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Sep 17, 2016

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - September 2016

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Hi everyone and welcome back to the newly updated 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 mostly changes to the top and jungle, with the majority of other picks remaining just as strong as they were before. 

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 6.18 Champion Gallery
"Strongest Champions When Mastered "

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


Hi everyone and welcome back to the newly updated 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 mostly changes to the top and jungle, with the majority of other picks remaining just as strong as they were before. 

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


  • Mid Lane: Azir replaced by Syndra
  • Top Lane: Ryze, Swain, Vladimir replaced by Riven, Gnar, Yasuo
  • Jungle: Kindred, Elise replaced by Vi, Zac
  • Support: Lulu and Tahm Kench removed from honorable mentions; Nami added
  • Marksmen: Kalista removed from 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

New Champion

Syndra [Damage/Utility]: Syndra's 1v1 potential is extremely powerful as a result of her single target ultimate. However, her AOE damage is where she truly shines. A champion that has no diminishing returns on her AOE, her potential is limitless. Meanwhile, her Scatter the Weak provides an extremely large amount of utility via the knockbock, and is capable of completely negating a large number of movement-based attacks like Alistar's Headbutt or Akali's Shadow Dance. Deleting enemies from the field after negating their dash attack is one easy way to show dominance.


Removed Champion

Azir [Damage/Utility]: After a slew of nerfs to his damage and utility, Azir is no longer the powerhouse that he was stat-wise. Although he can still pull of some slick plays, his abilities to solo carry a game are significantly limited. Seeing him dominant for so long means it is unlikely Riot will buff the emperor any time soon, but his day may rise again in the future...


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, 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.

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

Yasuo [Damage/Utility] New!Yasuo with a Phantom Dancer and Frozen Mallet is currently one of the strongest builds available in the game. By building these two items, Yasuo ends up as an incredibly durable sustained damage champion that is impossible to escape. When you combine this with his amazingly high utility wind wall, you end up with one of the strongest top laners in the game.

Riven [Damage/Utility] New!Riven has a TON of quirky mechanics that most players never discover, but a fully mastered Riven player can dish out some ridiculous plays and obnoxiously high damage. As a Riven player, her best defense is a good offense. This allows her to survive many situations that would kill almost any other champion while netting kills in the process.

Gnar [Damage/Utility] New!When it comes to the professional scene, few champions receive as much attention as Gnar, and for good reason. He is an extremely safe laner as a ranged champion, and in his melee form his ultimate can be game-changing with the right follow up. By grouping enemies in a clump, AOE mages like Syndra can truly show how powerful they can potentially be.


Removed Champions

Swain [Damage/Outplay]Although Swain is certainly still very strong as a sustained damage tank, enemy players that are good at kiting pose a serious threat. As a result of his innocent kit, he mostly dominates unwary players in his current state. Sometimes, when he is buffed to the point of being a burst damage mage, he becomes insanely strong in all situations. However, right now he is relatively balanced at the highest levels. Feel free to use him to climb the ranked ladder though!

Vladimir [Damage/Outplay]After repeated nerfs, Vladimir is now more tolerable than before. Although his Sanguine Pool still allows for some very nice plays, his damage output is no longer categorized as both burst and sustained due to nerfs on some of his numbers. This creates more room for counter-play, and prevents him from snowballing into an unkillable state.

Ryze [Damage/Utility]The ultimate on Ryze's new skillset has a ton of potential in the right team compositions. However, in his current state Ryze is not quite the faceroll damage tank that he was before. As a result, we are removing him from this list and changing him to an honorable mention instead.


Returning Champions

Irelia [Damage/Outplay]Irelia has both incredible burst damage and excellent sustained damage, two things that should never be allowed on someone this tanky. Although her kit is reltively simple, her ability to beat almost every match-up means that at the highest levels, she is certainly one of the best champions in the game.

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.


Honorable Mentions: Ekko, Fiora, Illaoi, Ryze


New Champions

Vi [Damage/Utility] New!: Vi certainly does not need any introductions. In a nutshell, she remains an incredibly strong ganker and late game dive champion. Because of recent buffs to her kit combined with an early buff to Trinity Force, she now packs more than just a simple punch...or does she? Either way, it's a really good punch.

Zac [Damage/Utility] New!: Zac's current status as one of the best junglers in the game revolves around his insanely healthy jungle clears combined with his obnoxiously long ganking range. To give you and idea of how far he can jump, it is possible to jump from dragon pit to blue side golems via his Elastic Slingshot. In a meta full of immobile marksmen, Zac's ability to gank outside of ward range is extremely valuable and results in either a kill or summoners burned the majority of the time.


Removed Champions

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. In their current state, Kindred lacks the hard initiation that most junglers bring right now. As a result, we will have to wait for kite compositions to come back before they are truly strong again.

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. However, her diving ability is not that good mid to late game, and works best in poke comps with champions like Lux or Morgana to combo with her ranged stun.


Returning Champions

Hecarim [Damage/Utility]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.

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.

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.


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

Strongest Supports

No changes on supporst this time around, although Sona and Soraka are certainly very good in today's meta just on a numbers basis. Lulu and Tahm Kench have been removed from the honorable mentions as a result of current meta changes. Nami was added for her strong offensive abilities and good mix of utility spells.

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, Nami, Sona, Soraka, Zyra

Strongest Marksmen (AD Carries)

No changes to the strongest when mastered this time around, but in the current meta Jinx and Ashe are extremely good. However, a fully mastered Ezreal or Vayne can still dominate games much harder. Kalista was moved from honorable mentions as she is extremely underpowered in the current meta.

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, Sivir, Twitch

Previous Versions:

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

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