied to how well you can farm gold to buy items from the shop. These items are available to any player as long as they can afford them and are used to provide specific stats, resistances, or utility.
Another difference in League is that you don’t share experience as a team. If you’re doing well, you’ll most likely be ahead of your team in levels and if you’re struggling you may fall behind. It’s entirely possible for you to be multiple levels ahead or behind everyone else so be sure to hit Tab often and keep track of your experience compared to everyone else’s.Last-hitting
In tip #1, we mentioned how killing minions will give you gold and experience. Important things to note here is that in order to get gold, you have to deal the final blow to the minion, also known as last-hit. If you do not last-hit you’ll still soak experience, just like in HoTS.
As you last-hit, every minion you kill contributes to your Creep Score, which is also known as your CS. This is a widely used term and you’ll often hear players using “farming”, “last-hitting”, and “CSing” as interchangeable terms. Throughout a match, one of your main goals is to gain more CS than your opponent because it means that you’ll be able to get more items faster.
This is a key skill that will be tough at first but you’ll get used to it in time. Every champion has their own “rhythm” in farming due to their different abilities and auto-attack animations, so make sure to practice against bots, utilize the Practice Tool, or watch high-level players who use your champion.
Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you’re not only CS’ing, but you’ll also be controlling the flow of the map with wave management. This concept is more advanced so keep a mental note of this for now and then come back after you’ve gotten down the process of last-hitting.
As you collect gold, you can purchase items when you return to base or when you recall (basically the same thing as using your Hearthstone in HoTS). Each champion can have a maximum of six items that have a wide variety of effects = some help you do damage, some help you to mitigate damage and survive, and other provide utility such as movement speed or slowing your enemies.
The items you build will be dependent on a combination of factors but usually lean on two things: the champion you’re playing and the state of the game. Your champion will give you a good idea of what your “core items” should be and the state of the game will determine your situational items.
To keep it simple, let’s say you’re a ranged damage dealer. Before the game begins you should have a good idea of the items you build to help maximize your DPS (damage per second). If the game is going well, you can opt to buy more damage so you can “snowball” your lead and solidify your dominance. However, if the game is going poorly, you’ll have to adapt for a more defensive playstyle. Learning all the different League of Legends items can be overwhelming so we recommend taking it slow and focus on the ones that the champions you play use. Once you have those down, move on to learning the common items you see your lane opponents taking, and then naturally, the ones you often see in other lanes.
Luckily, we have the perfect feature to help you build properly. The Mobalytics Pre Game tool (shown above) provides item recommendations for every champion before your match begins. Our high ranked team members keep these up-to-date to make sure that your build is optimal for the current meta.
Tip: As a beginner, you may naturally look for fights often but try to emphasize income as a priority. Remember that the more gold you have, the better items you’ll have, and the stronger you’ll be.
3. Learn about the five roles
In Heroes of the Storm, heroes are generally classified as four roles: Assassins, Tanks, Supports, and Specialists. These roles describe what the hero would typically want to do regardless of the Battleground that the hero was on – Assassins are expected to deal damage, Tanks should be at the front lines engaging or peeling, and so on.
League of Legends roles are a bit different. In tip #1, we learned about the different areas of the Summoner’s Rift map, most notably, Top lane, Mid lane, Bot lane, and the jungle. At the beginning of League’s history, players experimented with what they felt the optimal distribution was of where champions should go (this is a story for another time). Eventually, the “standard” role meta formed so that there was a Top laner, a Mid laner, two laners in Bot lane (a carry and Support), and a dedicated Jungler. At the beginning a standard game, it looks like this:Now, if you’re coming from HoTS, you shouldn’t worry too much about whether you were an Assassin or Tank. Each of the five League roles allows pretty much any playstyle to exist and thrive. For example, a League Support player isn’t limited to providing heals and shields – they have many options to engage as a tanky champion or even carry as a high-damage mage. Top laners can play potent 5v5 engagers, deadly 1v1 duelists, ranged or melee, you name it. Most champions can comfortably play two or more roles.
