How to Choose your Main Role for Ranked League of Legends

How to Choose your Main Role for Ranked League of Legends

Whether you’re completing your first placements ever or a veteran back on the grind, it’s important to know your main role in order to climb to the best of your ability. This article aims to help players understand how and why to choose a main role. 

Five Paths: One Climb

Throughout the history of team competition, roles and positions have usually been designated by physical attributes. In basketball, being tall usually means you’re going to be playing in the key, looking for rebounds and blocks – the shorter players are delegated to learn and specialize in skills like shooting, dribbling, and passing. In American football, stronger bulky players will be sent to the front lines to protect speedy running backs, while taller receivers are favored to flank the sides.

Sure, every once in a while, players pop up that defy these conventions (like 6’9″ Kevin Durant who plays like a guard with a big man’s body), but the safe bet is that you’re going to want to play to your physical advantages in traditional sports.

In League of Legends (and gaming in general), confines like height, weight, and strength don’t matter when it comes to deciding if you’re playing Top, Jungle, Mid,  ADC, or Support. Instead, factors like whether you like solo duels or sticking with a team, slicing foes up close or blasting them afar, and so on, define where you can find a place and successfully climb.

Why pick a main role?

There is nothing stopping you from jumping between roles but it’s hard to deny these benefits to settling down on one:

  • Limit your variables
    • Every time you queue into a game of League, the factors you are presented with are different game to game. You’re facing different players, champions, builds…the list goes on.
    • By focusing in on a role, you limit these factors and can more easily learn what you’re likely to deal with and how to beat them.
  • Discover nuances
  • Improve positive consistency and results

Although Riot encourages you to play within five designated roles, the biggest decider is how you personally like to play 

Reasons to pick (or not pick) each role

If you’re completely new to the game, you should probably play a decent amount of Normal games before jumping straight into Ranked. Play around and experiment to find out what brings you joy when you’re playing.

Remember that the road to climbing isn’t always fun and games – the journey is long and arduous. Picking a main role is about falling in love with the grind – embracing the fact that there will be adversity but you will inevitably improve as long as you stay focused on your goals. The following sections include pros and cons for each role in order from: Top, Jungle, Mid, ADC, and Support (so feel free to skip around).

Top

Do you like operating alone instead of spending most of your time with your team?

Are you a 1v1 combat enthusiast who enjoys the nuances of dueling?

Can you lean on your own skill and strength to create undeniable pressure on your foes?

If these appeal to you, Top lane may be your place.

The Lone Wolf

Top is a solo lane set apart from other roles because it is the most isolated from the rest of the map’s action. Early on in a usual match, things tend to happen more toward bottom side due to Dragon contests. Sure, you may have the occasional fight at Rift Herald but even then, it is probably only one to two times max per game.

As the game progresses, Top laners often transition to being split-pushers so they are often still separate for much of the match until grouping for Baron battles and end-game team fights.

Top lane domain

Outside of Teleporting to help with Dragon or flanking bot, Tops will mostly stay to themselves on their half of the map during laning phase.

You won’t have to worry as much about other lanes

Being isolated from the rest of the map means you won’t have to pay as much attention to what everyone else is doing, your focus is primarily on winning your lane. This applies in both a practical and theoretical sense.

In terms of other roles coming to your lane during the early game, here’s how it breaks down:

  • Usually the Junglers (you can expect to see at least a gank or two from either side, but there may be games where there won’t be any if action leans heavily to Mid/Bot).
  • Occasionally the Mid laners.
  • Almost never the Bot laners.

Eventually, you’ll want to learn about the champions you encounter often in the other roles, but Top is a great main for starting players because there’s simply less champions to worry about since you’ll mostly be dealing with Junglers and enemy Top laners.

It’s like a fighting game

Junglers may come to visit but for the most part, you’ll be in a 1v1 situation during laning phase. If you enjoy 1v1 combat and all of its facets like mind games, trading, and zoning, this may be appealing – afterall, Top is the longest lane so you have tons of room to play. If you’re good, you may be able to single-handedly dominate a lane and turn it into a lead that you can carry the rest of the game with.

