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Mar 18, 2017

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - March 2017

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Hi everyone and welcome back to the latest edition of the Strongest Champions When Mastered series! I'd love to keep this one updated more often, but it really is the one that takes the longest, and the solo queue tier lists are much more popular. That being said, we've seen lethality come and go, but some champions still remain very powerful despite Riot's balancing.

Zed's back on top with the added Edge of Night bonus spellshield and his reworked ultimate, and top lane is starting to be much more of a win lane win game type of scenario.

Season 7 - Patch 7.5 Champion Gallery
"Strongest Champions When Mastered"

Introduction

Hi everyone and welcome back to the latest edition of the Strongest Champions When Mastered series! I'd love to keep this one updated more often, but it really is the one that takes the longest, and the solo queue tier lists are much more popular. That being said, we've seen lethality come and go, but some champions still remain very powerful despite Riot's balancing.

Zed's back on top with the added Edge of Night bonus spellshield and his reworked ultimate, and top lane is starting to be much more of a win lane win game type of scenario.

Check out the full list below, or if you're more interested in the FOTM picks, check out the FOTM Tier Lists too!

Updates

  • Mid: Ryze, Leblanc replaced by Zed, Orianna
  • Top: Gnar, Jayce replaced by Fiora, Gangplank
    • Quinn, Pantheon added to honorable mentions
    • Ryze, Poppy removed from honorable mentions
  • Jungle: Hecarim replaced by Graves
  • Support: Zyra replaced by Lulu
  • Marksman: Jhin replaced by Lucian
    • Kog'maw added to honorable mentions

Purpose

Winning in solo queue is a complex affair. There are so many variables involved outside of player control such as lag, that consistency plays a massive part in climbing the ranks. Some champions excel in outplaying other champions, while others rely on brute force or special skills to win.

However, in an ideal situation with teammates who select champions that reasonably synergize with you, which champions offer the most bang for their buck when mastered?

What Makes a Champion "Strong"? 

Damage based champions rely mostly on sheer damage, usually via skill shots to overpower their enemies;

Utility based champions do something unique and game-changing, creating situations that are extremely beneficial to their own team or create detrimental effects for the enemy team that they cannot ignore.

Outplay based champions make the enemy miss skills that would otherwise definitely hit, mitigating large amounts of potential damage.

Although some champions may overlap, the criterion laid out above is used and we will omit the following criterion that we use for solo queue
  1. Ease of play; 
  2. Synergy with popular champions; and
  3. A good margin of error.

Strongest Mid Laners


New Champions

Zed [Damage/Outplay] New!Zed is one of those champions that always comes back around after a series of nerfs. His massive potential for outplaying enemy champions combined with his ability for making a clean getaway with low counterplay makes him very difficult to fight against in the hands of a master. This time around, he's also equipped with an extra spell shield in the form of Edge of Night. Although it's been nerfed since its release, Zed is still gifted with an additional outplay mechanic that synergizes very well with his kit.

Orianna [Damage/Utility] New!: Jumping up from the honorable mentions this patch is everyone's favorite clockwork enchantress. As a mage Orianna's always been extremely popular for her low cooldown AOE one-shot ability, which allows her to blow enemy flashes or straight up asssinate them with ease late game, only to do it to another player 50 seconds later. She's somewhat difficult to master, but if you can position the ball correctly and weave your autos, she does an absurd amount of sustained and burst damage.

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Removed Champions

Leblanc [Damage/Outplay]: The nerf on Leblanc's Distortion [W] greatly reduced her ability to perform AOE assassinations and waveclear. She's still playable, but greatly depressed from where she used to be, even in the hands of good Leblanc players.

Ryze [Damage/Utility]: Similar to Leblanc, the nerf bats taken to Ryze lately are enough to drop him off the face of the Earth. He'll likely not be buffed for a while as Riot thinks about how to change him or simply hit him with another rework.

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Returning Veterans

Ahri [Damage/Utility/Outplay]: Ahri's power remains a staple in every mid-laner's repertoire. Renowned for her ability to dodge and outplay with her ultimate, she combines those with her damage potential and CC from her kit to result in a flashy, yet effective burst mage. Late game, her cooldowns are also short enough to smoothly transition into a sustained damage dealer that can easily tango with late game marksmen.

Katarina [Damage/Outplay]Similar to Leblanc, Katarina fell off prior to her rework but has quickly earned back her place as one of the most feared mid-laners on the rift. Her impossibly high damage potential allows for a myriad of outplay opportunities and can be extremely difficult to deal with if she gets ahead.

Syndra [Damage/Utility]: Syndra's 1v1 potential is extremely powerful as a result of her single target ultimate. However, her AOE damage is where she truly shines. A champion that has no diminishing returns on her AOE, her potential is limitless. Meanwhile, her Scatter the Weak provides an extremely large amount of utility via the knockback and is capable of completely negating a large number of movement-based attacks like Alistar's Headbutt or Akali's Shadow Dance. Deleting enemies from the field after negating their dash attack is one easy way to show dominance.

