League of Legends

League of Legends (LoL) is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games for Microsoft Windows and macOS. Inspired by Defense of the Ancients, the game follows a freemium model. The game was released on October 27, 2009. An abridged version of the game called League of Legends: Wild Rift for mobile and console, was announced on October 15, 2019.

In League of Legends, players assume the role of a “champion” with unique abilities and battle against a team of other player- or computer-controlled champions. The goal is usually to destroy the opposing team’s Nexus, a structure that lies at the heart of a base protected by defensive structures, although other distinct game modes exist as well with varying objectives, rules, and maps. Champions span a variety of roles and blend a variety of fantasy tropes, tied to a fictional universe developed by Riot Games through short stories, comics, cinematics, and books.

League of Legends was well received upon its release, earning praise for its diverse artistic and musical departments, particularly for its character design and production value. By July 2012, it was the most played PC game in North America and Europe in terms of the number of hours played. League has large footprint in streaming media communities on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch; it routinely ranks first in the most-watched hours. In September 2016, Riot Games estimated that there are over 100 million active players each month, and in September 2019, the company revealed that the game boasts nearly 8 million peak concurrent users each day.

The game’s popularity has led it to expand into merchandise, with toys, accessories, and apparel, as well as additional tie-ins to other media through music videos, web series, and documentaries. Various in-game champions comprise three distinct virtual music groups that have earned significant real-world attention: Pentakill, a heavy metal band, K/DA, a K-pop girl group, and True Damage, a hip hop group. League of Legends has an active and widespread competitive scene, which is commonly described as the preeminent global esport and a major factor towards the industry’s legitimization. In North America and Europe, Riot Games organizes the League Championship Series (LCS), located in Los Angeles and the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), located in Berlin, respectively, each of which consist of 10 professional teams. These competitions culminate with the annual World Championship. The 2019 League of Legends World Championship had over 100 million unique viewers, peaking at a concurrent viewership of 44 million, with a minimum prize pool of US$2.5 million.

Gameplay

League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game in the three-dimensional isometric perspective.[1] The game consists of two current running game modes: Summoner’s Rift and Howling Abyss.[2] The Crystal Scar and Twisted Treeline, maps corresponding to discontinued game modes, have since been removed.[3][4] Camera perspective cannot be changed by a player, other than zooming and panning, thus whether the player spawns at the top or bottom bases will be fixed for the duration of the game. Players compete in matches, lasting anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes on average. In each game mode, teams work together to achieve a victory condition, typically destroying the core building (called the Nexus) in the enemy team’s base after bypassing a line of defensive structures called turrets, or towers.

In all game modes, players control characters called champions who each have a set of unique abilities.[5] Players chose or are assigned champions before the start of every match. Champions begin every match at a low level, and then can gain experience over the course of the match to increase their level, with the maximum being 18. Gaining champion levels in matches allows players to unlock their champion’s special abilities and augment them in a number of ways unique to each character. If a champion loses all their health, they are defeated but are automatically revived in their base after enough time passes. Players also begin each match with a low amount of gold, and in addition to being given gold by the game over time by default, players earn gold throughout the match in a variety of ways: by killing non-player characters known as minions and monsters; by killing or helping to kill enemy players; by destroying enemy structures and through unique item interactions or champion abilities. This gold is spent throughout the match to buy in-game items that further augment each champion’s abilities and gameplay, such as increasing stats like health, ability power, spells.[6] Champion experience, gold earned, and items bought are specific to each match and do not carry over to subsequent matches. Thus, all players begin each match on a more-or-less equal footing relative to their opposing team.

Across matches, players also earn rewards that are applied to their account. Player accounts begin at level one and progress onward with games played. Player level is separate from character level; both a level 30 account and a level 5 account would begin at character level 1 at the start of a new game. From 2009–2017, the maximum account level was 30, and as players progressed, they unlocked additional content and abilities. This system was reworked in November 2017, with the removal of the level 30 limit and removal of a Runes / Masteries system that gave in-game bonuses to players based on their account level.Playing matches and leveling up provides “Blue Essence” (called “Influence Points” (IP) from 2009–2017), a currency that can be used in lieu of real money to access certain locked features.

Accounts are given rankings based on the Elo rating system, with proprietary adjustments by Riot Games.[8] These ratings are used in automated matchmaking to make games with players of comparable skill level on each team.

