LoL Guide: Ability Breakdown

Posted on June 1, 2017 - Last Updated on September 18, 2021

In League of Legends, champions have powerful abilities that they can use to affect the battlefield. Each champion has a kit of five unique abilities. The first one is a passive. The passive takes effect once the game starts and continues working until the very end without any player input.

Next, there are three basic abilities—bound to Q, W, and E hotkeys by default. These abilities are a champion’s bread and butter, primary tools that he’ll be using to turn the tide of battle in his favor. At the game’s start, every champion has one skill point that she can invest into a basic ability of her choosing. As champions level up and gain more skill points, they can either unlock other basic abilities or power up the existing ones.

You can put a maximum of five skill points into any basic ability. However, League of Legends doesn’t allow players to invest all their skill points into a single ability, so you have to level up at least one other spell. That’s why the earliest you can max out any basic ability is level 9.

The final and the most impactful ability is a champion’s ultimate. Ultimates are bound to the R hotkey by default and act as the champion’s trump card—the strongest weapon in his arsenal. Ultimates take up a total of three skill points and can be leveled up at levels 6, 11, and 16.

Ability Traits

Abilities in League of Legends can have one or more of the following traits:

  • Scaling. Abilities gain in strength depending on stats that champions acquire through buying items, securing buffs, setting up runes and masteries.
  • Cost. Most abilities take up a certain amount of mana (or energy) to activate. If you don’t have enough mana (or energy), you have to wait for it to replenish before you can cast the desired ability. Some abilities may be free of charge, and there are even champions with entire kits that don’t demand any resources. This is compensated for by longer cooldowns or weaker effects.
  • Cooldown. Champions can’t use their abilities constantly, and they have to wait for a fixed amount of time before recasting their abilities. You can shorten this wait via the cooldown reduction stat.
  • Ammo. Some abilities work through charges instead of standard cooldowns. You usually get ammo automatically over time, although there are abilities that grant you ammo upon activation.
  • Range. Determines how far an ability can travel from the caster.
  • Cast time. A brief amount of time when a champion can’t do anything until her ability takes effect. The cast time can’t be interrupted by anything other than a champion’s death.
  • Channel. A champion has to wait for a fixed period before an ability can take its full effect. Channels can be interrupted either by enemies or by the caster.
  • Active. These abilities require players to press a corresponding hotkey to trigger them.
  • Passive. These abilities do not need any player input.
  • Toggle. You can ‘turn on’ some abilities, and they will stay in effect until you manually disable them.
  • Stance. A select few abilities act as stances, granting unique effects or even entire new sets of abilities upon activation.
  • Summon. Lets you create other units to assist your allies.
  • On-action effects. These abilities interact with other spells or items to provide additional effects. For example, hitting a target with a stun may also cause your other abilities to do increased damage.

Combat and Utility

Every LoL ability belongs either to the combat or to the utility categories.

Combat abilities deal damage; apply crowd control to the target, thus weakening or outright disabling its fighting capabilities; cast beneficial buffs; or affect your enemies with crippling debuffs.

Utility abilities are a bit more varied. These include blinks and dashes that allow you to rapidly move around the map; healing spells that restore yours our your allies’ health; shields that absorb incoming damage; stealth that makes you invisible, invulnerability that lets you ignore incoming damage; or even untargetability that makes you… well, untargetable to spells and effects.

Skillshots and Point-and-clicks

Most League of Legends abilities are skillshots. Skillshots can take various forms—straight lines, cones, round areas—but the one thing they have in common is that you have to aim them. And naturally, this means that you can miss.

Skillshots create a unique dynamic where you can outplay stronger opponents by dodging their abilities and landing your own. Of course, not everything is a skillshot. There are simpler point-and-click abilities where all you have to do is select a target and press the corresponding hotkey to hit your mark.


Understanding how abilities work is key to success in LoL. Mastering a champion’s kit, keeping track of the enemy cooldowns and using abilities at exactly the right moment is what makes professional players stand above their competition. In the end, victory in League of Legends can be a single well-timed ultimate away.

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