The Downfall of AD Carry in Season 7: How we got here and looking forward
Thu 12th Jan 2017 - 8:00am
It's no secret that AD Carry is simply a weak position in the current meta. In fact, it's such a bad situation right now, that pro players are streaming playing Ziggs bottom lane (not AD Carry, bottom). I've seen in Diamond ranked games many kill lanes with Mages + Hard CC Supports. We haven't seen anything else in bottom lane besides an AD Carry and a support for the past seven years.
At first, the thought of an AD Carry not being in a game sounds so bizarre, because it has been a part of the game ever since the first players decided to develop the first competitive strategy of Top, Jungle, Middle, AD Carry, and Support. How did we get here and will this be the downfall of AD Carries forever?
No, it won't. They are simply in an awful position. Eventually, Riot will have to fix some things up, because then ~20 champions will become obsolete. If you are insisting to play AD Carry in this terrible state, my recommendation is that you pick either: Jhin, Caitlyn, Twitch, Vayne, Ezreal, or Ashe.
To be honest, those aren't all even that good, but it will make a bit more sense of how we got here.
1. Towers are too weak, and dives are just too easy to pull off.
This video isn't a dive, but it shows how weak towers really are. Something that a lot of players don't know is that towers only do physical damage. Not only does that make it so stacking armor is useful to pull off tower dives, it also means you can mitigate damage from the AD Carry. Double the value.
As of now, almost any Jungle champion, no matter how squishy, can succeed with a full health 3v2 tower dive in bottom lane. Usually you can also expect a Mid Laner to join in on the party in bot lane. There's just no threat from towers any more. Nowhere is safe for an AD Carry to farm freely because anyone can dive you. And after this happens, they take your tower, a dragon, and do the same thing to your poor Mid Laner. This is even worse with the introduction of First Blood Tower gold, back in Patch 6.15. It just means that the game is going to be more Bottom Lane centered.
Towers aren't daunting like they used to be, and that needs to be changed. My suggestion is for the tower shots to be split 50/50 for physical and magic damage, and also increase the fire rate against enemy champions. This will make it so that just taking one random shot out of the blue won't hurt you too much, but actually committing to a dive will require some clever aggro rotating.
When an AD Carry has no place to farm and no kills are coming in, they have no gold income. No items, no damage.
2. Item Pathing - It's Not Good
Rioters have already said in many Reddit comments and own personal tweets (most notably, Head Designer Riot Ghostcrawler) that the Lethality stat did not work as intended. It is just abused by Assassins to bully Marksman even more, rather than an alternate build path for AD Carries who don't want to invest in Crit.
So every AD Carry is building Crit and let's just take a bit of a look into the standard ADC two-item spike and boots.
Now, let's use the same example of Poppy.
It's quite apparent that tank items are just too cheap.
The problem with these items is that they all provide some form of damage along with tank stats. Sunfire Cape's magic damage, Iceborn Gauntlet's Sheen proc, and Dead Man's Plate auto attack buff. So when tanks invest their gold in tank items, they are getting cheap tank stats with an added damage increase.
Almost every Top or Jungle Bruiser/Tank champion can do this, and it's all the more powerful with the Courage of the Colossus Keystone mastery. Maokai, Nautilus, Poppy, Rek'Sai, Zac, Hecarim, Vi - all of these champions have incredibly cheap build paths that provide them with loads of damage, while simultaneously making them impossible to take down. Combine this with the above point that towers aren't really a threat and there's just not much a champion with 1500 HP can do.
The other problem with item pathing is that every defensive option is just plain bad. Mercurial Scimitar is very cost inefficient, providing Attack Damage and a small amount of lifesteal for 3600 gold. You may be thinking, "Wait! I buy that item for the CC removal, not the stats!" Well, when the tank that rams you in with that crowd control also demolishes your health bar, so being free of the CC doesn't do much.
Another option that people look toward to negate being deleted by Syndra, Katarina, or LeBlanc is the Maw of Malmortius. This is honestly your best bet if you really need a defensive item, but not because of the ~400 health shield you get, because that gets disintegrated in a half second, but the lifesteal is quite nice. Still, this comes at an expense to your damage, and 3250 is a large sum of gold for something that won't help you that much.
Guardian Angel is made for champions like Kha'Zix, Ekko, Darius, champions who can do something once they spawn. Nobody can peel for you that well in Season 7, so once you spawn from your Guardian Angel, you're more than likely going to die again.
But the worst part about these defensive options isn't that they're are super bad items (which they aren't, they're just not optimal), it's that they take up a slot in your limited 6 items. The standard items for an auto-attack reliant AD Carry are Berserker's Greaves, Infinity Edge, Rapid Firecannon, Phantom Dancer, Bloodthirster, and Lord Dominik's Regards. Take one of those out, and you have an AD Carry that not only is still susceptible to death, but can't even dish out relevant damage when alive. So what do you do, deal as much damage as you can in a short time then die, or just deal a small amount of damage while possibly living for a while?
Yup, just take the six damaging items and abandon defenses. Riot is looking into Mercurial Scimitar buffs, so maybe it could be viable soon, but as of right now, it just is a bad investment.
Only in very specific situations would I choose one of these items. Like if an enemy Malzahar is the only one doing anything worthwhile, so QSS could be nice to have.
3. The Assassin Reworks and Syndra
(pardon the language in this one)
This one is something that people attribute to the downfall of the marksman way more than I think it actually has affected it, but it still contributes. The video above kind of explains what I'm talking about when playing against one of the new reworked assassins or the bane of AD carry, Syndra. Get too close, you die, be too far, don't have relevant damage.
