Why Executioner's Calling Even Exists: A Theory

Pointless?

Why does Executioner's Calling exist? It gives you lifesteal, crit, a passive that does minimal damage and an active that does no damage. It's an item for auto-attacking champions that adds little damage. One of the biggest objections is that it has "weird stats" that you don't want, similar to why you wouldn't get Nashor's Tooth. Lifesteal/Crit and that's it? Where's the damage? Furthermore, it takes up an item slot and can be better spent on "real" items like Doran's Blade, Lantern, Trinity Force pieces, Infinity Edge, level 2 boots, and plenty of other normally purchased items. 

So why would you get it? And why does it exist? Today I'll review some of the benefits of Executioner's Calling, and wrap up with some thoughts on what its purpose is in the game. 

One of the first things to note about Executioner's Calling (now referred to as EC) is that it's an efficient item. It is a mere 1,350 gold. The recipe cost is only 500 gold. That extra 500 gold gives you another 7% crit, 8% lifesteal, and the passive and active. One thing to note about the lifesteal (18%) is that it's a very high amount of lifesteal that is often forgotten. Do you remember how much lifesteal Wriggle's Lantern has? It's 12. Gunblade has 15, Zeke's Herald has 12. The big mama, Bloodthirster? That has 12. What's that, max stacks? Then it's 20. EC gives you more lifesteal than any other item in the game except stack items. Even then, Dominion's Sanguine Blade has 4% more after only 7 basic attacks and Bloodthirster has 2% more only after 40 stacks. 

The passive seems a weak point but it is damage and great for trades. In the teamfight phase the damage is laughable, probably one reason it isn't very popular.  But for harrass, it is a mini-passive that will annoy your enemy. If it does 3 damage per tic, it's 24 damage off one single auto-attack--it functions like a weaker version of Teemo's toxic shot. EC thus favors hit-and-run tactics.  

The active, "Grievous Wound", is an ability that also doesn't really do damage--it simply reduces healing. It is an ability a few champions have as a part of one of their moves, such as Miss Fortune, Varus, or Tristana, and one that does not seem to do very much.

I feel that Riot feels this is an important item to have in the game, and that passive ability might be our biggest clue. Somewhat recently Grievous Wound was put on Morello's Evil Tome, an AP item. The message to take from this is that Riot feels it's necessary for any kind of champ to have room to have this exact ability to fight against healing, lifesteal, and spell vamp. 

The prevalence of healing effects and the pain of sustain

 

Those effects end up being in every single game of course, if only on the ad carry, but they are also often on junglers and bruisers, and over a third of all champions have a healing or lifesteal/spellvamp ability. We mostly think of supports, Vladimir, and Dr. Mundo when we think of healing effects but there are a lot more than you'd think. A large number of champs have built in abilities that heal or steal, and many champions purchase items to have such an effect. Every ad carry will have lifesteal from masteries and doran's blades. Some champs' abilities are subtle and underrated and are also counterable by slapping Grievous Wound beforehand (such as Maokai's passive, which gets beastly in the late game). Here's a list: Soraka, Mundo, Tryndamere, Taric, Vladimir, Volibear, Swain, Warwick, Sona, Akali, Ahri, Alistar, Cho'gath, Fiddlesticks, Fiora, Galio, Gangplank, Garen, Hecarim, Irelia, Janna, Karma, Kayle, Lee Sin, Maokai, Master Yi, Morgana, Nasus, Olaf, Nunu, Nidalee, Renekton, Ryze, Shen, Sion, Singed, Skarner, Trundle, Udyr, Xin Zhao, Yorick. Kennen, Kat, Morde, and Rumble get honorable mentions as they always buy Hextech Revolver.

Some of these champs are a pain to face at top because of their built in sustain. How often have you been in the situation of being at top where you are facing a champ and you try to trade with your opponent, only to find your opponent simply gets his life back within 15-30 seconds through the use of their abilities and items? Prominent example include a Riven with 2 Doran's Blades, Lee Sin, Vladimir, Cho'Gath, Yorick, Nidalee, and Irelia. These champs make top lane highly boring, as the only way to kill these champs is through full-on burst. It's that or get a gank. In late game, they stay in fights much longer. 

Executioner's Calling combats all of these sustain and burst issues by slowing the rate at which champs heal themselves. Sustain is one of the biggest traits by which champions are rated. 

Instead of just thinking of the typical counters, let's look at what it really does during lane.

