League of Legends

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Genre Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
Gamming Style MOBA/MMORPG
Platform Windows, Mac (In Development)
Release Date October 27, 2009 [1]
Developer Riot Games [2]
Publisher Riot Games [USA], Tencent Holdings Ltd [PRC], Garena [TW]
Website www.na.leagueoflegends.com

League of Legends is an online competitive multiplayer game created by Riot Games. The game was first released on October 27, 2009 for the Windows platform. Riot Games released a beta for the Mac on March 1st, 2013 and the full version of League of Legends has been available to Mac users ever since. Today, League of Legends is the number one most played PC game in terms of minutes per day according to Xfire, a popular instant messaging service for gamers.[3] Forbes.com has also noted that League of Legends has become the most played PC game in the world according to data collected by DFC Intelligence and Xfire.[4] Like many other online games, League of Legends has received criticism over toxic behavior from its players. This behavior includes homophobic, racist, and sexist language being used between players of the game through its chat system.

Game Play



There are five different game modes:

  • Tutorial: Step by Step directions that teach players basics of the game.
  • Custom: Players create manually create game sessions with their preferred sessions that are visible to other players on a game list.
  • Co-Op vs Al: Players are matched alone or part of a group to play against bots.
  • Normal: Similar to ranked mode, but less competitive.
  • Ranked: Players are matched up according to their player rating and attempt to increase the rating through this game mode which allows for visibility of all players picks and ratings before the start of the game. The rating system from lowest to highest is bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond, and challenger.

There are different methods of selecting champions:

  • In Draft pick, teams will take turn banning up to three characters that neither team can choose as their champion. Following, players from both team will alternatively select their Champions. This system greatly reduces the chance of one team counter-picking against the other team.
  • In Blind pick, teams will both remain oblivious to the other team's composition of Champions. This is the less-balanced preference, but much more time-conserving.

The game focuses strongly on teamwork and collaboration. Players are divided into 2 even teams 3v3 or 5v5. Each player controls a "Champion" which are fantasy characters with story lines that Riot created. As of Sunday, April 7th, 2019, there are 143 champions in League of Legends, with new champions coming out approximately once every 2 months [5]. Each team must work together to advance through a series of turrets and minions to reach the enemy "Nexus" which signifies a flag in a Capture the Flag game. Champions gain experience and money when defeating enemy minions, towers, and Champions. The Champion levels up gaining new abilities in each level which will improve the skill. The money earned from killing minions, champions, turrets, and inhibitors can be used to purchase new items to increase the stats of the champion. In general, during a typical 5v5 game there are five distinct positions. In the bottom lane, there is usually a champion that plays "all damage carry" (ADC) and another champion who is a support. In the top and middle lanes, players that play certain champions here are called "mid-laners" and "top-laners". In the jungle, there is a player who can only use certain champions called a "jungler" who kills neutral monsters for experience and money instead of minions. Lastly, the game ends when one team destroys the other team's Nexus.[6]

The Summoner

A player in League of Legends is also referred to as a summoner. At the end of each game, Summoner will also receive experience points and influence points. The experience points levels up the Summoner's account as a whole, and the influence points can be used to purchase runes and new champions. The Summoner becomes more powerful as he/she collects more champions and runes.

Gaming Etiquette and the Tribunal

Gaming Etiquette

Every player/Summoner who wishes to play league of legends must sign an electronic contract stating that they would adhere to a set of rules call The Summoner's Code. The Summoner's code states clearly what is acceptable gaming behavior and what is not. If a player fails to follow the Summoner's code, he/ she would be at risk of being reported. A player can be reported for the following reasons[7]:

1. Offensive Language – Including, but not limited to language that is vulgar, obscene, sexually explicit, or racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable.

2. Verbal Abuse - Including, but not limited to, language that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

3. Intentional Feeding - Purposely dying to enemy champions or turrets to make the opposing team more powerful while putting your team at a disadvantage.

4. Assisting Enemy Team – This includes using all-chat or Summoner abilities to assist the opposing team in any way.

5. Unskilled Player - If you feel that a Summoner is not playing well - such as not last hitting, not using the right skills, having the wrong build, and having poor map awareness, you can report that player for being unskilled.

