Mar 12, 2018

Which Champions are Strongest When Mastered? - March 2018

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Putting this list together always takes the longest out of all the articles, and maybe it's because it's the longest one on the site. We're always trying to pick out champions that do well without focusing too much on Riot's obviously broken FOTM picks of the patch, but depending on what makes them strong, sometimes things leak in like in the Aftershock patch.

In Patch 8.5, many of the old champion picks like Ezreal are back in the fray, and in the mid lane amongst the multitude of honorable mentions we've got a pick most of you might not see coming...

Season 8 - Patch 8.5 Champion Gallery
"Strongest Champions When Mastered"

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

Introduction

Putting this list together always takes the longest out of all the articles, and maybe it's because it's the longest one on the site. We're always trying to pick out champions that do well without focusing too much on Riot's obviously broken FOTM picks of the patch, but depending on what makes them strong, sometimes things leak in like in the Aftershock patch.

In Patch 8.5, many of the old champion picks like Ezreal are back in the fray, and in the mid lane amongst the multitude of honorable mentions we've got a pick most of you might not see coming...

If you're more interested in the FOTM picks, be sure to check out the FOTM Tier Lists too!

Updates

  • Mid: Zoe, Orianna replaced by Aurelion Sol, Fizz. Swain added to honorable mentions.
  • Top: Urgot added to honorable mentions.
  • Jungle: Lee Sin replaced by Warwick; Xin Zhao replaced by Nidalee.
  • Supports: Leona replaced by Rakan
  • Marksmen: Jhin replaced by Ezreal. Varus 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. A good margin of error.

Strongest Mid Laners


New Champions

Aurelion Sol [Damage/Utility] New!: Aurelion Sol is one of those champions that looks really easy on the paper, but ends up having an incredible impact when he's played correctly. By properly positioning his stars to maximize burst, Sol dominates team fights as enemies discover they're too poorly positioned to avoid catastrophic damage. His waveclear and roam capabilities are second to none, and true Aurelion Sol mains are rewarded with a consistent 60%+ win rate once they get over 50 games under their belt. Since he doesn't 1v1 too much, he has very few bad match-ups.

Fizz [Damage/Outplay] New!: There are a lot of candidates I wanted to put here, and most of them are already in the honorable mentions section. In the end, I did decide to pick Fizz mostly for his ability to outplay and slide through games with his clean outplays. As anyone who's played against him knows, a good Fizz can kill you on sight whenever he feels like it.

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Removed Champions

Zoe [Damage/Utility]: Zoe's brief but dominating reign may not be over after Patch 8.5's buffs. However, for the time being, we dropped her down to honorable mentions. She's still very strong and her long range crowd-control is highly susceptible to abuse. However, in her current state she's weak enough that she can be outplayed by most champions in a skill match-up.

Orianna [Damage/Utility]Everyone's favorite clockwork enchantress Orianna has always been extremely popular for her low cooldown AOE one-shot ability, which allows her to blow enemy flashes or straight up assassinate them with ease late game, only to do it to another player 50 seconds later. She's somewhat difficult to master, but if you can position the ball correctly and weave your autos, she does an absurd amount of sustained and burst damage. In the current meta she's strong but not entirely unbeatable even if she gets ahead. As a result, we've dropped her back into honorable mentions.

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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.

Katarina [Damage/Outplay]Katarina's ability to snowball games in her current state is incredible. Her ability to run down enemies even without resets can be absolutely brutal, and Gunblade makes is nearly impossible to avoid the brunt of her ultimate. Ever since they moved her damage out of her ultimate into her passive resets, she's been extremely difficult to outplay. If a Katarina player can think enough steps ahead, they can outplay pretty much anything.

Zed [Damage/Outplay]Zed is one of those champions that always comes back around after a series of nerfs. His shadow clones allow him an extremely high level of variability with his plays, and his ultimate gives him the ability to outplay almost every spell.

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Honorable Mentions: Anivia, Azir, Cassiopeia, Ekko, Fizz, Kassadin, Leblanc, Lux, Orianna, Ryze, Syndra, Swain, Taliyah, Twisted Fate, Veigar. Xerath, Yasuo, Zoe

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


Top Lane Overview

The champions that have dominated top lane in the past continue to beat down the rest mercilessly. While Urgot's being added to honorable mentions for his incredibly oppressive laning phase, he's not quite ready to overtake the reigning champions quite yet.

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Returning Champions

Camille [Damage/Outplay/Utility]Camille's ability to dominate the laning phase is good, but it's her absurd late-game snowball ability that can really change a game. Between her hookshots and her isolation ultimate, Camille's ability to impact a team fight is largely determined by her decision-making ability. However, with the right moves she can single-handedly carry.

Yasuo [Damage/Utility]: Yasuo is a champion that can all in at any level successfully given a good windwall. Meanwhile, the same windwall can utterly shift the tide of a team fight either by blocking a dangerous spell or simply zoning off the enemy ranged champions from using any of the spells successfully.

Riven [Damage/Utility]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.

Fiora [Damage/Outplay]Fiora is arguably one of the strongest duelists available to top laners right now. Her ability to snowball team fights and smash even the tankiest of foes allows her to dominate lane and quickly bring the enemy jungler to assist. Her Riposte [W] also lets her outplay potentially ANYTHING, resulting in a champion that's impossible to deal with if you're good enough with her. For a damage-based bruiser, she's also impossibly difficult to kill and has a tendency to kill you behind turrets and run away for free.

Gangplank [Damage/Utility]Gangplank with Kleptomancy is still one of the most obnoxious champions in the game. His ability to scale through to late game combined with his ability to hit phantom barrels make it nearly impossible to survive his poke. His ultimate also massively shifts tides of battle anywhere on the map, resulting in excellent map presence, even without teleporting.