Game maps
As of 2019, League of Legends consists of two maps to choose from, Summoner’s Rift, which is the most popular map, as well Howling Abyss. In the past, two other since discontinued maps were featured as well, Twisted Treeline and Crystal Scar. Additionally other maps have been playable for special events.Each map has different terrain, objectives as well as subtly varied summoner spells and items.

Summoner’s Rift

A simplified representation of Summoner’s Rift. The yellow paths are the “lanes” where endless waves of troops known as minions march; blue and red dots are the defensive turrets that defend the lanes. Not pictured are the two turrets that flank each Nexus – the ultimate goal of the game, which are within each team’s base in their corner. The dotted black line is the river that divides the sides.
Summoner’s Rift is considered the flagship map in League of Legends.[2] and is the map directly inspired by Defense of the Ancients.On this map type, two teams of five players compete to destroy an enemy structure called a Nexus, which is guarded by the enemy team and a number of defensive structures called turrets, or towers.[9] One nexus is located in each enemy base on opposite sides of the map, in the lower-left and upper-right hand corners. These structures continually create weak non-player characters known as minions, which advance toward the enemy base along three paths: top, middle, and bottom lanes. Players compete to advance these waves of minions into the enemy base, which allows them to destroy enemy structures and ultimately win the match. Summoner’s Rift matches are not timed, but typically last around 30-40 minutes if played until nexus destruction. However in practice, during online games teams have the option to vote to surrender if they feel they will not win, or just manually disconnect from the game.

Between lanes are neutral areas of the map known as the ‘jungle’, arrayed in four quadrants. A shallow river divides the map between the teams, but doesn’t actually impede movement; all champions can wade through it no differently than dry land.

Each team wishes to defend its own structures and destroy the other team’s structures.[10] These include:[11]

Turrets – Each lane is guarded by powerful defensive structures called turrets, also known as “towers”. Turrets deal exceptionally high damage and will attack enemy minions and players that come within their attack radius. Turrets prioritize enemy minions in their vicinity, but will immediately attack enemy players if they attack allied players. Thus, by allowing the turret to first attack an allied minion, a player can do damage to the structure without themselves being attacked. When destroyed, turrets provide gold and experience. Turrets that are destroyed are destroyed permanently for that match and will not respawn. Some turrets, depending on location, will regenerate health over time if they are damaged but not destroyed.[10]

Inhibitor – the entrance to each of the three lanes in the base contains one inhibitor. A lane’s inhibitor can be attacked after a team has destroyed the three turrets guarding its lane. Destroying an inhibitor will cause the allied Nexus to spawn Super Minions, more powerful Minions that provide a buff to surrounding Minions. If destroyed, inhibitors will respawn after five minutes, ceasing the production of Super Minions.

Nexus – Each team has a Nexus that can only be damaged once all the turrets in a lane, that lane’s inhibitor and the Nexus turrets are destroyed. Destruction of the enemy team’s Nexus immediately ends the game.[10]

Some objectives are ‘neutral’, meaning that they will not attack champions who pass by, but champions can choose to fight them if they wish to gain a reward at the cost of having to fight for it. They include:

Jungle monsters – Neutral monsters (called “camps”) spawn at various intervals in the Jungle, and provides players with gold, experience, and sometimes other rewards for killing them. They are the most common neutral objective. The jungler role will start the game by killing (“farming”) jungle camps for a period of time before grouping with their team.[10]
Elemental Drakes/Elder Dragon – Elemental drakes are powerful monsters located in the bottom half of the river. All members of the team that kills the drake are provided with buffs that last the entire game and accrue cumulatively. The drakes are flavored after the Four Elements, with each drake granting a thematically appropriate buff. After a rework in 2019, three random different elemental drakes will spawn, with new ones coming six minutes after the previous one is killed. After the third drake, all future drakes will be of that elemental type; once a team has slain four dragons, they get a “Dragon Soul” buff. After this subsequent dragon spawns are The Elder Dragon, which when killed provides a stronger buff than an individual elemental drake.
Rift Herald – The Rift Herald is a powerful enemy located in the upper side of the River. Killing the Rift Herald gives the player an item called the “Eye of the Herald,” which when used allows it to be summoned again as a battering ram to attack enemy towers. From 2016–2019, it would not respawn after it is killed; after a rework in November 2019, it can potentially respawn once.