Isolated for better or worse

As a Top laner, it can often feel like you’re on an island – it’s probably the least proactive role in terms of map movement potential. You’re responsible for holding the fort of your First Turret and you shouldn’t expect help to come every time you need it. If you fall behind against your counterpart, it can feel like a survival game where you’re just doing your best to hold your turret up for as long as possible.

You also won’t be able to impact other lanes like other roles can. Top laners may roam to Mid every once in a while after shoving their lane but they almost never impact the bottom lane outside of the occasional Teleport (which has a long cooldown) to flank or help with Dragon.

So even in games where you’re doing well, you may feel helpless if your teammates aren’t doing so hot. The isolation can also turn into your favor if you’re able to dominate your opponent. If you get a few early kills, the enemy team will be forced to invest resources into keeping you in check, thus opening up opportunities for your allies.

Champion pool analysis: 

Top champ pool

Top champs has decent variety but mostly leans towards melee tanks and fighters.

Overall, Top lane involves tanks and duelists with split-push capabilities. There are many melee choices and a few ranged champions, with AD and AP at your disposal depending on your play style needs. Here are some examples of the different guises Top laners can take:

  • Tanks
    •  In almost every composition, there’s a tank or two holding down the front line as impassable walls protecting their squishy friends.
    • If you enjoy protecting your teammates, being nearly unkillable, and utilizing powerful crowd control abilities, consider champions like:
      • Maokai
      • Malphite
      • Ornn
  • Duelists
    •  These champions excel in the isolated 1v1 conditions that Top presents – if you dominate your lane matchup, you can often have a good chance to carry the game yourself.
    • Duelists have high skill caps and usually have combos and tricks that you’ll have to learn to play to their potential.
      • Fiora
      • Jax
      • Riven
  • Ranged
    •  If aspects of Top lane seem appealing to you but you’re not into playing melee champions, don’t fret! You have several options for either AD/AP depending on what your team needs to choose from. Here are a few examples:
      • Jayce (AD)
      • Quinn (AD)
      • Kennen (AP)
      • Teemo (AP)

The Bottom Line:

If you often worry about what is going on around the rest of the map and want to be able consistently help your allies, this may not be the right place for you. Even if you take Teleport, it has a relatively long cooldown so Top may not be the best role if you plan on duo-queueing with a friend since you won’t be able to help them much.

However, if you want a solo lane where you can really rely on your individual prowess as a player and don’t want to worry a ton about what happens on the rest of the map. It has a good amount of carry potential, decent variety in champion pool and play styles, and is beginner friendly since it doesn’t require as much map awareness/champ learning.

Jungle

Are you a strategist that likes to plan your moves and stay a step ahead of your enemies?

Do you like traveling the map and being able to help all of your teammates?

Do you relish the opportunity to invade, ambush, and steal from your foes?

If so, Jungling may be your gig!

The Maestro

Jungling is quite interesting in that it is one of the most mechanically simple roles but may be the most mentally demanding. You won’t have to worry about last-hitting like other solo lanes but you’ll have to have an incredible amount of game knowledge and sense.

The Jungler dictates the pace of the game, creating action where you see fit. If you want to help snowball lanes, defend them, or ignore them, that’s ultimately up to you!

As a Jungler, the Rift whole Rift is your domain. Where you prioritize is ultimately up to you but your action will likely revolve around ganking the lanes and securing objectives.

As a Jungler, the whole Rift is your domain. Where you prioritize going is ultimately up to you but your action will likely revolve around ganking the lanes and securing objectives.

Strategy and flow

As a Jungler, you are tasked with having the most planning to do but that also means you have the most freedom. The game begins at champ select and loading screen for you because you’ll be planning your pathing moves in advance. You set the pace and decide where you can make the biggest impact.

You can camp one lane all game, spend time trying to help where you can, or even focus on farming up for the late game. Having all the freedom in the world can also be a burden since you may have teammates that are begging for you to come. Junglers must have thick skin because you may be blamed when things go wrong in your allied lanes (luckily you have a mute button).

