James Busby, January 11, 2017

Why Does it Look Like LoL's ADCs are Dead This Season?

Our sharpshooting friends have been feeling rather down recently and it seems that the preseason changes are to blame. AD carry mains now feel overly pressured and considerably weaker, which has led to the role’s loss of agency on the Rift.

Marksman are very vulnerable to even the slightest changes as they only fit one roleso when they are prevented (or even slowed) from becoming a late game carry/damage dealerthey don’t have a lot of secondary options available when contributing to their team.

The AD carry role relies purely on auto attack damage to shred through their enemies, while mages and assassins get damage from their abilities. This gives mid-lane champions a lot more flexibility when it comes to picking and choosing their roles. However, many AD carry champions simply lack the ability to survive in a solo lane.

Bottom lane has been a rather static lane until recently and it’s great to see other classes shine, but there is a fear that ADCs are being outclassed and overshadowed by new arrivals like Ziggs. So, what are the current problems that are affecting the marksman position?

Welcome to the Jungle

One of the biggest problems right now is the increasing amount of pressure from enemy junglers. The slower jungle camp clear times have allowed junglers to gank more often, and more successfully, than appropriate. Bot lane has received a lot of attention from these ganks and it’s this frustration which has led many to believe the role has decreased in agency and power.

AD carries no longer feel as influential in the progression of their lane because junglers have such a high influence on their overall success. Currently, if an ADC wins lane, it’s largely down to their team ganking early and putting them ahead. Although, if they lose, it’s because the enemy team roamed and farmed kills off of them.

Either way, the AD carry doesn’t have too much impact on those early game ganks, they just have to rely on their support and hope that the enemy team doesn’t focus them.

Short Season

The next issue that has impacted AD carries' overall performance is that the games are considerably shorter, which is a problem for late-game champions. In the early game, ADCs are very weak and require a tremendous amount of support game before they hit their late-game power spike.

In season seven, towers have become easier to take, Dragons are more impactful, and roaming has become much more important. This wouldn’t be an issue if AD carries hadn’t also had their build progression slowed downas most require three or four items to become impactful.

Once they have access to these items, marksman champions can do the heavy lifting. Yet by the time an ADC obtains these items, the outcome of the match has often been decided for them. Invariably, their team has either managed to snowball off an early lead or the opposition has completely steamrolled them.

Power Curve Problems

There were two massive changes in season seven, with the first change delivered to Fervor of Battle, offering up on-hit damage that scaled well the entire game. It meant that any auto-attack-based champion had good damage regardless of their build or design. Fervor also allowed weaker champions to use the on-hit damage to bolster their performance in-game.

The flat armor penetration was also a big problem last season as it was way too effective in the early laning phase and was replaced with Lethalitywhich was hugely lackluster in comparison.

The removal of both Fervor and flat armor penetration meant that all previous early game strengths had been shifted entirely to late-game. Common ADC builds like Crit and lifesteal require huge investments before they become impactful, while the tanky meta also forces AD carries to build armor penetration on top of their core items. ADCs now require at least four items to be useful, requiring a huge amount of gold that is increasingly difficult to acquire when games are becoming noticeably shorter.  

What's with all the Mages?

It’s not really much of a surprise that the current problems surrounding AD carries have led to mages capitalizing off the abundant weaknesses ADCs face. The reason we’re seeing mages in bot lane is because they hit their power spike that much earlier. Mages scale with levels more so than AD carries, which means their base damage is much more lethal early on.

AD carries, on the other hand, don’t rely on their abilities to do damage. Instead, they must purchase items to buff their auto attacks. Farming gold requires a lot more time than leveling, which is why mages are so potent in bot lane at the moment. Players are also picking mages over AD carries as they bring more utility to the team, while ADCs can only target one person at a given time. If an AD carry wanted to provide utility they would have to do so at the expense of their own damage.

Ashe is a good example of a utility ADC who brings slows, vision control, and stuns to her team, but lacks the DPS of a champion like Vayne. Mages can also roam a lot more effectively without having to rely on constant support from their team. They can often peel for themselves and can deal with champions on their own, while AD carries require a tremendous amount of help.

Overall, mid laners are more versatile and can adapt effectively to a multitude of different scenarios, which has left many in the dark regarding the fundamental issues that currently surround the AD carry role. It’s hoped we will see some changes that will help pick up our eagle-eyed friends, but for now, you better be prepared to see a lot more of Ziggs.

James Busby

Bet your bottom Unikoin that James knows his esports. Hailing from the British Isles, making sense of the scraps on Summoner's Rift is his specialty. Find him on Twitter @JamesBusby64