Buying items in League of Legends (LoL) can be tricky business. We all know that attack damage carries should build Attack Damage items (AD) and magic damage carries should build magic damage items (Ability Power) but with so many items to choose from and so much variance in characters abilities it can be difficult to ascertain exactly what item is best in what situation. Rather than redefine the metagame, this article aims to help explain why the popular item builds are popular and effective and uncover the process that explains why pro players choose to buy the early items that they do.
The current metagame in League of Legends revolves around each team having a tank-y/DPS character at top, an AP carry at mid, a strong jungler and an AD carry and support at bottom lane with each character buying items suited to their role.
The items purchased for each of these characters will be different but the thought process behind item purchases is always the same; “what item will help me perform my current role more efficiently?”
First lets look at the item purchasing logic for an AD carry. This is the best place to start because the role of an AD carry is simple and clear; do as much damage as possible.
When I started out as a young pup in League of Legends I would go for Boots of Swiftness (run speed boots) and save for the high cost power items but as the metagame evolved over time and League of Legends grew bigger and better I saw other AD carries move towards opening with a few Doran’s Items and attack speed boots and quickly outshine me.
The logic behind these decisions is simple. If you are stronger that your opponent in the lane your team has the advantage. This can come from character selection or positioning but items that provide a higher damage output than that of your opponent or items that mitigate their damage provide an advantage that effectively allows you to push them around in lane, farm creep more effectively and win those early skirmishes that help you snowball into a strong late game.
Buying the right items at the right time will help you win the game.
If you buy a Doran’s Blade while your opponent buys a Long Sword, you have both a health and life steal advantage over them. If you buy attack speed boots while your opponent buys run speed, you may not be able to move into position as quickly but when the fighting starts, the only help their boots will provide is in fleeing from your wrath.
When you buy an item you should be asking yourself: “is this item going to prove me with an advantage over my opponent RIGHT NOW?” If you die with 1000 gold in the bank, saving for that Big F***ing (BF) sword wont help you catch up. You can buy those two Doran’s Blades and get back into the fight on even footing with your opponent or, even better, if they didn’t go back to buy after your death take a distinct opportunity to come back and score a few kills in return.
Win lane, win game.
What to buy
Solo top: Doran’s Blades are incredible. They help you get last hits on creep, give health, life steal and provide extra burst when you want to harass your opponent. Follow up with boots that suitably counter your opponents strength and farm farm farm! If you’re against an AD bruiser type, buy some Ninja Tabi for the reduced damage and extra armour. If you’re against a counter AP pick, grab some Mercury treads to reduce their damage and the effectiveness of their stuns. If you’re playing a tanky character that requires a lot of farm a heart of gold can also be suitable. Be sure to grab a ward or two to put in the river and counter those pesky junge ganks.
AP mid: AP mid characters tend to gain most of their strength through leveling their skills and have a tendency to follow strict item builds. Sorcerers boots, Mercury Treads and Ionian Boots of Lucidity can all be suitable depending on what your aim is in lane and who your character is matched against. If your character counters theirs in lane, you should go for Sorcerers or Lucidity boots. If they counter you, taking the more defensive Mercury treads can help you survive close encounters and farm into the mid game. Some characters can really benefit from a Doran’s ring while others will not. Ask yourself, will this item give me an advantage in lane right now? Abyssal Scepter is also win in any AP vs AP matchup.
Jungle: Junglers have the least uniform item builds in LoL. Most characters require a specific set of items, masteries and runes to be efficient in the jungle but if there is one item worth mentioning it is Wrigle’s Lantern. Wrigle’s provides you with faster jungle clears, damage, armour, sustain and free wards but really the only reason to buy one is if you need it. I recommend checking out character guides for each specific jungler.
AD Carry: Your job is to hurt people. Don’t worry about rounding out your character just buy shit that will help you kill. Beserker’s Greaves, Doran’s Blades and an Infinity Edge is the fastest way to build a strong damage output that will allow you to carry the game. If you’re running low on mana, make sure you’ve got those 9 points in utility masteries and save your spells for when you want to kill someone. You may not be able to spam your spells but when a real fight breaks out your damage will count for a lot more.
Support: Any character that can be helpful to the team without farm can make a strong support character. Let the AD carry get all of the creep kills. Wards, boots, double gold per 10 items and wards are the items you want to focus on. Remember, gold per 10 items will help you counter your opponents early items and provide sustain without damaging your bank too much but you WILL lose money on them. Very rarely should you buy more than a Philosophers Stone and a Heart of gold especially after the 15 min mark.
I could write for days about item builds in LoL but I think this is a good start. I hope this was of help to some people trying to improve their game and if there is demand for it I will write more!
Blueonblue spends his time spinning and winning, follow him on Twitter for more competitive insight. We are looking for more writers to keep adding more guide content. If you’re interested in writing on the topic of League of Legends, contact us.
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