Grievous Wound lasts 8 seconds and only has a 20 second cooldown. This means it can hypothetically be on your opponent 40% of the time. Assuming you cast it once every 25 seconds, which is one half-their regen one 3rd of the time, that's one sixth of their HP regen.  If they have 25 hp/5, that's normally 300 a minute. Instead, it's 250. Nothing to write home about.  But what about, say Riven, who has low hp/5 but lots of lifesteal? This depends on player skill, but it means you can cast it less as spam and more when their sustain is focused (that is, when hitting you or minions), and nabbing approximately 1/6 or less of their regen but about half of their lifesteal. If a bruiser has, say, 17% lifesteal at 110 damage, and will last hit 11 of the 12.5 minions spawned in one minute with all armor negated and get two hits on their lane opponent (due to being denied/harrassed), at 70% damage...that is .17((110 x 11) + 110 x 2 x .7), which equals 231.88 lifesteal. If you manage to get half of that through good use of Grievous Wound, that's 116 lifesteal they don't get. If you use it during a potion consumption, it hits 5 health per second that the potion for a total of 40 of 150 health negated if you use it during the first 7 seconds of potion consumption.

So a summary of what you could get in one minute from EC's passive and active, keeping in mind some of the conditions set:

  • 116 lifesteal negated from Grievous Wound
  • 30 health from a potion negated (we'll say you just get the last 6 seconds) from Grievous Wound
  • 50 health negated from HP/5 from Grievous Wound
  • 2 auto-attacks from harrassment that give you 16 ticks of the passive, at 3 damage each, for 48 damage. 
  • And don't forget, you have 15% more crit and 18% more lifesteal (which is the most cost efficient lifesteal amount you can get), which helps with your own sustain. Compared to Wriggle's, you get more lifesteal, even when the damage comes into account. Let's say you have 100 damage and buy an EC for 18% more lifesteal, instead of Wriggle's, which gives you 123 damage and 12% lifesteal. You get 14.76 lifesteal out of a Wriggle's hit, and 18 lifesteal out of the EC.

vs.

 

Speaking of Wriggle's, you are probably thinking that Wriggle's is a flat-out better item. "If a champion gets Wriggle's Lantern they will categorically beat a champion that gets Executioner's Calling." Well, let's factor armor and damage in then. Let's say you have two bruisers, both with 100 damage, 50 armor, and 0 lifesteal. One purchases EC and the other purchases a Lantern.

The bruiser with EC will have 50 armor 100 damage, and 18 lifesteal. The bruiser with Lantern will have 80 armor, 123 damage, and 12% lifesteal. I'm going to ignore all the abilities used as that is extremely large in scope and there is no way we can realistically take them all into account. We'll simply have two auto-attack hit trades. I'll ignore the armor pen both are likely to have, and we'll say that neither champ, including the one with EC, will proc any crits.

The EC bruiser will deal 55 damage (100-45 from 80 armor) with 18% lifesteal for 10 life stolen, with 9 tics of 3 damage from the passive, for 82 damage. The Wriggle's bruiser will deal 82 damage (123-41 from armor) at 6% lifesteal (halved from Grievous Wound) for 5 life recovered. Since GW was activated, we'll also note the lost health from regen, which is 16 over 8 seconds if there is 20 hp/5 (4 hp x 8 seconds = 32 life, halved makes 16). Summary: EC bruiser deals 55 damage + 27 tic damage + 16 life prevented from healing - 5 from life recovered for 93 damage.

The Wriggle's bruiser deals 82 damage - 10 life stolen, for 72 damage. This exchange comes in favor of Executioner's calling, assuming no minion damage is taken and that 8 seconds transpires in between. Again, EC favors hit and run and harrass over outright absorption of all enemy abilities.

Of course, those caveats show that these exchanges are highly simple, and don't take into account any possible minion damage, or abilities, or crits. There are few assumptions that can be made. Abilities will make a big difference here. It comes down to whose abilities counter whose, with attack-speed / auto-attack based champions (Xin, Warwick, Trundle, Tryndamere), being outclassed by bursty bruisers or mages, and the winner of top being determined by sustain advantage or jungle ganks. Dry times indeed.

Still, if abilities and trades are about even, the person with Executioner's Calling will do much better with sustain issues. With Grievous Wound Spam and superior lifesteal, EC gives champions with weaker sustain a fighting chance in the laning phase.

Executioner's Calling is better the higher attack speed you have due to the higher crit and lifesteal--again, attack-speed abilities and champions are generally inferior to burst abilities. The passive also prevents recalls. It also really counters Malphite's and Garen's passives.

Executioner's Calling is a very niche item but it plays an important role in the game. It allows some champions to have a chance against difficult lane matchups in which they wouldn't have before. Late game it's even more niche, but there are times when the enemy has more lifesteal/spellvamp than you do, making it a lifesteal fight as much as a damage fight. In fights where the enemy always seem to have more life than you do, even if you have equal or even about better stats, grab an EC and marvel as you get a leg up in the sustain/lifesteal fight.

This week's eyebrows: 

 

Best,

Old Man Eyebrows

 

 

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