The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre is dominant in both esports and PC gaming as a whole, and the reigning king of MOBA is Riot Games’ League of Legends (LoL).
LoL was inspired by the Defense of the Ancients mods for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III. Riot Games hired Steve Feak (of the DotA: Allstars mod) to help design a standalone product based on the MOBA concept that he helped popularize.
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How League of Legends is Played
LoL is, in a competitive esports setting, a 5v5 matchup in which the victory condition is to destroy the nexus structure in the other team’s base. Bases are connected to one another via three paths (normally referred to as “lanes,”), and these paths are the primary way that each team engages the other. Each lane consists of the following:
- Minions, which are spawned by each base at regular intervals to attack the other team’s base and players. Killing these minions with “last hits” nets each player gold to purchase items and experience to gain new levels and abilities.
- Turrets, which are defensive structures that fire projectiles at enemy players and minions.
- Inhibitors, which are structures at the end of each lane. Destroying the inhibitor creates a powerful new minion that can lead the charge against the enemy base.
- Between the lanes are the jungle areas, which are filled with neutral monsters that teams can kill for experience, gold, and buffs.
League of Legends Champions
Each player controls one “champion” with its own special abilities. Champions differ from one another in the effects of their abilities, the type of damage they output, and their character statistics. Based on these characteristics, players and their champions will fulfill different roles from one another to best work as a team. Important to note is that each character may fulfill different aspects from multiple roles, with one role being their primary role and another being their secondary role. The roles in LoL are as follows:
- Tanks are melee characters which can take more damage than other characters. They protect other characters in team fights and try to take damage so others don’t have to.
- Supports are characters whose primary goal is to protect allies and give them buffs.
- Fighters are characters with generally less survivability than tanks, but they deal more damage to other players and are good in solo encounters. Fighters are characters with generally less survivability than tanks, but they deal more damage to other players and are good in solo encounters.
- Assassins are characters that focus on dealing “burst damage,” or a large amount of damage in a very short amount of time, in order to effectively kill enemy players. They are extremely vulnerable to being damaged.
- Marksmen and Mages are called “carries.” These characters grow much stronger in the late game after starting relatively weaker early on. Marksmen are known as AD (Attack Damage) carries. with their damage coming from basic attacks. Mages are known as AP (Ability Power) carries, because their damage is primarily dealt by their ability powers.
There are many other aspects of League of Legends which must be considered, such as mpa positioning, item purchases, particular non-player characters which provide bonuses when killed (such as Baron Nashor or the dragon), and much more. It is an extremely complex game with many facets, all of which are vital in knowing about to achieve success as a bettor. A full, comprehensive guide explaining nearly every aspect of the game can be found here, though the guide is anything but light reading. As of this writing, it has been updated regularly to reflect changes in the game’s mechanics (which are always being altered for the sake of balancing).
League of Legends Tournaments & Prize Pools
The most visible aspect of the game for people who don’t play LoL are the massive tournaments it features, which can pack stadiums full of people. The largest tournaments of LoL are hosted by Riot Games themselves, such as the $2.2 million USD prize pool tournament for the 2019 League of Legends World Championship. Every continent has its own regional scene of teams, qualifiers, and tournaments, but there are also multiple international and invitational events as well (with the World Championship being the largest and most important of them).
Other popular LoL Tournaments:
- LCS Odds, Structure and format
- LCK Standings and Infos
- LEC – LoL Esports in Europe
- Mid-Season Invitational
Betting on League of Legends
Nearly every site that offers any kind of esports betting will offer the chance to bet on League of Legends. Something to consider for residents of the United States is that, as of this writing, the only legal means to make money on esports is through esports fantasy sites (which are similar in format to fantasy live-action sports, using in-game stats). A very popular fantasy esports site is DraftKings, which feature League of Legends fantasy teams.
There’s a very long list of sites which offer more traditional wagering on esports, some of which include:
The types of bets that can be made on esports are much like for live-action sports. A person can make a future bet on the winner of a tournament, a bet on the winner of a single match, a proposition bets such as “how many matches team X will win” in a given tournament, or a handicap bet on a series outcome. There are play money options for US residents available.
Each day, the game sees about 7.5 million concurrent players at peak hours, and tens of millions of people play each month. 44 million people watched the 2019 World Championship Finals. More people watched the League of Legends 2019 World Championship Finals than the deciding game of either the 2019 NBA Finals (20.5 million) or the 2019 World Series (14 million).
Getting an Edge at LOL Betting
The best place to start learning more is by either watching one of the previously alluded to World Championship Finals matches or reading a guide such as the one linked to above. Watching a lot of the game being played is an obvious necessity, and twitch.tv features an inestimable amount of channels dedicated to the game. Watching a stream by the top players, such as those in Team Liquid, is the most advisable, and the links to those can be found in each player’s profile. Playing the game is also one of the best ways to learn, if not the best, but it is certainly not required (in the same way that playing basketball is not required to bet on it or to watch and understand it).
The most important things to keep in mind for the game are the following statistics:
- Kills/Deaths/Assists, and Kill/Death ratio
- Gold per minute and overall Gold count
- Experience per minute
- “Creep Count,” or the number of enemy minions killed throughout the game.
Each of these is an indicator for some very important value within the game itself. Experience and gold both enable players to get stronger, and both are gained by minion kills and player kills and assists. Deaths are particularly important for obvious reasons. When watching the 2014 World Finals, the commentators repeatedly allude to the gold and kill counts, so keeping an eye on a team’s gold and kill stats is vital. These values are kept at Riot Games’ own page.
For someone looking to dive into esports betting, there is none larger than League of Legends. Its success has been nothing short of extraordinary, and the game’s viewership and prize pools have grown enormously each year. There is no better time than right now to become a part of the world of esports, while the concept of gambling on esports is still relatively new. Knowing about League of Legends can also help make other MOBA games Dota 2 and Smite easier to understand, and eventually bet on. These games are based on a mod that is now over a decade old, so the knowledge will continue to reap rewards for you in the future, as newer versions are released.
Images courtesy of LoL Esports