Junglers must have good intuition and feel for the game because there are so many things they have to keep track of. They have to track the enemy Jungler’s movements, understand the health states of the laners, the timers of camps, and so on…

You better know your stuff!

Junglers have the luxury of not having to learn last-hitting mechanics, but they’re going to have to learn much more than the other lanes. As we mentioned earlier, you are tasked with understanding the game state and knowing the best place for you to be.

Ultimately, you have to not only understand what your enemy Jungler is looking to do, but also how all the champions on your team interact with their opponents in order to make the best decisions possible.

Power-spikes, crowd control, and damage potential are all factors you must understand across the map. If you know less than your enemy Jungler, you’re basically going in blind and putting your team at a disadvantage.

Smite-wars and invasions

The one time where getting the last hit matters for a Jungler is with Smite. Smite not only helps you clear you clear camps, but it’s where you can shine for your team when you’re fighting for objectives. If you have quick reflexes and a good feel for timing, clutch Smites can win or save a game for your team – it’s like a sort of mini-game. At the same time, if you don’t have the nerves or a good feel for damage rates, you may want to consider another role because missing a Smite can also cost you a match.

Another unique facet of Jungle is the invasion game. As action happens around the map, and either you or your Jungle opponent make a gank, the other player will often have the opportunity to make a gank elsewhere, try to set up a counter-gank at the lane they’re targeting, or try to enter the enemy territory to take their camps. If the ganker fails, the invader denies them gold and experience and may be able to gain a lead. Invasions can also create 1v1 duels in the Jungle, so you must be prepared to be the hunter and the hunted.

Champion pool breakdown: 

Jungle pool

Junglers have a wide variety of play styles ranging from aggressive to passive

The Jungler pool is full of engage and mobility options, and has choices whether you want to play as a carry or supportive. There’s a good mix of tanks, assassins, fighters, and even a few ranged like Graves/Kindred. Junglers like Kayn, Zac, and Nidalee have some unique movement options that allow you to hit from different angles while Junglers like Evelynn, Shaco, and Rengar thrive on chaos.

  • Initiators
    •  These Junglers excel at starting the fights with game-changing CC. They can often engage from afar and at tricky angles to catch their opponents off-guard.
      • Amumu
      • Sejuani
      • Zac
  •  Snowballers
    • If you want to snowball the game through relentless ganking and invasion, these sort of champs are your gang. This is a riskier type of play but can pay off if you have the skill and the nerve.
      • Kha’zix
      • Lee Sin
      • Rengar
  • Disrupt/Supportive
    •  The Jungle role offers some very unique/off-the beaten path options. These champions offer interesting ways to disrupt the enemy’s Jungle while giving their teams tons of utility.
      • Ivern
      • Nunu
  • Farmers
    •  Want to carry the late game without having to worry about last-hitting? These farm-intensive Junglers may cost you the early game but will become monsters as they accumulate resources.
      • Kindred
      • Master Yi
      • Shyvana

The Bottom Line:
If you want to play League like a game of chess, Jungler is for you. Forget the nonsense of having to last hit and trade in lane, you take control of the game with your decision-making and simply outsmarting your opponents. You have the responsibility of keeping track of objective and camp timings to be at the right place at the right time. It’s also one of the best roles to play with your friends since you can coordinate with them and stay in-sync.

Keep in mind however, that being out of lane will often mean that you’ll end up with potentially less gold than your other solo counterparts. If some ganks don’t work out and the game starts to turn against you, it can be hard to keep up in terms of items. This is probably the highest pressure position, so be aware of that.

 

Mid

Are you jack-of-all trades who enjoys doing a little bit of everything?

Can you easily execute spell-combos without missing a beat?

Are you a team player that also enjoys solo play?

If these appeal to you, find your center at Mid as your role.

The Balancer

The Mid laner pretty much does it all, it’s kind of like the sample platter of all the different roles. You’re a solo 1v1 lane like Top, you can influence many parts of the map like a Jungler, and you’re expected to be given gold and carry like an ADC. You have to worry about last-hitting and farming but you also have to be ready to react to help other lanes by roaming, aiding in taking/defending objectives, or participating in action in the Jungle. You can even play similar to Supports with champs that have shields like Orianna or Lux.

