My first foray into League of Legends was as a support. Shane and I duoed bottom lane, so he got me his favourite character for that role, Nami, for my birthday—and I had a grand time with her and her splashy fish-person ways.
If you’re unfamiliar with League, basically the support runs around behind the ADC (the big DPS-dealer) and their whole job is to keep them alive and set up kills. Nami is really good at that, both because she has a bubble that stops people in their tracks and because she has a heal that does very literal splash damage.
I got pretty good with her, but then, everything changed.When League redid its rune system last year, it threw my whole game off. I struggled to find something that would reach the same level of splashy helpfulness as I’d had with the old system, and eventually, I stopped playing.
Earlier this year, I decided to pick up playing again. I didn’t really miss the community, but I missed the gameplay. So Shane and I both started new accounts, and jumped into relearning our roles with the new system. After a couple of weeks, I got to a point where I was losing games because I was just…bored. It was time for something new.
Enter masterwork chests.
I swear I was a cat in a previous life, because my ultimate weakness is mystery boxes. If a game has mystery boxes, I’m going to want to know what’s inside, even if I have to pay actual money for it.
One pay day, I headed to League’s store to grab some mystery boxes, hoping they’d give me a new champion to learn. As I was looking for them, I noticed there was a new kind of mystery boxes; shiny golden ones that apparently contained all kinds of legendary skins.
Well, okay. Now I needed to know what was in there.
So I grabbed some, hoping for a fun Nami skin that would spice things up. But instead, I got the then-recently-released K/DA Akali skin. I loved how it looked, and in a fit of impulse, I went and got Akali, activated the skin, and promptly set out to learn how to play middle lane.
Yep, all because I happened to get a skin.
The first step was to figure out a rune set.
The League community is notoriously unforgiving for folks trying to learn new characters or roles, so I have a process.
Step 1: Look up a build that might work on Mobafire
Step 2: Practice relentlessly in bot matches that won’t yell at me if I screw up
I tried a few different builds for Akali, and I found that the ones that used Domination-Sorcery were powerful—but left her a bit too squishy for my liking. This is the build I eventually settled on:
Path 1: Domination
|Electrocute||Hitting a champion with 3 unique attacks or abilities within 3 seconds deals bonus adaptive damage.|
|Sudden Impact||After exiting stealth or using a dash, blink or teleport, dealing any damage to a champion grants you 7 lethality and 6 magic penetration for 5 seconds.|
|Eyeball Collection||Collect eyeballs for champion and ward takedowns. Gain an adaptive bonus of 0.6 attack damage or 1 ability power per eyeball collected.
Upon completing your collection at 20 eyeballs, additionally gain an adaptive bonus of 6 attack damage, or 10 ability power.
|Ravenous Hunter||Heal for 1.5% (+2.5% per Bounty Hunter stack) of the damage dealt by your abilities. Earn a Bounty Hunter stack the first time you get a takedown on each enemy champion.|
Path 2: Resolve
|Bone Plating||After taking damage from an enemy champion, their next three spells or attacks against you deal 25-50 less damage (at levels 1-18).|
|Demolish||Charge up a powerful attack against a tower over 3 seconds, while within 600 range of it. The charged attack deals 100 (+30% of your max health) bonus physical damage.|
It sacrifices a little in terms of damage, but it keeps her up really well—and it helps knock down towers faster to boot.
After that, I was hooked.
I practiced for close to a week with her, learning how to dodge, chase, poke, and execute. It was intoxicating, especially after almost a year of relatively low-damage Nami. I even took her into a real game, which was quite a bit harder, but still went incredibly well.
After that fight, I had two thoughts in my brain: to get better at playing middle, and to find a few more champions I could play so I didn’t have the same boredom issue I’d had with Nami. So I got myself a whole bunch more boxes, just to see what skins I could get (and therefore which champions I would learn to play).
That’s how I learned Ahri and Neeko, too.
Somehow, I managed to get my hands on both the K/DA Ahri prestige skin, and the only skin that’s out there for Neeko. So I got both champions, and started in on the same process.
Again, I tried a few different builds for both of them, switching between Domination/Sorcery and Sorcery/Domination. But ultimately, I ended up using the same build as Akali. In hindsight, it made sense; they’re all strong AP characters who rely on burst damage for quick takedowns.
Of the three of them, Neeko is currently my favourite; she’s adorably hilarious, and she can disguise herself as other champions on her team, so I like to disguise her as a melee champion so the enemy champion will get too close. She’s also an amazing middle ganker and a half-decent jungler, capable of soloing dragons fairly early on in the game.
I’m also trying to figure out how to build her as an aggressive mage support like Lux, without ending up being just a kill-stealing machine.
I still have a few things to master before I take my middle skills to a real game, like warding and controlling the scrolling camera. But in the meantime, it’s just been fun to learn something different!