Baron Nashor – Baron Nashor is the most powerful neutral enemy, located in the upper side of the River. It will spawn after twenty minutes, replacing the Rift Herald. All living members of the team that kills Baron Nashor are given a buff which, among other things, makes minions close to a player more powerful. Baron Nashor will respawn seven minutes after it is killed.
Many of the details have changed over time; League is not a static game, with mechanics being both introduced and removed since launch in 2009. For example, the Rift Herald was only added in 2016, and had its abilities reworked in 2017 and in late 2019;[13][12]Dragons gave gold rather than buffs from 2009–2014, and the dragons only became elementally flavored drakes in 2016; jungle monsters have been added and reworked; the length of time it took for inhibitors to respawn was 4 minutes rather than 5 minutes for a time; Baron Nashor gave a stronger buff to the statistics of champions but no buff to minions from 2009–2014; and so on.

Each of the five players are assigned a role corresponding to a part of the map during the early game phase. Top lane, mid lane, and the jungle are typically manned by one player, while the bottom lane is manned by two players, the Attack Damage Carry (ADC) and Support.[14] The classes of champions which play each role vary to a degree.

Howling Abyss
The Howling Abyss is used for “ARAM” (All Random All Mid) matches, and is five vs. five.[9] The Abyss consists solely of a single narrow lane of turrets and an inhibitor and no neutral jungle area. Thus, rather than skirmishes and hidden movement, the Abyss focuses exclusively on large team-fights in the sole middle lane. While players can return to their allied base, unlike in Summoner’s Rift they are not allowed to replenish health and mana or purchase items there unless they have been killed.[15] ARAM was launched as an official mode in September 2013.[16]

Twisted Treeline
In the Twisted Treeline, two teams of three players compete to destroy the opposing team’s Nexus, which is guarded enemy Towers.[15] It is conceptually similar to Summoner’s Rift, but smaller to account for three vs. three rather than five vs. five.[15] Rather than Summoner’s Rift 3 lanes of turrets and 3 inhibitors, Twisted Treeline has only 2 lanes and 2 inhibitors, with the jungle in between. The other differences are the addition of two “Altars”, control of which grants the occupying team a variety of bonuses, and the replacement of Baron Nashor with Vilemaw, an evil spider deity. Living members of the team that slays Vilemaw are granted a temporary bonus, similar to the one granted by Baron Nashor. Riot Games retired the mode in November 2019, due to declining playership.[17][4]

Crystal Scar
The Crystal Scar was used for Dominion mode, a discontinued game format where teams of five players competed to capture control points and hold those points for the longest possible period of time.[18] The map consists of a circle with 5 control points. Each team controls a base known as a fountain, located at the bottom left and right-hand corners of the map. Each team scores points by capturing and owning more objectives than the other team over time, which is then reduced from the other team’s “life” total. These points count down from an initial score of 200. The first team to reduce the other team to 0 points wins. Dominion was launched on September 26, 2011 and was retired on February 22, 2016, although the Crystal Scar is used for certain other rotating formats, such as Ascension.[19][20]

Games types
League of Legends includes several game types players can select.[1][21]

The Tutorial is the first game type available to new players. The tutorial is played on the Howling Abyss and is intended to teach new players the rules and gameplay of League.

Co-op Vs. AI is available to new players after completing or opting out of the Tutorial. It is played on Summoner’s Rift, Twisted Treeline, and (formerly) the Crystal Scar, and pits teams of human players against an opposing team of computer-controlled artificial intelligence champions.
Normal Matchmaking uses an automated matchmaking system to pair teams of similarly-skilled players against one another.
Ranked Matchmaking is available to players upon reaching account level 30. It uses a similar system as Normal Matchmaking; however, pre-made teams must be of comparable ELO strength, so expert players and weak players are not allowed to team together in Ranked. After playing 8 or more Ranked games, accounts are given a public “rank” that roughly correlates with their ELO ranking.
Custom Games allow players to play any map with any combination of player or AI teammates and opponents.
League of Legends also includes three ways teams may choose what champion they will play for a given match:

Blind Pick allows the two teams to select their champions simultaneously. The players only learn the champion selections of the opposing team when the match begins. It is available on Summoner’s Rift, Twisted Treeline, and the Crystal Scar for Normal Matchmaking games and Co-op vs. AI, and for all modes in custom games.
Draft Pick allows each team to ban five champions each (a total of ten champions banned), removing them from the match. Teams then take turns selecting their champions while being able to see the selections of the other team. It is available on Summoner’s Rift for matchmaking games, and for all modes in custom games.
Random Pick randomly assigns a champion to each player. Players accumulate re-rolls by playing multiple matches, which they can use to randomly select another champion for that match. It is available on Howling Abyss for ARAM (All Random All Mid) games, and for all modes in custom games.

