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Since its release in October 2009, the game has been free-to-play and is monetized through purchasable character customization. In the game, two teams of five players battle in player versus player combat, each team occupying and defending their own half of the map. Each of the ten players controls a character, known as a «champion», with unique abilities and differing styles of play. In 2019, the game regularly peaked at eight million concurrent players, and its popularity has led to tie-ins such as music videos, comic books, short stories, and an upcoming animated series. The 2019 League of Legends World Championship had over 100 million unique viewers, peaking at a concurrent viewership of 44 million, with a minimum prize pool of US$2.5 million. In the main game mode, Summoner’s Rift, items are purchased through a shop menu that is only available to players when their champion is in the team’s base.
The fountains are the dark areas within each base and are beside each nexus. Summoner’s Rift is the flagship game mode of League of Legends and the most prominent in the professional-level play. Two teams of five players compete to destroy the opposing team’s nexus, which is guarded by the enemy champions and defensive structures known as turrets. Minions, which are not controlled by players, are generated from each team’s three inhibitors. These inhibitors are structures located behind the third tower of each lane. Destroying one of the enemy team’s inhibitors causes stronger allied minions to spawn in that lane. Like minions, monsters provide gold and XP when killed. Another, more powerful class of monsters resides within the river that separates each team’s jungle. These monsters require multiple players to defeat and grant special abilities to their slayers’ team. For example, a team that slays Baron Nashor greatly increases the durability of their minions, making it difficult for enemy players to clear them. Summoner’s Rift matches can last from as little as 15 minutes to over an hour. Players in a lane kill minions to accumulate gold and XP and try to prevent their opponent from doing the same. A fifth champion, known as a «jungler», farms the jungle monsters and, when powerful enough, assists their teammates in a lane. Although the game does not enforce where players may go, conventions have arisen over the game’s lifetime.
ARAM is a five-versus-five mode like Summoner’s Rift, but with only one long lane, no jungle area, and with champions randomly chosen for players. Given the small size of the map, players must be vigilant in avoiding enemy abilities. As with others in its genre, players build a team and battle to be the last one standing. Players do not directly affect combat but position their units on a board for them to fight automatically against opponents each round.