Sep 29, 2015

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - September 2015

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Highly anticipated, we're back with another update to the "Strongest Champions When Mastered" series. Despite the constant reassurances that this list isn't meant to be a frequently updated document, I have to admit that it does require changes from time to time. As such, I'll be aiming to update it at least once every patch which will hopefully keep everyone happy.

Season 5 - Patch 5.18 Champion Gallery
"Strongest Champions When Mastered "

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

Introduction

Highly anticipated, we're back with another update to the "Strongest Champions When Mastered" series. Despite the constant reassurances that this list isn't meant to be a frequently updated document, I have to admit that it does require changes from time to time. As such, I'll be aiming to update it at least once every patch which will hopefully keep everyone happy.

Without further adieu, I bring you to the updates for this go-around:

Updates

  • Mid lane - Azir replaced by Veigar, Lux and Orianna added to honorable mentions
  • Top lane - Gnar replaced by Darius
  • Jungle - Gragas replaced by Rek'Sai
  • Support - Bard replaced by Soraka

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


Veigar [Damage/Utility] - New!: The new Veigar buffs are an absolute boon to him as he now gets approximately half a needlessly large rod EXTRA in AP each game. His ability to chokepoint with his stun was always very good, and the changes to his Dark Matter actually give him a 20% longer window to hit his targets before they can escape. More details on the Veigar buffs via this page.

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Removed Champion

Azir [Damage/Utility] - The emperor of Shurima is being kicked off his throne. Despite his powerful spells and fancy positioning tricks, his recent nerfs in the last few patches have slowly, but steadily knocked him down a peg or two. Still a very strong champion at the highest levels, he's simply not as good as he used to be.

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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.

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.

Viktor [Damage] - Still a very strong champion on the rift, he may be losing his place soon as Riot buffs champion after champion. 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.

Zed [Damage/Outplay]: Currently still a very strong champion, he is a pure damage and outplaying machine. 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, Azir, Ekko, Katarina, Leblanc, Lux, Morgana, Orianna, 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


Darius [Damage/Outplay] - New!: Ever since the latest changes and juggernaut item introductions on the rift, Darius has become an absolute monstrosity. Although the sweet spot range on his Q does take some getting used to, once you master it you become an extremely 1v5 outplaying machine. Every time you think he's down and out, he suddenly heals 36% of his bar back and is ready for round 2...or 3...or 4....

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Removed Champion

Gnar [Utility]: Still an extremely powerful playmaker in the current meta-game, Gnar just simply can't complete with the insanely high damage dealers top lane. With their ability to almost instantaneously take out squishy champions and heal back up, the new/old favorites on the block simply leave less room for enemies to outplay them.

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Returning Champions

Fiora [Damage/Outplay]: 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 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]: Gangplank's Powder Keg mechanic makes him an extremely tactical ranged poke machine. 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.

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


Rek'Sai [Damage] - New!: With the insane number of gank angles Rek'Sai can successfully execute from via her tunnel, she definitely has a high learning curve to memorize all the little tips and tricks she has. However, that being said, Rek'Sai's overall game impact is incredibly high. With her extremely versatile jungle route, she can effectively jungle from any camp, making it incredibly difficult to be counter-jungled and incredibly efficient to counter-jungle.

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Removed Champion

Gragas [Damage/Utility]: A champion who used to be renown for the sheer weight of the free stats provided him via his skillset, he's no longer the same heavyweight post-nerfs. That being said, his utility is still extremely high and with some gold under his belt, he can still do a ton of damage. He's simply not as overwhelming as he used to be.

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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.

Ekko [Outplay]: Tank Ekko is still very 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.

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.

Skarner [Damage]: Despite the nerfs to Skarner he remains extremely powerful when played at a high level. His utility is absolutely through the roof with his passive mechanic. He also 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 gap closers make it awkwardly easy to get into said range.

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Honorable Mentions: Shyvana, Lee Sin, Elise, Evelynn, Gragas

Strongest Supports


Soraka [Utility/Outplay] - New!: What's that SSJ? You took out one of the most versatile champions in the game and replaced him with the most boring banana throwing champion in the game? That's right. I did. Despite her innocent seeming kit, Soraka is actually capable of some extremely powerful plays. By utilizing her passive and managing the entire team's health flow, Soraka can effectively negate all poke from the champion pool by herself via her heal. Additionally, her AOE silence is instantaneous and an extremely powerful follow-up to any initiation as it prevents summoner spells from being cast as well as rooting as well...in an AOE.

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Removed Champion:

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...

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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

Strongest Marksmen (AD Carries)


Again, this 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.

After initial hype with ADC Mordekaiser, it seems that barring some snowballing by him, a highly skilled player utilizing a ranged champion still wins out in the end.

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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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