Brain, Heart, and Body - Player Archetypes in League of Legends



Sun 7th Feb 2021 - 8:39pm

Regardless of arena, be it Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Smash, DOTA, Valorant, Overwatch, or League of Legends, players are given by the developers varying characters and tools to tackle their game and define who they are as a unique player against the game itself and their competing peers.

And when it comes to League specifically, there are currently 154 unique Champions that players can grab onto and define themselves by. However, all 154 of those Champions are curtailed into 5 unique roles (or lanes), wherein each Champion defines themselves against others within that role.

With that many options, and the sliding power of these Champions through constant balance updates, it can be hard to find your footing if you’re a new player or returning veteran. But today, I aim to help you ease yourself into the expanse that is League of Legends by crossing over a bit of game-theory from another genre entirely, Fighting Games. Specifically a theory proposed by former Street Fighter x Tekken player, Ryan “Laugh” Ahn which was presented to the world by the wonderful Youtube Channel, Core-A-Gaming. I encourage you all to give the video a watch, and get ready for how we’re going to apply Laugh’s proposed archetypes to our selection of Roles in League of Legends.

You see, Laugh’s player theory establishes that there are three types of players in fighting games: Brains, Heart, and Body. Players typically blend between two of these archetypes, and the best players embody all three at once. But at the end of the day, there’s a unique tick to even the best that pushes them to categorize themselves within one or two of these categories. And one of the best ways to approach learning or bettering yourself is to find which of these archetypes you most embody, and play within confines that promote those traits. In Fighting Games that might mean isolating to one or two characters of similar style, and when considering League, I think that means to isolate down onto a specific role.

If you didn’t take the time to watch the Core-A-Gaming video above, let me break down each of the archetypes really quick, talk about their application in League, and then talk about how these archetypes best each other or overlap.

A Brain Player is a player who loves their game’s practice/training tools. They spend hours and hours finding combos, options, and devouring hitbox and frame data to help them craft the perfect response to every situation with minimal risk to themselves or their goals. Brains Players lose out in unfamiliar territory though. In League, the best reference to this would be when a new Champion is released and a Brain Player knows nothing about that Champion’s capability. Without putting the time in to study and practice against that Champ, the Brain Player is playing within weakness.

In a stark contrast, the Heart Player is a player that plays with their emotions and intuition. They ride the edge by playing mind-games with their opponents, conditioning them through patterns and repetition, and then making predictions within the heat of the moment to best their foes. In the FGC this is called making “reads” and when you’ve got someone “read” or “downloaded,” it can often disorient your opponents and cause them to lose focus or will to win. Heart Players thrive against Brains Players as they love those moments of unfamiliarity. A Heart Player will play the new Champion, not know the full extent of the Champ’s kit, and best a Brain Player everyday of the weak simply because they’re willing to take risks and limit test themselves in the wild instead of in the Practice Tool.

The final archetype that Core/Laugh breaks down is that of the Body Player. Simply put, Body Players are your mechanical geniuses. The physical capability to execute on their chosen characters within their chosen game is pushed to the limits and these players strive to be unmatched if the contest came down to skill alone. These players will best Heart Players everyday through sure consistency, while they’re falter against Brain players for not always having -all- of their options covered.

They’re the Riven One-Tricks that have mastered every combo and animation cancel. They’re the Draven Mains that never seem to drop an axe. They’re the Yasuo mains that don’t actually need to go 0-10 to power-spike. Body Players are true mechanical professionals.

So, to wind this all back to League of Legends, we’re going to use the paradigms of Brain, Heart, and Body and apply them to the roles in League. So, if you resonate with any of the previous or incoming descriptions, you’re going to be able to take that information and apply it to yourself to help decide your path forward as a League player.

So, here are how each of the roles in League line up with Laugh’s theory of Brain, Heart, and Body.

Top Lane -  Heart/Body Players

It should come as no surprise that the lane that most emulates the 1v1 environment of fighting games is home to the Body and Heart Players. Sure, knowledge of every matchup can help you win a lane that’s often decided by counter-pick, but at the end of the day, Top Lane is a lane of mechanics and intuition. If you can mechanically style on your opponent, take advantage of their lapses in judgement, or abuse the moments of opportunity they don’t see, you’re likely going to run the table against any opponent regardless of matchup.