Like many other games, the middle ground is the most strategic area and sought out (ever heard of Mid Priority?) You are the literal center and gravity of the map around which everything happens, so you’ll have no shortage of fights, sieges, and grouping in your lane and you can expect plenty of Jungle company.

Mid map

Mid laners have a large domain, often roaming to take part in jungle action and to help side lanes/objectives

Shove and roam

The Mid laner is second to only the Jungler in terms of being able to impact the other areas of your map. You’ll need to be a master of wave control and timing in order to properly shove, help a side lane, and return in time before missing too much farm.

A well-timed roam can seize the early-mid game by enabling a First Turret or First Blood in a side lane. Your game sense must be sharp however, because if you leave your lane for too long, you may be missing out on experience or even risk giving up your own turret.

Blow stuff up with your abilities

Whether it’s with assassinations, spell combos, or long-range artillery, Mids have tons of access to explosive damage that may be able to one-shot enemies at times. Unlike the ADC who outputs high damage with auto-attacks, Mids tend to duke it out using QWER rotations to maximize their effectiveness.

You’ll be using your abilities so often that you should expect to be given Blue buff by your Jungler to help you out – just make sure you don’t die with it and give it to the other team or else it will probably be the last one you’re gifted.

Be sure to have a secondary

Mid is the most sought-after role so don’t be surprised if you don’t get it every time you queue. If you plan on climbing ranked, be prepared with a secondary that you enjoy and can play proficiently to keep your climb consistent.

In our Versatility Skill Decompilation, we discussed how learning “flex champions” or champs that have the flexibility to play multiple roles, can be helpful in these instances. For example, from the sample Md champion pool below, Diana can be jungled, Lux can be played as Support, and Zed can be played in the Top lane.

Champion pool breakdown: 

Mid pool

The Mid lane brings a mix of assassins and mages with options for high damage potential and mobility.

Here are some examples of different champions at your disposal:

  • Assassins
    • These Mid laners dominate 1v1 combat in order to win their lane and snowball before helping others. They often have tricky movement abilities to mechanically outplay their foes.
      • Ekko
      • Katarina
      • Leblanc
  • Control mages
    • Control mages are able to manipulate the battle with powerful area of effect spells and can hold down a lane with their incredible wave clear. They make valuable team fighters due to their ability to influence space.
      • Anivia
      • Orianna
      • Viktor
  • Ranged poke/artillery
    • The champions blast their foes from afar with some of the longest reaching abilities in the game. If you enjoy sieging and sniping, these are your picks.
      • Lux
      • Vel’koz
      • Xerath
  • Map impact
    • If you want to help your side lanes often, high map impact champions like these are awesome choices. Their abilities allow them to travel to almost any part of the map nearly instantly – just be aware that you’ll be giving up some fighting power in lane.
      • Aurelion Sol
      • Taliyah
      • Twisted Fate

The Bottom Line:

There’s a reason why the Mid lane is the most popular role, it can often feel like you’re the star of the show. You’re expected to do a little bit of everything and you’re able to participate in the activities of any of your teammates. You’re able to impact the map as much as your Jungler while being able to enjoy the 1v1 subtleties of solo combat. Just be aware that if you fail in your duties and lose your lane, you’re conceding a very strategic area.

ADC

Do you like sniping your enemies from afar?

Want to be able to carry your team singlehandedly in team fights?

Do you prefer to be protected by your teammates?

The Firepower

The ADC (also known as “Marksman”) is a role traditionally dedicated to the long-ranged carry. As an ADC, you’ll be expected to focus on farming up to get your items as fast as possible. You’ll be squishy and weak early on, but in exchange, you’ll be extremely powerful later on in the game.

The ADC is so important that a Support will be with you for most of the time – if you don’t play well with others you may be better off playing a solo lane. If you have a friend to duo queue as Support, you may have a better time climbing in the long term than having to adjust to the different play styles of Supports you’re matched with.

