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Aug 23, 2015

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - August 2015

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As per popular demand, we're back with another update to the "Strongest Champions When Mastered" series. Again, this series isn't meant to be a frequently updated list as it should rely on the champion skillset rather than purely the nerfs and buffs Riot decides on.

However, seeing as how the meta quickly changes based on champion and item nerfs/buffs, I may begin updating this list much more frequently. You would think that a monthly update is frequent enough, but it seems like the game evolves much faster than that.

Season 5 - Patch 5.16 Champion Gallery
"Strongest Champions When Mastered "

This List has been updated, and new versions are available via this link

Introduction

As per popular demand, we're back with another update to the "Strongest Champions When Mastered" series. Again, this series isn't meant to be a frequently updated list as it should rely on the champion skillset rather than purely the nerfs and buffs Riot decides on.

However, seeing as how the meta quickly changes based on champion and item nerfs/buffs, I may begin updating this list much more frequently. You would think that a monthly update is frequent enough, but it seems like the game evolves much faster than that.

Updates

  • Mid lane - Ezreal replaced by Viktor
  • Top lane - Rengar, Ryze replaced by Fiora, Gangplank
  • Jungle - Kayle, Nunu replaced by Ekko, Skarner
  • Support - Alistar 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 that 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 skillshots 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 can't be ignored.

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 criteria above is used and the following criteria that we use for solo queue are omitted
  1. Ease of play; 
  2. Synergy with popular champions; and
  3. Margin of error.

Strongest Mid Laners



Viktor [Damage] - New!: The latest addition to the list is currently one of the most dominant champions on the rift. Although his skills can be somewhat difficult to land, his strong burst damage and choke point control makes him strong in his own right. However, the part that separates the good Viktors from the great ones is clearly his low cooldown AOE poke, Death Ray. Despite being consistently up, you rarely see Viktors continuously hit many of them in a row. However, a single shot can easily bring a squishy down 50% instantaneously. Imagine if he hit them all!

After upgrading his unique item, Viktor's Q also gives him a shield and a major speed boost, allowing him to quickly dodge skillshots and absorb some damage as well, resulting in potential outplays on a minor scale.

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Removed Champions

Ezreal (AP) [Damage/Outplay]: After the changes to Runeglaive, Ezreal as an AP caster lost a lot of what made him viable and overwhelmingly strong. He's still playable in his current form, but doesn't do nearly as much damage as he used to or as soon as he used to. Everything else about him is the same, but his maximum damage cap is now significantly lower.

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Champions Returning For Another Round

Ahri [Damage/Utility/Outplay]: Ahri is simply insane, renown for her ability to dodge and outplay with her ultimate. This combined with the damage potential and CC from her kit makes her very strong at the moment, and has been a consistent power pick for a long time now.

Azir [Damage/Utility] - The emperor of Shurima himself! With his powerful spells and insanely difficult positioning techniques, he packs a surprisingly sound amount of both burst and sustained damage. His ability to block essentially every spell that Janna's Tornado can block also gives him huge room for outplay (albeit at a higher cooldown).

Talon [Damage] - Talon in his current state is one of the strongest champions mid lane once he's mastered. At a nearly instantaneous burst rate, a good Talon can double flash initiate, resulting in instantaneous annihilation of a single target and deal almost equivalent damage to every target around him. This leaves very little room for outplaying, and can easily turn the tide of any game.

Zed [Damage/Outplay]: Staying on the list for a fifth straight term is Zed. After the latest update to his ultimate, the speed at which he can execute his options is much higher. He is a pure damage and outplaying machine, and efficient management of poke, clones, and all-in timing is crucial to pull off that sweet ultimate + nuke + fade away back into the shadows. However, pulling off amazing plays with him is probably one of the most satisfying things you'll ever do in League of Legends.

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Honorable Mentions: Anivia, Annie, Cassiopeia, Ekko, Katarina, Leblanc, Morgana, Yasuo. These champions often have the ability to dominate solo queue by themselves. However, at the moment their damage output isn't quite as strong as others in their pool in the current patch. I would keep them tight on the radar though, as they're strong contenders in their own right.

