An in Depth Look at ADC Builds



AD Carries are at least the simplest role to talk about itemization for. Why? Because they really have no priorities except for sheer damage (well, Ezreal can be a utility caster, and Urgot is a bruisery-fellow, but for the most part, ADCs are just walking killing machines.).

Really, ADCs have three overlapping qualities that matter, auto-attackers (dps), AD Spells (burst), and range/kiting (survivability):


First, let's look at the auto-attack steroids of every ADC in the game (assuming level 18 for simplicity).


  • Headshot: every 6th attack does 150% damage
    • Scales with AD/AS


  • Hextech Shrapnel Shells: every attack does 10% in true damage
    • Scales with AD/AS
  • Gatling Gun: shreds up to 40 armor, increasing damage but decreasing the relative value of Hextech Shrapnel Shells
    • Scales with AD/AS/Crit


  • Blood Rush: + 40% AS
    • Scales with AD/Crit


  • Rising Spell Force: + 10-50% AS
    • Scales with AD/Crit


  • Quickdraw: + 70% AS
    • Scales with AD/Crit


  • Caustic Spittle: + 30% AS
    • Scales with AD/Crit
  • Bio-Arcane Barrage: 6% Max Health on-hit
    • Scales with AS

Miss Fortune

  • Impure Shots (Passive): 14-56 damage on-hit
    • Scales with AS
  • Impure Shots (Active): + 50% AS
    • Scales with AD/Crit


  • On the Hunt: 60% AS
    • Scales with AD/Crit


  • Rapid Fire: + 90% AS
    • Scales with AD/Crit


  • Ambush: + 70% AS
    • Scales with AD/Crit
  • Spray and Pray: + 36 AD + Splash
    • Scales with AS/Crit (Splash scales with dps)


  • Living Vengeance: +20-40% AS
    • Scales with AD/Crit


  • Silver Bolts: 60+8% Max Health True Damage every 3rd attack
    • Scales with AS
  • Final Hour: + 55 AD
    • Scales with AS/Crit

We can see that most steroids come in one of three forms, on-hit steroids (which scale well with AS, but not AD or Crit), AS steroids (which scale well with AD and Crit, but not AS), and AD steroids (which scale well with AS and Crit). These steroids can help us determine our items are optimal. Champions with strong on-hit effects benefit more from Statikk Shiv than PD (as Crit will not amplify their on-hit effect, and as such, the Statikk Shiv passive will be worth relatively more. On the other hand, champions with strong AS or AD steroids will prefer PD for pure dps (so long as they already have AoE skills available for pushing).

AD Spells


  • Volley: 1.0 AD


  • Piltover Peacemaker: 1.3 - .65 AD (AoE)
  • R: 2.0 bonus AD


  • Gatling Gun: .2-1.6 bonus AD (AoE)
  • Missile Barrage: .35 AD (AoE)


  • Spinning Axe: .85 AD
  • Stand Aside: .5 bonus AD (AoE)
  • Whirling Death: .44-2.2 bonus AD (AoE)


  • Mystic Shot: 1.0 AD
  • Trueshot Barrage: .3-1.0 bonus AD (AoE)


  • Buckshot: .8-1.36 bonus AD (AoE)
  • Collateral Damage: 1.2-1.4 bonus AD (AoE)


  • Living Artillery: .5 bonus AD

Miss Fortune

  • Double Up: .75/.9 AD
  • Bullet Time: .35-2.8 bonus AD (large AoE)


  • Boomerang Blade: .44-1.1 bonus AD (AoE)
  • Ricochet: .33-1.0 AD (AoE)


  • Expunge: .25-1.5 bonus AD (AoE)


  • Piercing Arrow: .33-1.6 AD
  • Hail of Arrows: .6 bonus AD (AoE)


  • Tumble: .5 AD
  • Condemn: .5/1.0 bonus AD

While your type of steroid will tend to determine your AS item, your AD scaling will determine your first item. Champions with very high AD scaling will prefer to get Bloodthirster. Champions without high AD scaling should instead go for Infinity Edge or BotRK, depending on their steroid type.



