How to teach someone to watch Pro League of Legends

Akali

League of Legends is the most complex game on the market today. To play it, you need to know over 150 champions, their 4–8 abilities and general cooldowns, over 200 items and their cost, literally thousands of interactions, and reams of miscellany about the game and specific interactions between all of these moving parts.

However, when it comes to the pro scene, teaching someone to watch League of Legends is a difficult prospect. Where do you even start?

I’ve actually created a simple, straightforward, and easy way to teach someone how to watch professional league of legends without knowing any of the champions, abilities, items, or really anything about the game. This method allows people to jump in and start watching instantly without feeling overwhelmed. Here it is.

This method works best when someone asks “whatcha watching?” or seems to be generally interested in a live game that’s going on. It’s less effective than just teaching someone straight out, so if someone asks you about professional League of Legends, it’s best to just turn on a game and start from there.

First, give them someone to root for. This reminds me of when my brothers and I received a copy of Madden 2K5 for Xbox. We had no idea how to play football, had never watched a football game, but we picked teams with cool logos and just slammed them into each other until our experimentation taught us the game. When we saw a live football game, we would root for “the green guys” or “the purple guys.” People have colors they like. Give them a brief bit of backstory on the teams and then let them pick someone to root for. This immediately engages them in the narrative unfolding.

Second, explain how to tell who’s winning and the goal of the game. While it’s not always straightforward, it’s best to not mire someone in the infinite possibilities. If someone asks you to teach them football, don’t start with touchbacks and trick plays. Similarly, when teaching someone how to watch League of Legends, tell them that the kills and gold show who’s winning 99% of the time. Whoever has the most kills usually has the most gold, and whoever has the most gold is the strongest and can kill the enemy nexus. Don’t talk about items, they aren’t ready.

Third, as the game goes on, explain the roles of each lane in a sentence or two. Toplane is a beefy fighter, the jungler’s job is to disrupt the lanes, midlane is a carry, the ADC is weak early and strong late, and the support helps the ADC and then the rest of the team to stay safe and make plays.

In my experience, people teaching others League of Legends get so mired in vagaries as they explain it that they end up going on a diatribe about minion health changes in patch 10.21 and how that effected the broader macro game of ranged midlaners. Don’t do this unless you want to kill your learner with boredom.

Fourth, as the game state evolves, try to explain what the goals of each team are in a general sense. For example, a team that is 10 kills and 8,000 gold down is going to be playing more defensively and looking for a chance to catch a valuable enemy out and kill them to get some momentum back. Do not under any circumstances start overexplaining champions. Keep champion definitions to a sentence or two at maximum. “This is Tahm Kench: he’s a tank who’s hard to kill.” “This is Twisted Fate, he’s a midlane mage who can teleport as his ultimate.” Details kill the fun.

Finally, as the game wraps up, answer questions your viewer has about the end state. This sort of flashlight teaching method, where you only explain what’s necessary as it occurs and ignore everything else, is extremely valuable. Learners need a basis of information to build from: a neural platform to branch synaptic connections out of and myelinate as they see them more often.

League of Legends is still a growing esport, but as viewers and fans it’s up to us to grow the fanbase. God knows it’s difficult enough to begin by yourself.

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The Digital Sportsman covers all aspects of esports including business, management, branding, marketing, coaching, and franchise development. New stories every Wednesday.

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Lowell Stevens

Lowell Stevens

Designer, writer, esports fan. Founder and creative director @ www.foxandfarthing.com

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