With Champions like Irelia, Riven, Akali, Aatrox, Fiora, Yasuo, and Yone all demanding their users master their combos and potential, Body and Heart players will find themselves more than inclined to master Top Lane.

Jungle - Brain Players/Body Players

Sporting specific Jungle matchup knowledge accompanied by info on clear speeds, pathing, and by knowing the appropriate response in the exact moment that you see your opponent over a millisecond of vision, players that love to plan, study, and adapt on the fly will thrive in the Jungle. Jungle is a natural home for all you Big-Brain Players out there and thanks to its lack of one v. one pressure you don’t have to meet high mechanical demands to perform well at the role. 

But, there are Champions for all you Body Players out there that may call you into the Jungle. Champions like Nidalee, Lee Sin, and Shaco all have unique demands and styles not found in other lanes. And since these Champions all thrive in the Jungle, you may find yourself getting into plenty of scuttle fights that demand mechanical perfection to win.

Mid - Brain/Heart/Body

Mid is the most demanding role in the League. It’s the center of the map, and next to the Jungler, it has the most influence over the game and its direction. It hosts all those demanding Champions that Top Lane claims and packs its own unique Champions like Zed, Azir, and Aurelion Sol to expand the pool and styles even further.

The ability to plan and influence can harken to many players that consider themselves big-brained. The ability to read and outplay an opponent in clutch 1 v. 1 settings speaks to emotion and heart-filled players. While the expansive potential of mechanics calls to those players that want to push their physical capability to the limit.

Mid is a role for an absolute UNIT of a player and often the team with the better Mid Laner is going to dominate the game. So, unless you’re able to embody all three archetypes at once and push yourself to meet the demands of being an essentially perfect player, it’s best that you look to another lane for your League experience.

Bot Lane - Body Players

In recent years, the introduction of Mages into the Bot Lane role has sparked some mechanical diversity away from the typical Marksmen of Bot. But, at the end of the day, Riot’s never really going to let their love-child Marksmen leave their home lane, so the style is going to remain extremely consistent and balanced around the class’ presence there.

Auto-attacking, positioning, and kiting. Three highly mechanically demanding skills are core to each of the 23 Marksmen. And though they may all do something a little bit differently from each other, the beauty of the Marksmen class and Bot Lane Role is that they all just want to right-click their enemies to death at the end of the day. So, whoever’s best at right-clicking efficiently and safely will almost always dominate this lane. 

Support - Heart/Brain Players

Support, like Jungle, calls to those players that like to strategize and round out comps. With varied picks and classes to master, Support promotes those players that want an answer for everything that League has to offer. Does their team have a ton of engage, and you want to stifle that? Great! Pick Janna or Nami! You’ve got a ton of short-range and high-damage potential and you just need a “Go” button? Great! Pick Leona or Alistar! Your opponents have extremely low mobility and little sustain? Great! Pick Zyra or Swain and insta-pop or poke them down!

Supports have a wide range of response in the form of their Champions to abuse or diffuse the potential of your enemies. And since this lane doesn’t require you to balance damage dealing and farming, it isn’t as mechanically demanding as your lane partner of Bot who will be dealing with most of the ‘physical’ work. (Quite literally. They all do Attack Damage after all.)

Closing Out

So, there you have it! Each of the League roles based around the archetypes of the Brain, Heart, and Body. Where do you fall in the archetypes? Are you a Heart/Body player that loves Top Lane? Or do you think yourself to be a more Brain/Heart player that thrives on abusing the missteps of your opponents? Or are you another combination with your own approach to the game?

Regardless, I hope you all enjoyed the piece. And, I hope it’s helped you recognize a bit about yourself and your own gameplay habits so that you might shift your approach and perspective on the game.  With all that said, good luck out there in the still fresh Season 11, and I hope to see you all shining like Diamonds before the season’s end!