Solo Queue Heroes: Sucks to Be the AD Carry Edition

What Works Right Now?

Rather than go in-depth about each champion, many of whom you are already aware, I’d like to talk about what the solo queue meta looks like right now. What kind of champions win, how the roles have changed, and why, and with those in mind, then give you a list of the champions to pick and avoid.

Right now, being a mage or a bruiser is the best thing to be. The masteries and meta favors this. Being an AD Carry is, in a way, the worst right now, because the changes have affected them the most negatively. Junglers and supports have more gold, and tops are harder to kill.

It was already frustrating to play this role in solo queue because if your team didn’t get the proper cc and/or doesn’t peel right, you’re free food. If your team doesn’t push and you try to split push, the other team will usually kill you, and then your own team gets upset that you’re feeding during the League of Jungle Farm or League of Minion Clearing.

Mundo and Shyvana are strong again, and a fully stacked and fed Mundo and Shyvana, who are not countered by the appropriate mage and/or bruiser (and they often aren’t), is a nightmare.

To be awfully, awfully reductive, supports got buffed, jungling got slightly buffed (overall, not every type), top got buffed (defense masteries), and mid is about the same. All of this, along with vision changes and other mastery changes, leads to carries feeling weaker than before.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t win as an AD carry, as Sivir’s win and ban rate currently attests. It just means you have to think of the carry differently. The role has shifted, just as others have.

A carry is still good at pushing down turrets. A carry can still do a lot of damage to the enemy team. And a carry can kill a lot of people. It’s the one-on-one, the hotshot stuff, the getting fed and destroying everyone bit that’s been toned down. You don’t have to do that to win. Right now, games go longer. The vision changes have players feeling more paranoid about getting caught and losing. The inhib changes mean a single lost team fight or inhib isn’t the end of the world. Comebacks happen more often. With more fights, and less of them being aces, pushing will take the cake. That is one reason why Sivir and Ziggs are ridiculously strong right now. They have great map reach and they can do a lot for their team even after they lose a lane.

Early game snowball stuff has changed. Going Lee and getting 5 successful ganks in 10 minutes for a clinched victory just doesn’t happen much anymore, and killing someone so hard that you win the game entirely is harder to do too (though not as impossible as support junglers snowballing right away). A game being decided early generally only happens if someone gets insanely fed off more than one source (not just a lane opponent, which is why Kassadin hasn’t changed at all even if the assassin meta has) or if 3 lanes or roles got destroyed. If a jungler has no presence and two lanes lost heavily, or all three lanes lost heavily, it can be game. But just one lane is not the case. I once went 7-2-0 as Sivir in 15 and got the bottom and mid turret down, with the top following soon after (due to map pressure shifts). Our top and mid were even or only lost slightly. Our jungler was Sion and weak all game. We almost lost. We lost plenty of team fights, then were behind most of the game. The enemy Vi (who killed got 2-3 kills on our support early and then fed off all of us for much of the game) ruined two easily winnable fights and we pushed for the win, and got lucky. Point is: game’s aren’t as foregone as they used to be.

So play a carry more like an independent champion. Focus on turrets. Don’t focus quite as much on farming and having people peel for you. The world doesn’t revolve around you any more.

Case in point.

Making decisions, map awareness, and warding intelligently are rewarded even more. That is a little harder as a carry, especially if your team isn’t as cohesive as it could be.

The pool of strong carries isn’t very large right now. That’s not terribly fun but you do what you have to. It’s not as bad as when Ezreal, Corki, and Graves were the only competitive legitimate options.

That said, ban or pick Sivir. Her nerfing isn’t done yet. If you have to play against her, pick Jinx, Lucian, Draven, or (if you’re good with them, but these are less recommended) Ashe, Varus or Quinn. Only those in the first list are on the “heroes” list.

As for non-carry champs, don’t worry about the carries so much (unless they get Sivir, or they get Lucian to counter your Nasus, etc.). Worry about late game, roaming, pushing, and independent map management. Depending on your teammates is even more frustrating than before. However, it applies to the other team to, and teammates like to follow people who roam, farm the enemy jungle, and push without dying. Do that, and they will subtly come to where you are. Also, it’s stupid, but people don’t look at pings. Do a regular ping, then do the “on the way” ping. Someone will think someone else responded and that two people are going to do something.