Champions
League of Legends was originally released in 2009 with 40 champions and the developers have continuously added new ones to the game. As of January 2020 there are currently 148 champions in League of Legends.[22] Champions typically need to unlocked through buying in-game currency, but there always a select few champions which are free for a time. This group of champions rotates periodically. According to one study there is a significant increase in average usage for free champions, especially in lower Elo, diminishing as it gets higher Elo.[23] The same study also found that the increase in usage is also related to Champion cost, with the most notable increase in the most expensive ones.

League classifies its champion types up a number of ways. The most salient difference is the type of damage a champion deals; some champions deal largely physical damage, which is resisted by the armor stat, and other champions deal largely magic damage, which is resisted by the magic resistance stat. Some champions deal with a combination of both and can choose which to emphasize; some rare abilities deal ‘true’ damage which is not mitigable by either armor or magic resistance. Riot Games has classified all champions as one of six types to aid beginners. Not all champions perfectly fit their type, of course. The official Riot classifications are as follows:

Marksman:[example needed] Also known as “AD (attack damage) Carries”, are ranged champions that usually deal physical damage. These champions deal sustained damage over time rather than in a short burst, and are usually the best at destroying objectives like enemy turrets or elemental drakes. They tend to have weak defense in exchange for their high, exponentially scaling damage.
Mage:[example needed] Sometimes known as “AP (ability power) Carries”, These are champions with powerful magic damage and control skills, but weak defense and low mobility. Mages are a diverse set of champions. Some emphasize killing single champions from range very quickly; some specialize in area of effect damage to multiple targets whilst surviving in the middle of a fight; some specialize in immense range to attack enemies safely from afar. Some others blend up to two of these attributes.[24]
Slayer:[example needed] These are champions who specializes in killing another champion quickly, most usually within melee range. These champions tend to go after the enemy’s AD/AP Carry and other ‘squishy’ champions, but tend to have weak defenses themselves if caught. They are distinguished by having excellent mobility which allows them to reach and strike at priority targets. Slayers are divided between Assassins that flank and infiltrate enemies to select one target for death before escaping, and Skirmishers that rely more on strong sustained damage like a Marksman and unique defensive tools to remain in the fray.
Tank: These champions who are hard to kill and soak up damage for their team. In exchange, they usually deal less damage but can compensate with useful “crowd control” abilities to distract or disable enemies or force enemies to fight through them first before they can attack the “carries”. Tanks are divided between Vanguards that lead the charge into fights by disabling multiple enemies at once, and Wardens that are more concerned with protecting their own allies from enemy attacks.[24]
Fighter: These are champions that blend the attributes of a damage dealer and tank, combining moderate survivability with respectable damage. A common designation for close-range melee fighters, since they need to be able to survive long enough to close in on their target. There are two types of Fighters: Juggernauts that are largely immobile but have more extreme damage and survivability, and Divers that have more robust target selection at the cost of some survivability.[citation needed]
Controller: Also known as “support,” these are champions whose skills are meant to directly aid the rest of the team by providing healing, buffing allies, debuffing the enemy team, disabling single targets, or a combination of the above. Controllers are often paired with another champion in the early laning phase of the game and focus on aiding their partner and harassing enemy champions rather than earning gold by slaying minions. Many different types of champions can serve as the “support”, but tanks, healers, and certain types of mages are most common. Supports are expected to pay the most attention to the map as a whole, placing wards which grant vision and watching for surprise enemy movements

The champions chosen by a team can influence the outcome of a game before it starts, and there is much strategy in choosing the right champions to win the game. Oliveira et al. (2017) developed a machine learning-based model involving both a MinMax Algorithm and linear regression for champion selection that was the first such effort for League of Legends, basing it off previous research for computational models for Dota 2 hero selection.[26]

Item choice plays an important role in the above and can shift the style of a champion; the combination of a champion and chosen items is called a “build.” For example, if the champion Jarvan IV purchases all damage items, he functions something like an Assassin; he can kill enemies quickly but dies rapidly himself.[original research?][citation needed] If Jarvan buys all defensive items, he’s a Tank focused on disruption and buffing his allies. Somewhere in-between, he’s a Fighter. In the same way, champions like Morgana or and Lux can build item sets that are focused on high damage like a Mage, or item sets focused on disrupting enemies and aiding allies like a Controller. A handful of champions in the game offer unique playstyles that do not fit neatly into any particular class.

