League of Legends is normally played 5v5, but there many game modes within and beyond the format. We’re here to talk about those that passed the test of time (RIP Dominion).
Competitive modes involve both PvP and a ranking system that seeds players and rewards them.
5v5 SoloQ/DuoQ. This is the most popular and prominent competitive mode. You choose two desirable positions, invite a friend if you feel like playing together and enter matchmaking. Then follows the draft stage, which opens up with each player simultaneously banning one champion. Afterward, characters for the game are chosen in a 1-2-2-2-2-1 sequence. Soon comes extra time for runes and skins, and you’re good to go!
SoloQ placement is the most reliable indicator of one’s skill. Teams still use it to extend tryouts—even some premier organizations prefer to give unknown rookies a chance. Even if you are in it for the sense of pride and accomplishment, your SoloQ ranking is the best metric to brag about on Facebook.
5v5 Flex. All the pre-game and in-game mechanics are similar. The difference is that you can play this mode with several friends. The ranking will be separate from what you have in SoloQ, and it’s generally not considered a reliable representation of your skill. After all, this mode allows one to be carried by the same bunch of people all the time. However, the Victorious skins, as well as merch for reaching Challenger, are still available.
Interestingly, you can only play Flex with as a group of 2, 3, and 5 individuals. It’s impossible to queue up as a four-man squad although you can play the mode alone. The limitation is understandable though: a 4+1 combination is rare to match against another 4+1, and a game with 4+1 vs. full group would be unfair.
Whether you are looking for a DuoQ partner or friends to Flex with, sign up to DreamTeam.gg. Use our platform to find players that play at your level and speak your language.
3v3 Flex. This format in unpopular compared to 5v5, and Riot Games doesn’t hold competitions in it. Players compete on a smaller map and try to achieve a swift victory. Increased start gold, unique items, and altars with buffs are of great help. The mode offers Ranked rewards, but there’s no way one can get one a pro team through becoming a Challenger in 3v3.
Clash. Each instance of this mode features several weekend tournaments with random brackets. They are seeded based on the average skill of the team (shifting towards the stronger players). Entry requires a ticket, which may normally be obtained for free, and good results are rewarded with in-game prices.
Unfortunately, Riot Games has failed to implement Clash on multiple occasions. Several play days had to be canceled, so this mode is yet to become a recurrent one. This will be the biggest challenge of the year for the devs when it comes to competitive play.
Semi-competitive modes involve PvP and hidden MMR, but don’t feature a public ranked system with rewards.
5v5 Draft Pick. This is literally 5v5 competitive modes, but without any ranks. You still get to ban one champion you despise, and you can also queue up with any amount of friends. The latter is something competitive modes can’t offer.
5v5 Blind Pick. A relic of the early wild years, this mode has no role preferences, no pick order, and no bans. You queue up and try to snatch the desired champion before your teammates do the same. It possible to have the same champion on each of the team, which enables weird mechanics. Matches begin pretty quick, but the mode suffers from mirror matchups and the pre-game chaos.
Unfortunately, servers with low population don’t have 5v5 Draft Pick. People there are stuck with Blind Pick, so it takes some patience and cooperation to enjoy semi-competitive matches there.
5v5 ARAM. The mode assigns random champions to each player, and they fight it out on a map with a single lane. You can’t regenerate by backing (there are small HP packs on the ground though), so every battle is do or die. Games seldom take more than 15 minutes, so you can treat them as an exercise in the micro.
Rotating and experimental game modes. The terminology is quite confusing, although there’s one key thing in common: these modes come and go. Rotating modes are introduced to spice up vanilla gameplay with increased pace (URF/ARURF), objectives (Poro King), etc. They are a different take on what exists in the game.
Experimental game modes are similar to early access video games. They develop new ideas with unique core mechanics, and the developers gather feedback to see if the result is worth polishing. The prime example is Nexus Blitz, which features random map-wide events and a tiny battlefield.
3v3 Blind Pick. Just in case you wanted to try this format without tarnishing ranked stats, you may play 3v3 semi-competitively as well.
Practice modes don’t involve any matchmaking-based PvP.
Co-Op vs AI. The mode introduces newbies to League of Legends. They have to get several levels on their account through playing against AI-controlled champions. Reasonable enough: you don’t want completely clueless guys in PvP. 5v5 and 3v3 formats are available.
Tutorial. This mode is actually aimed at making people less clueless about PvP. The problem is that the tutorial flow is outdated; it omits many player-imposed concepts and fails to keep up with patches.
Practice Tool. It took Riot Games about ten years to make a sandbox mode, but at least it’s great. You may use it to practice skill shots, calculate lvl 6 bursts, assess item builds and more. Too bad there’s no way to bring in a friend.Most of the mentioned formats are playable through Custom Games. You can play games on classic, 3v3 and ARAM maps. It’s great for in-house scrims and small tournaments, but you may also use to check certain mechanics with friends.