PROMOTE: Rough Dominion Tiers and Champion Analysis (10/16/2011)

PROMOTE: Rough Dominion Tiers and Champion Analysis (10/16/2011)

I realize that this upcoming Dominion patch will be a significant one in terms of overall champion balance (-10% overall EXP growth and a nerf to Gunblade being the biggest changes), but since last week I was already theorizing a Dominion tier list, I figured I would share it with you. In terms of tier ranking, I whimsically sorted by a Good, Decent, Bad system, but when I realized I had a bulk of my champions in the “Decent” category, I made the decision to re-split that into two more. I made a half-assed attempt to sub-sort each tier in descending strength, but since the effort can be measured in half an ass (ALRIGHT IT GOT TO ALPHABETICAL ONE EIGHT OF THE WAY IN), I don’t expect it to hold up. Mistakes will be made, but I figure the rankings work as a general opinion (my own, that is). I’ll also offer a general run-down on the champions in tiers (a real broad paragraph, nothing specific), so let’s get to it.

It’s obvious that Dominion is a vastly different game mode than Classic League of Legends and of the differences there are a few that really stand out. Some of the strongest champions in Dominion are considered so because they either mold well to the playstyle of capture & defend, or they are simply strong champions in and of themselves. While most players have realized these points subconsciously, I’m going to spell out the less obvious changes that Dominion brings to the table:

  • All champions get to late-game: Every champion setting foot in Dominion can (and should) expect to complete at least a full 4-item build. Item-dependent champions really shine in Dominion.
  • Exhaust is Everywhere: I still believe every Dominion team needs a straight DPSer, but given the sheer flexibility of Exahust (it’s a powerful offensive and defensive tool), auto-attack champions are automatically at a disadvantage. I’ve been chain exhausted more times than I can count.
  • Tanky-DPS & Bursty-DPS are king: In Dominion, you’re either tanking on a tower point, or you’re attacking a tower point.. With the latter, the faster you can burst an enemy champion down while they’re defending  means the less tower damage you’ll take and the less likely they’ll be able to react with an Exhaust / Garrison. With the former, the more damage you can soak while interrupting caps means the more damage your tower is putting out (and the more damage you’re doing). Long-range poking and disruption is good, but not nearly as necessary.
  • Nobody Builds Defensively: Dominion is a game of hyper offence. Defensive builds do work on specific champions (Rammus, Alistar to some degree, Warwick), but given Dominion’s global bonuses to magic and armor penetration, going defensive just means you’re not going to keep up with everyone else. If you’re looking for defence, you better pick a champion with inherent defensive capabilities.
  • Nobody Gets to Build: What I mean by this is that champions who have abilities that “build up” through the game just typically won’t find themselves having those core traits any longer. This also means that a lot of champions who like to ramp up during the early laning phases (LeBlanc, Mordekaiser) to gain an advantage over the mid and late game will also have problems doing so.
  • All-Zeal Builds Are Hilarious: UNTIL THEY’RE NOT.
The Best:
  • Akali, Jax, Kog’maw, Shaco, Rammus, Yorick, Singed, Warwick, Alistar, Gangplank, Xerath, Karthus, Poppy, Garen.

Akali and Jax, in specific, are uber-strong because they have huge burst, decent auto-attacking DPS, and solid inherent defensive traits (Stealth for Akali, Dodge RNG Stuns for Jax). Akali is a huge threat at early-mid levels, but Jax just doesn’t stop scaling while getting beefier as a tank. Kog’maw enjoys the status as being the best of the ranged DPS because he has the fastest face-melting capability. If we’re talking about a “kill them before they kill me” mindset, Kog’maw is your choice. He has the longest range (with W), the best poke (artillery), and can deal the most damage in a small frame of time. Shaco and Rammus are the two kings of capping, in my mind. Shaco (AP Shaco in particular) has incredible potential as a back-door capper and defender, thanks to his controllable illusion and his Jack-in-the-Boxes. Rammus has a monster combination of mobility, control, and defence. Stacking Armor in a tanky-DPS heavy game means that Rammus can have upwards of 200+ AD (thanks to his passive) while still being tanky as all hell. Combine that with a wide-disruptive ultimate for tower defending and a super-fast ability with Boots of Mobility, and you’ve got a huge threat. I consider Yorick to be one of the strongest bottom-lane pushers in the game, as the global mana regen buff has done him a huge favor. Also, his zombies block skill-shots, which is SO VERY ANNOYING. Also, if you lose a fight bottom lane, your ultimate lets you poke around for a while longer, meaning less time for your opponent to cap. Singed, Warwick, Alistar, Poppy and Garen all have fantastic defensive traits that let them defend while still being offensively threatening. Xerath has an incredible amount of poke and burst, and he can do it out of harm’s reach, while Gangplank and Karthus both have amazing poke and some of the most annoying global ultimates ever.