Featured game modes
Riot Games, starting in 2013, has released a number of special limited-time game modes. These special modes would usually be accessible for two weeks, then retired. In 2016, Riot announced that “Rotating Games Mode” would be a recurring event, so that every weekend a previously released game mode would be made accessible again for that weekend.[27] Game modes include Ultra Rapid Fire (URF) and All Random Ultra Rapid Fire (ARURF), Hexakill (Twisted Treeline), One For All (Summoner’s Rift), Nemesis Draft, Nexus Blitz, Nexus Siege, Legend of the Poro King, Doom Bots of Doom, and Hunt of the Blood Moon, Ascension, One For All (Howling Abyss), Hexakill (Summoner’s Rift), Black Market Brawlers, Definitely Not Dominion, and Snowdown Showdown.

The Ultra Rapid Fire (URF) mode was originally a 2014 April Fools’ Day prank that proved so popular it became a proper rotating game mode; in URF, champion abilities have no resource cost and have their cooldowns reduced by 80%, double the normal cap of 40% that can be attained through items. Additionally, champions have increased movement speed, reduced healing, faster passive gold gain, and faster attacks.[28][29]

Teamfight Tactics
Teamfight Tactics is an auto battler game mode implemented on June 26, 2019.[30][31] Based on the Dota 2 mod Dota Auto Chess, the mode centers around a battlefield consisting of hexagons, which players may take turns to strategically place champions onto a game board. After champions are placed, a short battle automatically commences, with the outcome – the number of champions killed – determining the health and gold of each player. Once a player’s health is completely depleted, they are out of the game, with the last player standing being the winner. Through a feature called Shared Draft, every couple of rounds, players have access to a free arsenal of champions to select from. Players with lower health eventually are given the opportunity to choose their champions first, allowing for better odds for them to recover during a losing game.[32] The game has 33 million monthly players, as of September 2019.[33]

Plot
League of Legends takes place in the fictional world of Runeterra. In Runeterra, the champions of League of Legends are a collection of heroes and villains who have a variety of backstories, often related to the political struggles of the various countries of the main continent of Valoran. Additionally, some champions are extraplanar and come from worlds other than Runeterra, but are visiting for their own purposes. These champions sometimes clash with each other, roughly reflected in the gameplay of League of Legends.

The world of Runeterra consists of a number of countries and city-states, locked in a web of rivalry, alliance, and conflict.[34] The two largest and most powerful entities are the states of Demacia and Noxus, who have fought wars in the past, and are in a Cold War-esque state currently, with each seeking to quietly undermine the other. Demacia is inspired by an idealized Medieval European kingdom, while Noxus is reminiscent of the Roman Empire. Demacian champions tend to value themes like chivalry and honor, while Noxus prides itself on vision, might, and guile.[35][36] Piltover and Zaun are a city-state at the forefront of technology; Piltover, the “respectable” half of the city, has a “steampunk” style, while Zaun, the neglected undercity of Piltover, is a darker vision of the power of technology, engaging in ethically questionable research.[37] The Freljord is an icy domain riven by a three-way civil war between rival claimant Queens Ashe, Sejuani, and Lissandra.[38] Bandle City is a peaceful domain of yordles, a race of small humanoids unique to League of Legends. Ionia is an island nation with a strong connection to magic and features champions inspired by monk and ninja archetypes, as well the Vastaya, a race of animal-human hybrid creatures also unique to League of Legends.[39] Bilgewater is a port town with a pirate theme. The Shadow Isles is an island chain that was magically corrupted, and has become haunted by a malign force known as the “Black Mist” which leeches life and empowers the undead.[40] Targon is an ancient mountain peak with a Greek mythology theme. Shurima is a recently resurrected empire that was until recently lost to the desert, with a somewhat Egyptian theme.[41] Icathia is another fallen and abandoned city where Void monsters from another dimension have crossed into Runeterra, with a Lovecraftian theme.[42]