850: Twitch (Spray and Pray)

710: Kog'Maw (Bio Arcane Barrage)

703: Tristana (level 18)

650: Caitlyn

600: Ashe

575: Varus

550: Corki, Draven, Ezreal, Miss Fortune, Tristana (level 1), Twitch, Vayne

525: Graves

500: Kog'Maw, Sivir

CC/Kiting Abilities

Spammable Slow: Ashe

AoE Slow: Ashe, Miss Fortune, Twitch, Varus

Stun/Immobilize: Ashe, Varus

Knockback: Tristana/Vayne

Dash: Caitlyn, Corki, Ezreal, Graves, Tristana, Vayne

Range allows for building more attack speed, as it makes a few stationary attacks safer.


So what should each champion build?

Ashe - IE, SS, BotRK, LW

Ashe's kit is all about kiting and auto-attacking. She has very high auto-attack range, and the AD ratio on her W is the same as a regular auto-attack. As such, rush IE, then get a Statikk Shiv for more Movement Speed. I like a BotRK third, to give you even more kiting power, but you can move LW earlier if the team is already starting to build armor.

Caitlyn - IE, PD, LW, BotRK

Caitlyn's AD ratios LOOK strong, but they both have relatively high channels which interrupt your auto-attacking. If you're doing a lot of poking or the laning phase drags on, I guess you could rush BT

Corki - BT, SS, I dunno, Corki's in a pretty bad place right now.

Corki has pretty bad AD scaling, but his steroid doesn't synergize well with IE, so BT it is. Shiv is better than PD, again because of his bad crit scaling. After that, you could go for LW (which doesn't synergize well with your passive or E), or BotRK (that's a lot of money to sink into lifesteal), or Muramana (for all of your single-target abilities), or Trinity Force (I guess it was the old standard). Basically, Corki's in a very weak place right now, because he's an ADC that doesn't scale with crit or pen, and thus almost every core ADC item.

Draven - BT, LW, IE, PD

Draven has ridiculous AD scaling, and the mid-game strength of BT synergizes extremely well with his kit. I like LW before PD because you will have so many uses of Blood Rush that you should be able to keep your AS/MS up for awhile. PD and IE both synergize extremely well with his passive, especially as you enter the late game and stop playing the axe-catching mini-game so much. You could go BotRK, I guess, instead of PD, if you're really comfortable with axe-catching.

Ezreal - BT, SS, LW, IE

BT over IE is a bit of an obvious one; half of your 'attacks' will be Mystic Shots, which cannot crit. Ezreal does a lot of moving via arcane shift, and a lot of poking with Mystic Shot which makes Statikk Shiv disproportionately strong. I have left Blue Ezreal out because I know it will be visited by a RoG author soon.

Graves - BT, LW, IE, PD

Graves basically IS AD scaling, so buff up those abilities. His E is relatively spammable, so I don't invest in MS/AS until late-game. When you do, PD is better, to maintain more Quickdraw uptime.

Kog'Maw - BotRK, SS, IE, LW

Kog'Maw's W means he loves AS, so start off with BotRK and build into SS. Why BotRK first? Well, you're squishy and immobile, so some self-peel never hurt anybody (plus, your W doesn't become that strong until later, when people have more health).

Miss Fortune - BT, SS, LW, IE

MF is another huge AD Caster like Graves, but without Quickdraw, having an earlier Movement Speed item should make you feel safer.

Sivir - BT, PD, LW, IE

Sivir has HUGE AD scaling on her W and Q, not to mention the power of her ult. If you want, you can move IE second, and take advantage of her ult, but you do want that PD by third, and putting off LW to fourth will hurt your damage eventually.

Tristana - BotRK, IE, LW, SS

Your damage is all from auto-attacks, but BotRK is a natural item to pair with SS, because it's basically an on-hit effect of its own. The burst from BotRK can help with resets if you are snowballing in lane. I get SS last because you already have enough AS from your Q and BotRK, and enough range to kite.

Twitch - Anything, you just do ludicrous damage.

I personally like BotRK first, for burst and self-peel, followed by IE, and then LW or PD. I guess you could go for SS for syergy with your ult, but if you aren't able to snipe 5 people in team fights, you may feel disappointed.