The Good:

  • Pantheon, Zilean, Wukong, Talon, Vayne, Cassiopeia, Corki, Ezreal, Gragas, Heimerdinger, Kassadin, Kennen, Lee Sin, Lux, Maokai, Nidalee, Nocturne, Renekton, Sion, Soraka, Teemo, Veigar, Vladimir, Ryze,.

I started alphabetical sorting about halfway down there because I got lazy. Hah. I won’t touch on specific champions too much here, but most you should be able to understand. All of the above champions either have great poking capabilities, great burst, or a lot of control. In reality, they do all of what the above does, but maybe not quite as effectively. You’ll notice a lot of mages here, and that’s because I love their burst. Unfortunately, if an enemy can survive your burst, sometimes you’re out of luck because of Dominion’s heavy 1v1 / 2v2 / 3v3 nature, meaning you’ll have little time to hide for your cooldowns to come up. Xerath (above) is the only obvious exception. It’s also worth noting that Ryze is a rare mage in that he can build very tankish with mana-boosting items, and he’ll deal monstrous burst while still being able to survive hits.

The Alright:

  • Skarner, Urgot, Xin Zhao, Amumu, Anivia, Blitzcrank, Brand, Caitlyn, Dr. Mundo, Evelynn, Fiddlesticks, Galio, Irelia, Jarvan IV, Janna, Karma, Katarina, Kayle, LeBlanc, Leona, Malphite, Malzahar, Morgana, Riven, Rumble, Shen, Tristana, Trundle, Tryndamere, Twisted Fate, Udyr, Nasus.

Most of the above are decent picks, and some of them have niche viability even against the top tier champions. For the most part, however, they just don’t contribute over a long term as much as I’ve seen the above two tiers contribute. This is usually due to higher cooldowns (in the case of the Mages), or a lack of offensive prowess present on the above. Also, a few are considered the best in classic LoL, like Caitlyn, but given Dominion’s wide-open battlegrounds and heavy reliance on independent contribution, they simply haven’t made the transition as well as others. Skarner is borderline good to me, and he will definitely make that transition come this patch.

The Bad:

  • Sivir, Annie, Ashe, Cho’gath, Nunu, Miss Fortune, Mordekaiser, Sona, Master Yi, Orianna, Olaf.

For all of the above, I just consider them good champions but very bad at making the transition to Dominion. Annie relies almost entirely on her Pyromania stun for defensive purposes, and this leaves her wide open in many situations. Sivir has great pushing potential, but her ultimate is meant to be used in big team fights; something that rarely occurs in Dominion. Also, given that mages are not the incredible threats they once were, Sivir’s awesome Spell Shield becomes less powerful. She still has that Dodge while moving, but given how fast attack speed amps up, attacking and moving will slow down your damage considerably. Cho’gath can’t get feast stacks against any sort of organized team. Given that he’s losing one of his core mechanics, I feel like he becomes a mage with one close-range burst ability (which is icky). Miss Fortune’s passive is great, but she can’t take advantage of it nearly as much as she could in Summoner’s Rift with its weaving treelines. Ashe’s ultimate is, theoretically, great for interrupting caps, but given her complete lack of defensive options otherwise and the strength of Jax and Akali, she suffers tremendously. Mordekaiser can’t build shield to save his life (literally). In Classic LoL, he could throw out his abilities on stacked enemies to multiply his shield gains, but this isn’t the case with Dominion. Sona has one defensive ultimate and her heals are all sustain, which makes her bleh. Master Yi needs his offence to shine, but he gets exploded if he does this. Orianna relies heavily on hiding behind the lines, throwing that ball everywhere. With her shortened range, she just can’t do it as well. Olaf is like another version of Master Yi, but with no real movement closing abilities, he suffers hard. Nunu is a funny character. That is all.

Man, this took forever. I shouldn’t have done those paragraphs. I NEED A NAP.