League of Legends: How To Win #3

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Welcome back potential teammates–glad to see some of you are still in one piece. Last week we took a brief look at CC in League of Legends. Are you paying closer attention to the stuns, slows, and silences at play in your games? No, you bought a banshees so you’re covered? It’s a start then, so this week we’ll be taking a glance at gold impact and distribution.

League of Legends: How To Win #3

So I need lots of gold to win?

It helps, but you know what they say: money can’t buy you love–or wins incidentally. Even with that being said, I won’t tell you that gold doesn’t play a cosmic role in achieving success during a match. Simply put, outside of certain scenarios, a large part of a player’s effectiveness is determined by the items he or she purchases (with gold). Your “build” as it is. More on builds coming soon.

I need more gold!

Don’t we all? Moving back to our central focus, kills don’t win games, the average player might argue, “But kills get you gold!” to which I’ll point out that CS (Creep Score), Dragon, Baron, Towers, Inhibitors, Jungle mobs and Assists also provide gold. Without going any further, I’ve illustrated another problem with the “kill-centric” mindset, but I took all of these pictures, so you know–

“Of course!” The average player declares, “Jinx and Varus have comparable damage, but the difference in gold is massive! Kills–” Let’s stop right there. The reason I’m showing all of these graphs and statistics is so that we can break them down and analyze them together, so that readers will be able to do so on their own, and gather their own information about their individual performance. Now I’ll tell you that this example was taken from the results of an ARAM match, so we can take Dragon, Baron, and Jungle mobs out of the gold equation. That leaves us with kills, assists, CS, and towers to consider. For the breakdown I’ve chosen Fiora for her behavior, Jinx for being above average, and Sona as a comparison for what a support can accomplish. We have Jinx in first place for damage and gold, followed by Sona with Fiora bringing up the rear. Let’s check the results page again. Focusing too intently on Jinx, however, can shift attention away from something more interesting: Sona not only kept up with Fiora in terms of damage, but passed her in gold gained. How did this happen?

You’ll notice that I’ve circled both Fiora and Sona’s assists as well as one of Sona’s items, Kage’s Lucky Pick. The aforementioned item, however, is of minimal concern in this case as it was held for the last 2-3 minutes of this match. No, what we’re here to consider is the value of assists. The actual gold output is not determined by a fixed number as with kills, but instead is 50% of the gold earned from the associated kill split among the players having assisted in that specific kill. It doesn’t sound like much, but dig this idea: if I’m Jinx and only Sona helps me land a shutdown worth 500 gold, she herself earns 250 gold. Now look back up at Sona’s assists. 40. She had a hand in 40 out of 57 total kills for our team. Even more insidious in the criteria for acquiring an assist, as stated on the League of Legends wiki:

Champions also gain assists on kills if they:

  • contributed to the battle via active abilities but did not deal damage e.g. CC
  • debuffed an enemy but they were immune to the damage.
  • supporting a champion that contributed to the kill , e.g. healing an allied champion.

Clearly we see that the winning team’s Sona, a support character, was determined and knowledgeable enough to earn a competitive amount of gold whether she got kills or not. Throw in the team effort of destroying all four of the enemy’s towers for 150 gold to every player on the team each and you can see that kills aren’t the only way to bank gold. Yet, I know what you’re still thinking about. Despite the argument I’ve made for assists, we cannot ignore the fact that Jinx, an adc with the most kills, had the most gold by a long shot. Let’s check that out.

As you can see, I’ve circled my kills, assists, and Creep Score (number of “creeps”, or A.I. controlled minions killed). Out of the total 12300+ gold I gained, approximately 4764 gold pieces came from the passive nature of the map to award all players with gold per second. All players also start with 1375 gold pieces, which makes for a total of approximately 6139 in “free gold” by 19:09, when the game ended and the results you see were finalized. This leaves approximately 6161 in “earned gold”. Out of this earned gold, 1570 came from my CS score of 77, and 600 came from the four enemy towers that our team destroyed. Now we have 3991 gold left, the amount earned by my kills and assists. Earlier I mentioned that kills work off of a set amount, 300, but this was not entirely correct. That is the average value of a kill. Depending on their performance in a match, players are assigned a “bounty” illustrated by the table below (courtesy of the League of Legends wiki):

First Blood: 400 gold
1st kill: 300 gold 1st death: 300 gold
2nd kill: 360 gold 2nd death: 275 gold
3rd kill: 432 gold (Killing spree) 3rd death: 220 gold
4th kill: 500 gold (Rampage) 4th death: 176 gold
5th kill: 500 gold (Unstoppable) 5th death: 141 gold
6th kill: 500 gold (Dominating) 6th death: 112 gold
7th kill: 500 gold (Godlike) 7th death: 90 gold
8th kill: 500 gold (Legendary) 8th death: 72 gold
9+ kills: 500 gold (Legendary) 9th death: 58 gold


A player’s gold value increases when they earn kills and decreases when they accumulate deaths. If all 21 of my kills had been fresh kills, I’d have earned 6300 gold in kills alone. If all 21 had even been 2nd death kills, then surely, I’d have earned 5775 gold without even considering assists. The point I am making is that clearly I did not, and it is due to the grim reality of kills in regard to gold earned: diminishing returns. The more kills a player achieves on a target consecutively, the less money they earn. There weren’t many shutdowns being scored against the enemy team (by me at least), because their kills weren’t consistent. Instead a quick look at the k/d/a stats show us that if anything was steady, it was their deaths. Based off of this, and to be fair to the kill fans, I’ll estimate that a little over a third of my kill/assist income came from assists for a total of 1100. That leaves an estimated 2891 gold earned by my kills, compared to the 3270 earned by CS, towers, and assists.

Key Notes:

  • Gold is vital to gaining items for strengthening your characters through stat increases, while allowing you to alter the core basics of gameplay as well (i.e. additional shields, CC, buffs, etc.)
  • Individual gold is important in your personal success during a match, but global gold, or the amount your team has earned overall, is a big factor towards achieving victory.
  • Kills, while providing a substantial amount of gold, are but one out of ten possible ways to actively gain gold during a League of Legends match. Believing that only your kills matter is a surefire, guaranteed way to lose.
  • There is no such thing as a “payday advance” in League of Legends. I didn’t just get the total amount of gold for my kills, all at once. It came over the course of the entire match, with some of it coming during the last push, rendering it useless. The gold that mattered came, quickly, from a combination of kills, assists, creeps killed, and towers destroyed.
  • Killing enemy champions can be hard at times, I know, especially when they’ve got a significant lead on you in gold and items. You know what isn’t that hard to kill though? Unguarded turrets, minions, and jungle mobs–there is no shame in farming or destroying a turret when no one is looking!
  • Get involved in every fight possible without throwing your life away–assists may give back small rewards (for now), but it’s practically free gold.

I know I promised a look at deaths this week, but I’m sure we can already agree that this article is a bit longish as is, so next week I’ll cover deaths. After that we’ll be done with the basic, but often ignored, concept that kills don’t win games, and free to move on to more advanced topics.