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Honorable Mentions: Anivia, Brand, Cassiopeia, Ekko, Fizz, Kassadin, Leblanc, Lux, Twisted Fate, Veigar. Viktor, Yasuo

These champions often have the ability to dominate solo queue by themselves. However, their damage output is currently not quite as strong as others are in their pool in the current patch. I would keep them tight on the radar though, as they are strong contenders in their own right.

Strongest Top Laners


New Champions

Fiora [Damage/Outplay] New!: Fiora is arguably one of the strongest duelists available to top laners right now. Her ability to snowball team fights and smash even the tankiest of foes allows her to dominate lane and quickly bring the enemy jungler to assist. Her Riposte [W] also lets her outplay potentially ANYTHING, resulting in a champion that's impossible to deal with if you're good enough with her.

Gangplank [Damage/Utility] New!: Gangplank does come on and off the list quite often. His ultimate is enough to snowball fights bot lane without the usage of teleport, but it's really the potential 0% chance of outplaying with his barrels that seal the deal. Although it's not easy, hitting phantom barrels with perfect timing can really change the course of a game.

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Removed Champions

Jayce [Damage]: Although Jayce is still a very strong laner, he simply doesn't have the kind of solo carry potential he used to have, especially when compared to someone like Fiora. His poke is still very good, but Gangplank can change the course of a team fight much harder.

Gnar [Damage/Utility]Gnar's ability to team fight is amazing. However, ever since solo queue teams started favoring more lane-dominant champions, Gnar's power has greatly diminished. The introduction of lethality items also allows AD based melee to snowball against him, resulting in reduced effectiveness of the ranged vs melee match-up.

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Returning Champions

Camille [Damage/Outplay]Camille currently sports one of, if not THE most overloaded kits in League of Legends. The newest champion on the rift is an absurd assortment of various passive mechanics and outplay abilities. As a result, she can snowball through any game even in the hands of a newer player, thus earnings her a place in the ranks of the strongest top laners around. More on Camille here.

Yasuo [Damage/Utility]Yasuo with a Phantom Dancer and Frozen Mallet is currently one of the strongest builds available in the game. By building these two items, Yasuo ends up as an incredibly durable sustained damage champion that is impossible to escape. When you combine this with his amazingly high utility wind wall, you end up with one of the strongest top laners in the game.

Riven [Damage/Utility]Riven has a TON of quirky mechanics that most players never discover, but a fully mastered Riven player can dish out some ridiculous plays and obnoxiously high damage. As a Riven player, her best defense is a good offense. This allows her to survive many situations that would kill almost any other champion while netting kills in the process.

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Honorable Mentions: Ekko, Irelia, Jayce, Quinn, Rumble, Pantheon

Jungle




New Champion

Graves [Damage] New!: In his new, more lethal form, Graves simply dishes an absurd amount of damage and results in a ranged burst mage assassin that is very difficult to deal with. His ultimate also provides him a long range finishing tool, and acts almost as an AOE Caitlyn ultimate. If he ever gets you pinned next to a wall, just say goodbye and move on. His jungle clears are very healthy, and if he ever gets counter-jungled, he can outplay almost anyone.

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Removed Champions

Hecarim [Damage/Utility]Hecarim is a champion that comes and goes, but often stays for very long periods when he gets here. A jungler that can gank from warded areas successfully via his insane movement speed, Hecarim is near impossible to avoid. He's still a decent jungler, but the lethality changes knocked him down a peg or two.

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Returning Champions

Ivern [Utility]: Ivern's insanely flexable jungle path allows him to counterjungle and keep the entire enemy team on their toes. Meanwhile, the survivability he provides for his team and skillshot blocking via his ultimate allows him to be one of the strongest support junglers in the game. When you combine this with his outrageously long ranged snare, he is easily one of, if not the best jungler in the game.

Shaco [Damage/Outplay]Shaco in his current form simply maxes his Deceive [Q] and builds enough lethality to one shot any squishy with a single auto-attack. There's also the tank version of Shaco with Trinity Force and Titantic Hydra, which is extremely annoying to deal with and can solo objectives and backdoor with ease. Either way, he is currently very difficult to deal with and results in an extremely safe and obnoxious solo queue jungler.

Vi [Damage/Utility]: I had a of trouble deciding whether to put Vi on or dropping Kha'Zix or Rengar on here for this patch. The end result was that Vi is still here. Her powerful ganking abilities are still exceedingly valuable, and with the latest lethality nerfs I think she still comes out on top.

Lee Sin [Damage/Utility]: A Lee Sin that cannot land his Q or perform smooth ward jumps is hardly a Lee Sin at all. There are hardly any Lee Sins at all. However, a well-executed 5-man knock-up via Lee Sin kicking their marksman through the entire team is 100% game changing. A good Lee Sin can snowball the game from start to finish. Games are lasting shorter than ever and tracker's knife providing free wards to jump to, making Lee very strong now.

