There are currently 136 champions in League of Legends as of April 4, 2017. League divides its champion types up a number of ways (additionally, champions can be customized by buying different items in-game and equipping different runes and masteries before games). 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, called ‘hybrids’, deal a combination of both physical and magical damage and can either choose one to emphasize or find a balance between the two, making it harder for other champions to defend against them; and 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; each class is also divided into two or three subclasses to differentiate. Not all champions perfectly fit their type, of course. The official Riot classifications are as follows:
- Marksman: Marksmen, also known as “ad (attack damage) Carries”, are ranged champions that usually deal physical damage. These champions are usually high dps rather than burst; they focus on sustained long-term damage through their basic attacks, and are usually the best at destroying and taking objectives like enemy turrets or elemental drakes, as well as killing tanks. They tend to have weak defense and are easy to kill once caught – leading to them and other carries to be described as ‘squishy’. Some adcs rely heavily on their basic attacks to kill targets, while others play like mages and utilize their spells in combat as well. Examples of marksmen are Ashe, Caitlyn, Jinx, and Jhin. There are currently 18 true adcs, although other champions that are good at dealing sustained damage, such as some Fighters or Mages, can provide dps for their team akin to a Marksman.
- Mage: Mages, sometimes known as “ap (ability power) Carries”, are champions with powerful magic damage and crowd control spells, but weak defense and low mobility. Mages are divided into three main groups based on their combat patterns – Burst Mages, such as Veigar and Syndra, excel at killing singular champions from range very quickly, but often have poor sustained or area damage to compensate; Battle Mages, such as Vladimir and Karthus, who excel at unleashing devastating area of effect damage to multiple targets and are not afraid to get close, unlike other mages; and Artillery Mages, such as Ziggs and Vel’Koz, who often have the highest range and damage but are often more squishy to compensate, relying on their team’s protection to set up kills. There are currently 29 true Mage champions, although other classes such as Controllers and Marksmen that rely especially on their spells are sometimes categorized as Mages as well.
- Slayer: A champion who specializes in killing one or more champion as fast as possible, usually within melee range. Slayers tend to go after the enemy’s ad/ap Carry and other ‘squishy’ champions, but tend to have weak defenses themselves if caught, and rely on their potent mobility to pick and choose their fights. Slayers are divided into two subgroups: Assassins, such as Zed, Fizz, and LeBlanc, who have the highest mobility and up-front burst damage to quickly kill a target and escape, but lack sustained damage; and Skirmishers, such as Yasuo, Riven, and Fiora, that often have more limited or situational mobility in exchange for situational defensive tools and high sustained damage to cut down foes of any class. There are currently 18 true Slayer champions, but any champion that can kill a target quickly and safely is sometimes categorized as one as well.
- Tank: Champions who are especially hard to kill and soak up damage for their team. In exchange, they usually deal less damage, relying on their innate toughness and crowd control abilities to win fights. Tanks are divided into two main subgroups based on their goal – Wardens such as Tahm Kench, Poppy, and Braum prefer to protect and shield their allies from danger, while Vanguards such as Malphite, Sejuani, and Zac have more high-impact engage options to force a fight with enemies, and generally have crowd control that can affect multiple enemies at once. The line between Vanguards and Wardens is not as distinct as with other classes, as a tank’s ultimate goal is to protect their team and deter the enemy regardless of which subgroup they belong to. There are currently 22 true Tank champions, although some Fighters and Controllers can opt into tank items and embody the class if necessary.
- Fighter: Champions that blend the attributes of a damage dealer and tank, combining moderate survivability with damage, but never really outperforming either in each respective category. There are currently two types of fighters – Juggernauts, such as Darius, Illaoi, and Garen, who have much more extreme melee durability and damage but limited to no range, mobility, or crowd control, and Divers, Fighters that excel at singling out a target and forcing a fight with them thanks to their potent mobility and damage, although they are not as durable to compensate. There are currently 27 Fighters, but many champions with sustained damage like Battle Mages and some Tanks can be classified as a Fighter as well.
