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League of Legends: Current State of ADCs

Attack Damage Carries (ADCs) have long been the focus of LoL meta-games. For years, they were the backbone of most team compositions. In recent history though,their role has changed. Critical Strike (“Crit”) item changes in patch 8.11 pushed most marksmen straight out of the meta. Riot Games has made changes to help champions in this role and it has made a difference. Now, the current state of ADCs is a hotly debated topic in the LoL community.

There are quite a large number of people upset about how ADCs are performing at the moment. Prominent among these voices are streamers Michael “Imaqtpie” Santana and Tyler “Tyler1” Steinkamp. These two discuss the weakness of their bottom lane carry role frequently on their Twitch streams. They are joined by many others on social media who voice their concerns. Because marksmen are so integral to the game, it’s important to understand how these champions are faring and what will change in the future.

Marksmen Items

Marksmen currently have some of the most problematic itemization choices in LoL. Changes made in patch 8.11 turned out to be harmful for the role overall by many measures. Riot wanted there to be more variation in marksmen builds, but they ended up doing the opposite.

current state of ADC
Photo via Maxim on Youtube.

Stormrazor is largely the cause for the stale build paths. This item is practically a must-buy for most Crit marksmen as a first item. Crit itemization takes a long time to scale up, so the early power Stormrazor gives ADCs the necessary early power to survive and fight somewhat effectively. The problem is that all Crit-ADCs buy it, and because it is only useful as a first item, builds are very stale

Infinity Edge is another problem point. The item is quite expensive now, which doesn’t suit it well. It doesn’t give Crit on its own, it only doubles what you have, so it must be built after a Crit/Attack Speed item. The AD and True Damage are nice additions, but don’t compensate enough for the late build it necessitates. For many, it feels awkward to buy because of its extreme late-game scaling in a very mid-game-oriented meta.

Finally, Essence Reaver was an item that could be built on ADCs but rarely anymore. The only champion that would build it is Lucian, but only three of the eight most common builds on use it. Instead, bruisers and fighters have picked it up as their own. Champions like Jax, Renekton, Riven and Fiora all find the item more useful than an ADC would. Its great to have items more accessible to more champions. But in this case, it takes away from the struggling marksmen and benefits a role with an already wide array of item choices.

The Current State of Bot Lane Carries

current state of ADC
High Noon Lucian splash art. Photo via Riot Games.

The champions themselves are relatively weak too. Itemization is certainly a cause of this, but there seems to be more underlying issues. The only bot-lane marksmen that is thriving right now is Lucian. He has a 52.7% win rate and 33.2% pick rate according to Almost all other marksmen are hovering just slightly over a 50% win rate or far below. They also have far less play rates, except for Ezreal. Many players simply don’t find most marksmen worthwhile to play.

As such, mages have found their way back into the bottom lane. Karthus, Heimerdinger and Swain all find some play in the bottom lane. Though they do have below 1% play rates, their win rates are higher than most marksmen. They have more early and mid game power, not needing 30 minutes to properly scale up. Because of this, players are attracted to mages to win the game earlier and harder.

Riot is aware of the feeling of ADCs being weak. In Riot Meddler’s Nov. 30 “Quick Gameplay Thoughts”, he attributed this feeling to lack of agency. Marksmen currently rely heavily on their support and entire team to work efficiently. Being so dependent is difficult for many players because of the nature of Solo Queue. He also explains that there has been an upsurge of assassins and divers being played, and that marksmen lack adequate defensive options. This results in players either being one shot all the time or barely being able to fight.

The Future of ADCs

Throughout patches, Riot has been careful about buffing ADCs, but they have done so. This is likely to continue, according to Riot MapleNectar. A tweet from December 10th made it clear that a list of ADCs were being considered for buffs.

These buffs will be in place in the near future, but it won’t address everyone’s concerns. It is unlikely that Riot will buff ADCs so much that they become their old, strong state again. Their changes this year made it so other types of champions were finally viable in the bottom lane carry position. It may be frustrating for classic ADC players, but variation is necessary. Without it, the game goes back to the 5v5 team fight meta that persisted for years. The current state of ADC is something players haven’t seen in a long time and it was for good reason.

That’s not to say there isn’t something wrong with the role right now. There are clear weaknesses that need to be addressed for the role to maintain relevancy. People’s favorite champions are perceived as unplayable right now which is a serious threat to overall enjoyment. There are different ways ADCs could prosper again though. The first way is through direct Riot intervention. The second is if the meta begins to favor longer games. If Crit marksmen have the time to scale, they become monsters. It doesn’t seem likely with current trends, but it is a possibility in the future. Because it is such a crucial role, its important to pay attention to any changes as we make our way into Season Nine!


Featured image via Riot Games.

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1 comment

League of Legends: Who Should You be Playing?- Patch 8.24 • The Game Haus January 3, 2019 at 11:34 am

[…] some controversy, but Ezreal has a unique role he fills in the meta right now. As Critical Strike ADC’s are relatively weak right now, marksmen that don’t build these items are more viable. Lucian is still the best […]


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