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Honorable Mentions: Ekko, Irelia, Jayce, Gnar, Quinn, Pantheon, Urgot

Jungle


New Champions

Warwick [Utility/Damage/Outplay] New!: For older players, the words "Warwick" and "Early Game" don't mesh. However, the new Warwick is by far one of the most oppressive early game junglers in the game. Unfortunately, it doesn't get any better as the game goes on as he scales incredibly hard with Titanic Hydra and full tank items to the point where he's doing more damage than champions with half his HP.

Nidalee [Damage/Utility] New!: If you're looking a high skill snowball champion, there are few that fit the bill quite as well as Nidalee. She's very skillshot based, but THE most versatile champion in the game when it comes to gank patterns and escape routes. If you plan ahead, she's constantly one step ahead of the enemy. When you combine this with her manaless movement enhancer, she's capable of some extremely frustrating plays.
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Removed Champions

Lee Sin [Damage/Utility]: Ever since the removal of tracker's knife, Lee Sin's seeing some weakness when it comes to his playmaking ability. While he's still capable of making similar plays via the yellow trinket and adding some control wards to the mix, he's a bit of a shadow of his former self come late game.

Xin Zhao [Utility/Damage/Outplay]Xin Zhao encompasses a huge array of skills that are very effective for solo queue. His gank potential is great as a result of his early game gap closer and crowd control combo, but it's really his Crescent Guard [R] that shines through. Three seconds of damage negation is no small defensive maneuver, and the knockback is great for isolating dangerous carries. He's by no means a small fry, but I'm moving him down to honorable mentions for now.

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Returning Champions

Evelynn [Damage/Outplay]After the last series of bug fixes and buffs, Evelynn is in a great spot. Her rework gave her the ability to become invulnerable and blink to safety via her ultimate, which as you can probably guess, gives her an incredible amount of utility. Essentially, it's become like a reverse Ekko ultimate without the heal.

Kayn [Damage/Outplay]Kayn sports a kit with extremely high snowball potential. The built-in percentage based life steal and invulnerability with his ultimate allow for some insane outplays, especially when you combine it with his ability to move through walls. Blue Kayn and Red Kayn both have their own unique merits, and I still like to think of them collectively as one unit. The versatility adds to the overall impact the champion has since it's an in-game decision.

Kha'Zix [Damage]This bug has always been incredibly good at picking off enemies and snowballing to victory. In the current damage jungler meta, he does especially well considering tanks are falling out of favor. Overall, he also has a very versatile jungle clear pattern, making it difficult for enemies to track him and allowing him the freedom to counter jungle as well. In a snowball situation, if the enemy team doesn't have enough tanks Kha'Zix can easily run through the entire game by himself.

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Honorable Mentions: Elise, Gragas, Graves, Hecarim, Maokai, Rengar, Sejuani, Shaco, Xin Zhao, Zac

Strongest Supports


New Champion

Rakan [Utility] New!Rakan's always jumping on and off the list simply because he's somewhat of a nice blend of offense and defense, but needs good synergy to use both correctively. In the current patch, Xayah is extremely good, resulting in excellent Rakan abilities as well. Meanwhile, players discovered building Zeke's Convervence works insanely well on him as it provides everything he needs and more. Overall, he's in a perfect spot in terms of both damage and peel.

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Removed Champion

Leona [Utility]: Overall, Leona is still good for snowballing. However, ever since the aftershock changes she's been significantly weaker in all-ins. The advent of Bone Plating also makes it more difficult to cheese ranged peel champions. As a result, she's not quite as good as she used to be.

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Returning Veterans:

Janna [Utility]: Janna is still 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).

Blitzcrank [Utility]: Janna and Thresh keep teams ahead of the game, but 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.

Bard [Utility]Bard always had this "theoretical" edge, but in practice just didn't have enough raw stats to carry it out. Ever since the buff to his meep collection, he's now strong enough to solo-carry games if you're good enough. This makes him one of the best play-making supports out there, and potentially one of the most game-changing ones as well.

Honorable Mentions: Alistar, Braum, Lulu, Karma, Rakan, Soraka

Strongest Marksmen (AD Carries)


New Champion

Ezreal [Damage/Outplay] New!: Popping Ezreal back onto the list was a no-brainer after Tristana and Press the Attack nerfs. His Kleptomancy setup still works great, and while it's still a high skill oriented play-style, it was good enough to get Rank 1 in Korea. Most players nowadays also opt for the Iceborn Gauntlet build. This gives Ezreal good survivability and kite power while keeping his damage at a respectable level with Manamune.

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Removed Champion

Jhin [Damage/Utility]: Even with his buffs this patch I decided move Jhin down a bit back into the honorable mentions category. He's good enough to play now, but there are other champions that can carry harder.

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Returning Champions:

Draven [Damage]: There are few champions that can draw as much pressure as Draven does when he's snowballing bot lane. Without good crowd-control, Draven is virtually unkillable through his lifesteal and only knows one movement direction: forward.

Twitch [Damage]Twitch is an absolute monster right now. His burst damage allows him to absolutely destroy any other marksman if he pops out from his invisibility, and his lack of true skill shots prevents him from getting outplayed. Lastly, proper positioning puts his team fight power through the roof, resulting in the highest potential burst damage of any marksman.

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

Xayah [Damage/Outplay]: Xayah finally made it to the list. As a marksman her damage is of course, on par with the best, but her shining point is her ability to negate damage via her ultimate and CC entire teams with good positioning. Of course, the damage she drops if she does manage to CC an entire team is absurd as well, but that's just a theoretical maximum.

Honorable Mentions: Ashe, Jhin, Jinx, Lucian, Kog'Maw

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



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