May 28, 2016

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - May 2016

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Hi everyone and welcome to a long overdue update to the Strongest Champions When Mastered list! I'd love to make this a regularly updated list, but as some people mentioned, it starts being more of a popular picks of the month rather than a true "Strongest When Mastered" List.

As a result, I do think once a month is enough, but feel free to chime in your thoughts on how often it should be modified.

Check out the full list below, or if you're more interested in the FOTM picks, check out the FOTM Tier List too!

Season 6 - Patch 6.10 Champion Gallery
"Strongest Champions When Mastered "

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

Introduction

Hi everyone and welcome to a long overdue update to the Strongest Champions When Mastered list! I'd love to make this a regularly updated list, but as some people mentioned, it starts being more of a popular picks of the month rather than a true "Strongest When Mastered" List.

As a result, I do think once a month is enough, but feel free to chime in your thoughts on how often it should be modified.

Check out the full list below, or if you're more interested in the FOTM picks, check out the FOTM Tier List too!

Updates

  • Mid Lane: Lux replaced by Azir, Corki replaced by Twisted Fate in honorable mentions. Added blurb on Veigar.
  • Top Lane: Poppy, Nautilus, Graves replaced by Ekko, Ryze, Gangplank
  • Jungle: Master Yi replaced by Kindred
  • Support: Tahm Kench replaced by Braum
  • Marksmen: Twitch 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 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


New Champion

Azir [Damage/Utility] - New!A good Azir is needless to say, one of the most influential champions on the rift. His early game is extremely powerful 1v1, and during mid to late game, his ability to 1v5 is immense...as long as the enemy team does not smash him down first. His powerful movement blocking ultimate can reposition an entire team while dealing massive damage along the way. The only thing holding him back in solo queue is the ability of players to follow up on good plays, and the skill requirement to execute a good play fast enough that the enemy cannot react.

Veigar [Damage] - Just BlurbingVeigar's a champion that's currently on everyone's radar as one of the most powerful champions on the rift. With his powerful scaling and insane trading potential, a good Veigar can certainly demolish squishies and tanks alike with ease. However, he doesn't quite have the kind of raw utility or pick power that the champions above have, so he's still just an honorable mention.

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Removed Champion

Lux [Damage/Utility]Formerly one of the most feared mid laners on the rift; Lux featured excellent trading power via her shield wand. When combined with a strong tank Meta, she was certainly one of the biggest annoyances on the map. However, she has since been nerfed and assassins were greatly buffed in the last few patches. As a result, she is no longer the massive powerhouse she was before, but balanced as far as mages go.

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Returning Veterans

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.

Leblanc [Damage/Utility]: A champion that needs no introductions, Leblanc is still on top as a strong contender for mid lane dominance. Leblanc jumps 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 micro.

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. Many Yasuo players now opt to build using Grasp of the Undying to supplement his weak early game, but Warlord's Bloodlust or Fervor are equally effective on him.

Zed [Damage/Outplay]: A master of shadows, Zed's burst damage was greatly augmented by Duskblade of Draktharr, resulting in essentially a double Zed ult. Combined with Thunderlord's Decree, Zed dishes out some obnoxiously high burst damage. He's also able to quickly jump in and out of teamfights to take down targets, and good Zeds will also be able to deal excellent sustained damage at high speed via Youmuu's Ghostblade.
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Honorable Mentions: Anivia, Annie, Brand, Ekko, Fizz, Katarina, Morgana, Orianna, Twisted Fate, Veigar.

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

Ekko [Utility/Outplay] - New!: Ekko Top is another one of those champions that needs relatively little in the way of introduction. His tendency to turn around fights and one-shot enemies while sitting at a sliver is absurd, and anyone on the receiving end certainly wonders why they were not paying more attention to his movements.

Gangplank [Damage/Utility] - New!: Gangplank is one of those champions that keeps falling off the list and then coming back on repeatedly. His barrel mini-game is separates average Gangplanks from truly good Gangplanks, but it’s really his abilities to dominate a lane while simultaneously safely farming and impacting the amp with his global ult that put him head and shoulders above the rest.

Ryze [Damage/Utility] - New!Ryze is one of those champions that appear strangely simple to play, but as everyone knows by now, a solo queue Ryze is certainly not the same as a Faker level Ryze. The potential for Ryze to absolutely dominate enemy champions is extremely high, but definitely requires a bit of finesse and skillshot ability to get there. The new Rod of Ages allows him to be extremely tanky via the health recovery passive, and synergizes quite well with the massive number of spells he puts out during a fight.

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Removed Champions

Graves [Damage/Utility]: More of a FOTM pick, Graves has since been nerfed to the point where he's still playable, but by no means a top choice. The majority of his set revolves around lifesteal, but with Warlord's nerfs and Morellonomicon buffs, he's much weaker than before and at the maximum level, simply doesn't quite keep up with others.