Strongest Top Laners


Fiora [Damage/Outplay] - New!: Ever since the new Fiora rework, she's definitely become one of the strongest champions top lane. Personally, I think she was strong before the rework too, although a bit boring to play. Meanwhile, the new Fiora has a slew of new abilities that give her strong outplay potential, especially her AOE riposte stun that can take down obnoxiously simple abilities like Malzahar's suppression and stuns for the same amount of time as a Sona ultimate.

Gangplank [Damage] - New!: The new Gangplank is certainly an interesting character with his Powder Keg mechanic, which ends up as something of a mini-game whenever he's on the rift. Late game, a highly fed GP can easily push out a chained keg and parrrley combo that instantly deals close to 1000 damage to squishies. This combined with his popular Remove Scurvy move allows him to easily outplay the multitude of single CC champions that popular top lane.

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Removed Champions

Rengar [Damage/Outplay]: Rengar is one of the fastest snowballing top laners in the game. Once he gets a kill, it becomes near impossible to survive in lane for very long. This combined with the fact that he can easily roam mid while pit stopping at the crab for passive stacks makes him extremely impactful on any game. However, the newer champions on the rift can pack more of a punch and he's often quickly shut down before he can complete his goals.

Ryze [Damage/Utility]: After repeated nerfs, Ryze is no longer the monstrosity he was top lane. However, with proper cooldown management and passive awareness, he can still easily dominate the lane.

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Returning Champions

Gnar [Utility]With his extremely high team utility, Gnar is one of the best engagers in the game if he can land a five man ultimate into a wall. While he does need to manage his rage bar and make sure his teammates don't go hero mode while his melee form is down, if everything goes according to plan he's very effective.

Irelia [Damage]: Irelia is a champion that can snowball insanely hard from the get-go, or slowly whittle down enemy top laners until they can no longer stay in lane with her, even from a losing position. She's extremely powerful right now due to her ability to quickly navigate via minion waves, coupled with her sustained true damage.

Riven [Damage/Outplay]: Riven is still in a great spot right now for those that use her well. It's no surprise from the videos that you watch what she's capable of, and when executed to her fullest potential, she gives her opponent(s) little to no time to respond with her fast execution combos and short cooldowns.

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Honorable Mentions: Other very strong champions include Vladimir, Hecarim, and Fizz. At the moment, the new Garen is also extremely strong.

Jungle


Skarner [Damage] - New!: Holy beezees, the new Skarner is insane! I'm expecting a nerf if not a hotfix nerf in the extreme near future, but I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't include Skarner on this list. His current utility is absolutely through the roof with his new passive mechanic. He gets an extremely high amount of movement speed and mana restoration just by walking around throughout the map to his crystal spires. This makes his ganking potential and mobility in general far above average. As a champion who's extremely difficult to escape from once he gets into melee range, his new buffs make it awkwardly easy to get into said range. Nerfplz.

Ekko [Outplay] - New!: The new tank Ekko that's super popular on the rift lately can easily be one of the most game-changing champions in a given game. With his difficult to land but exceedingly powerful 2.25 AOE stun, he can quickly choke off an enemy team for an absurd amount of time considering how big the radius is at a 22 second cooldown. For comparison, Amumu's ultimate "entangles" for 2 seconds and has a 150 second cooldown. Additionally, as a tank, Ekko can easily soak up a ton of damage by diving straight into enemy teams and quickly use his ultimate to reverse a large percentage of the damage, resulting in highly beneficial teamfights.

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Removed Champions

Kayle [Damage/Utility]Still a very strong champion in her own right, Kayle is simply not quite as good as some of the other champions in the jungle at the moment. Her clearspeed and damage potential are excellent, and her consistently obnoxious ultimate is still a major game changer. Against highly coordinated teams, the possibility of her blocking almost the entirety of the enemy team's burst damage can fiercely turn tides in her favor. However, she tends to require the sated buff before she actually becomes scary.

Nunu [Utility/Outplay]: A terror of slow junglers, Nunu can certainly be a real annoyance on the rift. However, he currently doesn't carry as hard as other junglers, and many can quickly come back after a few successful ganks. His late game has been significantly nerfed after the Cinderhulk meta died down, and so he's fairly average at the moment.

