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Jul 23, 2017

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - July 2017

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It's been a long time coming, but the moment you've all been waiting for is here...welcome to the latest, the greatest, updatiest, update to...

The Strongest Champions When Mastered Series

I know it's been quite a while since the last update, and I've got two picks that will probably be the point of some debate. I stand by them though, so without further ado, let's jump right in.

Season 7 - Patch 7.14 Champion Gallery
"Strongest Champions When Mastered"

Introduction

It's been a long time coming, but the moment you've all been waiting for is here...welcome to the latest, the greatest, updatiest, update to...

The Strongest Champions When Mastered Series

I know it's been quite a while since the last update, and I've got two picks that will probably be the point of some debate. I stand by them though, so without further ado, let's jump right in.

If you're more interested in the FOTM picks, be sure to check out the FOTM Tier Lists too!

Updates

  • Mid: Katarina replaced by Taliyah, Katarina moved to honorable mentions, Viktor removed from honorable mentions
  • Top: Camille replaced by Gnar, Jarvan IV added to honorable mentions
  • Jungle: Graves, Vi, Shaco, Ivern, replaced by Kayn, Maokai, Gragas, Zac
  • Supports: Lulu, Nami replaced by Rakan, Bard
  • Marksmen: Ezreal, Lucian replaced by Jhin, Draven

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

Taliyah [Damage/Utility] New!The addition of Taliyah may come as a surprise to some of you, especially for those who haven't been keeping up with the meta. However, I genuinely believe that a good Taliyah's ability to snowball the game is exceedingly high as a result of her damage and the incredible versatility of her ultimate. Her Seismic Shove [W] is also an incredible game-changer with just a single point in it, despite being somewhat difficult to land. Although she does need a lot of practice to get good at her, I'd say it's an investment worth making.

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Removed Champions

Katarina [Damage/Outplay]Katarina's ability to snowball games is still extremely good in the hands of a good player. However, she is still prone to being quickly focused down. As a result, I'm moving her to honorable mentions as even the best Katarina players still have trouble against some line-ups.

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Returning Veterans

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.

Zed [Damage/Outplay]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. Ever since the lethality changes, he's stronger than ever before.

Orianna [Damage/Utility]Everyone's favorite clockwork enchantress Orianna has always been extremely popular for her low cooldown AOE one-shot ability, which allows her to blow enemy flashes or straight up assassinate 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.

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.

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

Gnar [Damage/Utility] New!: Gnar is one of those champions that keeps jumping on and off the list with high frequency. A champion with incredible team fight ability, whenever the meta shifts he's always at the top of everyone's list to jump back into the fray. Right now, his Frozen Mallet + Black Cleaver build allows hyper-carrymarksmen like Twitch to rain fire on his enemies. Combine this with his powerful initiation ability and you get a champion that works incredibly well in the current meta.
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Removed Champions

Camille [Damage/Outplay]: Camille's kit is incredibly good, and certainly capable of some sick plays. However, her current numbers don't quite get her over the top compared to a lot of the meta laners. As a result, I'm moving her down to honorable mentions, but definitely keep on the lookout for any nerfs on rivals, as that could quickly push Camille back to the top.

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Returning Champions

Yasuo [Damage/Utility]Yasuo's still floating around the top of the list, but with a more standard Phantom Dancer + Infinity Edge build now. His 1v1 and 1v5 potential are both still very high, and a 6-item Yasuo is essentially unstoppable as a result of his built-in armor penetration and critical strike chance.

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.

Fiora [Damage/Outplay]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. Even after the nerfs, she remains an excellent champion if you can position her well.

Gangplank [Damage/Utility]Gangplank is the champion that I had the hardest time determining if he should be left on the list. However, his ultimate is still 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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Honorable Mentions: Camille, Ekko, Irelia, Jayce, Quinn, Rumble, Pantheon

Jungle





New Champion

Kayn [Damage/Outplay] New!: The newest champion on the scene, Kayn sports a kit with extremely high snowball potential. The built-in percentage based life steal and untargetability with his ultimate allows for some insane outplays, especially when you combine it with his ability to move through walls.

Maokai [Utility] New!: In his current state, Maokai performs excessively well in the jungle, especially after the buffs to Cinderhulk some patches ago. His crowd-control ability is immense, and the buff to his ultimate distance allows for more potential multi-hits, resulting in s a very satisfying initiation ability

Gragas [Utility] New!: Gragas has always been an incredibly versatile champion as a result of the high utility in his kit. After the Cinderhulk buffs he's quite strong now (even in the lethality meta). He definitely keeps popping up though, and I think he deserves a spot on this list.