The distance that a champion like LeBlanc or Katarina can cover in a few seconds, completely demolish you, and zip right back is preposterous. Sure, assassins could get close to doing this earlier, but now with the lack of any reliable defensive options, it's just too easy for these guys. Combine this with that towers shouldn't be scaring them and that warding is not the most common thing in lower elos, and you get an assassin that could jump out of anywhere, wherever you are on the map, 100-0 you, and jump right back like nothing happened.
I wish I had more to say about these guys, but it's just as simple as that. They have a very low risk when trying to kill you, but get a very high reward. Syndra, LeBlanc, and Kat almost completely ignore something like Maw of Malmortius, so don't bother.
4. Jungle Experience and Ganks
Oh boy, this is the one that Riot (specifically Riot Meddler discussed in his forum post) touched on that will be fixed soon enough, but this, in my opinion, is the biggest reason why marksman are practically useless on patch 6.24. Jungle camps are giving ridiculous amounts of experience to junglers, especially those who can clear relatively quickly in the new jungle, (Zac, Hecarim, Lee Sin). So, you could be getting ganked by a jungler who already has his ultimate when you just are hitting level 4. This is especially scary when the enemy jungler has an advanced knowledge of pathing and where to be on the map. These skill advantages, along with the sheer stat advantages allow ganks that are poorly executed to work out just because of your level.
Simply put, these ganks are coming way too fast, too powerful, and too easy. And remember, when you can easily execute multiple dives on bot lane, getting double kills for your Jungler or Mid Laner, you get the first tower, you pick up a dragon or two, you get complete control of the bot side of the map, and soon enough Mid Lane. This is how snowballing advantages work, and with Junglers coming at you, rapid fire ganking, it's all too easy.
5. The Support Champion Pool and Base Damages
Nobody seems to be talking about this one, but I think it's just absolutely absurd how much damage that supports can be outputting right now. Here are just a few of the supports that I believe require some tweaks to make their damage feel less overbearing:
Supports are dishing out so much damage on Marksman, who can't purchase early healing due to the bad item pathing, which makes trading just a nightmare. Brand and Zyra should not be meta support picks that you see picked in competitive and just go full damage along with an Eye of the Watchers. That's not supporting.
But not even just those two are the problem. Bard can chunk you out with his Q's and auto attacks at almost any stage of the game. The ideal role of a support is to enhance their teammates, whether it be with heals, shields, buffs, crowd control, or other forms of assistance. They should not be able to run up to a Marksman and just chunk them out to a point where they can't fight. Even Taric, arguably the worst support in the current meta, can deal enough damage with his passive to be scary for an AD Carry to be near.
It's a fundamental error in Riot's balancing if a support is a damage threat to an enemy team.
Supports are not supposed to be dealing any damage. There is no point for them to have high base damages or high scalings. They are there to protect and control, not fight. Brand and Zyra were intended as Mid Laners, but their low mana spells with high base damages combined with a skill-shot based CC allowed them to become full supports.
If Riot wants to make Brand and Zyra actual supports, which I don't think they do, they must tone down their damage completely and offer more supportive spells. What they will most likely do is try to make them Mid Laners again, and for them to do that, they need to raise their scalings and completely destroy their base damages.
I'm also surprised by the lack of mention of this issue, because supports having damage is one of the most agitating things to play against in lane as a marksman and adds to my whole point of a five threat composition.
Top: A tank who deals a lot of damage with CC
Jungle: A tank or assassin who deals a lot of damage and is always in your lane diving you
Mid: A mage or assassin who deals enough damage to 100-0 you without any risk
ADC: If all the other four are doing well, should be very simple to be a reliable damage dealer
Support: Champions like Brand and Zyra can end up with the highest damage on your team, or be a CC threat
6. Lifesteal and Season 7's Keystone Masteries
I think that lifesteal needs to be a more accessible stat to Marksman, and Morellonomicon needs to be weakened. With nerfs to Fervor of Battle, most AD Carries are now taking Warlord's Bloodlust, which they are relying on to be their only form of sustain until 4th or 5th item when they finally can purchase a Bloodthirster. This is even worse because Morellonomicon is a standard for almost every mage, and the Grevious Wounds really lessen the effect that Bloodlust has.
One key idea that I have is to introduce a new item for lifesteal that costs around ~2600 gold and is only for ranged champions. The lifesteal items we have in the game right now for Marksmen are Bloodthirster, Blade of the Ruined King, Death's Dance, Mercurial Scimitar, and Maw of Malmortius, to an extent. All of these items do not provide the stats to be an early game pickup or are far too expensive, causing AD Carries to rely on a keystone mastery which has an effect that is 60% weaker due to an item that you will be against every game.
Creating a new item doesn't have to be the only solution because usually, whenever a new item is introduced to fix a big problem, it just leads to that item being a must-buy (Redemption, right now). So what I'm suggesting is create a way that lifesteal is more accessible, nerf Morellonomicon so it isn't used in every situation, and change Fervor of Battle so that it will be used on some champions.
This brings me to my concluding point to sum up the article you just read: In Season 7, Marksmen have difficulty dealing with Tanks, Mages, Assassins, Bruisers, and Supports. This is an incredibly large scale issue and needs changes to be made on both sides of the plate.
But regardless, thank you if you read up to this point! Good luck in your ranked games and please leave any feedback on your opinions of AD Carry in Season 7!
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