ADCs are the consistent damage threat of teams and the primary tool for taking turrets. They take the longest to scale and are heavily item dependent, but truly shine late game. The ADC position probably has the least amount of diversity in its champion pool. The top picks for the ADC position is usually dictated by the meta. I think the introduction of juggernauts should alter some ADC top picks, but it’ll mostly depend on team comps in picks/bans.
I’d like to start off by discussing “utility” ADCs which bring more to the team than raw damage. While they may lack the damage output of other picks, their other strengths more than make up for this. The current meta makes it hard for ADCs to shine and truly carry and the introduction of juggernauts doesn’t make it any easier. With top lane carries rising, utility ADCs are becoming more popular since pure damage isn’t as needed from the likes of hyper-carries.
Kalista has been THE premier ADC since her release. Her mobility is a luxury for the position and is unmatched by others in her role. She has decent damage output, but requires many attacks and the use of her Rend. This makes her weak at killing tanks, especially those with thornmail. She does provide some vision on the map with her sentinels, but they work poorly and can easily be played around. (For evidence see here) The main reason Kalista has remained the #1 pick despite her damage and mobility nerfs is the utility from her ultimate and Rend abilities. Her ult allows supports to play more aggressively to engage and be bailed out without blowing flash. This means the support can almost always use flash offensively. Paired with the right support pick (like Annie or Alistar), Kalista can also help initiate a fight by throwing in the support to engage. Kalista’s Rend ability also makes her the best dragon/baron objective securer in the game, even surpassing Nunu. With Hurricane, she provides additional utility in team fights by being able to use Rend multiple times on multiple enemies for AOE slows. The versatility of her ult, objective control with Rend, and her mobility makes her top tier. She synergizes well with almost every support, but shines with aggressive picks like Annie, Alistar, and the rising popularity of support Kennen from Korea. Her weaknesses are her relatively low damage output (without good use of Rend), poor tank shredding ability, and poor wave clear (until Hurricane is bought).
Ashe has seen a sudden rise in popularity in Korea which was odd considering it was after many nerfs to her damage. Ashe brings great CC and global vision. She also has a pretty strong laning phase with decent poke early game. The global vision Hawkshot provides is very strong during laning phase. Being able to spot where the jungler is on the map allows the team to play accordingly – it may now be safe to dive a lane, play more aggressively, or invade the jungler. This serves the purpose of warding without spending gold or time to place the wards. The vision control should not be understated. Ashe also brings CC; a rarity for the role. An AOE slow, targeted perma-slow, and global initiation. Ashe fulfills a team’s need for initiating team fights which bruiser picks top-lane lack. Ashe is also good at sieging with her poke and above average auto-attack range. Her weakness is obviously her lack of mobility making her susceptible in laning and team fights without summoners. Proper vision control and certain support picks can help alleviate this.
Sivir is included in this list because her ultimate provides team utility with a speed boost. While her ult has received multiple nerfs, teams may still choose to use the speed boost to initiate team fights. The nerfs require teams to be more precise and be grouped before using her ult, but coordinated teams should still be able to take advantage of this. Sivir still brings incredible wave clear and team fight AOE damage. Her spell shield is also a powerful tool to keep her alive. Her main weaknesses is her short auto-attack range (500 vs the normal 550) which makes her weak in team fights having to be closer to enemies and in sieging to take turrets.
The second group of ADCs I’d like to discuss is the early/mid game bullies. These marksmen hit their power spike sooner than traditional ADCs and are great for earlier team fights like securing 1st/2nd dragon. They shine around ~10-20 minutes into the game, but fall off late game compared to other ADCs.
Corki should be a highly contested pick for his overall versatility as an ADC. Corki has good wave clear (especially after level 6), an escape in his W, decent poke with rockets, and brings additional magic damage for teams that run bruisers top. Corki spikes mid game when he completes Trinity Force which teams should take advantage of and force fights. At this point in the game, his poke and burst with sheen is more damaging than other ADCs who usually only have a BF sword and either Pickaxe/Avarice Blade. His safe laning also allows him to farm safely while his support can roam, creating potential ganking opportunities or pairing with the jungler to ward the map. His poke from rockets also helps when sieging enemy towers. His main weakness is he falls off late game where his poke and damage becomes less impactful. Many Corkis now build BOTRK 2nd item to strengthen his late game.
Side note: A niche role we may see Corki is if a team chooses to run Mordekaiser. Corki offers a safe option for ADC who can farm alone.
