The 10 best Legends of Runeterra champions of all time

LoR has almost half of all of League's champions in the game, here are the 10 most competitive.

Image via Riot Games

Beyond the Bandlewood is Legends of Runeterra’s most recent card set. Aside from introducing 126 new cards and the final region, the expansion denotes a two-year release since the game launched its initial closed beta in October 2019. 

Champions are the lifeblood of LoR. They represent the League of Legends characters that fans grew to love and are the only cards that can level up significantly. They often dictate how a deck is played, and drawing them can make or break a match.

Since we’ve already looked at the best spells and followers of the game, we’re now turning our attention to the 10 best champions of LoR, including one from each region and cards that were close to claiming that same spot.

10) Fiora

  • Demacia’s close contenders: Lucian, Shyvana, Jarvan

While Demacia is better known for its efficient followers and impressive spells, the champions within the region lack that same agency as the other two previously mentioned types. Despite this slight flaw, Demacia still boasts a boogeyman that held back aggressive metas before her one-health nerf: Fiora.

The ability to threaten killing four units while surviving wasn’t an incredibly easy task to fulfill, but regions like Ionia and Freljord helped keep her alive. Due to this, Fiora’s win condition made both players change the way they fundamentally thought about how to play LoR.

9) Viego

  • Shadow Isles’ close contenders: Elise, Senna, Thresh, Kalista

The Shadow Isles is a region with many strengths, powerful aggressive tools (Elise and Kalista), strong mana-cheating opportunities (Thresh), and grinding removal (Senna). The most definable late-game grinding tool for the region, though, is Viego. Thanks to his support, which can summon Encroaching Mists, Viego becomes an inevitability due to his constantly ramping stats alongside the tokens he can summon.

While aiming to level up Viego is a challenge, it’s not the most arduous task in the world. Once he sees enough allies with high power die, he will quickly remove any threats from the opponent with ease. Any enemy champion will quickly be destroyed, and their strongest followers will serve you granting you the ability to sacrifice them.

8) Poppy

  • Bandle City’s close contenders: Veigar, Ziggs, Fizz

The newest champion on the list has quickly risen the ranks of aggressive effectiveness due to her ability to bolster wide boards. Despite her narrow goal to give +1/+1 to herself and allies, Poppy has found success in a multitude of decks with the release of Beyond the Bandlewood.

She serves as a beatdown alternative for Bandle Tree decks, a curve-topper for aggressive Ziggs/Poppy lists, and a revitalizing force for midrange Demacian strategies. While leveling up Poppy might be difficult, if she ever succeeds in this goal, the game is sure to quickly end in your favor, as she uses her level two ability when she turns, which will provide +2/+2 and Impact immediately to your board.

7) Trundle

  • Change history: Trundle originally had six health. Ice Pillar also had eight health.
  • Freljord’s close contenders: Sejuani, Ashe, Anivia, Lissandra

Freljord has been an incredibly stable region since the release of LoR. With a solid pool of followers and spells, the region can use powerful defensive abilities in and out of combat to maintain card advantage. One champion that combined all of these aspects was Trundle in Call of the Mountain.

The Troll King had impressive stats and Regeneration, which meant he had the ability to contest the board fairly easily once he arrived as soon as turn five. Since he was such a solid body to stay alive and fight opposing units, he could let control decks stall until reaching the late game.

One major example of this was Lissandra when she was released back in Empires of the Ascended. Not only could Trundle protect the user against aggressive and midrange opponents, but his Ice Pillar gave access to an eight-mana unit to repeatedly play and help level Lissandra.

6) Lee Sin

  • Change history: Was originally a six-mana 3/6, then buffed to four-mana 3/4, then nerfed to five-mana 3/5, Champion Spell changed from Lee Sin’s Dragon Rage to Lee Sin’s Sonic Wave
  • Ionia’s close contenders: Zed, Karma, Irelia, Shen

With the exception of Yasuo, Ionia has had strong and effective champions for different strategies since its inception. Karma lent herself towards combo/control, Zed was an aggressive monster, and Irelia terrorized the meta until receiving a major set of nerfs.

