The Challenges of ADC Build Paths in the Current Meta

May 27, 2024

As an ADC main, I often find myself frustrated with the current state of itemization for the role. In the past, every role had their go-to items they could purchase regardless of when they backed to base. Top laners could grab a ruby crystal or long sword to build into their desired items, while mid laners could stack amp tomes that would build into almost everything. AD assassins could even buy multiple long swords if they wanted, as they all built into their core items. ADCs used to have this luxury as well.

The meta:

However, in the current meta, most of the items that regular ADCs want require either a BF Sword or a Pickaxe. The question arises: why don't these items build out of long swords? Imagine a scenario where you secure first blood during an invade and recall to base... what are you going to buy? The answer is either nothing or maybe a pair of boots. This clunky and annoying itemization leaves much to be desired for ADC players. If you've lost LP during this meta too, I can recommend getting a Duo Carry. It's a quick and easy way to rank up and learn from a high skilled player.

The reliance on the 1300g BF Sword purchase for a first back has been a point of contention for years. It creates an oppressive metric where you either have the gold for it or are forced to settle for a Cull or a second Doran's Blade, potentially setting you back for the next several minutes of laning. This issue was so significant that even Viktor received a rework to alleviate the punishment of not rushing a mythic item in favor of upgrading his kit.

Crit items:

While it's true that the increased power of crit items has made ADCs some of the strongest champions in the game right now, it comes at the cost of smoother build paths that were present in previous seasons. The role has become more reliant on hitting specific gold spikes, much like in the earlier seasons of League of Legends.

Some argue that this change was intended to give ADCs better early game items without breaking the game's balance by making them too strong in the early stages. It's a trade-off between having lower power spikes that leave you feeling weak until your third item or having meaningful first and second item spikes at the cost of awkward early game itemization.

The preference for attack speed and AD items like Kraken Slayer as a first purchase is another point of contention. Pure AD ADCs like Draven or Jhin might benefit from rushing Infinity Edge, but for many others, the lack of attack speed and reliance on only 25% crit chance feels lackluster compared to the combat passives offered by items like the old Kraken Slayer or Statikk Shiv.

In final words, while ADCs are in a relatively good spot in terms of overall power, the current state of itemization leaves much to be desired. The reliance on expensive first back purchases and the lack of smooth build paths can be frustrating for players. Riot Games may want to consider revisiting ADC itemization to provide more flexible options and alleviate the punishing nature of early game backs.

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