Each game is 5 v 5 like basketball. Before the game begins each player picks a champion. There are over 100 different champions to choose from. I will use a simple champion to help describe:
Annie (And her Bear Tibbers)
Annie is a school girl with a stuffed teddy bear that every now and then she can summon to vanquish her foes.
Each champion has 5 unique abilities:
The first of these powers is always a passive (meaning it just happens and no button must be clicked to use)
The next 4 abilities are all active abilities that are used by pushing a button.
So our teams all pick different champions for a total of 10 champions. 5 on one team and 5 on the other.
Each Summoner (the official name of players) is also given the choice of two more abilities called Summoner Spells. These spells are not unique to characters. There is a pool of 11 summoner spells. Each summoner may choose two. I will not go in to the detail of these spells but I mention them only to make you aware of their existence.
The game is now ready to begin.
Object of the Game:
Destroy the Nexus (Circled in Yellow) before the enemy team destroys yours.
Each teams Nexus spawns computer controlled minions that flow down all three lanes labeled above. Both sides spawn equal number of minions and the minions will continue in the lane until they reach 1 of 3 things; an enemy champion, minion or tower. If a minions comes in contact with one of these three enemies it will attack it until either the enemy dies or the minion itself dies. Normally minions will meet an enemy minion and engage in combat with that enemy minion.
These minions if killed by a champion are worth gold. Additionally these champions continuously spawn so if your minions die then it is not a loss.
Minions look something like this
There are 3 variation but this is the basic minion. The main purpose of a minion is to kill the minion and collect the gold and experience. Gold is only collected by killing the minion (or last hitting) while experience is gained just by being in the vicinity of an enemy minion or champion dying. Problem is your enemy is trying to do the same thing.
Towers are the red squares on the map. Each team has 11 towers. These towers will shoot at all enemies players and their minions. So for example if I am on the blue team and I run across that white line and get close enough to a tower. The tower will shoot me and I will die. However if an enemy minion is in the range of the tower, then the tower will shoot the minion and not a player. As soon as all the minions are gone the tower will turn attention (also known as aggro*) to the champion. Towers can be killed and destroyed but have a lot of life so it take some strategy and planning by using minions to take the hits from the tower.
*there are other rules to aggro that will not be covered her
To see this in action I have included a short video:
Both teams have the same objective and can attack each other if two champions are in the same area no matter where on the map. While there are two sides of the map champions can attack each other any where on the map.
Beginning the Game:
Choosing an Ability
Each champion starts the game at level 1. Each level a summoner gets to add a point in to one of the abilities to either learn the ability or increase the abilities power. So at level 1 each champion gets to chose 1 ability to learn by putting 1 point in to that ability. Let us go back to Annie as our example:
She has 4 abilities:
Disintegrate: A fireball that will hit one enemy (minion or champion)
Incinerate: Annie shoots a cone of fire that damages all enemies (minions and champions) in the area of the cone
Molten Shield: Annie increases her defense statistics (making her less hurt by being hit) for 5 seconds
Summon Tibbers: This summons her bear deal damage on impact and allowing Tibbers to attack enemies. This ability is her ultimate ability and is extremely powerful. As such she cannot learn the ability till level 6. (All champions have an ultimate ability and have the same restriction.)
So as a summoner I would chose to put one point in one of the first three abilities which would allow me to cast that ability. Abilities have costs to be cast usually in the form of Mana so they need to be used at the right time. Also these abilities can not be cast immediately back to back but have a cool down before they are allowed to be cast.
For example Annie's Disintegrate costs 60 mana and has a cool down of 4 seconds. Meaning annie can only cast this spell ever 4 seconds if she has enough mana. Mana and health regenerate over time but very slowly.
Throughout the game Annie will gain levels through experience and be able to unlock more abilities and power up abilities she already knows. The summoner picks which order abilities are learned or leveled up. But one champion can only get as high as level 18.
Buying the First Item:
This introduction can not get into items but they exist and add to champions power either offensive or defensive power.
Getting into the Game:
Typically champions spread to the three lanes. One top, one mid, and two bottom. The strategy behind this changes but the last and fifth players goes to an area of the map called the jungle.
This is the part of the map is located with blue and purple circles on the map. These circles are areas where different minions spawn and can be killed for gold. The champion in the jungle usually leave the jungle to help support a teammate in one of the three lanes.
The lanes are labeled with the three yellow numbers. Each number is also the location of the natural balance of the lane. This means that if no champion were to attack minions the minions would meet at that location and attack each other. Champions in the lane need to kill the minions in order to get more gold to buy items and power up.
Since minions normally meet at the location of the numbers. Champions from both teams also will be in the area of those numbers in order to last hit the minion and collect the gold. A summoner does not want their enemy to last hit and collect gold. This will give them an advantage so each summoner is trying to prevent their enemy from collecting gold while also trying to collect gold themselves.
Best case scenario is to kill an enemy champion in lane. If the enemy champion dies they cannot collect gold or experience and remain dead for a short period of time. When they do revive they are back at their nexus and must walk all the way back to where the minions are. During the time of their death the living champion can collect gold and start to destroy the tower.
This is the goal of the whole game. Destroy towers continuously until your team reaches the nexus and can destroy that. There are trillions of way to accomplish this goal but all involve killing enemy champions and destroying towers.
This guide will not give you the depth of knowledge to understand the game but will give you the basic vocab to understand the game. After this guide you should spend sometime watching professional matches with the company of a player. This will allow you to ask questions and get more knowledge of the game.
If you need a player please feel free to contact me at : firstname.lastname@example.org