Hyper-carries, and people who benefit from tons of money will benefit more. Annie is good champ. But once it’s late game, her power doesn’t spike the way an Orianna, Kayle, or Jax’s does.

For mids, pick pushers and sustained AOE damage champs or Kassadin.

For tops, pick those that can wreck entire teams when fed. Darius can be kited and cc’d and escaped from. He doesn’t push that well compared to many other tops. Champions previously mentioned, or champions like Renekton.

Supports are similar, only apply it to tanks and mages. Zyra can die instantly or get caught easily. She’s a two-edged sword. Leona at late game can be impossible to kill. Same with Taric or Thresh. Fiddlesticks can blow up the other team after he won bottom lane with his fear and silence.

Last tip: don’t pick Vayne into Sivir because of what bronze players voted on a community website before Sivir was reworked and made ridiculously strong, and Vayne was nerfed multiple times even as a middle-rate / niche carry. It’s not a good idea. I see it happening all the time. It’s the logic and advice of fools to do so.

On to the list. I’m not going to rank every single champion: that’s not the point of this article.

Solo Queue Heroes

Teemo, Sivir, Rammus, Taric, Thresh, Amumu, Shyvana, Kassadin, Fiddlesticks, Warwick, Morgana, Quinn, Viktor, Lucian, Jinx, Draven, Mundo, Riven, Sona, Kayle, Singed, Volibear, Nasus.

These champions are all ridiculous at late game and counter or deal with a lot of the established meta. Most of these champions fit qualities mentioned earlier in this article. Sona and Taric, while nerfed along with traditional supports, are just awesome with big items, and Taric was reworked to his old feel of lane bully who can make a lot of mistakes. Viktor’s late game team fights are great. The hardest decision for this section is Quinn, who is good at top lane. At bottom lane she is difficult to play (especially if against the other marksmen) but in either lane her ultimate is great in the new season for covering the map, the big long escapes, chasing people down, and pushing like crazy. Her vision move helps a lot too for not getting caught and for checking Baron. She fits a lot of the meta. I almost put her in the category below.

Solo Queue Maybes

Eve, Annie, Akali, Galio, Syndra, Karma, Poppy, Xerath, Heimerdinger, Blitzcrank, Olaf, Zac, Leona, Orianna, Udyr, Kha’Zix, Cassiopeia, Aatrox, Xin Zhao, Fiora, Kog’Maw, Shen, Fizz, Nami.

These champions have benefitted from recent changes but are not shoo-ins. Basically, if you are good at these champions you can do well with them as long as you understand when to pick them and how to play them. For example, Heimerdinger is great for the pushing meta, but not against infini-tank Shyvana or Mundo or in long, drawn out team fights with long chases. Eve, Annie, Syndra, Blitzcrank, Olaf, Cassiopeia, and Aatrox fit this as well. Poppy, Fiora, and Kha’Zix are champs that you’d not think are doing better, but they are as it’s easier to get to late game with them. But they are hard to play and can be horrible picks against certain team comps. If you are great with these champs, go to town, but they should be picked with caution. Zac is much better at top than at jungle (his clearing is weaker). Blitzcrank is banned less of the time but Taric and Leona are very popular and stronger now, and Lucian, Sivir, and Jinx are all good against him.

Solo Queue Zeroes

Ezreal, Vayne, Garen, Zed, Nidalee, LeBlanc, Shen, Elise, Lee Sin, Vladimir, Irelia.

These champions should be avoided. They lose too much and have too much opportunity to lose a game after a won lane. They also fail to deal with tanks, even if they get pretty fed, and that applies to even Vayne, whose strength was at chewing up supporty type tanks. With two big bruisers who are more likely to be farmed, carries who beat her, and supports that don’t have to be terrified of her, even in the later game, I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t pick her, even often if she’s your best. I’m a stat nerd: I check people’s stats before game. Plenty of good Vaynes are losing right now. It’s time to put her on the backburner.  

Ezreal is great at split-pushing but he has poor wave clear and is weak as an anti-tank carry. I’m willing to bet LeBlanc actually wins more as support than as mid, if it weren’t for the fact too many people pick her incorrectly or can’t play her well. But a LeBlanc has poor, poor wave clear and that’s even more important now. Now more than ever, a winning LeBlanc has to run around putting out fires if her teammates lose lanes, all while not being able to push well at any place she stops. Shen doesn’t wreck other teams and boss the map like he used to.