6. Refusing to Communicate with Team – Applies to any Summoner that refuses to use chat or pings.

7. Leaving the Game/AFK - This includes logging out or exiting the Game before a match ends as well as standing idle for long periods of time or refusing to participate in the match at all.

8. Negative Attitude – Any Summoner that is constantly putting other Summoners down or being generally negative about the game.

9. Inappropriate Name – Select this option is you see a Summoner name that is falsely indicative of an association with Riot Games, contains personally identifying information, infringes on the proprietary rights of third parties, or that is offensive, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, sexually explicit, racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable. This also applies if the name uses a misspelling or an alternative spelling to circumvent this restriction on Summoner name choices.

10. Spamming - Whether for personal or commercial purposes, by disrupting the flow of conversation with repeated postings of a similar nature is a reportable offense.

After a player has been reported by another player, the case would be put on trial on the tribunal.

The Tribunal

Tribunal screen, displaying a player up for potential punishment.

Any experienced player (players above level 20) can participate in the tribunal. The player would review a case and determine if the player in question deserves to be punished. The tribunal would show the information of the games the players are being reported in. Below is a example of a case being reviewed.

After reviewing the chat log, game statistics, and inputs from the players of the game, the player can vote to either pardon or punish the reported player. A case is reviewed by multiple players to ensure a fair judgement. A timer is also added to the right of the page so that each case gets sufficient time to be reviewed before a player makes a decision. Riot Games rewards players who make the right judgment on a case through extra game points. Punishing every player who gets reported would not make the system reward the player more. Players get rewarded by making the right judgment base on the 10 rules above. Players who are punished by the tribunal are banned from playing. Players are banned for different duration depending on the seriousness of the offense, number of times reported, and previous punishment. The duration of bans ranges from a day to a month. There are some ethical concerns when it comes to the Tribunal since the system is still imperfect and has raised many concerns within the League community. However, the system does allow for more fairness although it does cause users to spend more time on improving the game, which is arguably the purpose of Riot Games in installing the system into the game.

Player Rating

League of Legends recently developed a feedback system for players to rate other players after each games. This rating system is called the Honors Initiative and it consists of 4 different ratings which are "Friendly", "Helpful", "Teamwork", and "Honorable." These ratings are used as a way for players to gauge the playing habits of other players. If a player has been friendly or helpful to another player, the player can have the option to add a point to the other player's rating. Although the ratings do not affect how the game plays and have no incentive if one has a lot of them, they signifies the player's reputation. Riot Games developed this rating system as a way to reward players for good behavior. After the system has implemented, there has been significant improvement in the quality of the games. [8] Below are the results of after one week of implementing the system.

Negative Attitude reports: -29% in normals games and -11% in ranked games

Offensive Language reports: -35% in normals games and -20% in ranked games

Verbal Abuse reports: -41% in normals games -17% in ranked games

The improved game play due to the Honor Initiative is notable. The system promotes good gaming etiquette through a rating system that doesn't interfere with the actual game play. Players naturally want to collect these honor points to be reputable. Riot Games also implemented bots that routinely checks for players that trade honor points(Giving points to other player for no other reason than to receive points back) , making it difficult for players to accumulate honor points through unconventional methods.[9]

Growth of League of Legends and Riot Games

An infographic illustrating the size and scope of League of Legends today.

League of Legends has seen tremendous growth since its debut in 2009. League of Legends’ first major tournament was the World Cyber Games Grand Finals in Los Angeles in October of 2010. The winner was granted a first-place prize of $10,000. This was awarded to team Counter-Logic Gaming, who defeated team SK Gaming 2-1 in a best-of-3 matchup.[10]

In the beginning of 2011, major Chinese internet investment company Tencent Holdings acquired majority stake in Riot Games for roughly $400 million.[11] CEO of Riot Games Brandon Beck stated that "[Riot Games will] tap Tencent's resources for worldwide expansion."[11] The acquisition marked the biggest international acquisition made by a Chinese company in the gaming industry.[11]