Lucian may see a resurgence due to his strength as a lane bully. His strong laning phase can shut down some match-ups and be used to snowball a team early. He doesn’t have great wave clear, but he can push early towers in the 3v0 lane swap scenarios relatively fast with his passive. He suffers from having a short ranged auto-attack like Sivir so his siege potential is weak. I don’t think he’s currently very strong, but he serves a niche purpose.
The last group of ADCs is the traditional damage dealers. The ones listed are hyper-carries that dominate late game and are able to take out tanks much more easily than the previously listed marksmen.
Tristana has a pretty good power curve being decent early game, peaks mid game, and is still strong late game. While she lost her hyper-carry potential after her rework, her long range, escape with W, ability to reset, and extraordinary tower pushing ability makes her a top pick. She’s most commonly used by teams as a “demolition” expert by taking early turrets with her E to accelerate the game with global gold gained. She does well in lane, even in 2v2 match-ups. Her main weakness is her lack of wave clear (until late game) and difficulty CSing due to her E.
Kog’Maw came back as an ADC after spending the first half of the season as AP mid lane. With the abundance of tanks on the rift, Kog’Maw was great at shredding through their health. He has the longest range in the game with his W and has good poke with E and his ult. While he does take a long time to ramp up, his item build smooths out his power curve so he’s still strong mid game with Trinity Force/BOTRK. He can be strong at sieging with his long range, but if a fight breaks out when his W is on cooldown it could be disastrous. His wave clear is decent once he hits 6, but he has a fairly weak laning phase. His main weakness is his lack of mobility. He’s also more mana dependent than other ADCs and he’s completely reliant on his W to be effective.
Side note: I’ve seen a few players building BOTRK before Tri Force on Kog’Maw when his team lacks disengage or if the enemy laners are aggressive. This allows him to have more sustain in lane and use the speed boost from BOTRK’s active ability for more reliable self-disengage.
Jinx is another strong late game carry, but isn’t as popular as other picks for the role. Her laning phase is decent and she has good wave clear with her rockets. Her global ult is a great tool to finish off opponents and get a reset, but is difficult to land at the professional level. Her sieging is very strong with her rockets for range or mini-gun speed if she’s safe and can be used in a similar fashion as Tristana to push early towers as CLG showed in the playoffs. She has some poke with W and some zoning with E. Her biggest strength is her consistent long range (always 700 with maxed rank rockets vs 710 Kog’Maw with W). She isn’t dependent on a cooldown like Kog’Maw and her reset ability can snowball a team fight. Her main weakness is her lack of mobility like most ADCs, being exposed to ganks or team fights when her flash is down. She also requires more time to scale to reach her main power spike. Kog’Maw’s build allows him to be more relevant mid game compared to Jinx.
Vayne is the poster child of hyper-carries with her silver bolts. Tanks are still relevant so Vayne will be relevant in tanking down massive front lines. Her laning phase is actually not bad when paired with aggressive supports, but she severely lacks wave clear. While she does take a while to scale like other hyper-carries, her early build of BOTRK lets her peak sooner than the traditional build of IE + PD/Shiv. She has decent mobility with her tumble and is good at chasing down opponents with her passive. Vayne can tackle the biggest of tanks like none other, even being able to get through Alistar’s Unbreakable Will. She does well in skirmishes if teammates can provide support. Her main strengths are her mobility and unstoppable late game damage. Her main weakness is her lack of wave clear. In disorganized team fights, Vayne players may switch targets often only attacking when its safe; however this greatly diminishes her DPS since she needs to attack 3 times to be effective.
Quick notes about missing ADCs:
Ezreal seems very weak at the moment. He has very low damage output and his poke isn’t that impactful. He also lacks good wave clear While he’s a nice safe option for ADC, there are much better options.
Twitch is decent, but his damage isn’t as good as others. With Braum being a staple pick, his ult is really nullified. He’s incredibly weak early game and has no wave clear. He’s good at ganking enemies with his stealth, but really needs to snowball off these attempts in order to have a big impact. Other picks are more reliable and consistent.
I’m still unsure about Moredekaiser’s viability. He’s a very strong champion with ridiculous damage and his dragon minion is downright stupid how strong it is. However, he requires the team comp to be built around him for him to succeed. He’s best paired with aggressive engage supports like Leona, Annie, Blitzcrank. He’s an incredibly risky pick, but I imagine all teams are figuring out if they can make him work. If someone can figure out how to snowball with him and get him out of laning phase, I think we might see some surrenders at 20.