The roles in League provide general guidelines and expectations for what you should be doing throughout the game in terms of where you’re supposed to be and how you want to contribute to your team’s chances of victory. If you’d like to go on a deep dive for what role you should play, check out our article, How to Choose your Main Role for Ranked League of Legends. In the meantime, let’s just cover the core concepts.
- If you enjoy isolated 1v1 combat, Top lane is the place for you. Since Dragon (more on this in tip #5) is usually contested during laning phase, this means that Junglers and Mid laners will lean more towards ganking and roaming towards the bot side of the map.
- It’s a lane that relies on precise trades and knowing the right time to make your move – if you misstep and fall behind, you may not get help for a while (or ever) since your Jungler may prioritize helping out one of your winning lanes.
- Some Top laners will spend the whole game creating pressure and forcing the enemy team to react (like a Specialist in HoTS) while others will look to join big teamfights with the Teleport Summoner Spell.
- Typical archetypes:
- Tanks: Malphite, Sion, Shen
- Duelists: Fiora, Tryndamere, Jax
- Ranged: Kayle, Teemo,
- If you like planning ahead and playing the map like a chess match, Jungler may be your cup of tea. Unlike the other four roles which are responsible for a particular lane during the early game, you choose where you think needs the most help and will have the most impact as you balance between ganking and farming neutral camps.
- You have the power to turn a 1v1 into a 2v1 since you can appear at any place. You’ll also have to do your best to keep track of where the enemy Jungler is to either be ready for a counterattack or look to take an opportunity elsewhere.
- Another unique gameplay aspect for Jungler is that they are responsible for using the Summoner Spell Smite to execute and secure objectives, so make sure you’ll need to have composure and good timing.
- Typical archetypes:
- Initiators: Amumu, Sejuani, Jarvan IV
- Snowballers: Lee Sin, Shaco, Rengar
- Farmers: Kindred, Master Yi, Shyvana
- Want to do it all? Mid laners are expected to be versatile since they experience the 1v1 nuances of farming and trading in lane but must also roam through the river and jungle to help out their sidelaners or Junglers.
- This is a highly popular and contested role so you’ll need to be practiced with a secondary.
- Nearly any champion can be played Mid, so you’ll run into everything from mages and assassins to duelists and supportive champions.
- Typical archetypes:
- Assassins: LeBlanc, Kassadin, Talon
- Control mages: Anivia, Lissandra, Orianna
- Artillery/Poke: Lux, Vel’koz, Xerath
Bot Carry (ADC)
- Do you enjoy being the firepower? The glass cannon VIP that everyone on the team peels for so you can dish out damage?
- As the Bot Carry, you’ll have a dedicated Support to protect and aid you so you can scale toward hitting crucial items.
- This is the most farming intensive role in the early game and mid game but the match will be in your hands late game as you become incredibly powerful.
- Typical archetypes:
- Lane bullies: Draven, Caitlyn, Miss Fortune
- Engage: Ashe, Jhin, Varus
- Hyper-carries: Kai’Sa, Tristana, Vayne
- The Support is similar to the Jungler in that they play the game from a big picture perspective, except they are expected to tend to the bot lane and ADC.
- They’re the glue of the team that keeps everything together by controlling vision, building utility items, and just doing all the little things to help the game go smoothly.
- Supports are the only role who get to experience laning but don’t have to worry about last-hitting.
- Typical archetypes:
- Damage/poke: Brand, Xerath, Zyra
- Tanky: Alistar, Braum, Leona
- Heals/shields/utility: Janna, Nami, Soraka
Tip: Remember that these are all general guidelines and can sometimes change according to shifting metas. In 2018, we saw melee champions as Bot carries and traditional Supports being played as Junglers.
4. Find your champion and understand how they fit into team compositions
Once you understand the goals and purposes of the five roles, it’s time to find a champion to play! This can be as simple as choosing someone you think looks cool or by researching the types of mechanics and gameplay you want to play with. Our team member, Ben, who has been a Grandmaster in HoTS, has created a cheat sheet to help you match some League of Legends champions with the playstyles of Heroes of the Storm heroes.