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Honorable Mentions: Elise, Gragas, Hecarim, Kha'Zix, Rengar

Strongest Supports




New Champion

Lulu [Utility] New!: Lulu in her current form is largely the same Lulu that's always been around. However, with nerfs on Zyra, it opens up a new support to the plate. In this case, Lulu beats out Karma slightly for her ability to instantly buff up an ally and also potentially cancel the damage from a dash spell (similar list as Janna's knock-ups - see below). 
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Removed Champion

Zyra [Damage/Utility]: Zyra's success in the old meta comes with a price in the new meta with assassins all over the rift. Her damage was also greatly reduced from the AI changes on her plants, and she must now actively be in the fight to deal maximum plant damage vs simply kitng enemies around. This greatly increases he chances of dying and thus reduces her overall effectiveness.

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Returning Veterans:

Nami [Utility]In the current meta where Redemption and Locket of the Iron Solari are incredibly powerful, Nami makes good use of the shield and heal increase as a sustain support. However, more importantly, her ultimate can quickly stop Jhin's ult, one of the most popular champions on the rift right now. She also synergizes incredibly well with champions like Caitlyn and Jhin to ensure the double crowd-control via her bubble.

Blitzcrank [Utility]: Where Janna and Thresh keep teams ahead of the game, Blitzcrank has the ability to take away leads from even careful enemy teams. With his hook, he has the ability to create advantageous team fights without needing to get close enough to the rest of the enemy team. This, combined with his speed boost makes it so that he can get the job done.

Janna [Utility]: Janna is close to being indisputably the best support in the game in terms of sheer utility that she provides by herself. Through both her tornado and her monsoon (ultimate), Janna has the ability to block a massive number of champion "jump" attacks mid-air, including but not limited to the following:

Lee Sin, Akali, Kha'zix, Tristana, Corki, Lucian, Jarvan, Ahri, Fizz, Pantheon, Shen, Wukong, Xin Zhao, Vi, Fiora, Amumu...the list goes on and on. Check out this link for a full list!

Not only that, but she provides nearby teammates the ability to simply be faster than enemy champions whether it is for running away or for chasing down. This combined with the ability for her shield to deny death and give an insanely strong damage buff cements her as a top tier support.

Thresh [Utility]: Where Janna is the queen of preventing plays from happening, Thresh is the offensive version and king of making plays happen. His lantern and hook make him essentially the best support initiation in the game, as he can bring a friend with him during his initiation as a free gap closer. Additionally, all the champions listed above that Janna can block Thresh can also block with his flay (although with a shorter range/window of opportunity).

Honorable Mentions:  Alistar, Bard, Braum, Karma, Sona, Soraka

Strongest Marksmen (AD Carries)




New Champion

Lucian [Damage/Outplay] New!: Lucian's latest buffs reduces the time between his spell casts and his first auto attack. This makes him an extremely smooth champion to play, especially late game when it matters the most. Meanwhile, the Blade of the Ruined King change has been a huge boon to him, and his T-force + Blade build is absolutely killing it on the rift. 

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Removed Champion

Jhin [Damage/Utility]: Jhin is still very good, but simply doesn't have the kind of raw outplay potential that Lucian has. As a result, he's making his way back to the honorable mentions instead. His ability to initiate team fights long-range are still spectacular, but the reduced slow time on his ultimate from Patch 7.4 gives enemy champions additional counterplay and really hurt his reliability.

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Returning Champions:

Twitch [Damage]Twitch is an absolute monster right now. His burst damage allows him to absolutely destroy any other marksman if he pops out from his invisibility, and his lack of true skill shots prevents him from getting outplayed. Lastly, proper positioning puts his team fight power through the roof, resulting in the highest potential burst damage of any marksman.

Caitlyn [Utility]: The premier lane bully, Caitlyn works very well in the hands of a good marksman. As a high ranged champion, Caitlyn is extremely safe to play, especially for players that understand spacing.

Meanwhile, her traps can be placed in quick succession, allowing for extremely effective one-man (girl) zoning potential for her entire team during sieges. Although her damage isn't anything terribly noteworthy, her abilities to kite and zone are what make her a top-notch marksman at the moment.

Ezreal [Damage/Utility]: Technically speaking, if you were to hit every one of his Qs on enemy champions every time it came off CD except when they flashed or otherwise dodged it on purpose, Ezreal would be the most broken AD carry in the game, bar none. Luckily, most people seem to hit around 20%, if that.

Vayne [Damage/Outplay]: In a world full of powerful tanks and skill shot-based champions, Vayne is the one soldier to take them all head-on. Although very difficult to master, her sheer potential is high enough to make her one of the strongest ADCs on the rift now. Better yet, she does not require as many crazy requirements as some other marksmen to reach her full potential (who can really hit every Ezreal Q anyway?

Honorable Mentions: Ashe, Draven, Jhin, Jinx, Kog'Maw, Sivir

Thoughts on other champions who should have made the list? Comment below!

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