Updates to Champion Role Names

Posted on at 7:56 AM by Moobeat
In an effort to normalize the terms that get thrown around, Morello has drafted up a big post aimed at informing summoner's on Riot's updated classification of champion roles, which now catergories each champion as Assassins, Mages, Tanks, Supports, Fighters, or Marksmen.

"After much discussion, we've decided to update our champion role names to more accurately reflect how we think of roles in League of Legends. While most of these roles (maybe not one!) may sound familiar, we wanted to share our thoughts with you and to get everyone on the same page before the changes go live in-client on the champion info tab and leagueoflegends.com with Patch 3.10. I'm also going to take this as an opportunity to give some insight into the live design process and how we differentiate between role archetypes that exist in League of Legends and the positions they can play in a given game."
Continue reading for the full post, including definitions of each role, how to identify which champions fill which roles, and more!

"Hey Summoners, 
After much discussion, we've decided to update our champion role names to more accurately reflect how we think of roles in League of Legends. While most of these roles (maybe not one!) may sound familiar, we wanted to share our thoughts with you and to get everyone on the same page before the changes go live in-client on the champion info tab and leagueoflegends.com with Patch 3.10. I'm also going to take this as an opportunity to give some insight into the live design process and how we differentiate between role archetypes that exist in League of Legends and the positions they can play in a given game.
Let's start with defining what role means. 
A champion's role roughly defines the type of value they contribute to a team, or else communicates the fundamentals of their playstyle. It sets expectations for what a player's experience will be like and what they can do for their team. At Riot, we see a champion's place in the game as some combination of primary and secondary roles from the following list. 
  • Assassin
An assassin is an agile champion that specializes in killing or disabling high value targets. Focused on infiltration, deception, and mobility, assassins are opportunistic hunters who find favorable moments within a fight before jumping into the fray. Regardless of the size of the enemy team, assassins specialize in positioning and artful killing. They strike when the time is right – no sooner, no later.
  • Mage
Mages are mostly ranged champions who prioritize powerful abilities over basic attacks. Typically mages are characterized by some combination of long-range, area-effect or high-utility spells to get the job done. A skilled mage can have a huge impact on any team with their versatile skillsets and flexible playstyle.
  • Tank
Tanks are durable, front-line champions that help lock down enemies and start fights. They're usually found leading the charge, choosing the right times and situations to initiate aggression. Many tanks can also protect their more fragile teammates by stunning or pushing around dangerous foes and limiting their damage potential.
  • Support
Supports make plays by enabling their allies through buffs and heals, or by disrupting enemy lines through crowd control. From laning to late game teamfights, supports create advantages and opportunities for their teammates to capitalize on. A skilled support gives their team the edge it needs to claim victory, and can turn the tide of battle with just one well-timed play.

  • Fighter
Fighters are melee combatants that possess a mix of offensive and defensive capabilities. While they don't have as much utility as a tank or as much damage as an assassin, a fighter's damage will add up over time to make them a major threat. Each fighter has a unique blend of mobility, damage, disruption and durability.
  • Marksman
A marksman is a ranged attacker that sacrifices defensive power and utility to focus on dealing strong, continuous damage to individual targets. Typically focused on using their basic attacks more than their abilities, marksmen have the capability to scale and deal out devastating levels of damage in the late phase of any game.
By the way, using the term “marksman” over the colloquial “AD carry” is deliberate. Calling the role marksman defines it in a more clear and accurate way – plus AD carry is a bit of a holdover from when an AD player was always expected to carry a team. League is a game about teamwork and it's inaccurate to say that marksman is the only role, or even the primary role, to carry teams to victory. A lot of people will still call it AD carry, and that's fine, but for the places we use this officially, we'll be using marksman. It's a semantic change, but it's important to note here just to let you know it's coming.

Some of these roles are obvious fits for a champion, like Brand being a mage or Nautilus being a tank, but others are more nuanced or embody a combination of roles. This helps us define what the champion brings to the table and lets us get on the same page about the types of expectations you can have for a champion. For example, Mordekaiser is primarily a mage, but also a fighter. It's also worth mentioning that we're relatively stat agnostic when it comes to considering roles – Pantheon and Annie are both mages, for example, because they rely primarily on their abilities for damage, but the former is attack damage based while the latter is ability power based.



Since I'm here, I'd also like to address a common misconception about position and how it differs from role. Position refers to the places a champion can go, so a champion going mid could be a mage, assassin, or a fighter, but they're still playing the mid position. This is the part of the game that players define and evolve, and we frequently like seeing surprising things here (as long as it supports good counterplay, of course)! 
Since I'm here, I'd also like to address a common misconception about position and how it differs from role. Position refers to the places a champion can go, so a champion going mid could be a mage, assassin, or a fighter, but they're still playing the mid position. This is the part of the game that players define and evolve, and we frequently like seeing surprising things here (as long as it supports good counterplay, of course)!
Let's look do a thought exercise: 
What is Teemo? Besides adorable, or pure evil, depending on who you ask, he tends to go top lane. But that doesn't make him the same type of champion as Jax, Irelia or Jayce – champions that also go top lane. What it means, in terms of our discussion, is that Teemo is a marksman/mage. That's his role from a design perspective. The fact that he is commonly played top is a matter of position. Lux is a mage (role) that is commonly played in mid (position). She is also played bot in more of a support role. Kha'Zix is an assassin who people like to play top, jungle or mid. 
None of these position choices affect the DNA of the champion at all – they still bring the same ability kits and have the same core playstyle, but their position can affect what they do for that game. Naturally, some champions will be more suited for some positions, but there are also variables that affect even that. Team composition, for allies and enemies both, will influence a champion's effectiveness, and item build synergy can enhance a champion's ability to perform within a certain position. The different items players buy when playing Jarvan IV top lane as opposed to jungle Jarvan show us how items can enhance and define the two positions, even on the same champion. Ultimately these things can affect current game balance, but not the champion's core role. 
The long and short of it is that role and position are different concepts, and we approach them differently as designers. Players can use this information to better understand what to expect from a champion, and what their strengths and weaknesses can be. By all of us speaking the same language on these concepts, it'll make for better discussions on more complex design issues."

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