- Controller: Champions whose spells allow them to protect allies and hinder enemies, generally referred to as defensive casters as opposed to their counterparts Mages, offensive casters. Controllers are not expected to be meaningful damage threats (although they can be) but instead offer unique tools to their allies to succeed while utilizing powerful crowd control on enemies from range. Controllers are divided into two main groups – Enchanters, such as Lulu, Bard, and Soraka, that are much more defensive by nature and focus on amplifying their allies through heals, shields, and buffs to protect and enhance their combat skills, and Disruptors such as Zyra, Anivia, and Taliyah that forgo traditional defensive buffs for more spell-based damage and crowd control. Disruptors share such glaring similarities with Mages that they are almost universally treated as such, but their greater emphasis on disruption rather than raw damage differentiates them. Disruptors generally excel more at enabling kills than taking them. There are currently 16 classified Controllers, although many of which bleed into other classes, such as the Mages and Wardens.
There are currently 7 champions (Cho’Gath, Fiddlesticks, Singed, Urgot, Kennen, Gnar, and Blitzcrank) that do not necessarily fit into any class thanks to their unique playstyles, although each displays characteristics of some classes more than others. Fiddlesticks, for example, is a sentient scarecrow whose spells often require him to stand still and ambush enemies, which creates unique gameplay patterns for him that is entirely separate from other damage-dealing classes. Gnar is a small prehistoric creature that fights with a boomerang from afar like a Marksman, but can transform into Mega Gnar, an enormous beast with powerful melee damage and crowd control – a mix of a Vanguard and a Juggernaut.
Item choice can influence a champion’s class. For example, if the champion Jarvan IV purchases all damage items, he functions something like an Assassin; he can kill enemies quickly, but will die rapidly himself. If Jarvan buys all defensive items, then he will become a Vanguard focused on engaging high-priority targets. Somewhere in-between, he’s a Diver. In the same way, champions like Morgana, Annie, and Karma 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. Many champions are a mix and fit into two subclasses simultaneously (or in the very least overlap), which grants them greater flexibility but less potency in each. For example, the champion Tahm Kench (a kappa-like crossroads demon) is typically classified as a Warden due to his ability to protect allies by swallowing them whole and repositioning them, but his extreme durability and strong melee damage allow him to be played like a Juggernaut if he buys items like one.
Champion classes generally determine what part of the map the champion gravitates towards during the game – this is referred to as their ‘role’. A Marksman usually goes to the bottom lane with a Controller or Tank, called the support, that can help protect them from harm in the early levels as they accrue gold and experience from killing minions. The support is also expected to buy ‘wards’, which provide vision in an area around them, so that allies are not ambushed as easily and can see greater portions of the map – the support is also expected to destroy enemy wards. A Mage, Disruptor, or Assassin usually goes to the middle lane, which is the shortest and most centralized lane and thus usually the most dynamic – ‘mid lane champions’ usually end up being the ones with the most kills and exert a large amount of influence over the course of the game. The top lane is more isolated from the rest of the map, and so a Tank or Fighter usually goes top, since they are the most self-sufficient and can adapt to a variety of situations. This has led top lane to be colloquially referred to by players as an ‘island’. The role of a top laner is usually to ‘push’ a lane by quickly advancing down it with their minions, and not pay as much attention to their other 4 allies, although this is not always so. Between each lane is the jungle, home to an array of fearsome monsters that are hard to take down, especially in the early game. Each team has a ‘jungler’ champion that does not go to a lane and instead heads to the jungle; these champions usually have ways to heal or shield themselves so that they can fight multiple monsters in succession, or any other effective ways to ‘clear’ monster camps effectively. The jungler’s job is to ‘secure’ objectives and make sure their team reaps the rewards of powerful monsters such as the elemental drakes and Baron Nashor. The jungler will occasionally visit a lane and attempt to gank the enemy laner, working with their teammate to bring down the laner in a 1v2 scenario. The jungler is not constrained to any particular class, although as a rule of thumb Mages, Controllers, and Marksman are poor junglers, with other classes being able to achieve at least some level of success, although there are exceptions (for example, Fiddlesticks is a staple jungle pick). The success of a jungler is usually determined by whether they can clear the jungle efficiently and how potent their ganks are. The jungler is widely regarded as the most important role, alongside the adc, for their importance in taking down objectives.