The WCG Grand Finals proved to be a huge success for League of Legends. Riot Games showed ambition when they announced their Season One Championship in spring of 2011 with a total prize pool of $100,000.[12] Season One consisted of over 50 certified tournaments throughout the year leading up to the season one finals at Dreamhack, the world’s largest computer festival. Season One North American Qualifiers accrued nearly 300,000 unique stream views with a peak concurrency of 69,000, setting the record for North American viewership of any eSports event.[13] This figure was blown away during the Season One Championship Finals; Riot claims that 1.6 million viewers streamed the Season One Championship online and their peak concurrency was a whopping 210,000 viewers during the final matches between Team FnaticMSI and Team Against All Authority (aAa).[14]

Riot Games set the bar even higher with Season Two. Riot Games announced that their Season Two World Championship would have a prize pool of $3 million and a grand prize of $1 million to the winner of the Season Two Championship, the second largest first place prize for any eSport.[15] League of Legends set new records in terms of viewership once again with the Season Two Championship. Riot Games announced that during the Season Two Championship, they reached a peak viewership concurrence of 1,154,000.[16] They also received over 8,282,000 unique viewers throughout the championship, not including the 2,402,225 viewers watching from Korea and China.[16] As the years since Season 2 have come and gone there has been dominance in championship wins by Korean teams. Season 3 saw SK Telecom T1 win their first championship of three that they would eventually win. Season 4 Samsung Galaxy White win the championship. Season 5 and 6 saw SK Telecom T1 win back to back championships. Finally, the most recent season saw an upset by most when SK Telecom T1 lost to Samsung Galaxy while they were going for a three-peat, which was seen by 60 million unique viewers.[17]


League of Legends is one of the most prominent competitive esports world wide. League of Legends has produced over $30,000,000 worth of prize money since its inception, with the 2018 World Championship prize pool being approximately $6,450,000 [18]. League of Legends currently has 5 major Leagues in North America, Europe, China, Korea, & Taiwan respectively and has began developing competitive collegiate teams.

League of Legends World Championship

The League of Legends World Championship is one of the two annual major international tournaments held by Riot Games. After 2 individual "Splits" (each season is divided into 2 splits, with a domestic tournament at the end of each split) the best teams from all of the regions are sent to the World Championship. The 2018 League of Legends World Championship was viewed by more than 200 million viewers, making it not only the most watched video game but additionally one of the most watched competitive event ever. [19]. The current champions are Invictus Gaming, one of the top teams from the LPL (Chinese Region). South Korea's SK Telecom T1 are the winningest team at this event, with three World Championship Titles [20].

Mid Season Invitational

The Mid Season Invitational (MSI) is Riot's other international event. The event takes place in between the spring and summer splits and takes the winners of the domestic tournament in each region and pits them against each other for a two week long event. MSI is not as popular or as prominent as the League of Legends World Championship, however, it still hosted an impressive 127 million viewers throughout its 2018 tournament. The 2019 MSI event is scheduled to begin May 1st, 2019 and will conclude with the championship series on May 19th. The event will be held in various cities throughout Vietnam [21].

Ethical Issues

Delayed Punishment

One of the biggest problems of the Tribunal is that it is a delayed punishment system. Players who are reported due to poor gaming etiquette are not punished immediately. Players can continue to play games and behave poorly after being reported for a while. A case might not be reviewed until there are multiple reports and incidents. When a player is put on the Tribunal, almost certainly there is a pattern of poor gameplay in not just one, but multiple games. Players can avoid being put on the tribunal by playing some games well and other games poorly, making it difficult to pinpoint unethical gaming behavior.[22] This means that players can abuse the system and play around the system by trolling here and there, which ultimately lowers the quality of the game if many players decide to do this.


