Ranked can be a frustrating experience for a lot of League of Legends players. Between the teammates who refuse to coordinate, the vastly different skill levels, and the odd smurf or two, you can sometimes feel like you’re going backward. But there are a few champions that, if mastered, can help you beat the system and take you to the next level.
Below are five champions—one for each role—that will help you climb the ranks. They aren’t all easy to learn, but they’re the kind of champions that probably demolished you during a match and made you ask yourself, “why are they so good?” Once you master these champions, it becomes easier to learn the mechanics of the lane (or jungle) itself and improve as a player. And then you can begin the real climb.
With this in mind, let’s break down the top five solo queue champions for League’s Patch 11.16.
Top lane – Tahm Kench
- Strong one-vs-one fighter early
- High base damage
- Easy to play
- Lackluster mid-game damage
- No waveclear
- Can be easily kited
Tahm Kench is the latest terror in the top lane. While he doesn’t have the traditional tools of a meta top laner, such as good waveclear, ranged abilities, or good scaling damage, he is quite useful with what he offers. He can easily take down most top lanes early on due to his high base damage while also surviving their poke without issues. He is quite easy to play and master and will most likely be nerfed soon if he keeps dominating the Rift.
The Resolve tree is crucial on Tahm Kench. It will grant you additional tankiness via the health regeneration from Second Wind alongside shield power via Revitalize. On top of that, you’ll get the greatest keystone for a tank, Grasp of the Undying. It will allow you to stack up your health pool every couple of seconds while also doing a decent amount of damage. Demolish is the rune to pick, since Tahm Kench’s kit is lackluster at taking towers.
Inspiration as a secondary tree opens up two useful runes: Minion Dematerializer is useful for taking down cannons whenever you’re being zoned out, and Approach Velocity syncs well with the slow from your Q.
Tahm Kench’s skill priority is the following: R>Q>W>E. Your Q is your core ability to farm and fight opponents. It has decent scaling and can prove to be troublesome for enemies if you catch them in your Q, since you can easily follow up with other Qs to slow or stun them and potentially land a kill. The blink is maxed second to be more mobile and the shield is maxed last due to its lackluster utility.
Farm up early since you scale well with items. If your opponent comes within melee range to kill minions, try to land a Q and then follow up with auto attacks or other Qs to stun them and get favorable trades. Your goal is to get tanky items and become an unkillable beast in teamfights, while also being a huge nuisance to your opponents’ backline. . As a top laner, you should always be on the lookout for teleport plays behind the enemy. A good flank can easily win games if you catch the opposing carries without their allies defending them.
Jungle – Karthus
- Global ultimate
- Impactful even after death
- Good source of magic damage in AD composition
- Needs time to scale
- Cannot contest early objectives
Karthus is one of the best ability power junglers to round out a full AD composition. This is mostly thanks to the utility from his kit, as well as his slow and global ultimate. Karthus is a power farmer with barely any cooldown on Q, allowing for a quick jungle clear. But he’s rather mana hungry and struggles with early ganks.
He’s contested in high elo due to his ability to turn fights around with his ultimate. Recent nerfs to other popular AP champions have made Karthus a great pick once again.
The Domination tree is important for Karthus. It grants access to additional damage from Dark Harvest, Cheap Shot, and Eyeball Collection, which synergizes well with Karthus’ ultimate, alongside additional sustain from Ravenous Hunter to make your clear healthier. The Precision secondary is great on Karthus since Coup de Grace increases your ultimate damage directly onto low-health targets and Presence of Mind increases your mana regeneration to allow you to use E more often.
Karthus’ ability priority is R>Q>W>E. Your Q is your primary damaging tool in both the jungle and teamfights. Learn how to aim with it to maximize damage output on a single target to zone out the important carries of a teamfight. Max W second since its width gets increased with level. While the damage from E is good, the utility from the slow is much more useful and it will allow you to get into range or escape much easier.
Karthus is a power farmer who needs to reach level six as soon as possible to influence the game. While his early game isn’t the worst, he needs items and levels to get going. Don’t look to contest objectives until level six since you’ll most likely end up dead and behind, while also giving an advantage to the enemy.
After you get level six, watch over the map and look for low-health enemies to finish them off. Remember not to use it wastefully since it has a high cooldown early on. Use it for guaranteed kills only. Keep farming as the game goes on. Don’t focus on attempting to gank too much since it might be telegraphed. Try to farm up, get items, and use your ultimate on cooldown for kills.
