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Nov 22, 2015

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - November 2015

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Welcome back to another update for the highly acclaimed "Strongest Champions When Mastered" series. With the large number of changes cropping up over the last few patches, this version took a bit longer than expected. However, the eventual goal is to still update this patch by patch if I have the time.

Anyway, without further adieu, I bring you to the updates for the new pre-season:

Season 5 - Patch 5.22 Champion Gallery
"Strongest Champions When Mastered "

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


Welcome back to another update for the highly acclaimed "Strongest Champions When Mastered" series. With the large number of changes cropping up over the last few patches, this version took a bit longer than expected. However, the eventual goal is still to update this patch by patch, if I have the time.

Anyway, without further ado, I bring you to the updates for the new pre-season:


  • Mid lane - Talon, Viktor, Zed replaced by Brand, Leblanc, Yasuo
  • Top lane - Darius, Riven replaced by Tahm Kench, Jax
  • Jungle - Ekko, Nidalee, Diana replaced by Xin Zhao, Lee Sin, Elise, Added Kindred to Honorable and took out Shyvana
  • Support - Sona added to honorable mentions
  • Marksman - Sivir, Draven, Kalista replaced by Tristana, Miss Fortune, Graves


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. Margin of error.

Strongest Mid Laners

Brand [Damage] - New!: The new masteries work extremely well with Brand's kit. With his passive's ability to proc the Deathfire Touch mastery, Brand's damage is insanely high over time. His low cooldowns and relatively long stun time on his Q also make his pick potential very potent. Meanwhile, his ultimate and sheer AOE prowess often converts otherwise difficult 1v2s into easy double kills.

Leblanc [Damage/Utility] New!: A champion that needs no introductions, Leblanc is back on top as a strong contender for mid lane dominance. While Zed's been giving a few moments of lag, Leblanc can still jump in and out of battles seamlessly. This allows her to dodge many spells that might otherwise kill her. Meanwhile, the mind games that she can utilize are extremely varied, each with the potential to be game changing via distortion poke or passive clone microing.

Yasuo [Damage/Utility] New!: Another champion who gained a lot of power from the new masteries, Yasuo has the added bonus of countering Brand very hard with his windwall. That aside, Yasuo's ability to outplay has always been extraordinarily high with his excellent mobility, passive, and of course, the previously mentioned windwall. The difference now is that with the new masteries and item builds, he can easily reach 100% crit all the time and pick up quick heals via the Warlord's Bloodlust mastery.


Removed Champions

Talon [Damage] - Talon is still a very strong champion capable of bursting down enemy squishies. However, he doesn't usually build crit items, and Bond of Stone makes it more difficult to assassinate targets, especially since he has no true escape mechanism after jumping in if his target isn't killed in the first few seconds.

Viktor [Damage] - Still a very strong champion on the rift, he has a lot of power but nothing that stands out as much as it used to. His strong burst damage and choke point control are still highly valued, but his assassination and poke power simply aren't quite as high as others.

Zed [Damage/Outplay]: The "bugfix" on Zed took away a lot of his outplaying ability at the highest levels. While he's still capable of some awesome plays, the fact that a non-crit-based assassin also received a nerf in the same patch means that he is not as effective as he used to be.


Champions Returning For Another Round

Ahri [Damage/Utility/Outplay]: Ahri is simply insane, renowned 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 now, and has been a consistent power pick for a long time now.

Veigar [Damage/Utility] - Veigar is still one of the strongest late game champions in the game. However, the metagame is moving towards a much more early game oriented type of playstyle. This means that it is difficult for Veigar to achieve his true power in many games. Nevertheless, his mid game damage is still high enough to kill mid-laners in a single rotation if they are AP based champions.

Honorable Mentions: Anivia, Annie, Azir, Ekko, Fizz, Katarina, Lux, Morgana, Orianna These champions often have the ability to dominate solo queue by themselves. However, now their damage output is not quite as strong as others 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

Jax [Damage] - New!: With the latest buffs to Guinsoo's Rageblade and Hextech Gunblade, Jax is now an absolute monster once he gets snowballing. Combined with the new fervor mastery, he's back to the point where he can 1v5 if he's fed enough, and sometimes even when he's not.

Tahm Kench [Utility] - New!: The new resolve mastery tree makes this guy even tankier than ever before. Since he was already an unkillable top laner, further increasing his strengths simply makes him well...stronger.