Of the current maps, Summoner’s Rift is set at the Institute of War from the ‘original’ League storyline; the Twisted Treeline is set in the Shadow Isles;[43] and the Howling Abyss map is set in the Freljord.[16]

Development

he game’s developer, Riot Games, recruited Steve “Guinsoo” Feak,[when?] the previous designer of the popular Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne custom mod Defense of the Ancients, and Steve “Pendragon” Mescon, the administrator of its former official support base for the map, to develop League of Legends.[44]

The idea of a spiritual successor to Defense of the Ancients was that it would be its own stand-alone game with its own engine, rather than another mod of Warcraft III, began to materialize at the end of 2005. When creating the various champions in the game, instead of leaving the champion creation to just a few people, they decided to open up the champion creation process to everyone in the company based on a template where they could vote on which champions made it into the game.[45]

Riot initially wanted to ship the game in its official release with just 20 champions, however after doing some analysis they decided to double this number to 40.[46]

League of Legends was first announced on October 7, 2008. It was in a closed beta[citation needed] from April 10, 2009 to October 22, 2009. 17 champions were available upon the launch of the alpha in April 2009: Alistar, Annie, Ashe, Fiddlesticks, Jax, Kayle, Master Yi, Morgana, Nunu, Ryze, Sion, Sivir, Soraka, Teemo, Tristana, Twisted Fate, and Warwick.[47][48] It then transitioned to open beta until release.[49][50] Additional champions released after the game’s alpha release included Ashe an Sivir.[51] Upon the full release of the game in October 2009, the game had grown to include 40 available champions.

In 2010 Riot staged an April Fool’s Joke where they introduced a fake new champion, “Urf the Manatee.” After a large amount of enthusiasm from the game’s player base, Riot decided to donate the proceeds made from selling in-game skins to the Save the Manatee Club, a national non-profit organization striving to save and raise awareness of manatees.[52] Champions released in 2010 included Mordekaiser.[53]

By 2011 players were starting an average of ten games of League of Legends every second with 15 million registered players to the servers. According to Over one million games of LoL were played every day, with 1.4 million players logging daily to spend 3.7 million cumulative hours. [54] The heavy player count, especially on days the game was being patched, led to server instability. Brandon Beck stated in an interview that server stability was one of their “key priorities” as the game grew faster than anticipated were working to improve the player experience. Champions released in 2011 included Ahri, Brand, Skarner, Yorick, and Leona.[55] Yorick was notable for being the first “minion-champion” as his abilities spawned an non-playable player, in his case a ghost, which would follow him around and aid his team.[56]

Ahead of the competitive scene’s Season 2, in December 2011 Riot made a major rework to the jungle in an effort to making the game more beginner friendly. Changes included adding timers for monster respawns, and making it overall less dominant during the course of a game.[57] These changes caused a lot of controversy in the player community. Ryan Scott of IGN commented Riot additionally on fixing what he considered a “dull” jungling experience prior to the changes.[57]

In 2013 a Team Builder was added to League of Legends which allows players to pre-select their desired role before queuing for matchmaking. Before this change player would have to communicate with teammates to make sure players didn’t pick overlapping roles.[58] Riot also believed this change would allow teams more time before the game to discuss strategy.

In an effort to reward good behavior in the game, in 2014 players who had not received a 14 day ban received a mystery gift.[59]

Changes for the 2016 season included adding a loot system that allows players to acquire content such as including full character and skin unlocks.[60] It was the first time the game has ever awarded character skins for free. Riot also announced that in an effort to punish negative behavior, some players would be ineligible for these rewards due to past negative behavior.

Plot
The setting has gone through two phases: the “original” setting that was canon from 2009–2014, and the rebooted setting from 2014–present.[61] The original setting was focused on justifying the exact mechanics of a game of League in the world of Runeterra. Valoran was functionally ruled by time mages powerful enough to intimidate other nations into compliance. They created the “Institute of War”, also known as the “League of Legends”, to resolve disputes and act as an international sports league. In these disputes, “Summoners” (the game player) could control any of Runeterra’s greatest heroes or villains, thus explaining why a team of 5 characters who all hated each other might form. After a match, a “Judgment” would sometimes be handed down, with the winning Summoners able to give land and privileges to those they favored.