Old Man Eyebrows 

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  • #73 iP4thy
    Quote from MerryLane »

    He isn't high tier imho.

    But he is played more toplane lately.

    The reasons are "simple" :
    a) the tankiness is or should be relegated totally to toplaners.  Junglers are assassins or close to (either of the kha/rengar/eve type, either of Vi/jarvan type). So really tanky toplaners that can be "buffers" in between two burst teams, and assist successfully to tower sieging are favorised.
    b) top isn't ganked much lately, and it matters rarely (only when there is a Riven or squishy toplaner). People (should) just pick up tanky resilient sustained chars, pick up the OP %hp regen in the defensive tree, and farm their full tank build for lategame no matter what happens on the lane.
    c) ww is actually a champion really efficient against magical dmg teamcomps. We see more and more a "second apc" as support thus increasing the average magical dmg to tank.

    That's the reasons I see to his "comeback" as a toplaner. That and the fact he is braindead to play so not really much to worry.

    +warwick need only WitsEnd and maybe bork, and he can burst ap/ad carry like a boss with R only (dem 5x 42bonus + 5x bork in 1,8sec)

    Last edited by iP4thy: 12/15/2013 11:02:58 AM
  • #62 ohGr

    I tend to agree with most of this, with two caveats: Evelynn is way better than a maybe, especially in solo queue lower than Diamond 1; Xin Zhao's usefullness is in direct inverse proportion to your MMR and should be noted as such. The level of buttrape you can dish out as jungle Xin in bronze/silver is hilarious, but once I hit gold people got wise to my antics, and in plat/diamond don't even bother.

  • #53 Lawrenor

    You heavily emphazise the importance of mobility by packing a shitchamp like quinn into tier1 and then put nidalee into tier zero?

  • #55 Zero_Fruit

    Quinn is surprisingly strong as a splitpusher/assassin that's nearly impossible to catch.

  • #60 ohGr

    Did you read what he said even? Like, seriously? Quinn is in t1 as a TOP LANER not bot. And as a top, she's retardo good and would dumpster on a Nidalee any day of the week. 

  • #50 Saphlan

    How does the Lucian screenshot prove anything? That shows a high amount of deaths over a small amount of games. Is it supposed to show that sacrificing yourself for an overall victory is good or what? That seems like it needs more elaboration. 7 games do not prove anything, they are far too anecdotal.

    I also disagree with the "tier" list. I don't really understand why Elise is not top-tier, what are her fatal shortcomings? She doesn't seem to match the vague description of "They get beaten by tanks and can lose easily after getting fed".

    I sincerely disagree with the tier list. My opinions of it:

    Should be bottom tier: Heroes: Teemo, Warwick, Morgana, Viktor, Singed Maybes: Galio, Poppy, Zac, Shen

    Should be mid tier: Heroes: Quinn, Draven, Sona, Kayle, Volibear, Nasus, Mundo Zeroes: Leblanc, Vladimir, Zed

    Should be top tier: Maybes: Eve, Annie, Syndra, Olaf, Leona Zeroes: Elise, Lee, Nid

  • #51 batkeeper1

    I see no reason why Teemo, Warwick, and Morgana should be considered bottom tier champions. 

  • #74 Saphlan

    Because they are not as effective as the champions in the mid/top tier?

  • #76 batkeeper1


  • #52 MerryLane

    Kinda agree.

    And a "statistical" in 7 games ... Like cm'on, that's half a night of gaming :D

    + Lucian is one of the best teamfighters adc atm ... He is a trinity champ adc that melts any bruiser that wanna chase him, and that doesn't need a lot of peel due to his kit.
    He is like an Ezreal with a way better lategame. (Ez that is UP lately fyi, Sivir/caitl/vayne/lucian/corki outshining him so hard)

  • #61 ohGr

    Mundo and Nasus midtier, that's cute.

  • #100 OldManEyeBrows

    It's not in order. 

  • #49 MerryLane

    I would have said the total opposite.