Zac [Utility] New!: Despite the nerfs he's gotten the last few patches, Zac still does very well in terms of engagement potential and disruption ability. He isn't quite as obnoxious as he used to be, but that just means he's banned a little less often and you get to practice him more.

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Removed Champions

Graves [Damage]: Even though lethality was just buffed, I'm still moving him down to honorable mentions as a result of the removal of his magic resist on True Grit a few patches back (yes it's been that long since the last update). His ability to delete targets when he's ahead and well positioned is good, but enemies can just as easily spread out a bit and not get annihilated by his AOE. As a close-range fighter, a quick tap with Executioners and some AP burst takes him down speedily.

Shaco [Damage/Outplay]: Shaco is still a very strong jungler in the hands of a master and I certainly think he deserves a spot on the honorable mention list. However, I don't think he's quite at the top anymore after numerous changes on his kit, so I'm sliding him down.

Vi [Damage/Utility]: Similar to Graves and Shaco, Vi is an excellent jungler that is just a bit outclassed by similar utility junglers with more variability and versatility in their kit. She's still great to play, especially in an ADC meta, but otherwise she's not as strong as she used to be.

Ivern [Utility]: Now that players are used to his invasion starts, it's much easier for them to respond to the potential counter-jungle and plan accordingly. This greatly diminishes his "free-win" abilities. Despite that, he still works very well and I've moved him to honorable mentions.

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Returning Champions

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, Graves, Hecarim, Ivern, Kha'Zix, Rengar, Shaco, Vi

Strongest Supports

New Champion

Rakan [Utility] New!: The latest support to hit the scene and the list is showing off some insane engagement distances, kinda like an Alistar on steroids. Meanwhile, ever since Riot buffed his healing power, his in-lane sustain makes him very difficult to punish as long as he can hit his skill shots. Overall, he's definitely not the easiest support to play, but very rewarding once you get the hang of his kit.

Bard [Utility] New!: Bard always had this "theoretical" edge, but in practice just didn't have enough raw stats to carry it out. Ever since the buff to his meep collection however, he's now strong enough to solo-carry games if you're good enough. This makes him one of the best play-making supports out there, and potentially one of the most game-changing ones as well.
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Removed Champion

Lulu [Utility]: Lulu is still a very strong defensive support, but in the current meta a lot more of the support power relies on their engagement potential. While she can toss her ultimate on a diver, it's just not as helpful, especially she doesn't have much in the way of a gap closer to jump in to execute the crowd-control burst.

Nami [Utility]I still really like Nami, but her crowd-control abilities are just a bit slower than others, resulting in more time to outplay. Sure it would be nice to land every bubble, but it's just too dodgable to be reliable, even in the hands of a great Nami player.

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Returning Veterans:

Janna [Utility]: Janna is still 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).

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.

Honorable Mentions: Braum, Lulu, Karma, Maokai, Sona, Soraka

Strongest Marksmen (AD Carries)





New Champion

Draven [Damage] New!: There are few champions that can draw as much pressure as Draven does when he's snowballing bot lane. Once he picks up his Death's Dance, the amount of damage he can take is amplified by the insane amount of life steal he gets when combined with Warlord's Bloodlust. Without good crowd-control, Draven is virtually unkillable through his lifesteal and a fed Draven can feel like the tankiest thing in the world.

Jhin [Damage/Utility] New!: Jhin's status in the new lethality meta is extremely good. His ability to initiate team fights via his ultimate is incredibly good, and his lane phase is clean. Late game, his fourth shot can heal half his health with Warlord's Bloodlust as well, resulting in another unkillable marksman.

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Removed Champion

Lucian [Damage/Outplay]Lucian current status as a marksman is at a balanced state. If he snowballs then yes he'll do well. However, against a lot of the other marksmen, he's lacking the range to get to Jhin, and being in close range with Draven is suicide.

Ezreal [Damage/Utility]: I'm moving Ezreal down a bit simply because even an Ezreal that hits all his Qs will have trouble at full build agianst a full build Draven or Twitch simply because of the way their kits work. Otherwise, a full build Ezreal can certainly carry a game by themselves with enough support from their team.
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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.

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, Ezreal, Jinx, Lucian, Kog'Maw, Sivir

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

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