League of Legends is a free to play game. Anyone with an email account can apply for an account and play. Players who are banned from one account can just create another one to play. Officially Riot Games does not have any rules or regulations against such behavior. Theoretically, players can create as many accounts as they please, play on one until it gets banned and move on to another one. "Smurfing" also becomes a concern since players at a higher skill level may create a new account and play players at lower player ratings, who are less skilled players by design. This could be seen as a form of gaining an unfair advantage, which by some gamers could be seen as a form of cheating, despite the aforementioned fact that there are not any rules against making a smurf.[23] This affects the experience of new players who are trying to learn how to play the game because these "smurfs" have higher skill levels than the new account(s) they are hiding behind, meaning that they can easily turn the tide of a game;sometimes single-handedly winning otherwise losing games. The "smurfs" have the benefits of beating lower skilled players while their victims can win games they should lose or lose games they should win, potentially affecting player rankings. However, despite being able to go smoothly from one account to another, the player does not get to keep any of the items or champions they have bought and must essentially start from scratch, meaning that every smurf account is a legitimately leveled account. Also, the moderators of League of Legends have stated multiple times that they generally have a good idea on which accounts are smurfs and if the player's attitude does not change, the smurf will have a high chance of getting banned as well.


There are various and creative methods of cheating that players have discovered in League of Legends. Some include boosting, writing scripts, and map zooming [24]. Regardless of the type of cheating, many seek to gain an unfair advantage over other players and worsens their experience. Some tactics do so by decreasing the time required to complete tasks, while others allow players to complete moves they couldn't do naturally.


Boosting is the act of someone other than the original account’s owner playing on his or her account. The point of getting boosted is for the player’s account to reach a higher rank. In the League of Legends ranking system, there are 7 different tiers. In each tier, there are five divisions with the exception of the two highest tiers. These tiers are as follows: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond, masters, and challenger. The percent of players in each tier are 19.70%, 48.28%, 22.35%, 7.87%, 1.73%, 0.04%, and 0.02% respectively. As such challenger tier is the most sought after and most respected by the players. [25]

When a person wants their account to be boosted, they will usually contact a boosting website and make a payment depending on what rank they want to achieve and what rank they are currently at. When players want to be boosted to diamond, masters, or challenger, the payment a lot higher compared to boosting to gold or silver.

Boosting results in similar ethical issues as smurfing. Since the booster playing on the low rank account is very high rank themselves, they will put their team at a severe advantage over the enemy team and almost always guarantees victory in all games that they play. As a result, if players are lucky and happen to be on the same team as the booster, they will essentially get a free win even if they would have lost otherwise. On the other hand, if players are unlucky and happen to be on the opposite team as the booster, they are essentially guaranteed a loss due to the skill gap and knowledge gap. This creates an unfair situation for enemy players and will negatively impact their experience while playing League of Legends.


People have found ways to write in game scripts that automatically complete a series of actions that they couldn't complete as well without scripts [24]. Using scripts makes a person almost unstoppable against players who aren't cheating, but it can be very easy to detect players who are using them. If a high level player comes up against a low level counterpart who seems too good for their skill level, scripts are usually to blame.

Map Zooming

In League of Legends, part of the strategy when facing other players includes deciding what to do based on the sections of the map that are visible. Normal players can't see the entire map they are battling on, but the map zoom hack allows players to do just that[24]. This gives map zoom users a huge upper hand over players because they can strategize based on information regular players don't have. The issue with this cheat is that it can be extremely hard if not possible to detect by other players and the game itself.

Esports in the Realm of Actual Sports

E-sports has been picking up steam as a potential legit sport in the world nowadays. This is a drastic change from the outlook of games being something that is seen only as a leisure activity. Games such as League of Legends, Starcraft II, Overwatch, etc. have all shown just how popular this can be. This has garnered the attention of the IOC(International Olympic Committee) recently. So far the Asian Games has decided to make E-sports an official event in the 2022 Hangzhou games.[26] The idea of E-sports as an Olympic sport has garnered an opinion from IOC president Thomas Bach when he said “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people. This doesn’t match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line,[27]

Game Addiction

As with other games, League of Legends may lead to severe game addiction in users. Individual games usually last at least 20 to 30 minutes and in many cases go over an hour, so it takes a good chunk of a player's time to play a couple of rounds. As it is looked down upon to leave in the middle of a game, in many cases players opt to finish games rather than take care of responsibilities in their real life. Because League of Legends is a real-time strategy game, players are not allowed to pause while playing in games, meaning that many players must continue playing out a game until a team surrenders or loses the game in order to stop playing. If a player chooses to stop early, the player can be penalized, since leaving in the middle of the game is almost a guarantee that a team will lose the game. League of Legends is such a popular game and logs so many minutes for millions of players around the world that many players neglect other responsibilities and prioritize the video game first. League of Legends also has a strong fan base which means that many people are not only players, but also like to watch streams of popular and professional players, as well as watch professional matches and tournaments. These tournaments usually last for weeks and when aired, take up a majority of the day since each professional game averages about an hour including commercial time, picks and bans, and actual gameplay. Since most tournaments run a best-of-5 style, some tournaments might take more than 36 hours to fully complete. Thus, this combination of playing the video game and watching the video game can take over a player's time and cause addiction levels to grow as players get more and more consumed by the video game.

