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Dec 25, 2015

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - December 2015

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Welcome back to another update for the highly acclaimed "Strongest Champions When Mastered" series. There are tons of changes this time around on the rift, especially when it comes to the Top Laners and the Junglers.

Since top lane in particular has quite a few powerhouses, this version of the list includes write-ups for some of the new honorable mentions as well. Anyway, without further ado, let us jump right into the change log for this edition!

Season 5 - Patch 5.24 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. There are tons of changes this time around on the rift, especially when it comes to the Top Laners and the Junglers.

Since top lane in particular has quite a few powerhouses, this version of the list includes write-ups for some of the new honorable mentions as well. Anyway, without further ado, let us jump right into the change log for this edition!


  • Mid lane - Veigar replaced by Zed
    • Veigar added to Honorable Mentions
  • Top lane - Irelia, Gangplank replaced by Poppy, Illaoi
    • Dr. Mundo, Irelia, Gangplank, Quinn, Malphite added to Honorable Mentions 
  • Jungle - Skarner, Xin Zhao, Rek'Sai replaced by Master Yi, Rengar, Kindred
  • Support - No Changes
  • Marksman
    • Graves replaced by Lucian
    • Quinn added to Honorable Mentions


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

Zed [Damage/Outplay] - New!After Zed's initial drop off with the new mastery system, he quickly rose back to the top after Riot implemented an additional assassin based mastery and buffed the burst damage keystone mastery (Thunderlord's Decree). Once again, his ability to outplay, now coupled with ample damage to back it up, shines through as one of the top champions on the rift.



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.


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.

Brand [Damage]: 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]: A champion that needs no introductions, Leblanc is still on top as a strong contender for mid lane dominance. Leblanc can still jump in and out of battles seamlessly, allowing 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]: Yasuo's ability to outplay has always been extraordinarily high with his excellent mobility, passive, and of course, the previously mentioned windwall. Although Warlord's Bloodlust has been nerfed to the point where Thunderlord's Decree is now better on him, Yasuo still does extraordinarily well in team fights if he can get the appropriate knock-up he needs.

Honorable Mentions: Anivia, Annie, Azir, Ekko, Fizz, Katarina, Lux, Morgana, Orianna, Veigar.
These champions often have the ability to dominate solo queue by themselves. However, now their damage output is 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

Dr. Mundo [Damage] - New [Honorable Mention]!: Some of you may find it surprising that Dr. Mundo didn't make it onto the list by the sheer fact that he is in fact, Dr. Mundo. At a high level of mastery, Dr. Mundo is certainly one of the safest laning champions in the game with infinite chase potential and near invincibility via regen.

However, he seems strong because of a sheer numbers game, and does not provide a large amount of "w0w" factor. As a result, I am adding him onto Honorable Mentions, but do not think he will last long enough to warrant a large write-up on him.

Illaoi [Damage] - New!: New to the list is Illaoi, the newest champion on the rift. Her tentacles deal a potential maximum of 200% AD. This means with a tentacle spawned nearby combined with a full 5 man ultimate, Illaoi can potentially deal 1200% of her AD in AOE damage with each smash.

While it is difficult to keep enemies in the danger zone for very long, the maximum damage potential of her is still insane.

Malphite [Utility] - New [Honorable Mention]!: As a time honored champion that is received some extra popularity with the rise of AD based champions on the rift, Malphite has been a dominant champion ever since he was released. His game-changing ultimate can instantly turn around team fights, and I thought it was time to add him to the honorable mentions list.

Poppy [Damage/Utility] - New!: Poppy is one of those champions that can either absolutely dominate or be utter trash. If she can smash an opponent against a wall, she doubles the damage on that ability and guarantees the second half of her Q damage. Missing the wall stun reduces her overall damage by a massive amount, resulting in a high skillcap champion.

