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Jun 27, 2016

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - June 2016

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Hi everyone and welcome back to the hotly requested Strongest Champions When Mastered List, which focuses in on champions that are strongest once you know the ins and outs of what they are capable of.

This list features big shifts in the top lane as a result of champion changes, but quite a few honorable mentions are popping up in all the roles as a result of FOTM effects. However, champions that make it to this list are generally more of a long-lasting type.

Season 6 - Patch 6.12 Champion Gallery
"Strongest Champions When Mastered "

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

Introduction

Hi everyone and welcome back to the hotly requested Strongest Champions When Mastered List, which focuses in on champions that are strongest once you know the ins and outs of what they are capable of.

This list features big shifts in the top lane as a result of champion changes, but quite a few honorable mentions are popping up in all the roles as a result of FOTM effects. However, champions that make it to this list are generally more of a long-lasting type.

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: Honorable mentions reworked, added a blurb on Viktor
  • Top Lane: Fiora, Ekko, Riven replaced by Irelia, Swain, Vladimir; reworked honorable mentions
  • Jungle: Nidalee replaced by Hecarim; reworked honorable mentions
  • Support: Zyra added to honorable mentions
  • Marksmen: Reworked 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 Honorable Mention

Viktor [Damage] - New Honorable Mention!Viktor is currently largely considered the second best mid laner (right behind Azir) on the professional circuit. His powerful burst and sustained damage allows him to greatly impact teamfights, and his short cooldown CC is extremely effective in arranged team play. However, I am currently leaving him off the list simply because his utility and outplay potential is much lower than the rest currently on the list. Nevertheless, there is no denying that he is very strong in this patch.

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Returning Veterans

Azir [Damage/Utility]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 ladder play 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.

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, his famous windwall. Meanwhile, with the multitude of AOE knock-up champions on the rift like Alistar, Yasuo can easily chain his ultimate into devestating combos.

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, Brand, Ekko, Fizz, Katarina, Lux, Malzahar, Orianna, Twisted Fate, Veigar. Viktor

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

Swain [Damage/Outplay] - New!Despite Swain's relatively innocent looking kit, he definitely deserves a place on the strongest list right now. His ability to outplay enemies may not be as technically advanced compared to other top laners, but strong game knowledge often draws the line between victory and defeat in any given duel. His damage output is deceptively high, and even seasoned players will have trouble dealing with a good Swain. Nevertheless, he may end up just being a FOTM pick, but time will tell

Vladimir [Damage/Outplay] - New!: Vladimir is a champion that will garner much less in the way of critique on this list compared to Swain. A champion that was powerful even before his rework, his empowered abilities add a whole new dimension to his play. Protobelt also gives Vladimir more utility than ever before, and allows him excellent burst combined with a gap-closer. High level Vladimirs often use their pool to dodge an insane number of dangerous spells, which gives him dominance over both burst and sustained damage dealers top lane.

Irelia [Damage/Outplay] - New!It feels odd describing Irelia as new since she dominated this list so often in the past. After the Trinity Force changes, she definitely shot back up to a whole new level. There is not much to say besides the fact that her auto-attacks deal true damage and simultaneously heal her. Meanwhile, an Irelia that can successfully navigate creep waves is near impossible to gank, especially with her built-in tenacity. Better nerf Irelia.

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Removed Champions

Ekko [Utility/Outplay]Ekko's 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. However, after his personal nerfs coupled with nerfs to tank items, he is not nearly as undefeatable as he used to be,

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. Nevertheless, her time at the top waned, and others are coming to claim her place. She is certainly more than deserving of an honorable mention, and I would not be surprised to see her reclaim her spot on this list in due time.

Riven [Damage/Utility]: Riven 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. However, even for some of the best Riven players her sick plays are often more luck than pure skill, and as a result she is moving back into the honorable mentions.

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Returning Champions

Gangplank [Damage/Utility]Gangplank is one of those champions that keeps falling off the list and then coming back on. His barrel mini-game separates average Gangplanks from truly good Gangplanks. However, it is really his abilities to dominate a lane while simultaneously safely farming and impacting the map that put him head and shoulders above the rest. His ability to secure double kills bot lane without using his teleport really allows him to snowball games in ways that other top laners cannot.

Ryze [Damage/Utility]Ryze is one of those champions that appear 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 dominate enemy champions is extremely high, but 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. Even after his nerfs, I was hard-pressed not to take him off the list. Some people may argue that maybe Illaoi is currently in a better state, but good Ryze players are just impossible to deal with.

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Honorable Mentions: Ekko, Fiora, Illaoi, Malzahar, Riven, Yasuo

Jungle


New Champion

Hecarim [Damage/Utility] - New!Hecarim is a champion that comes and goes, but often stays for very long periods when he gets here. A jungler that can gank from warded areas successfully via his insane movement speed, Hecarim is near impossible to avoid. The latest Trinity Force changes were a massive boon to his overall damage, and allows him to build tank while dishing a boatload of pain to enemy champions. Lastly, a well-placed Hecarim ultimate can absolutely turn the tide of a battle, especially since he can quickly isolate a single champion while dealing AOE damage to the rest right after ulting.

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Removed Champion

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). That being said, after the Runic Echoes nerf there are stronger junglers at the moment with higher utility.

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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.

Kindred [Damage/Utility]Kindred is 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.

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 has the ability to snowball games very quickly via her powerful ganks, but is definitely reliant on hitting her stun to be successful.

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Honorable Mentions: Kha'Zix, Nidalee, Rek'Sai, Rengar, Shaco, Udyr

Strongest Supports



New Honorable Mention

Zyra [Damage/Utility] - New!: In her current state, Zyra deals an absurd amount of damage and can easily burst down enemies by herself. However, I do not think that she has lasting potential as one of the top supports as a result of lower utility, so did not replace any of the old favorites with plant girl.

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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.

Braum [Damage/Utility]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.

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, Zyra

Strongest Marksmen (AD Carries)


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: Ashe, Draven, Jinx, Kalista, Sivir, Twitch

Previous Versions:

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



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