Removed Champions

Darius [Damage/Outplay]: As one of the most toxic champions in the game, Darius' reign dropped off quickly as Riot pounded him with nerf after nerf. Although he's still decent in a 1v1 situation, his dominance over the game is drastically reduced.

Riven [Damage/Outplay]: If you are good at Riven, she is still a decent champion to play on Summoner's Rift. However, at this point, she is difficult to play successfully. Without any synergy with Guinsoo, the new masteries, or the new items, Riven really didn't gain much from this patch but a bunch of powerful new foes.


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 a 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. The new Guinsoo's Rageblade also works almost too well on her.


Honorable Mentions: Other very strong champions include Gnar, Vladimir, Hecarim, and Fizz. 


Lee Sin [Damage/Utility] - New!: A Lee Sin that can't 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. That being said, a good Lee Sin can snowball the game from start to finish. With games running shorter than ever and tracker's knife providing free wards to jump to, Lee's looking very strong at the moment.

Xin Zhao [Damage] - New!: Similar to Lee, Xin Zhao is one of the few champions that can execute amazing early game ganks to great effect, often netting a kill even if they try to flash. His late game is also extremely powerful at the moment with Devourer and Guinsoo's Rageblade. He also has an interesting mechanic via his slightly delayed crescent strike, which allows him to outplay certain champions. A well timed ultimate from Xin can knock away certain valuable spells such as Galio's ultimate, even after it begins channeling.

Elise [Damage/Utility] - New!: Despite being a runeglaive jungler, Elise remains a very strong pick in today's meta as a result of her strong early game and overall utility. She does surprisingly well with the Deathfire Touch mastery as a sustained damage dealer, and also has the added benefit of being able to dodge a large number of spells, namely Brand's ultimate (diffusing it as well). 


Removed Champions

Diana [Damage/Utility]: The nerfs on runeglaive and advent of the Bond of Stone mastery have made it difficult for Diana to assassinate targets as well as she used to. Overall, it seems like most AP based junglers are weaker off in the jungle as of Patch 5.22.

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. The main downfall of Ekko is similar to that of Diana. AP champions simply aren't as powerful in the jungle compared to the Guinsoo's Rageblade junglers, and there are other tank based champions that do Ekko's job better.

Nidalee [Damage/Outplay]: As a strong counterjungler, Nidalee can do very well if she's successful in the early game. However, with the most junglers picking for the early game now, it's quite difficult for her to successfully bully in the first few levels. This combined with the Runeglaive nerfs have left her much lower on the jungle hierarchy.

Returning Champions

Rek'Sai [Damage]: 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.

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.


Honorable Mentions: Kindred, Gragas - I may actually replace Skarner with Kindred shortly

Strongest Supports

No changes to the supports this time around.


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.

Soraka [Utility/Outplay]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 an AOE.

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, Sona

Strongest Marksmen (AD Carries)

Tristana [Damage/Utility] - New!: The new Tristana rework brought her rocket jump identity to a new level. She now gets more jumps than ever before, greatly increasing her mobility. A good Tristana is also similar to Lee Sin; where an average Tristana will knock back one target, a good Tristana can peel multiple targets at once. Otherwise, her damage is now very comparable to the rest of the strongest marksmen with her explosive shot stack.

Miss Fortune [Damage] - New!: The new love tap mechanic is what separates decent Miss Fortune players from truly good Miss Fortune players. She has a ton of small mechanics dealing with her targeting during a teamfight, and can greatly increase her damage output depending on the individual microing skill of a player.

Graves [Damage/Utility] - New!: As a whole, Graves is very similar to how he was pre-rework, except that he's now way better. His smokescreen now obscures vision entirely, meaning that a well placed one can completely turn the tide of a battle. This combined with his increased mobility via his ultimate means that he has more options at his disposal than ever before, without even mentioning the insane damage output from his new passive.


Removed Champions:

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. The only downside to him is that he's a bit lacking in utility, and with some creeps thrown into the mix, Miss Fortune may actually deal more damage.

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. However, she's a bit lacking in burst damage since her rend takes time to build up. This makes it somewhat difficult for her to duel against the rest of the marksman family at this time.


Returning Champions:

Vayne [Damage/Outplay]: In a world full of powerful tanks and skillshot 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 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.

Honorable Mentions: Jinx, Lucian - These are both extremely strong champions in the current meta for many of the same reasons as the above. Lucian is in fact better than Ezreal in most cases, but the thought of a potential 100% hit rate on Ezreal's Q is simply outrageous.

Previous Versions:

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

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