The narrative team at Riot eventually decided this setup was too constraining, and “rebooted” the story behind League of Legends in 2014.[62] The original story put too much emphasis on the faceless player stand-in Summoners and reduced the champions to “little more than puppets manipulated by godlike powers.”[61] Many champion’s lore did not give them reason to join the Institute, such as serial killer fire spirit Brand or void monster Rek’Sai. Riot wished to let champions take the center stage and have stories of their own, pursuing their own unique goals. For example, in 2015 Riot released a plotline about a clash between the pirate Gangplank and the pirate-hunter Miss Fortune in the city of Bilgewater,[63] which was driven by the characters of the game, not Summoners. During the Bilgewater event, Gangplank was killed by Miss Fortune, and subsequently disabled in the game for a period of time, the first such time that the story influenced the playability of characters. Riot compared this style of narrative to comic book characters and classic literature, where interesting characters can have many adventures over time and not necessarily have all of them make sense in the same continuity.[61] A side effect of this is “that the game and story aren’t one-to-one copies of each other.”[61]

In 2015 Nemesis Draft was added to League of Legends.[64]

New features
The release of new features tends to be first tested on Public Beta Environment (PBE) servers, which are available to all players but players must sign up to access them.[65]

Revenue model
Initially, Riot Games had planned on making League of Legends a paid game, but after the lack of success of similar titles like Heroes of the Storm in Asian markets, they decided on making it free-to-play with in-game content available to purchase.[66][clarification needed] League of Legends makes revenue through microtransactions using Riot Points (RP), an in-game currency that can be purchased by players in the client store. RP can be used to purchase champions, champion skins, ward skins, summoner icons, emotes, and certain multi-game boosts. An additional currency, Blue Essence (BE) (known as Influence Points from 2009–2017), is earned by playing the game and leveling up. League of Legends is free-to-play and all in-game purchases with a material effect on game-play may be acquired by either RP or BE. The final currency, Orange Essence (OE), can be used to unlock champion skins, ward skins, summoner icons, and emotes via the “Hextech Crafting”.[67]

Release
League of Legends was released[where?] on October 27, 2009.[68]

Riot Games self-publishes and operates the game and all of its customer service aspects in North America. Riot Games has signed deals regarding the distribution of League of Legends in Asia, Europe, and North America. By July 2013, the game has been released and was distributed in Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, the Philippines,[69] and South Korea.

The game is distributed in China by Tencent Inc. through its QQ Game portal. The deal was one of only a handful of partnerships to bring a U.S.-developed online game directly to China.[citation needed]

In Europe, Riot Games initially signed an international licensing partnership with GOA, the video games department of Orange’s Content Division and Europe’s largest gaming portal. On October 13, 2009, GOA and Riot announced that they would start channeling server access for players located in Europe to GOA’s dedicated servers. This partnership did not last; on May 10, 2010, Riot Games announced that they would take over distribution and operation of the game in Europe. To do so, Riot Games established a European HQ in Dublin.[70]

On July 16, 2010, Riot Games announced that Garena would publish the game in Southeast Asia.[71] Additionally, Southeast Asian players had the ability “transfer accounts” to import their progress stored in North American or European servers into the Southeast Asian server. The game has since been distributed by Garena in Taiwan as well.[72]

In March 2013, Riot Games released a beta version of an OS X client in addition to their Windows client.[73] The Mac client was since moved out of beta and OS X/macOS players have had full access to League.[citation needed]

In 2012, a Brazilian and Turkish server were added;[citation needed] in 2013, Latin American and Russian servers;[citation needed] and a beta of a Japanese server was launched in 2016.[74]

Reception
League of Legends received generally favorable reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[75] IGN initially awarded League of Legends an 8 out of 10 in 2009, highlighting an enjoyable game design, inventive champion design with good customization options, and lively visuals. However, the game’s confusing launch was criticized: it was felt that the title was released too early, with some features missing and others to be removed. Finally, the reviewer noted that high level players in the game have “little patience for newcomers”, though the reviewer believed that matchmaking (not implemented at the time of review) would solve the problem by matching players of similar level together.[82]

