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We distinguish four distinct terms when referring to playstyle:
- A class is a predefined set of patterns in player's behavior, responses and reactions to environment (including but not exclusive to enemies and own team). This may also include preferred item and ability paths, summoner spells, stats, runes or masteries. Classes may be considered the abstract patterns, while roles and attributes being their actual implementation.
- A role is a class currently embodied by champion in game. A champion's role can dynamically change during the course of game and is a subject to player's building choices (itemization, masteries, runes).
- An attribute is a startup role, or default (primary/secondary) class. It is a synonym of class innate to champion. The creators bore that class in mind during the champion's design and this is how a champion is supposed to be played in early game with little influence of custom build-ups. A champion's recommended item set allows to actually make up the role from the primary attribute.
- A position refers to default player location in game rather than class. There are currently 5 positions in game- top, mid, bot, support, jungler and 6th archaic position of a roamer. All 5 positions occur only on Summoner's Rift. Except for jungler, positions usually disappear during match progress.
These positions and classes can be arbitrarily combined but natural suitability of classes for certain positions causes some meta-options to become much more common such as: support tank/controller, bot marksman, mid mage/slayer, top tank/fighter, jungler fighter/slayer
The classes and their correlations can be simply concluded in a graph with essential class features as edge weights:
- Every class here is described by properties on its adjacent edges.
- Every outcoming edge points to the feature that class is strong against.
- Every incoming edge points from the feature the class is weak against.
- Every class on the boundary is weak against two preceding classes in counterclockwise direction.
- Every class on the boundary is strong against two consecutive classes in clockwise direction.
- Controllers have a special position in the middle because they are generally not designed to fight 1-on-1.
Example: Tank's characteristic properties are tankiness, team utility (so that enemy team indirectly perishes from not focusing it) and a possession of some sort of mobility or gap closer. Diagram further displays that tanks can easily deal with burst (of slayers and mages), but struggle against sustained damage (of fighters and marksmen).
The mutual counterability of all classes naturally leads to class diversity in gameplay (as there is no superclass to dominate all others) Every competitive team in higher ranks is thus incentivized to distribute its team composition more regularly throughout all the main class categories.
If this is not the case, as it often happens in non-competitive or recreational games (for example a team chooses to set up a heavy assassin composition), the game result can be determined by adaptability of enemy to counter the dominant class' natural weakness (as for assassins, tankiness). Hence the understanding of relations between classes is an advantageous tactical skill of a player.
The classification of champions by main attributes basically refers to their early game/innate properties. The runes, masteries and the itemization skill can "reengineer" the champion's primary attribute as the game progresses into late game. Common examples of such shift are tankor tank who start as assassin/fighter early but build into tank class late game (usually as a response to being behind or to fill a team role of tank). However such situations are rarer in pro-play.
While unofficial, the following attributes are often still used to describe and classify champions, even by members of Riot Games:
- Bully: A champion with such exceptional strength in the early stages of a match that they can seriously threaten, or bully, their opponents, and force them to play defensively. Typically, the term is used to describe lane bullies, champions who can harass or engage their opponents in lane with relatively little fear of retribution. In exchange for this power, however, bully champions also tend to become less effective as matches progress, a process also known as falling off. Hallmarks of bully champions include very high base statistics, especially health and attack damage, cheap, long-ranged damaging abilities, and mobility that increases with nearby units. Most bullies tend to be fighters, who often have several or even all of these characteristic features, but several members of every other class also qualify as bullies.
- Carry: A champion who becomes powerful enough as a match progresses so as to be able to seemingly win games single-handedly, thereby "carrying" the rest of the team on their back. Typically, this has been used specifically for basic attack-dependent champions, due to how autoattack-based builds tend to scale the hardest into the late game, but the term has also applied to mages.
- Hypercarry: A more extreme version of a carry, a hypercarry is a champion whose late-game strength is assumed to be so powerful that they eventually eclipse any other non-hypercarry in power. The term's use has significantly increased over time, to the point where "carry" and "hypercarry" often both designate the same set of late-game champions.
- Jungler: A champion who can successfully thrive on the jungle's resources. While more of a position, the jungler attribute is dependent on certain champion characteristics, such as innate toughness, sustained early damage, self-healing, mobility, crowd control or burst damage. Not all of these traits are required, but all successful junglers possess several of them.
- Melee: A champion with basic attacks defined as melee. Melee champions typically have a short combat range, but tend to make up for it with bolstered innate defenses and unique advantages to their abilities. Most assassins, fighters and tanks are melee.
- Pusher: A champion who can quickly kill minions and clear minion waves, thereby "pushing" their lane towards enemy structures and enabling their destruction, which they can also typically achieve better than non-pushers. Pushers typically have area of effect damage, rapid attacks or abilities and, occasionally, pets.
- Ranged: A champion with basic attacks defined as ranged. Ranged champions tend to have the most reach out of all champions, but are also more fragile on average. Marksmen and most mages are ranged.
- Recommended: A champion who is exceptionally easy to learn, and thereby recommended for newer players. Recommended champions are also exceptionally cheap to purchase, each costing 1350 or less, with the exception of and , who cost 3150. There is usually at least 1 recommended champion every free week rotation.
- Stealth: A champion who can enter stealth, thereby becoming invisible to their enemies. Stealth champions tend to be either assassins or marksmen.
These categories are internal to the wiki for purposes of categorization and classification, and aren't copied from the game.