Varus - BotRK, Shiv, LW, IE

Varus already has a bursty nature (much less damage once his skills go out), so I like BotRK to add to that burst. 2 AS items early lets you proc your W quickly, as well. You could go with BT and play up his Q/E scaling more.

I also often shift IE to the front.

Vayne - BotRK, PD/SS, LW, IE

AS for your W is good. You could get BT first instead, playing on your high AD scaling, but what does a hypercarry want but self-peel? SS is better, in my opinion, because with tumble, you don't need as much AS to proc silver bolts (especially with BotRK), and Silver Bolts can't crit, so Shiv it is!

I actually rarely rush BotRK; instead getting the cutlass, then my next item, then BotRK, to let people build up some health (and help its damage).

I have left Quinn out because her kit is peculiar enough that she doesn't really play like an AD Carry, but more of either a split-pusher top or an anti-adc bot (and I'm not convinced how well she does the latter). The main reason for this is her low range. Yes, Sivir does fine with that range, but Sivir A) may be seen to stick around more by legacy than anything (when was the last time she saw tournament play?) and B) has at least sort of proven herself in the past. Quinn's kit has low AD ratios and an ult that is very dangerous to use in team fights.


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  • #146 Elladril

    Interesting guide, thanks for the post. I have one question/comment, though. BotRK seems like a silly item on tristana. Perhaps there's some math that I don't know about (and if so I'd love to have it explained to me), but logically, with a 90% attack speed steroid, BT seems like the much better choice in the "lifesteal slot."

    Accordingly, I would build Tristana IE -> PD/SS -> LW -> Defensive item -> BT. I would use 3 lifesteal quints, and may or may not build a vamp scepter in lane depending on the support matchup. That said, Tristana isn't one of my mains - her laning phase is extremely poor, and her late game is overrated.

  • #147 GentlemanGustaf

    BoRK helps her laning phase (specifically the early cutlass), but mostly it has to do with the complete lack of AD scaling she has, combined with the fact that if you can burst somebody down in lane, you get another jump.

  • #148 Basinator

    Why not IE first then?

  • #149 GentlemanGustaf

    you can also do that. As I mentioned (perhaps elsewhere), I go cutlass -> IE or IE -> Cutlass depending on how early I get to go back with 1550 gold. The early cutlass can help with snowballing; IE doesn't do much for your burst, and early-mid game you don't have the range to win poke trades.

  • #137 BarlowBrad

    I notice you don't mention Runaan's Hurricane... is this item just a noob trap on all ADC's? Does it work for anyone? Varus?

  • #138 GentlemanGustaf

    I want it to work on Kog/Varus, buuuut...I haven't seen it work outside of isolated games. I think the spread range needs to go up a bit, and also the meta needs a slight change (it's better with protection comps)

  • #139 BarlowBrad

    If you were to swap out one of the 4 items mentioned above for those two, would you swap out SS and leave everything else the same? And would you build it first or keep it second after BotRK?

  • #140 VaeTV

    The true issue with Runaan's is you have less mono target DPS then when a fucking bastard bruiser come and try to kill Kog/Varus you die if your team doesn't help you because you got less mono target DPS than a standard build.

    Runaan is a good item but you have to be sure you can proc runaan on others target (like against a bruisers compo) and you can stay alive if someone rushs your face (play in team, need protection).

    Moreover I start BRK then Runaan because BRK gives AD and helps you to lasthit thus allows you to manage your push.

    Last edited by VaeTV: 5/16/2013 1:05:41 AM
  • #141 GentlemanGustaf

    Plus, if you get Runaan's, you either cut a damage item or you cut an attack speed item. As such, you either go WAY overboard on attack speed or you sacrifice your Movement Speed items.

    EDIT: And since one of the best items with Runaan's is BotRK, which has even more AS.

    Last edited by GentlemanGustaf: 5/16/2013 1:56:53 AM
  • #142 Dalems44

    If you get Runaan's on Cait you increase her damage by 50% when standing in a bush or 25% when not in a bush. It increases SS damage by 66%. So for 4 item+1 Defensive item your build would like like so IE, SS, Runaan's, LW, Defensive (I like Frozen Mallet), Greaves with 6% life steal with runes you have an AOE slow+tons of damage

    a 25%/50% damage increase is better than getting another "damage item" like BOTRK, BT, or more crit/move speed on Cait. 