Similar heroes and champions cheat sheet:
- Stitches -> Blitzcrank (hook mechanics)
- Diablo -> Alistar (beefy frontline engagers)
- Uther -> Taric (healing/crowd control)
- Junkrat -> Ziggs (explosive poke and area control)
- Gazlowe -> Heimerdinger (turrets and sieging)
- Illidan -> Nocturne (mobile assassin that can stick to their victim)
- Lucio -> Sona (augments the team with situational auras)
Choosing a champion with a playstyle that you’re familiar with can make your transition much smoother and intuitive. There will be some differences of course, but basic play patterns will be similar enough for you to jump right in and get the hang of things.
Once you get the hang of a single champion, you can begin to build your champion pool. In general, your pool for your main role will consist of around three champions which are optimized to help you play around picks and bans in champ select as well as potential counter picks.
In any team game, whether it’s HoTS or League, team composition is incredibly important. If you take two teams with equal skill, the difference is often made in their team comps and ability to work together. We’ve created an infographic that illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of popular team comps, as well as the type of champions that would fit into each:These are the major ones, and some compositions you run into will have some overlap of the archetypes. Over time, you’ll naturally develop the ability to recognize what each team is looking to do before the game begins. It’s up to you to understand what your role is and how you can best contribute to your team’s victory.
How to follow the meta
With every ranked season, they are usually gradual gameplay changes, buffs, and nerfs which change the landscape of the meta and makes some champions more favorable than others. This doesn’t have a big effect until you get out of the lower ranks but it is something to think about so you can build an understanding of what makes particular champions and items “good”. Keeping up with everything can seem daunting but luckily we’ve got you covered!
Every patch, the high-elo members of our team (ranging from Diamond to Challenger), create a predictive tier list to help players understand how the meta will shift and which champions will be rising and falling due to the patch’s changes. We provide recommendations for every role and skill level as well as commentary for the top picks.
You can find the tier list here on the blog, on our Youtube, or featured with the Live Content on your Dashboard if you use our platform. Tip: Don’t feel obligated to change your champion every time the meta changes. If you like a champion and have success with it, stick with it until it doesn’t work anymore.
5. Adjust to League’s pacing, power spikes, and objectives
A typical Heroes of the Storm game usually lasts about 20 minutes – action happens right from the get-go and the objectives you have to contest activate within a few minutes. League has a much different rhythm and pacing. Although it is possible for a match to last 20 minutes or under, don’t be surprised if you sometimes get a match that lasts 45 minutes or more.
Another big difference in League is that the objectives are entirely optional. They’re definitely worth contesting when the opportunity presents itself because can help a establish a lead or secure the means to victory, but you can and will win games without taking a single one.
In this section, we’ll go over the three “phases” which generally dictate the pace and state of the game, and go over the different objectives on Summoner’s Rift.
The three phases
A typical League of Legends match goes through phases known as the Early, Mid, and Late game. Let’s break them down:
Early game (typically up to around 15 minutes)
- This is the most “organized” the phase of the game because you’ll have a general idea of where everyone is going. Top laners will go top, Mid laners go mid, and ADCs and Supports go bot. You can have a general idea of where the Jungler will be and go, but you won’t know for sure without proper vision control.
- This is when skills like farming, 1v1 combat, and trading are crucial. Do your best to farm as much as you can while staying alive. Killing your opponent is great but it can be high risk, high reward. One blunder could mean death and the likely loss of your lane.
- The early game will usually last until the first turrets begin falling and the map begins to open up since laners begin to roam.
Mid game (typically occurs between 15-30 minutes)
- At 14 minutes, all turret plating is removed. This makes the first turrets of each lane much easier to destroy.
- Once a turret is destroyed, laners will often farm and push a lane past river and begin to contest objectives like Dragon and Rift Herald (more info on these below) or look to siege another turret.
- This is the most unpredictable phase of the game so be careful where you tread. If you establish good vision control and coordinate with your allies, you can often ambush and pick off opponents as they make rotations.
Late game (typically occurs after 30 minutes)
- At this point, most turrets should be destroyed except perhaps a few within a team’s base. The champions that benefit the most from farming the most expensive and powerful items will take the spotlight.
- Death timers become quite long at this point. One fight or mistake can decide a game here, so be sure to choose your moments wisely.
- Objectives are crucial at this point but don’t tunnel vision on them too hard. If you aren’t careful an enemy can sneak a “backdoor” push and push a lane through your base to destroy your Nexus before you can return back to base.