ADC map

ADC has the least amount of map impact during lane phase, you have the comfort of focusing on farming outside of Dragon contests.

Farming fever

Make no doubt about it, playing ADC is a farm fest. Early on you’re going to be quite weak compared to the other roles since you need the most gold and items to scale and really hit your stride. If you don’t enjoy the grind of farming and last-hitting this is not the role for you.

The positive trade-off for having to be the most farm-focused of the roles is that you are expected to invest lots of time into powering up for the late game. You can often get away with grabbing a big wave for yourself instead of attending to other matters – it’s part of your job.

The downside is that you probably have even less map impact than the Top laner. You’re pretty much tethered to farming the waves because if you leave, you’re giving up precious gold.

Be the VIP

In lane and in team fights, your allies will be protecting (and even dying for you) to keep you alive. At the end of the day, you’ll eventually be the biggest threat on your team, so your enemies will be prioritizing you as their optimal target.

Besides, farming, surviving will be one of your top priorities. Dying can be devastating since missing out on gold and experience, as well as delaying those crucial item buys, so you’ll need to be able to position yourself well in fights and balance caution with damage output.

You’ll carry hard (if you’re patient)

Once you’ve paid your dues and have farmed up to hit your big items, it’s time to party! If you’re good, don’t be surprised if you rack up Triple-kills, Quadra-kills, and perhaps even the rare Pentakill.

ADC is the most mechanically intensive role because you have to balance your movement with being able to maximize your auto-attacks and abilities. If you can walk the line, however, you’ll be able to carry your team in fights with your incredible damage output. If you can’t handle the pressure you may want to reconsider your role – if you die too much or don’t put out enough damage, your team will have great difficulty in finishing off enemies.

Champion pool breakdown: 

Typical ADC pool

Despite being all-ranged champs, ADC has a surprising amount of variety in how you can play.

  • Lane bullies
    • Some ADCs do not need to hit their three item power-spikes to begin carrying. These champs won’t scale as well as some of their peers, but sometimes they can snowball the match to an early end due to their lane dominance.
      • Caitlyn
      • Draven
      • Kallista
  • Engage
    • Although ADCs are often the role that cleans up at the end of the fight, there are options if you like being able to help your team start fights with engages.
      • Ashe
      • Sivir
      • Varus
  • Hyper-carries
    • If you want to just farm up through the early game to 1v5 later on, this are your picks. These champs have incredible scaling and ratios that spike with items but you’ll have to deal with playing relatively passive until then.
      • Kog’Maw
      • Tristana
      • Twitch

The Bottom Line:

If you love ranged combat, last-hitting farm, and carrying hard, ADC may be your match. You’ll be dominating with precise movement and mechanics to outplay your opponents at every turn, weaving in and out of the battle behind the protection of your allies, and rushing to your power-spikes. Don’t forget that you have to work well with others because you’ll always have a Support with you, so embrace the camaraderie. Be collaborative and able to read the play styles of your partners and you will thrive.

Support

Do you enjoy the laning aspects of League but don’t want to worry about farming?

Does working with others bring you more joy than working alone?

Are you a player whos sees the big picture and excels at controlling the crucial areas of the map?

The Glue

The Support is the ultimate role player for a five-man team. They are in charge of controlling vision, protecting the ADC, and just doing all the little things to help their team win. As a Support you won’t be getting the glory of high kill scores but you can make big plays with clutch engages and by enabling your carries.

Support map

During lane phase, Supports will mostly be alongside their ADC. Every once in a while, they may leave to get a deep ward into the enemy Jungle or even roam for a gank on Mid lane.

Do all the little things

The Support role is all about making sure things run smoothly for your team. You help facilitate vision control, protect your ADC, and provide game-changing crowd control. You won’t be the one carrying your team with kills or clutch Smite steals, but you’ll be the one who enables your ADC to get that Quadra-kill and you’ll be the one who sets up the vision that let’s your Jungler make that steal.