Poppy's new ultimate and dash block also have insanely high utility for what they can potentially do in a team fight, giving her some extremely helpful tools for making great plays in an advanced player's hands.


Removed Champions

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 is extremely powerful right now due to her ability to navigate via minion waves, coupled with her sustained true damage. The new Guinsoo's Rageblade also works almost too well on her. However, she does not have quite the potential utility that the other champions on the list provide, and thus we are dropping her to Honorable Mentions.

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 outplay the multitude of single CC champions that populate top lane. However, same as Irelia, he is dropped to Honorable Mentions simply because of a lack of utility.


Returning Champions

Fiora [Damage/Outplay]: Ever since the new Fiora rework, she has 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.

Jax [Damage]: 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 is back to the point where he can 1v5 if he is fed enough, and sometimes even when he is not.

Tahm Kench [Utility]: 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.


Honorable Mentions: Dr. Mundo, Gangplank, Gnar, Irelia, Malphite, Quinn, Vladimir


Kindred [Damage/Utility] - New!: Kindred's kit is extremely overloaded with small things that add up to potentially awesome outplays. Utilizing mini-heals, gap closers, and AOE death denial, a good Kindred player has a ton of tools at their disposal. Kindred's counter-jungling requirement also separates good Kindreds from amazing ones, meaning that the difference between a fully empowered champion is scores different from ones too afraid to enter into the enemy forest.

Rengar [Damage/Outplay] - New!: The new assassin masteries and Thunderlord's Decree buff have breathed new life into Rengar. A champion who naturally has a ton of tools at his disposal, Rengar's ability to outplay via some tricky bush jumps earns him a high amount of praise. However, his ability to one-shot squishies from an invisible stance is what really makes him shine.

Master Yi [Damage/Outplay] - New!: Finally returning to the list after a long time off is Master Yi. As a champion with excellent synergy with Guinsoo's Rageblade, a sated Master Yi can easily dispatch enemies after dodging dangerous spells via his Alpha Strike. In the hands of a good Master Yi player, auto resets, Alpha Strike dodges, and meditate resets are just the start of the possible high level moves he can pull off.


Removed 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, Rek'Sai's overall game impact is incredibly high. Sporting an 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. Rek'Sai is not bad in this patch by any means, but simply does not shine quite as much as the other champions do.

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 is extremely difficult to escape from once he gets into melee range, his gap closers make it awkwardly easy to get into said range. However, because of his somewhat straight-forward kit, Skarner players may find themselves hitting the technical gap on him fairly quickly with nowhere further to go.

Xin Zhao [Damage]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 now 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. However, similar to Rek'Sai and Skarner, other champions are bringing more to the party.


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.

Elise [Damage/Utility]: Elise remains a very strong pick in today's meta because of her strong early game and overall utility. She performs excellently with Thunderlord's Decree, and her combos make it very easy to proc if she hits her cocoon.


Honorable Mentions: Diana, Ekko, Kindred, Gragas. Nidalee, Rek'Sai, Xin Zhao

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 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.

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 team fight, that is 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)

Lucian [Damage/Outplay] - New!: As a prime candidate for the new Thunderlord's Decree, Lucian can easily proc it with a single spell and his two hit combo off his passive. This makes his early game trades insanely strong. Additionally, his new reworked ultimate allows him to build more crit than attack speed, while still making full use of its rounds. As a mana hungry champion with a large number of spells required to maximize his damage, the new Essence Reaver buffs are also a godsend for him.


Removed Champions:

Graves [Damage/Utility]: After the nerfs on Graves, he is starting to be a little less potent than before. While his damage output is still high, his strange passive mechanic and low range do not seem to be quite as broken as they were before. However, he is still strong in his own right.


Returning Champions:

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.

Miss Fortune [Damage]: 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 team fight, and can greatly increase her damage output depending on the individual microing skill of a player.

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.

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 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: Draven, Graves, Jinx, Kalista, Quinn

Previous Versions:

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

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