    A) top seems totally irrelevant in a game's outcome. You play a tank, build full tank (like tabi/randuin/sunfire/banshee/spirit/frozen heart) and you die in a second by the mage and adc ... That don't even use their cds on u. Exagerating but it's kinda true. What is really hurtful is how "bad" MR items are atm.
    Splitpushing isn't rewarding anymore so it's that much taken off of top's main job.
    What I found out lately, is that your best role in teamfights, could be to go full tank with thornmail and do damage to those hitting you this way. Else you are close to useless.

    B) jungle was great untill last patch. We could play assasins or pseudo assassins and be rewarded for it. But now the change to elder/spectral's passive greatly reduces the gold outcome of great junglers that knew how to jungle correctly with squishy chars.
    Now we are back in a "the more you look like Vi the less worse jungler you are". High base damage, two hard cc, build full tank.

    C) bruisers/tanks have bad masteries, runes and itemisation for now.
    Masteries are laughable, if you get 30 points in defensive, you are like 5% tankier than naked. Till carries grab their penetration items obv. The only advantage of 21 def was the cool hp regen that could let you stay top long enough, but for the rest, it has barely no use in 5v5s.
    The 9 points in offensive are ... srsly, 4ad +10 ad at lvl 18 and 5% cdr? SO GREAT. (quite like the cdr tho but everyone has it, I just mean the stats are laughable)
    Same for runes. You wish you picked armor pen, but you deal like 100 dps and a 300 dmg burst. Makes close to no difference if you pick AD AS or w/e, but on carries the penetration or AD is exponantially multiplicated.
    Same for the itemisation, we don't have access atm to items that give hybrid stats well enough (damage/tankiness) like maw of malmortius and icebourne gauntlet are good representatives of (they suck)

    C) a game atm is 90% mid and adc's decision.
    A jungler is 5%, a support 4% and top is 1% (unless you play riven, or sometimes nasus)
    The midlaner typically bursts one ennemy, damages a lot with his remaining cd the rest of the team, and the adc shoves while supports support. During this time, top and jungler do their 300 dmg combo while the ennemy adc lifesteals 5x more out of them (unless jungler is assassin or Vi-like).
    A top full tank is only useful to tank turrets when u got an ace or similar.

    I think that if you found bruisers OP lately, that's because you were in "stomp" games. Like, you were a lvl 9 adc that didn't win his lane, and a VI lvl 11 with 10 kills/assist comboed u with the help of support + adc. Only similar situations (when teams are really unbalanced xp/goldwise) there bruisers/tanks seem to shine.

  • #57 Jorose

    Dafuq are you talking about? Defense tree weaker then before? You ever wonder why suddenly Dr Mundo is dominating toplane in competitive? Why fed mundos and shyvanas are carrying the majority of games in competitive at the moment?

  • #63 MerryLane

    The defensive tree is globally weaker but for a handful of champions.
    In any way, you'll only see "full defensive" toplaners really late into the game. More and more games last 30 mins with the two tops highly sustained having their fun while there are 4v4 elsewhere on the map.

    Like I said above, the most useful points are into the health regen category (which is nerfed btw) because it helps a lot some "viable" toplaner's laning phase.
    Mundo and Shyvana are champions whose biggest weakness on toplane, was ... sustain.
    The new defensive tree just gave em an incredibly over-powered hp regen, and here you got your explanation on Mundo/Shyv raising at toplane.
    In teamfights or skirmishes, the defensive tree is "of little use" (unless for really extended teamfights on bags of hp champs) because it only adds a few % of increased resistance to burst.

    You'll note tho that these two chars are the perfect examples of "tower tankers" which is the ... new role? of toplaners, considering splitpushing isn't anymore their main job.
    (yeah sorry now you can also roam and burst the ennemy mid more than before but there you pick bursters not bruisers/tanks/splitpushers)

    Concerning Shyvana in the jungle, it's a whole other deal. The char is a great counter-ganker (the community slowly realizes and emphazises counterganking lately) while being a better jungler comparatively, due to the changes in the jungle.
    She also enjoys a lot the actual meta (assassins/bursters/shovers everywhere) because her base damage (aoe W, ...) and her itemisation (like hydra) grew stronger the lower went the average tankiness.

  • #64 MerryLane

    TL;DR :

    The actual meta tends more and more towards :
    -High burst mid/jungler/adc/support (or high dps) with 21 offensive
    -Top takes more and more all the tankiness (to siege towers and buffer) and farm up their tank gear till lategame.