If you won’t enjoy the game if you’re not getting a high amount of kills or farm, you’re probably better off picking another role. If simply winning is enough Support is a great choice.

Operate under the radar

As a Support, your play will often fade into the background because you aren’t personally responsible for a solo lane or for farming and hitting your items. Your actions sort of fade into the background so if you play poorly it won’t be as noticeable as other roles. The flipside is that when you play really well, your teammates (your ADC may), probably won’t notice as much in comparison to when another role pops off.

You’re basically guaranteed your role

Support is easily the least popular role, so it makes it easy for mains to consistently get it in solo queue. You won’t have to worry as much about being well-versed with a secondary role and you can really focus on mastering your champ pool and play.

Champion pool breakdown: 

Typical Support choices

Typical Support choices

  • Shields/Heals
    • These champs fulfill the traditional tropes of the Support class in gaming. They shield, heal, and buff their teammates, so if you’re used to playing the healer in other games, these champs will fit in naturally with the nuances you’re used to.
      • Lulu
      • Nami
      • Soraka
  • Tanky
    • These champions break the mold of the fragile Support – these are beefy frontliners who make ideal bodyguards or engagers that have a huge presence on the Rift. They won’t output a ton of damage, but instead they’ll use powerful crowd control to initiate or protect their allies.
      • Braum
      • Leona
      • Tahm Kench
  • Damage/poke
    • Just because you’re a Support, doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to dish out heavy damage! These champs have long ranged AP spells that can bully the enemy bot lane during the early game.
      • Karma
      • Sona
      • Zyra

Cheatsheet Rankings

If you like to farm…

  1. ADC
  2. Mid = Top
  3. Jungle
  4. Support

If you don’t like last-hitting…

  1. Jungle
  2. Support
  3. Top = Mid = ADC

If you like to watch the minimap

  1. Jungle
  2. Support
  3. Mid
  4. Top
  5. ADC

If you like working alone…

  1. Top
  2. Mid
  3. Jungle
  4. ADC
  5. Support

If you like teamplay…

  1. Support
  2. Jungle
  3. ADC
  4. Mid
  5. Top

If you want to be able to get your role every time…

  1. Support
  2. Top = ADC = Jungle
  3. Mid

If you like killing things…

  1. ADC
  2. Mid
  3. Top = Jungle
  4. Support

If you like being unkillable…

  1. Top
  2. Jungle
  3. Support
  4. Mid
  5. ADC

If you don’t like being blamed…

  1. Support
  2. Top = Mid = ADC
  3. Jungle

If you like hard-carrying…

  1. ADC
  2. Top = Mid = Jungle
  3. Support

If you’re a beginner…

  1. Top
  2. Mid
  3. Support
  4. Jungle
  5. ADC

If you love learning about champion knowledge…

  1. Jungle
  2. ADC = Support = Mid
  3. Top

Thanks for reading! We want to know – why do you personally play your role? Let us know on Discord and feel free to ask us for how to improve in playing your role in our #coaching channel. 

  • Awesome post! thank you so much for it

  • I feel like for the if you’re a beginner list i think the order should be: top, support, adc, mid, jungle.

    • Agilio

      The order is simply based on what Riot uses inside the role select when you queue 🙂

  • Abood Al Ali

    great work

    • Agilio

      Much appreciated!

  • Benzi Baby

    How would you rank them by If you like winning? Or if you like learning?

  • Igor Nahan

    I like it a lot, article is super well written and takes many factors in consideration. Only thing I’d say is that, for a begginer’s guide, it may be a little bit too extensive: it’s an easy reading for those of us who reasearch are used to League of Legends, but I don’t think my friends who have just begun playing won’t be as much interested, maybe some stuff, like the “disrupt” category on junglers, could’ve been removed (Ivern is definetly the weirdest Snowballer in the game and Nunu loves Powerfarming).
    That being said, I will definetly read more Mobalytics’ articles, congratulations for the great job.

  • Conti

    If you’re going to play support, be prepared to get blamed for your ADC’s mistakes as well as your own. Oh, and any time there isn’t a ward in every bush on the map. That’s your fault too.