Patch 9.3 introduced some changes to crit which significantly influenced the ADC role. To begin with, a lot of core items like Phantom Dancer, Rapid Firecannon, Runaan’s Hurricane and Stattik Shiv have become cheaper. Crit ADCs like Tristana, Ashe, Sivir, Jinx and so on all rely on these items to increase their DPS in the long run.
The second important change concerned Infinity Edge, which is also an important core item on the very same type of ADCs. In the past it was inefficient to rush IE because it gave you less DPS than a completed Zeal item since IE didn’t actually give you any crit, but only doubled it. So if you didn’t buy a crit item first, IE was very stat-inefficient. IE now both grants crit chance and also more AD, which means you can buy it first item without losing out on any stats.
You can read about all the changes in full detail to get you up to speed before we dive in.
It's hard to balance ADCs because either they're too underwhelming or too OP. But finally I feel like they're in a good spot. I like how it is now.
What led to the changes?
The patch goal was to make crit ADCs excited about their core items again and to make the builds more satisfying to play. Has it succeeded? According to Kobbe, Crownshot and Hans Sama; yes!
What the changes ended up doing was bring more diversity into bot lane. Even prior to the patch, you could see mages going bot lane and being successful. Now there’s even more diversity because crit ADCs and hypercarries can do just as well as the previous top picks. Ezreal, Lucian and Kai’Sa are still at the top, but other options like Tristana, Jinx, Sivir and Vayne, to name a few, are now viable as well. This is why we have been seeing more of these picks in the past few weeks in the LEC.
Lucian is still permabanned and Ezreal is really strong, but now you can actually beat them and not be a liability.
ADC throughout the years has been really one-dimensional role, at least in competitive play, in terms of meta. I love it when it's more versatile.
The best Marksmen
So what do the pros think you should be playing? Well, interestingly enough, a consensus was easily made. Lucian, Ezreal and Kai’Sa are the top three for all three of our pros; except Hans Sama who insists Draven is #1 if you know how to work him!
Everyone is kinda even after Lucian and Ezreal, they're at the top.
Even with the nerf in patch 9.4, which has made it impossible for you to keep using the Doran’s Ring start and W spam lane, Lucian is cited as the top ADC by all three. What makes him so powerful? Essentially, he doesn’t do a lot of things wrong. He wins most match-ups, he can be paired up with any support and he is a relatively safe pick with his long range ultimate and low CD, wall-hopping, gap closer.
He does have a weakness, if you want to call it that. He’s the type of champion that needs to win lane and snowball hard into mid game. If you’re the kind of person who likes to farm up and play passively, you’re not going to do well with Lucian.
He's very strong and you beat almost every champ early and mid-game, but he's a champion with whom you have to snowball really hard.
Build wise, as Lucian you will want to start Doran’s Blade and rush Blade of the Ruined King and preferably get a Bilgewater Cutlass or Vampiric Scepter on your first back. Blade and The Black Cleaver are your core items and once you have both you will have an easy time carrying fights and melting tanks. Follow up your build with some crit from Rapid Firecannon and Infinity Edge and finish your build with either Mercurial Scimitar or Guardian Angel depending on what type of enemy team they have.
Crownshot picks up a quick double kill on Febiven and Maxlore.
The prodigal explorer
Next in line for the ADC crown is Ezreal. He’s always been a very safe pick who can keep at range and still dish out major damage with his Q. He has a reliable gap closer that can get you in and out of sticky situations. His double Tear build, still prevalent around the globe, enables him to decimate enemies.
Ezreal has a unique build for an ADC. You start off with a Doran’s Blade and rush Sheen on your first back. Getting Tear before Sheen would mean struggling to trade with the enemy ADC, which is why you should only get it after buying Sheen. The first tear will turn into Manamune which will auto-upgrade to Muramana once you complete the Tear stacks. Its unique passive works with both your autos and your Q, making it a very powerful item on Ezreal. You buy your second Tear after the Muramana is done and after you’ve gotten Iceborn Gauntlet, another item with great synergy with Ezreal. Seraph’s Embrace is your third item which is also self-upgraded, once you’ve bought Archangel’s Staff and stacked it fully. These items all deal more damage the more mana you have, and, at the same time, all of the items grant you a ton of mana. This is why double-Tear Ezreal is so powerful.
Kobbe safely, slowly but steadily, shreds through the tanks and Splyce wins the team fight.
Daughter of the Void
Finally we have Kai’Sa, who, even with being the most recently-added ADC, is extremely popular in pro play and SoloQ alike. Kai’Sa is another top tier ADC who has a little bit of everything in her kit – stealth, a shield, a dash, a scouting tool and also tons of damage. She’s got wave-clear, burst and poke. There’s not a lot she can’t do.
She's a really strong champion with a really good kit with so many options with item builds. She always finds a way to get a new build and stay in the meta.
Kai’Sa builds Infinity Edge first, thanks to the changes in patch 9.3. Your second big item will be Guinsoo’s Rageblade which has great synergy with her passive Caustic Wounds. Essentially, her auto-attacks normally place one stack of Plasma on targets and with Rageblade, which triggers on-hit effects twice on every other attack, she stacks faster. Rapid Firecannon is your third big item, with Runaan’s Hurricane as an alternative. Runaan’s is another item with Plasma synergy, since the bolts stack Plasma as well, meaning you can stack it on three targets at once which greatly increases your DPS. Finish off your build with a Bloodthirster for increased damage and a defensive item like Guardian Angel or Mercurial Scimitar.
Gorilla and Hans Sama get a 2v2 kill bot lane with the deadly Kai’Sa Alistar combo.
What about everyone else?
Surprisingly, although all of the pros agreed on the top three, none of them claimed that Lucian, Ezreal or Kai’Sa were their favourite ADCs to play. So this little corner of the article is dedicated to the favourite marksmen of Crownshot, Kobbe and Hans Sama!
First up we have Jinx. Although she’s vulnerable due to her lack of gap closers and prevalence of assassins and bruisers in the meta, with the new crit changes it’s possible to do well with her even in professional play. Crownshot has brought out his favourite ADC twice so far in the LEC and won both times – and against two very strong teams to boot, G2 and Vitality. Crownshot advises aspiring Jinx players to keep an eye on their Q and swap forms frequently when the situational calls for it. Fishbones, although much slower than the minigun, keeps you safe whilst still dishing out a lot of damage late game.
Jinx is the most fun, you can just pop off in fights.
Crownshot turns a fight around with Fishbones and chases G2 out of SK’s base.
Kobbe doesn’t have an easy favourite. He loves crit ADCs of any variety so he will gladly play Tristana, Caitlyn or Sivir, for example.
I’m a simple man – I like crit ADCs.
Kobbe’s Sivir turns a disaster team fight around.
And finally we have the combo of Draven and Xayah. Although Hans Sama is known as the most passionate Draven player in the LEC, he also admits to being a huge fan of Xayah. Xayah is a very fun pick, but unfortunately doesn’t do well without her Rakan, who has been nerfed recently and is seeing a lot less play.
She really needs Rakan, she's not at her best with other supports.
Hans Sama triple kills to victory with Draven.
In conclusion, the ADC changes were welcomed by the pros who agree that previously there was less diversity in the bot lane. ADCs can now take charge of the game without, at the same time, being too overwhelming like they have been in the past. Lucian, Ezreal and Kai’Sa sit at the top, but so many other options have been made viable by the crit changes.
A warm thank you goes to SK Crownshot, SPY Kobbe and MSF Hans Sama for their thorough input! We’ll be seeing more of their stellar ADC gameplay in the Play-offs and again in the Summer Split!