Mid lane – Katarina
- Powerful burst damage
- Can take over games alone
- Rewarding if mastered
- Flexible build
- Relies on a roaming playstyle
Katarina is one of the most powerful mid laners after having received multiple buffs in recent patches. She is becoming a menace in the solo queue due to her flexible build, which allows her to counter various champions easily. If left uncontrolled, she can snowball and take over games with her roaming playstyle. Her dash allows her to bypass terrain easily and gank from unexpected angles, giving her team plenty of opportunities to set up ganks.
The two core rune builds for Katarina are either Domination primary with Precision secondary or vice versa. The most important aspect is to decide whether you need the burst from Electrocute or the sustain from Conqueror.
The rune page with Electrocute gives you access to more damage early on via Sudden Impact and Eyeball Collection on top of sustain with Ravenous Hunter. The secondary precision tree is picked up for Triumph and Coup de Grace. The first one is aimed to help you escape after low-health plays, while the second is picked up for the additional damage to secure the kill against your opponents.
Katarina’s skill priority is R>Q>E>W. Maxing Q first is your priority since it gets a lower cooldown with each rank up and is your main damaging ability. It also helps you by putting a dagger on a location, to which you can jump with E. Your mobility spell therefore should be maxed in accordance with Q to be able to jump around as much as possible and be a huge nuisance for the opposing team. W is maxed last since the utility and power of Q and E are much higher.
Katarina is one of the strongest mid lane assassins and excels at taking over games with a couple of early-game kills. Your low cooldowns combined with your high base damage give you plenty of opportunities to snowball. You should use this to your advantage and look for proactive plays during the laning phase.
If you try to adapt a passive playstyle, you won’t be useful in the long-run and the enemy can outscale and shut you down. Keep up an aggressive playstyle and try to win your lane. After you do, you’ll be able to freely roam the map and either kill the opposing jungler or help your side laners.
ADC – Ziggs
- Strong kit
- Easy to play
- Cheap power spike
- Forces your team to pick up an AD carry in other roles
Ziggs is one of the most powerful bottom laners in the current meta. He has cheap power spikes due to his high base damage. His long-range abilities allow you to easily play the champion by keeping your opponents at bay and just spamming your spells. He’s hard to counter due to his disengaging tool that can knock opponents back. Usually, only the impact of a good jungler can set him behind.
There are various build paths for Ziggs, but the most powerful one is focused on picking up the Sorcery primary tree and combining it with either Domination or Inspiration. Inspiration is recommended for Biscuit Delivery and Magical Footwear, two powerful runes that will give you increased sustain and movement speed. If you get a couple of early kills, you’ll receive the Boots of Speed fast, allowing you to dodge opponents’ ganks with ease.
Ziggs’ skill priority is R>Q>E>W. Q is your bread-and-butter ability, allowing you to poke and farm minions. E is maxed second for the increased damage and slow on the mines. W is maxed last since its utility is lower compared to Q or E. If you get caught, having a lower cooldown on W won’t matter since you’ll die due to being squishy before it comes back up.
Ziggs is one of the most popular bottom laners in the current meta. He has an easy way to farm via his Q and passive, while also being hard to punish due to his range. Even if enemies try to engage on you, you can just use your W to jump away while also knocking opponents away.
As the game progresses and you get your core items, such as Liandry’s Anguish and Demonic Embrace, your power will increase a lot. That’s when you should look to group with your team and force teamfights or pick up objectives. Try to keep a safe distance from your opponents and don’t get too close if you want to avoid being blown up.
Support – Sona
- Easy to play
- Game-changing ultimate
- Can run out of mana quickly
Sona is the latest support to become a contested pick in the current meta. She was quite weak before, but Riot’s latest mini-rework made her much more powerful, propelling her to one of the highest presence rates in solo queue while also boasting a high win rate. She is here to stay due to how strong she is, but experienced opponents can exploit this pick by going for engage-heavy champions.
The Sorcery primary tree is essential on Sona. It grants her increased poke potential throughout Summon Aery and Scorch, additional mana that she heavily requires via Manaflow Band, and ability haste via Transcendence, which is always welcome for a champion whose job is to spam her abilities on cooldown.
The Precision secondary will give you access to Presence of Mind to increase your mana regeneration and Cut Down for additional damage against champions with more health than you.
Sona’s skill priority is the following: R>Q>W>E. Q is your bread-and-butter ability to poke during the laning phase. The second ability to max is W for the additional healing, and E should be maxed last due to its lower utility compared to Q or W.
Sona is a powerful enchanter in the bottom lane that can poke out laning opponents with ease. But she comes with a huge downside in that she’s quite squishy, making her a target for the opposing bottom lane. If you maintain a good distance and spam your abilities on cooldown, you should be able to build a decent lane lead.