League of Lethality
As new changes are introduced, it seems that LoL’s meta always has one thing that is broken. For example, the Juggernaut update in Season 5 brought on the tank meta. With tank items being cheap and efficient as well as the nerf of Last Whisper and Blade of the Ruined King, assassins became unplayable and ADC’s were at their weakest point. With this, traditional assassins with high mobility and high base damage such as Ekko and Fizz adopted the tank role and became exponentially stronger than their assassin counterparts. Later, we saw the introduction of Keystone Masteries and the oppressive Thunderlord’s Decree in early Season 6. This keystone was meant for mages and assassins who wanted to pack extra burst into their combo. Instead, 10 Thunderlord’s Decrees were seen nearly every game as most champions would take it just for its overpowered stats compared to other keystones. Of course, there were other smaller, role-specific metas alongside the prevalent ones such as Runeglaive and Frost Queen’s Claim mids, Control Mages, Double Jungle, Korean builds, etc. The next meta wave has come with the League of Lethality.
Lethality is a new stat that was introduced in Season 7. Used to replace the armor penetration stat in items such as Youmuu’s Ghostblade and Duskblade of Drakhtharr, it gives scaling armor penetration based on the target’s level.
Flat Armor Penetration = Lethality x (0.6 + 0.4 x Target’s level / 18)
These calculations determine how much armor reduction is given to a target when it is damaged with an attack. However, the numbers provided for the Lethality calculations are too generous and allow many AD champions to build Lethality and one-shot squishies such as the enemy mage or ADC. With the Assassins Rework, assassin’s focus more on mobility than single target damage and Lethality gives them the high damage they require to stay relevant in game. With this, it would not be such a problem if only these champions were provided with Lethality since their job is to “assassinate”. However, as seen from Korean Build ADC’s back in Season 6, the Lethality stat can also be transferred to most other AD damaging champions and has often proved to be better than building traditional AD items. In a game, each team will often have at least two Lethality abusers on their team.
With so much bad news, how can it be possible to defend against these Lethality abusers? Although there is not a definite answer that’s guaranteed to provide success every time, the general answer to defending against assassins is also provided here. The only Lethality item that provides defensive stats is Edge of Night and even it only gives 35 magic resistance compared to other similar items such as Maw of Malmortius which gives 45; This means that champions who build Lethality are often squishy themselves and can only afford to stay alive through their immense burst and mobility. To counter that, playing champions with easy-to-aim crowd control (Thresh Flay or Gragas Body Slam) or champions with point-and-click crowd control (Ryze Rune Prison or Nautilus’ Skill Set) will be able to immobilize enemy Lethality users for the kill. With enough crowd control, even Edge of Night’s active cannot prevent their eventual demise. Furthermore, ironically enough, there is no Lethality item that provides armor so by playing an infamous Lethality abuser (Kha’Zix or Jayce) that can abuse Lethality is also a good way to counter other Lethality players.
For players who want to embrace the League of Lethality, here are a few pointers, as not all champions were made equal in regards to Lethality. The first thing to consider when determining whether your champion is able to abuse Lethality is if it is an AD champion (Vi or Hecarim). As obvious as it is, someone who deals AP cannot do much with Lethality. With that, the second thing to consider is whether the champion uses abilities as part of their combo (Zed or Kha’Zix). This is important because abilities that deal AD will greatly benefit from Lethality, which further boosts its effectiveness. Lastly, if someone is auto attack reliant (Caitlyn or Kalista) they are definitely not able to use Lethality efficiently. This is because auto attacks cannot be animation canceled and items that provide attack speed have to be purchased to bring auto attack reliant champions to their potential. There is one exception however, if the champion has an innate attack speed buff (Draven or Xin Zhao) they are able to pull off Lethality.
AD champions can generally be comprised into three categories: Assassins, Bruisers, and Marksmen. Assassins have high burst and rely on their arrangement of spells and perhaps one or two auto attacks to defeat their opposition (Rengar or Talon), making them the best contenders for Lethality. Bruisers are also pretty good contenders (Wukong or Garen) for Lethality with a few that are less suitable because they are more oriented towards attack speed (Trundle or Jax). Marksmen are the ones you have to careful about. These ranged AD attackers usually prefer to stand in the backline and auto attack from a safe distance which is why they often prefer items that improve their critical strike chance and attack speed compared to Lethality. However, there are some marksmen that work better with Lethality items because they are more ability oriented. The five most prevalent ones are Quinn, Varus, Jhin, Miss Fortune, and Lucian.
These five champions is unique in why they prefer Lethality. Quinn prefers Lethality because of how well it synergizes with her kit. Her attack speed buff upon attacking Vulnerable Targets as well as the rest of her kit allows her to easily one shot nearly every champion. Varus prefers Lethality because it empowers his sniping/poking ability with his kit. Additionally, his passive provides him with a natural buff to his attack speed upon killing an enemy unit. Jhin prefers Lethality because of most of his damage come from his kit as well. Unlike Varus, Jhin’s attack speed is actually unable to fluctuate which is why straight AD and Lethality is stronger than attack speed and critical strike chance. Miss Fortune prefers Lethality because her most powerful tool is her ultimate Bullet Time. This ability channels for three seconds and fires bullets in volleys which deal massive damage. Lastly, Lucian prefers Lethality because of how well his auto attacks synergize with his abilities. His passive Lightslinger provides Lucian with an efficient way to cancel his auto attack animation while maximizing his damage output with his abilities.
In conclusion, as of Patch 7.3, the League of Lethality is going on in full swing and continues to make AD carries’ lives horrible. This stat has made most AD champions able to one-shot squishies. The best way to prevent this is by picking tanky champions with reliable cc and by playing other champions that utilize Lethality as well. But if you enjoy being a fellow Lethality abuser and is searching for champions to play, I would recommend getting some Quinn, Hecarim, and Garen gameplay into your games before Lethality gets nerfed!