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Returning Champions

Diana [Damage/Utility]Proper cooldown management on her R allows Diana to snowball out of control during a teamfight, dealing insane amounts of AOE and single target damage. Technically, her E (moonfall) can likely block the majority of spells that Janna's Tornado can, although at a much more difficult level. The Runeglaive enchantment buff definitely brings her damage and cleartime to high levels, and the sheer mobility from her is more than enough to take out champions before they can react.

Gragas [Damage/Utility]: A very popular champion at the moment, his utility allows him to be a huge nuisance all over the rift. From a purely skill based standpoint, the things that Gragas can do with his ultimate can be potentially game shattering by itself if played at a perfect level. Meanwhile, in his current state he scales super hard into the late game, dealing a great amount of sustained damage, blocking skillshots, and in providing a huge amount of CC. If I were to recommend a jungler for the long term, Gragas is an excellent choice.

Nidalee [Damage/Outplay]: With her strong jungle clear and insanely good counterjungling abilities, Nidalee is an extremely powerful presence in the jungle right now. Her ability to gank over dragon wall leaves almost no time to react, even with wards up. Her ganks with a successful spear are exceedingly successful, and even if they quickly flash away, the damage from impact is more than enough for your teammates to win their lane. While forcing a flash is good, oftentimes you'll see your allies still lose lane. However, from 10% remaining HP, few people can outplay their opponents. This combined with the amazing utility from her cougar form W have earned her a place amongst the greats.

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Honorable Mentions: Rek'Sai, Shyvana, Lee Sin, Evelynn

Strongest Supports



Bard [Damage/Utility]Bard is currently in position to become one of the main stream supports, and you'll likely see him somewhere a notch below Thresh and Janna in popularity. With his extremely short cooldown on a potential two man stun, he definitely has an extremely amount of utility. If only the temptation to facecheck bushes to pick up chimes wasn't so high...

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 teamfights without needing to get close enough to the rest of the enemy team. This, combined with his speedboost 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's for running away or for chasing down. This combined with the ability for her shield to deny death and also give an insanely strong damage buff cements her as a top tier support.

Tahm Kench [Utility]With his insanely short cooldowns  and powerful utility-based spells, it seems obvious that Tahm Kench can potentially pull allied units right in the nick of time out of dangerous situations or remove dangerous champions from the battle to create immense confusion. The damage output via his devour on enemy champions is also absurdly high, and although it can be difficult to decide which targets to hit during a teamfight, that's where the champion mastery comes into play.

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, Braum, Lulu, Soraka

Strongest Marksmen (AD Carries)


The ADC list could arguably pull in Ashe or Jinx over some of these champions, but the fact of the matter is a fed ADC is still a fed ADC, and any of them could potentially pull ahead with some sweet support and jungle plays.

Mordekaiser is not making this list. We'll need to see how it pans out, I'm still not fully convinced they broke the meta.

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Vayne [Damage/Outplay]: In a world full of powerful tanks and skillshot based champions, Vayne is by far 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 at the moment. Better yet, she doesn't require as many crazy requirements as some other marksmen to reach her full potential (who can really hit every Ezreal Q anyway?

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 only be able to hit around 20%, if that.

Sivir [Damage/Utility]: Where Ezreal and Lucian feel smooth to play with the complicated mechanics, Sivir falls short in the quality of life department, and often feels the pain of her somewhat slow boomerang and sometimes clunky auto attack reset animation from her W. However, when mastered her burst damage is absolutely outrageous, and can easily chunk someone like Sona down to half in a single combo at level 3.

Draven [Damage]: Draven has the strongest level 1 burst damage in the game bar none. 1v1, he will beat everybody. If he's able to all-in level 1 with a creep advantage, he essentially wins his lane then and there, provided he catches all his axes.

Kalista [Damage/Utility]: Kalista provides overwhelming chase power along with mid game utility and snowballing strength via her passive.Melee champions with high cooldowns on gap closers stand absolutely no chance against Kalista, and catching or chasing her often provides to be a self-defeating task.

Honorable Mentions: Jinx, Ashe - Technically they should be fairly easy to outplay, but their global ability to catch-up in solo queue allow them to snowball. In an ideal game full of super fast reflexes, these two champions shouldn't receive so many free kills with relatively slow projectiles.

Previous Versions:

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




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