An important thing to note in relation to the phases is that champions are designed to be strong at certain points in a game. In tip #3 we hinted that in general, Bot carries are vulnerable early on in the game while they farm and become monsters late game once they have all their items. This is what is known as a power spike in League of Legends.
Lane bullies typically spike in the early game and look to snowball their early leads to finish the game off. If they fail early or lose steam, it can be difficult for them to finish off the game.
Champions with high mobility, map presence, and low cooldown abilities, excel in the Mid game because rotations are key and skirmishes happen often. They can get bullied in the early game when global movement abilities aren’t as useful and can fall off late game against strong when big 5v5 fights are crucial.
In the late game, champions who have strong scaling shine because they will typically have more raw stats or have better synergy with completed items. An excellent Vayne player with six items can 1v5 if they play their cards right. Keeping track of power spikes isn’t something you should worry too much about until you nail down the basics, but it is something that you should be aware of and try to “feel” as you play your matches. We strongly recommend using the Mobalytics Pre game tool which indicates the power spikes for every champion as well as each team.
Major objectives in League of Legends
In Heroes of the Storm, there’s a wide variety of objectives throughout all of the Battlemaps. You have the crucial objectives like contesting shrines on Dragon Shire or collecting doubloons at Blackheart’s Bay, as well as the camps that you can slay to have fight for your side on every HoTS map.
The major objectives of League of Legends are the Rift Herald, the Dragons, and the Baron Nashor. As we’ve mentioned, these objectives are entirely optional but they can be the difference between a win or a loss. Be wary, however, as there will often be a good amount of risk involved, especially in close games. Many games have been lost because of a bad objective call, even in pro play.
Dragon (also known as drake)
At 5 minutes, one of four elemental drakes (air, earth, infernal, ocean) spawns. Each of these has their own stats and provides a unique buff across your entire team. Here’s a breakdown by Riot Jatt of what each Elemental Dragon does:
Throughout the match, if you kill a Dragon, another one will spawn after another 5 minutes. This will continue until 35 minutes – at this point, the Elder Drake will spawn. Slaying an Elder will give you the Aspect of the Dragon buff:
If you managed to get multiple Dragons throughout the game, securing an Elder can be incredibly powerful since the effects are multiple by 50%. Securing a second Elder will increase by an insane 100%.
The Rift Herald spawns at the Baron pit at 9:45 and will remain until 19:45 (or 19:55 if it’s being contested). Slaying the Herald allows one member from the team that killed it to pick up the Eye of the Herald:
Activating Eye of the Herald will summon the Rift Herald as a siege machine that continuously attacks enemy turrets in a single lane until it is killed. If used properly, this objective can cause a huge swing in the game because the Herald deals enough damage to allow you to take turrets quickly. If you’re against the Herald, do your best to attack its glowing eye on its back, it will allow you to kill it faster.
This is the premier objective on Summoner’s Rift, the most powerful, and usually, the most rewarding. As we mentioned above, Baron spawns either at 19:45 if the Rift Herald is dead or idle, or it spawns at 19:55 if the Herald is being contested. This objective is incredibly hard to take if you don’t have enough damage and can put your team in a vulnerable position if you try to take it carelessly.
Securing Baron will grant all living members of the slayer’s team the buff, Hand of Baron. The is a potent game ender because empowered minions can be incredibly hard to waveclear and the buff gives a good amount of bonus AP and AD which can be the difference in the next big team fight.
Tip: There’s an element of risk and reward with every objective and just like in HoTS, if your team isn’t coordinated or willing, sometimes it’s better to just let an objective go and position yourselves to be more ready for the next one than to try to force contesting it.
We hope that these five tips help in your transition to League. There should be a good amount of skills that transfer over and you should definitely pick up the game much faster than someone who has never played a MOBA before. Remember to take one thing at a time and most of all, have fun! There may be some growing pains but in time, we’re confident that you’ll be as good, if not better, at League than you were at HoTS.
Thanks for reading! If you’re starting to play League after coming from HoTS, let us know in the comments below how you’ve been doing. As always, you can talk to our team at any time in our Discord server.