How Mythic items have completely changed the scope of League

League's newest class of items has made a name for itself in just a few short months.

Image via Riot Games

Each League of Legends preseason brings about a massive new change to the game. Following last year’s successful Summoner’s Rift updates that introduced Elemental Souls and Rifts, this year’s preseason aimed to tackle one of the game’s clunkiest features since its release: items. The in-game item shop was completely overhauled at the end of 2020, no longer requiring players to scroll through pages and pages of items to look for what they needed (unless they still want to do that, in which case that feature lives on).

The shop changed to be categorized by class and offers players suggestions as to which items to build as the game progresses based on the opposing team’s composition. While the item shop changes were eventually welcomed by the community, there was another new feature that immediately sparked many debates among League players: Mythic items.

The item overhaul placed each item into a distinct category based on its power, ranging from Starter, Basic, Epic, Legendary, and the newly introduced Mythic. First revealed in a Riot Pls preseason video, this new class of items aimed to bring out each champion’s true strengths but limited their power to one of these items per player. Various older items, including Luden’s Echo and Locket of the Iron Solari, were reclassified as Mythic items with upgrades that made them much more powerful than their older counterparts. New items were also introduced into this category to compensate for League’s various roles, with the game now containing 23 different Mythic items. 

But the short existence of Mythic items has been full of controversy. Very few have eluded discourse regarding their strength, and within the first six months of season 11, many have completely defined the meta at different points.

Amumu could do what at 20 minutes?

One of the earliest abusers of the unparalleled strength of the newly released Mythic items in the preseason was none other than League’s resident sad mummy. After hiding in the shadows for so long, Amumu suddenly burst onto the scene thanks to the power of a combo consisting of the new tank Mythic item Sunfire Aegis, as well as the new Legendary item Demonic Embrace. When combined with the constant damage from Amumu’s W, the burn from both of these items could shred through the tankiest of champions. 

But most notably, Amumu could take just these two items into the Baron pit by himself and completely shred the Rift’s most fearsome monster at 20 minutes—right when the Baron spawns. It didn’t matter whether the Amumu player was fed or falling behind. The combination of the passive burns from these items alongside Amumu’s W made the Baron look like nothing more than a lane minion, just with the added bonus of granting one of the most important buffs to your teammates after slaying it. 

Yet Amumu wasn’t the only champion taking advantage of Sunfire Aegis. This item became a staple in the kits of various tank champions, removing the possibility of any other tank itemization and rendering other tank Mythic items futile. 

But as quickly as Amumu became the king of the jungle thanks to Sunfire Aegis, he was uninvited from the Rift once more. The mummy was nerfed into oblivion alongside the Mythic item that brought out his strengths before the new year began. Yet with one convoluted meta gone, another one was right around the corner.

League of MoonStaff

If two items alone could adequately define season 11 of League, they’re Moonstone Renewer and Staff of Flowing Waters. These new Mythic and Legendary items, respectively, took the game’s already massive problem with healing and pushed it above and beyond. Moonstone Renewer, one of the new Mythic items focused on empowering enchanters in the support role, aimed at helping champions like Lulu and Janna passively heal their teammates when using their other utility abilities. 

Players often opted to take the new Legendary item Staff of Flowing Waters with Moonstone Renewer since it provided an additional damage boost to allies affected by these types of abilities. What ended up happening, however, was that this combo completely took over the Rift. 

These items weren’t confined to the support role. Champions like Nidalee and Lillia adopted this combination of items within the jungle, where their consistent damage could proc the passives of these abilities often. Thanks to their low cost and notable AP offered, these items quickly took the place of more standard AP jungler Mythic items like Liandry’s Anguish and Night Harvester. These jungle champions became much more effective in using these items since their role throughout the game is to roam and constantly be in contact with their teammates, as opposed to most supports who are confined to helping their ADCs and occasionally roaming to the mid lane. 

