ADC is one of the most fickle positions in League.
They’re squishy, generally immobile, and nearly useless early on. That’s why they are the only position that requires a support to babysit them for nearly the entire game. But if you take care of the ADC, holy cow can they deal damage in the late game. It’s not uncommon to see teams throw their entire composition at the enemy ADC—or draft a bunch of tanks to protect their own.
Continuing our “Best Champions” series, we have ranked the ADCs that have had the biggest impact on competitive play. We’ve already covered junglers and mid laners. We’re ranking marksmen on four categories:
1) Longevity: Surviving for multiple seasons across metas is the most important attribute for this list. If a champion appears in multiple seasons, they clearly have had a large impact.
2) Peak dominance: How good was the champion at their absolute best? We heavily prioritize performance at international events, where the stakes are the highest.
3) Innovation: Did the champion change the way people think about the game? Before the meta was established in Season 1, teams began to find success with the engage potential and ranged damage of champions like Ashe. That helped solidify teams’ thinking about the ADC role.
4) Uniqueness: Can the champion do something that no other champion can? Does a champion’s kit, art, and animations inspire awe? Certain champions are unmistakable and unmissable. That’s what we’re looking for.
5) A quick point of clarification: this list will focus on champions played in the ADC role. So ranged AD champions like Graves and Kindred don’t make the list, even though Graves used to be played in the bot lane. Those two are pretty established as junglers now.
With those criteria in mind, here are some champions that just missed the cut:
Varus: Varus was tough to leave off because he’s been such a beast for so long. But he gets knocked for a visually unimpressive kit and the fact that he’s played a fair bit in mid lane.
Vayne: Nobody melts tanks better than Vayne, but in pro play, her lane phase is so punishing that she hasn’t dominated for extended stretches.
Kog’Maw: The void creature was our toughest exclusion, and he definitely has a unique identity as a mobile turret. Although he’s one of the game’s preeminent hyper carries, there are others on this list with more interesting personalities. Like Twitch.
Twitch is one of the game’s great hypercarries. He’s unique as one of few ADC champions with an invisibility mechanic—we’re ignoring Teemo—which makes playing against him especially challenging.
And his impact on teamfights is unparalleled. Not only does his ult go through champions, he stacks big poison indicators on Twitch’s victims. You may not see him coming, but you always know when Twitch has arrived.
Jhin’s inclusion on this list was tough because he’s such a new champion. He didn’t get a lot of play until the second half of Season 6.
But what he’s done in under two season is incredible. He was a dominant fixture at Season 6 Worlds and has been fantastic in Season 7 as well. He’s incredible in lane and his burst and ultimate make him unique among ADCs. Bottom line? Get an awesome Worlds skin with golden wings, and you’re in.
Like Jhin, Kalista is always a safe pick due to her strong lane phase. But she adds another element of safety in that she can save her support with her ultimate.
Pros really value her ultimate as both a safety tool and way for the ADC to engage. That explains why her winrates aren’t typically spectacular in solo queue—pro teams definitely know how to use her better. Finally, Kalista’s strange movement is visually interesting and her rend mechanic allows teams to prioritize objectives in a totally unique way.
Sivir is present in nearly every meta. She offers un-matched wave clear and safety. So why isn’t she higher on this list?
Well, Sivir is kind of boring. Granted, that’s what pros love about her. And since Riot changed her W to so that the bounces can crit, she’s an insane late-game fighter. But she just doesn’t have that big of a impact until that super late stage. Her visual impact is also muted. Her ult makes a weird sound, but you don’t really feel it on screen. That’s enough to knock Sivir down a few pegs.
Unlike Sivir, Tristana is a bit of a niche pick due to a suspect lane phase. But she’s definitely also an innovator and her peaks have been really high. Her ability to raze structures is completely unique and has spawned a ton of theory and strats around Tristana comps.
Her most dominant stretch came at the end of Season 4, when NA teams brought her to Worlds and bamboozled opponents with her ability to melt turrets. TSM was an underdog on paper in their Group Stage match against Star Horn Royal Club, but ADC Jason “WildTurtle” Tran took Tristana and literally won the game—deathless and by himself. That’s mind blowing.
Season 4 was the last time NA teams were good internationally. We’re not saying that’s all because of Tristana, but we’re not not saying it.
Corki is another marksman who always seems to find his way into the meta. The only reason he’s not higher is because his magic damage and mobility often make him a strong pick for the mid lane. But his longevity puts him a step above Tristana.
Corki’s unique damage mix and reliance on spells make him an innovator, especially in terms of item build. We’ve seen some items bleed over to other ADCs, but even today, Corki remains a unique beast in a plane.
Caitlyn has been around for a long time, though it took some time for teams to figure out how to use her siege tools and optimize her build path. She has the longest auto attack range in the game, which makes her a menace in lane and in fights.
Caitlyn’s arrival on the international scene happened at Season 3’s World Championship. Looking to eliminate Fnatic, Royal gave her over to star ADC Jian “Uzi” Zi-hao. And boy did he deliver. Fnatic got out to a huge lead behind good play from their own Varus, but once Uzi started hitting those late game Caitlyn power spikes, Fnatic melted under a hail of bullets. At one point, Uzi was tasked with keeping Fnatic out of Baron pit, all by himself, all because his Caitlyn was unstoppable.
Along with Ashe, Ezreal is one of two ADCs that have been relevant since Season 1. He’s fallen off a bit lately, but from seasons two through six, he was almost always meta. The height was probably at Season 2 Worlds, where he was picked in 16 out of 19 games in the bracket stage.
Pros love Ezreal because he’s a consistent performer throughout each phase of the game. His safe lane phase makes him a good blind pick option. He hits good power spikes with a unique build and his constant spell-slinging makes him a late game monster. He lacks the visceral power and impact of some of the other ADCs. But in late game fights, it’s always fun to see a good Ezreal player slinging spells, hopping all over the place, and ulting through the entire team.
Ashe is one of League’s most popular marksmen. Her kit, which includes global vision and engage, seems tailor-made for professional play. And she’s been around since the very beginning.
One of League’s earliest highlights was the insane Ashe arrow against All authority ADC Bora “YellOwStaR Kim hit in the Finals at the first World Championship.
It helps that Ashe’s ultimate might be the most iconic one in the game. The oohs and ahs from the audience begin when it first appears on the minimap, and when it hits, pandemonium usually ensues. In a fitting bookend for this champion, one of the craziest plays from the last World Championships was another Ashe arrow.
Dominance across multiple seasons. Fun, fast, and skill-based playstyle. Ability to bully the lane and dominate in teamfights. One of the most iconic characters in League with a tragic backstory to boot. And just how important is Lucian to pro players? Just listen to how star mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen tells it:
Lucian ticks all the boxes for what a great champion should be. As an ADC, his mobility and ability to put out DPS is unparalleled. It doesn’t matter that he’s short-ranged—by the time the Lucian plunges into the middle of your team, you’re usually already dead.
All photos via Riot Games.