    Last edited by Dalems44: 5/19/2013 6:31:04 PM
  • #143 GentlemanGustaf

    Cait's passive doesn't apply to crit damage, so I think those numbers are over-high.

    You go from + 50% every 6 attacks (for about an 8% increase overall) to +50% every 2 attacks (for about a 25% increase overall).

    1.25/1.08=1.16; I'm not seeing the 50% increase, especially as it doesn't apply to crits.

    In a bush, it's 16% -> 50%

    1.5/1.16 = 1.29, for a 29% increase, again, not applying to crits. Not really seeing the 50%. And wouldn't it triple SS damage?

  • #144 Folfire

    That is if you are Cait and you have two secondary targets inside runaan's range, which means you're not having the full advantage of your own range, that you have possibly two bruisers/assassins next to u and a self peel (botrk) might be better. Why would you have two enemies inside your range applying only part of your dmg to them? You'll prob die...

    Just saying

    Last edited by Folfire: 5/20/2013 12:30:48 AM
  • #136 Satoris

    You forgot Graves's smoke as a kiting ability. It's an aoe slow and blind.

  • #135 Pikohchu

    You forgot to include Tristana with the AOE slows.. But I guess you normally don't use her jump for the slow.

  • #128 DanteSSStylish

    Just a thought: Why don't Ezreal take BotRK? His Q proc the passive and it help him kite. And he only have 2 skill that scale with AD, with one of them scale with BotRK too... I don't know, just my two cents...
    Is it because Ez doesn't scale well with AS?


    Last edited by DanteSSStylish: 5/14/2013 10:04:23 AM
  • #129 noblepesant

    Quote from DanteSSStylish »

    Just a thought: Why don't Ezreal take BotRK? His Q proc the passive and it help him kite. And he only have 2 skill that scale with AD, with one of them scale with BotRK too... I don't know, just my two cents...
    Is it because Ez doesn't scale well with AS?


    Blue ezreal post is coming soon - this will answer all of your ezreal questions...

  • #130 MerryLane

    Blue build put aside, I also tend to prefer Botrk on Ezreal, since I was used to AA anyway, and that the active gives you this little extra burst you love early/midgame in 2v2 situations or sth.
    Like I said elsewhere in these comments, in a 4/5 item build BT is often the best item of the two, but the uber build path and the active is too much of an advantage to me, but for a handful of champions now whatever their role (toplaners, adc, ...) ESPECIALLY when it's your first item.

    But getting BT is better in a 4/5 item build on ez simply because :
    1) mystic shots are an important part of your damage, and it doesn't scale AS.
    2) botrk's active is a bit counter-intuitive on a champion that should never be close to an ennemy, or that has the escapability allowing him not to need another self-peel
    3) ez already has an AS buff, botrk's EXPENSIVE's AS diminishes its efficiency.

    If I may "spoil" a bit about blue build, long story short you shall not get BT nor Botrk untill your last item, if it's your choice.
    Most of people that go for the blue build take the lifesteal quints and make up with these all game along.
    Something rly important with blue build, is to reach the 40%cdr cap with lucidities, lizard and fist, tear bought after lizard and completed when it's close to be full. LW is your 4th item, and if you really got to last item slot you shall get botrk or banshee or the scimitar, whatever.

  • #133 Toinouchou

    I noticed while watching last LCS that Ez players tend to complete manamune right after lizard eventhough they are far from it being full. I believe it is because Manamune stacks faster than only tear.

  • #134 MerryLane

    That's also because the next item on the list (frozen fist) gives little benefits untill you got it completed damage-wise.

    Manamune only gives what, 40/50 AD if I remind correctly?
    Meanwhile at the cost of the completion (1400 gold) you can get either the sheen or the glacial shroud, which are both awesome ofc, but damage-wise they can't compare to a manamune.

  • #112 Sally59

    I didn't read other people's comments. Just came here to stay thanks for this great article by Gustaf. <3 ADC math.

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