Leah B. Jackson of IGN re-reviewed the game in 2014, changing IGN’s score from 8.0 to 9.2. Jackson hailed the game “as an example of excellence”, praising the variety of champions, rewarding progression systems, and fast but intensely strategic team play.[81] As compared to fellow MOBA games Heroes of Newerth and Dota 2, Mike Minotti of VentureBeat considered League of Legends as the easiest to learn and to have fastest gameplay pace of the three, while the other two feature more complex gameplay mechanics and are considered closer in style to the original DoTA All-Stars.[83][84] In 2015, the game placed 15th on USgamer’s The 15 Best Games Since 2000 list.[85]

In November 2011, Riot Games stated that League of Legends had accumulated 32.5 million players, 11.5 million of whom play monthly, of which 4.2 million play daily.[86] Riot said in October 2013, the game had 12 million active daily players and 32 million active monthly players. In January 2014, the game had 27 million active daily players, 7.5 million concurrent players at peak times, and 67 million active monthly players.[87] Global concurrent users online peaked at over 5 million players as of March 2013.[88][89]

By March 2012, League of Legends had become the #1 title in Korean PC cafés.[90][91] League continues to be popular in Korea; it remained the #1 game until the middle of 2016, when Overwatch displaced it.[92][93] While League was the #2 game in Korean PC bangs for a time, it eventually regained its #1 status over Overwatch in 2017.[94] In July 2012, Xfire released a report stating that League of Legends was the most played PC game in North America and Europe, with 1.3 billion hours logged by players in those regions between July 2011 and June 2012.[95] League of Legends is also popular in the Philippines, and was the second most played game in internet cafés in the country in June 2013, behind Defense of the Ancients.[96] In Taiwan, it is estimated that almost five percent of the entire population had played the game by 2016, with almost a million players subscribed on the server.[97]

As of August 2018, the game has an active user base of over 111 million players.[98] As of 2018, the game has an annual revenue of $1.4 billion, making it one of the highest-grossing games of 2018, behind Fortnite and Dungeon Fighter Online.[99]

Lyrics in the 2018 song “Masterpiece” by Swedish musician Basshunter quote lines from League of Legends.[100]

Awards and nominations
In 2009, the game won the Reader’s Choice award for PC Best Strategy Game in IGN’s Best of 2009 Awards,[101] and the PC Gamers’ Choice in GameSpy’s Gamers’ Choice Awards 2009.[102] In 2017, the game was nominated for Best Spectator Game in IGN’s Best of 2017 Awards.[103]

Research
Choong-Soo Lee and Ivan Ramler of Saint Lawrence University studied the effect that the free champion rotation could have on whether players chose them in game. Using a custom Python program to produce both a Minimax algorithm and linear regression-based model, they found that at lower tiers of play players were more likely to choose free champions.[23]

Building off of the research of Lee and Rambler, Marcal Mora Cantallops and Miguel Ángel Sicilia studied whether the 2015 Bilgewater lore event (“Burning Tides”) influenced player’s choice of playable champions and their interest in learning more about the game’s lore.[131] During the event, seven champions whose backstories were associated with the world of Bilgewater were made free-to-play, they were: Gangplank, Miss Fortune, Twisted Fate, Graves, Fizz, Nami, and Nautilus. Cantallops and Sicilia found that while these champions did not see a statistically significant increase in play during this time period than other free rotations, there was still a increase of interest in learning more about these champions according to Google Trends.[131]

Esports
League of Legends is one of the largest esports, with various annual tournaments taking place worldwide.[132] In terms of esports professional gaming as of June 2016 2016, League of Legends has had US$$29,203,916 in prize money, 4,083 players, and 1,718 tournaments, compared to Dota 2’s US$64,397,286 of prize money, 1,495 players, and 613 tournaments.[133]

At the collegiate level, Riot Games sponsors play of the game by college teams in the United States and Canada, offering scholarship money to teams that reach their conference playoffs.[134] Riot organizes their own four regional conferences, but also partners with two NCAA athletic conferences, the Peach Belt Conference and Big Ten Conference, who organize their own conference play based on their existing institutional membership. Additionally, since 2017, the Big Ten has partnered with Riot to provide $35,000 in scholarship funds yearly to each of the Big Ten’s 14 member teams and to broadcast play on the conference’s own television network, BTN, through 2019.[135][136] League of Legends has also been a part of traditional international sporting comeptitions, such as being included as one of the six esports demonstration events at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. In it, eight countries participated after qualifying from their respective regional qualification tournaments, with China winning gold.[137]