    Top's outcome is barely relevant, you don't tank really better if you are full build or if you have 2 items and a half, as long as you can take tower shots and buffer 2 seconds in fights.

    And on the contrary to what is told, ADC's job is the most important/relevant, since your success determines directly how well your support will be, greatly heavily influences how the jungler will be fed, and halfly how well your midlaner will burst.

  • #69 n4zArh

    And I guess I totally agree. Last ranked as Zac, totally stomped Yasuo, got quite fed (like 6/2 with much bigger farm and enemy turret down)... and I couldn't do a damn. Why? Cause I builded Spirit Visage and Sunfire Cape. I still did most dmg of my team, but... well, you can imagine where was the problem - our damage was close-to-zero. Jinx, Kha'zix, Vi, some support I don't remember - all of them couldn't do any dmg. Compared to enemy Ziggs, who just threw his bombs around, decimating all, including "tanky" me. I couldn't carry this match at all, as they just didn't do any dmg. Being most fed of our team didn't give me anything. That wouldn't be the case if I builded dmg earlier, but I went tanky and it didn't work out.

    Tanky tops cannot carry games. Games are carried with damage, not tankiness. Especially if strong AP/AD carry can get either Void Staff (and other mpen items) or Last Whisper and not give a damn about that tankiness. Strongest tops at the moment are ones who can either quickly destroy carries (RENGAR!) or splitpush fast with ability to escape and still do alot of damage (...Rengar again).

    The ones who are strongest (IMHO) are champs like Rengar (ultimate is so strong), Olaf (some tankiness, some damage, ultimate and kill their carry like there is no tomorrow), Riven (everybody knows why), lategame champs like Jax, any melee carry (lost lane? No problem, farm more, get kills on squishies, get back into game, win the game)... This is just a theory, didn't try to prove it yet (freaking Java project takes too much of my time), but I guess those solotops can be very best in winning games.

  • #48 Whiskers_McGee

    For once, there's actually quite a lot here Id disagree with in certain instances.

    At the same time, I'll totally agree about the state of AD in solo queue but it's not a recent phenomena. AD has during quite a large part of S3 been the hardest to carry off as marginal victories are nowhere near as significant as they are in other lanes and it takes a significantly more time to be a relevant part of the game.

  • #47 Tortferngatr

    What about champions who aren't listed? (like Karthus)?

  • #43 batkeeper1

    Keep in mind that this article is for the sole purpose of winning more solo queue games than you lose, and more geared toward the sub~plat player. All the champions in the 'hero' section have the ability to make up for your team's mistakes and don't have much opportunity for mistakes on their own.

    Nothing can turn a lane around harder than getting ganked by a post-6 warwick with ult every 80 seconds, and his ability to solo dragon and push objectives hard with his W creates a lot of map pressure and comeback opportunities. Rammus and Fiddlesticks have hard engages and cc that create extremely lopsided fights. Morgana, Kayle, and Thresh can easily save poorly positioned teammates and can even turn said fights around. Volibear, Nasus, Singed, and Mundo all have built in durability and hypserscale tankiness wise into late game, which means hard engages and they can all delete an enemy adc or mage if they catch them. Teemo has free wards and map coverage. Riven has broken mobility and survivabilty that can let her recover from mistakes. These champions are all great for the average solo queue-er. 

    People are saying that certain champions shouldn't be on the zero list because they're great or played competitively. Such as Lee Sin. Lee Sin is very resilient in the new jungle, highly flexible, and offers great objective and ganking pressure. But frankly, Lee Sin is hard for the average player, and constantly has a sub 50% win rate to prove it. Mechanically complex champions shouldn't be a part of the solo queue hero list unless they're strong even on mechanically weak players. Heck, I'm a huge fan of Vladimir, and I know how strong he is, but I agree that he isn't a solo queue hero. Sure, he puts a DFG effect on the entire enemy team and has amazing lane and split pushing presence. But at the same time he has no mobility or cc, and his built in safeguards and rotations are hard to master and apply in the middle of team fights. The average solo queue player won't play him nearly to his full effectiveness.  

    If you master any champion, you will win and can easily get to diamond with said champion. Right now there's some guy named Síon who got into diamond after 1500 games with him. However, for the average person that wants to give it a go at winning in solo queue, stick to the heroes list. 

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