Nautilus [Utility]After nerfs to tank masteries and items, Nautilus isn't quite up to par with a lot of other top laners anymore. He's still playable and his CC offers some cool outplays, but he's fairly average right now, even at high levels.

Poppy [Damage/Utility]: 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 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. However, similar to Nautilus, nerfs on tanks and buffs on other champions have dropped her to being a relatively balanced or even weaker pick.

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Returning Champions

Fiora [Damage/Outplay]: Fiora has definitely held her own as one of the strongest champions top lane. She 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 duration as a Sona ultimate.

Riven [Damage/Utility]Let's talk Riven. She's not in an overpowered state right now, but good Riven players can absolutely still dominate a game by themselves. She has a TON of quirky mechanics that most players never discover, but a fully mastered Riven player can definitely dish out some ridiculous plays and obnoxiously high damage. As a result, we're popping her back onto the list maybe for the fact that her AOE knock-back can potentially stop Akali's ultimate and Shyvana's ultimate at the same time.

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Honorable Mentions: Gnar, Illaoi, Irelia, Jax, Malphite, Poppy, Quinn, Vladimir

Jungle


New Champion

Kindred [Damage/Utility] - New!New on the list are Kindred, a champion that can snowball extremely hard if they pick up a few early marks to the point where they can melt tanks with ease. This combines excellently with their ultimate, with evens the odds against champions with extremely high health pools. Against teams that do not have Azir, Janna, or Gragas, Kindred are insanely powerful and frustrating to play against. Meanwhile, if they have the same champions ON their team, the combination is greatly magnified - more on that in this article here.

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Removed Champion

Master Yi [Damage/Outplay]: After the removal of devourer and the complete rework on Guinsoo's Rageblade, Master Yi's power spikes shifted into the late game, where he can be quickly burst down by assassins. However, his outplay potential via his alpha strike still allows for some pretty cool outplays, so if you're good at him feel free to keep going!
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Returning Champions

Gragas [Damage/Utility]: An extremely mobile pick, Gragas has evolved through several forms as a jungler. In his latest form, Gragas works  as a ganking jungler, and can dish out quite a bit of CC and damage. His burst isn't quite as high as it used to be, but his ultimate can still change a teamfight around just as quickly by repositioning entire teams.

Nidalee [Damage/Outplay]: One of the most respected junglers on the rift, Nidalee appears to be in a relatively balanced state after her last round of nerfs...except in the hands of a true master. Her counterjungling is extremely effective, and her pounce allows her an almost unfair amount of utility. That being said, the difference between a Nidalee that can hit spears and one that can't is almost as stark as a Lee Sin (see below).

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. The latest changes to the AP jungler item also improve her gank power, something that is crucial to playing a good Elise.

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Honorable Mentions: Diana, Ekko, Rek'Sai, Rengar, Shaco, Xin Zhao, Udyr

Strongest Supports



New Champion

Braum [Damage/Utility] - New!: Riot is continuously changing spells from targetted spells to skillshots with animations instead. As a champion that can instantly redirect targetted spells from squishies into his powerful shield block, Braum's save potential is through the roof. When combined with his early game cheese via his passive, a good Braum can snowball a game from support with ease.

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Removed Champion

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. However, after nerfs to his tongue width, he's much easier to dodge and as a result more difficult to find great success with, even in the hands of a great player. As a result, he's being moved to Honorable Mentions.

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Returning Veterans:

Alistar [Outplay]: Mess with this bull and you get the horns. Strong engagement and diving power are further enunciated by the fact that missing his headbutt pulverize combination is no longer a possibility for seasoned Alistar players. After the recent changes to Alistar's ability to queue up his pulverize mid headbutt, players can now focus more on play-making decisions rather than difficult mechanics that even professionals mess up from time to time.

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.

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: Bard, Lulu, Sona, Soraka, Tahm Kench, Taric

Strongest Marksmen (AD Carries)


New Honorable Mention

Twitch [Damage] - New!: The new Twitch rework allows him to reset his invisibility after getting a kill or assist, which when used right can wreck havoc on enemy teams. His damage output via his ultimate is also the highest potential marksman damage in the game, making him a serious threat in the right hands.

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Returning Champions:

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 note-worthy, her abilities to kite and zone are what make her a top-notch marksman at the moment.

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.

Jhin [Damage/Utility]: The newest marksman on the rift started off with mixed reviews, but soon became not only one of the most fun champions on the rift, but also one of the most respected as well. As a champion that relies on traps and massive skillshot reliance to crush his opponents, strong Jhin players can quickly overwhelm enemies, whereas poor Jhin players will need to rely on some luck.

Lucian [Damage/Outplay]Lucian's early game trades are insanely strong, especially since he synergizes well with the Fervor changes. As a mana hungry champion with a large number of spells required to maximize his damage, Essence Reaver allows him to snowball through the game, even when he's using tons of mana offensively. Good Lucian players will use their E both defensively and offensively at the same time, allowing him to outplay many skillshot based 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 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, Sivir, Twitch

Previous Versions:

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



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