But where this combo shined the most was in teamfights where multiple champions took these two items. At that point, not even Grievous Wounds could tear down opponents since their health bars were constantly regenerated to full while simultaneously granting major power boosts to their allies. 

Despite the combo’s buffs once more in Patch 11.11, these items have yet to shine again due to the tuning of other jungle/support Mythic items that have streamlined many champion builds. Enchanters like Lulu and Karma, who previously have opted for Moonstone Renewer and Staff of Flowing Waters, still build the Legendary item but their Mythic choice has shifted to Shurelya’s Battlesong in most cases. AP junglers heavily rely on the damage output of Night Harvester and other mage Mythic items, rendering these support-oriented builds relics of the past.

Speaking of healing…

It’s not uncommon for League players to refer to the top lane as a sort of island. Most of the time, the champions dueling it out there are tanks that do little damage to one another and are focusing more on farming rather than map effectiveness until a teamfight breaks out or they have sufficient items. While the introduction of Mythic items didn’t do much to change that when the season began, there was one top lane fighter-focused Mythic item that sparked controversy for months: Goredrinker. 

This new item possesses an active effect that allows champions to restore a massive chunk of their health based on the number of enemies in their immediate vicinity. When built on fighters that already had innate healing built into their kits, such as Renekton, Aatrox, and Olaf, their self-sustain was through the roof. These champions became the raid bosses that they had always dreamed of being, but at the dismay of a healthy game meta. 

Olaf alone had a 92.2 percent pick/ban rate throughout the 2021 LCS Spring Split, according to Leaguepedia, thanks almost entirely to the immense power and sustain he gained from Goredrinker, boasting similar percentages throughout other regions. It wasn’t until another Mythic item, Turbo Chemtank, took over that Olaf began to fall out of jungle priority and get replaced by Hecarim and the blast-from-the-past Udyr. Yet even with nerfs, the potency of healing from Goredrinker was too much. 

Riot ultimately tuned numerous items that grant Grievous Wounds rather than continuing to nerf Goredrinker into oblivion. By doing so, Riot acknowledged that healing in League was very frail. The slightest nerfs to these health-sustaining items could completely remove certain champions from all levels of play and reinforce a small champion pool, yet the same could be said for possible buffs. 

Goredrinker has since taken a backseat to other fighter Mythics, but it acted as one of the most important aspects of discussion between Riot and players to open up the year.

The future is uncertain

Overall, Mythic items have had a large impact on League in their short six-month lifespan. But as with any new feature that completely changes the game, they’ve been nothing short of controversial. 

Mythic items continue to be the defining aspects of every champion’s kit and have allowed many champions to achieve the most success they’ve ever had since their releases. While Riot originally intended for players to have more variety with their Mythic item builds depending on each game’s situation, the meta now stands at a point where each champion has a best-in-slot option, rendering some Mythics overpowered and others underpowered. 

Although there’s arguably no specific Mythic at this moment that’s considered game-breaking, champions that have flourished with specific items continue to do so while remaining under the radar for nerfs, making the issue a lot more convoluted than simply nerfing the items or champions. Patch 11.12 is finally addressing concerns regarding Kai’Sa and her sheer power with the ADC Mythic items Kraken Slayer and Galeforce. She’s been one of the most overperforming champions of the season due to the synergy between her kit and these items, yet the power Mythic items have brought to other champions continues to be an ongoing balancing nightmare.

Riot recently revealed that a new support Mythic item is being created to better compensate for this lack of Mythic build diversity within the bot lane, but it’s unknown at this time if it’ll be doing the same for other roles and lanes. Nevertheless, every season 11 patch has had ample tweaks to this new tier of items, thus creating yet another level of balancing that further complicates the ever-evolving game.

As we venture past the midseason, Riot will need to continue to keep a close eye on the impact of Mythic items that have completely changed the way League is played.

Make sure to follow us on YouTube for more esports news and analysis.