But one champion that has remained consistent as a ladder and tournament threat is Lee Sin. The most popular lists aim to combine him with either Targon (for Zoe) or Shurima (Akshan) to easily obtain the Overwhelm mechanic. Once he obtains the keyword, his level two form becomes a daunting menace who can effectively deal double damage to the Nexus.

Oftentimes this means Lee Sin can OTK opponents even if their health total is high. Even with this impressive combo potential, Lee Sin can fight for board while staying safe due to the Challenger and Barrier he can achieve each turn.

5) Akshan

  • Shurima’ close contenders: Azir, Sivir, Renekton, Nasus

Shurima is oftentimes synonymous with strong Landmarks and potent aggressive pressure and Akshan combines the best of both worlds. While Akshan himself only has okay stats for his cost, his real strength comes from his two Warlords exclusive Landmarks he summons. Even if opponents remove Akshan, destroying his Warlord’s Palace is a much more difficult task, and the variety of its rewards will help you maintain card advantage or tempo.

While eight turns is often too long to wait for any Countdown, the ability to reduce the time required to attain the loot inside lets players level up Akshan fairly quickly.

On top of all these positives, a champion that can turn on Shaped Stone all by himself is also a nice incredible bonus to have.

4) Ezreal

  • Change history: Level two Ezreal created a zero mana Mystic Shot, Ezreal was nerfed to needing 10 enemies to get targeted to level up, then buffed to eight, then six. After all these changes level two Ezreal’s ability was nerfed to only deal one if he sees a spell not target an enemy.
  • Piltover and Zaun’s close contenders: Vi, Jinx, Heimerdinger

Similar to Piltover and Zaun’s followers and spells, the region has a smaller pool of viable champions, but wields incredibly integral staples to the few lists it can serve. Ezreal is a powerful unit that can be played as a controlling threat which can remove early threats or serve as a finisher thanks to his burn damage ability.

Despite receiving multiple nerfs and reworks, the Prodigal Explorer has found himself in competitive decks in each season since the closed beta.

3) Twisted Fate

  • Change history: Level up condition was nerfed to needing nine cards.
  • Bilgewater’s close contenders: Nami, Gangplank, Miss Fortune

Variety is a wonderful tool to have, and Twisted Fate has it in spades. The ability to answer wide boards, delay large opposing threats, or simply maintain card advantage rewards a skilled player for correctly reading the situation at hand.

While decks sporting Twisted Fate don’t aim to level him up anymore ever since his direct nerf to himself and his support, Twisted Fate is the ultimate tool box champion. 

2) Zoe

  • Targon’s close contenders: Aurelion Sol, Aphelios

“Zoe on one.” This phrase is either a sign of relief if you’re the one wielding such a force, or terror if you find yourself on the receiving end with no answer.

With one-damage abilities so rare and infrequent in the first round, Zoe can sometimes snowball a game in your favor with the amount of value and threat she generates. Due to how most removal is priced in LoR, getting rid of Zoe can be disproportionate to the cost of playing her.

Similar to Poppy, while leveling Zoe can be a difficult task, if she ever achieves her goal the game will oftentimes end quickly in your favor. Spreading keywords around is a game-breaking mechanic, especially if you can share Elusive, Lifesteal, and SpellShield.

1) Draven

  • Change history: Draven is losing one health with Patch 2.18.
  • Noxus’ close contenders: Sion, LeBlanc, Swain

Noxus’ favorite narcissist has been a lynchpin to keeping multiple top-tier decks afloat. His 3/3 stat line with Quick Attack makes him a formidable offensive threat that aggro and midrange lists appreciate, and Draven’s axes make him quintessential to any deck requiring discard synergies.

Due to his versatility and effectiveness, Draven has seen the most competitive play out of any champion on this list. While what he does is mostly basic, the ability to be the best at being basic will make him a strong fundamental champion with an incredibly high ceiling to reach.

Draven was recently announced to lose one health with the release of Patch 2.18 today, however. Now that he is only a 3/2, he is much more vulnerable to popular removal like Mystic Shot, Darkness, and two power Challengers. Despite this new weakness, Draven can still find a solid footing in the meta, but he is less likely to be a continuously dominant threat within LoR.

Expect to see some of these cards in your ranked climb, since the game’s latest competitive ranked ladder season dropped with today’s patch.