League of Legends guide for a beginner: what is a champion?

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /
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League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
Zed. League of Legends. /

What is a champion?

A champion is the character that you will control in each game of League of Legends. There are over 140 different champions that you can play as in any game.

As a beginner, I would advise you don’t worry about choosing one in your first game, you’re not locked into playing the same champion in each of your games. You can play a different champion in every game if you’d like, and you don’t get any benefits from playing one champion repeatedly, other than mastery of their kits. In short, just because you play 100 games on the champion Ashe doesn’t mean she’ll be any stronger than she was in your first game with her, you’ll just know more about how to play her.

Every champion has four active abilities, plus one passive ability. Champions will periodically level up throughout the game after they gain enough experience by doing things like killing neutral minions, jungle monsters, or enemy champions. After your champion levels up, they’ll get the opportunity to either unlock or level up one of those four active abilities.

Champion abilities

At the start of the game, all four active abilities will be locked, but you will have one level of experience to unlock one of the abilities at the first level. Leveling up your champion’s abilities gives benefits such as more damage, more healing, a shorter cooldown time, or other benefits that make them more powerful to use. Generally speaking, the ideal strategy is to get one level of each ability so you have access to your whole kit (as a beginner, definitely unlock each ability as it becomes available so you know how it works), as quickly as possible and then begin specializing and maxing the ranks of your key ability.

That key ability is usually the champion’s ultimate ability, but default bound to the R key. This is the champion’s most impactful and important ability, so you should try and level it up as quickly as possible. However, you will only be able to level up that ability upon reaching levels 6, 11, and 16, so you’ll have to level up your other abilities in the meantime.

Every champion also has a passive ability, which is unlocked automatically and cannot be leveled up (it can increase in power as you level up, but it will happen automatically, so if you’re a beginner don’t worry about the passive). This ability may have its own cooldown, so when the benefit of the ability is used it will be unavailable for a brief period of time.

In addition to getting more powerful with levels, some champions abilities will get more powerful as the player improves their champion’s stats. These stats will improve naturally as the champion levels up, but they will also improve as the player buys items. But what stats are there that champions care about?