League of Legends also offers a solid sense of progression throughout the game as players get better and better, earn more resources, and are able to purchase more and more champions, skins, runes, and other items. This raises addiction levels because players become more invested in their profile, wanting to acquire as many champions and other elements as possible in order to have more fun while playing the game. Through riot points, players can purchase new skins, champions, and ward skins without grinding influence points which can take a long time to gather. As of March of 2016, there was a new addition to in-game purchases released to the public called Hextech Crafting. Each time you win any matchmade game, there’s a chance you’ll earn a key and winning with friends increases the chance of a key drop. You can use these keys to open chests which can be earned when you or someone in your premade party earns any S rank. [28]. Although these in-game purchases do not provide any advantage to users in game, it encourages its players which are mainly teenagers to spend money. Most of these young adults are still dependents of their parents, so it can cause issues within families if their kids use their credit card.

League of Legends creates a potentially toxic sense of addiction that many players experience as they get sucked into playing the video game.

See Also


  1. Wikipedia. "Riot Games, Inc." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riot_Games
  2. Wikipedia. "League of Legends" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Legends
  3. Xfire messaging service http://www.xfire.com/
  4. Forbes magazine - League of Legends most played PC game in the world http://www.forbes.com/sites/johngaudiosi/2012/07/11/riot-games-league-of-legends-officially-becomes-most-played-pc-game-in-the-world/
  5. Thernadad (NA) submitted in Gameplay. “How Often Do They Add New Champions.” Boards, boards.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/gameplay-balance/Wt0flFqZ-how-often-do-they-add-new-champions.
  6. League of Legends main site http://na.leagueoflegends.com/
  7. League of Legends - The Summoner's Code http://na.leagueoflegends.com/articles/The_Summoners_Code
  8. Results of Honor System http://na.leagueoflegends.com/news/initial-honor-results
  9. League of Legends - how to report a player https://support.leagueoflegends.com/entries/20213576-reporting-a-player
  10. [1] WCG Grand Finals Forum Post
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 [2] Tencent acquires stake in Riot Games
  12. [3] Season One Championship Announcement
  13. [4] Season One Finalists With Record Viewership
  14. [5] League of Legends Season One Championship sets viewership records
  15. [6] Taipei Assassins won the Season Two Championship and $1 million
  16. 16.0 16.1 [7] LoL Season 2 Championship: The most watched eSports event of all time
  17. Li, Xing.Number of viewers in Season 7 world championship tournaments
  18. “LoL World Championship Prize Pools & Top Players - Esports Profile.” Esports Earnings, www.esportsearnings.com/leagues/190-lol-world-championship.
  19. https://escharts.com/blog/worlds-2018-final
  20. https://lol.gamepedia.com/SK_Telecom_T1
  21. https://www.esportspedia.com/lol/2019_Mid-Season_Invitational
  22. http://na.leagueoflegends.com/tribunal/
  23. Consalvo, Mia. Cheating: Gaining advantage in videogames. Mit Press, 2009.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Vincent, Brittany. “Creative Ways People Are Cheating in League of Legends.” Looper.com, Looper, 19 Oct. 2016, www.looper.com/28198/creative-ways-people-cheating-league-legends/
  25. https://www.leagueofgraphs.com/rankings/rank-distribution
  26. Pham, Phuc.Story on E-Sports presence at the Olympics Retrieved on 14 Apr 2018.
  27. Leng, Sidney Article on Thomas Bach's statement about esports.
  28. http://na.leagueoflegends.com/en/news/game-updates/features/hextech-crafting-now-live-na