Itemization in League of Legends: How to Maximize Your Gold Revenue and Invest in the Correct Item Builds



Sat 23rd Nov 2019 - 2:18pm

When I started playing the game in Season 2, I felt extremely overwhelmed by the number of items in the game. I didn't know what to build and I would often find myself building items without considering the game state and the type of champion I was playing. This led to one too many games lost just due to the wrong choice in itemization and optimizing my champion's stats. Even in the recent Worlds 2019, we observe players making fundamental errors in itemization, as shown by renowned analyst "LS" ranting about the proliferation of Morellonomicon builds throughout the entire Worlds tournament. 

In this article, I will be covering specifically on the more popular and unique items in the game (i.e. they are not always built all the time) and when to build them. These items include:

  • Morellonomicon, of course
  • Void Staff
  • Bramble Vest
  • Executioner's Calling
  • Banshee's Veil
  • Adaptive Helm
  • Zhonya's Hourglass/Seeker's Armguard
  • Guardian Angel

For other items, you can check out and search for the champions you want to research their builds on. Most of the time, their builds would be identical except for the items covered here, which are very situational.


This item offers the user 70 ability power, 300 health, 15 magic penetration for 3000 gold and has a unique passive known as Cursed Strike, which describes itself as:

UNIQUE – CURSED STRIKE: Dealing magic damage to an enemy champion inflicts them with Grievous Wounds for 3 seconds.

The important term to take note of here is Grievous Wounds. Grievous Wounds is a debuff that causes enemy champions to suffer from 40 percent less healing from any source. Ideally, Morellonomicon is built on AP champions who are facing against champions with high sustain and lifesteal. Notable examples include Dr. Mundo, Soraka and Aatrox. The uniqueness of this item results it in being extremely cost-efficient against champions who rely heavily on healing, but falls behind sharply when the enemy does not rely as much on healing, but other ways to keep themselves alive such as shields, escapes, and etc. 

As such, you would only want to build this item when 1) you are an AP champion and 2) when the enemy relies heavily on healing to sustain. 

The reason behind why this item appeared so much at Worlds is because as of Worlds Patch, the item that builds into Morellonomicon, Oblivion Orb, is an extremely efficient AP item that, for 1600 gold, provides 15 Magic Penetration, 20 Ability Power, and 200 Health. Most people, however, make the mistake of blindly upgrading Oblivion Orb into Morellonomicon when there is no need to, spending an extra 1400 gold for only 50 more ability power and 100 health, when you can technically do that by building one Ruby Crystal and one Blasting Wand, which costs 1355 gold in total and gives you 40 ability power and 150 health. Spending an extra 45 gold and underutilizing the Grievous Wounds passive is fatal and could lead to delayed power spikes from the lack of gold and, consequently, items.

Void Staff

This item, costing 2650 gold, provides 70 ability power and has the unique passive, Dissolve.

UNIQUE – DISSOLVE: Grants 40% magic penetration.

This means that you should build this item when the enemy team is stacking magic resistance. What Void Staff effectively does is that it helps you, as an AP champion, to cut through 40% of their magic resistance to deal more damage. Ideally, you would want to build this as your third item after your Rabadon's Deathcap to amplify the damage you deal through negated resistances. 

Bramble Vest

The tank equivalent of Morellomonicon, this item from 2 Cloth Armor, worth 300 gold each. You would want to build this early as a tank into champions who deal most of their damage through auto-attacks or have high natural healing. This is because its passive not only provides Grievous Wounds to whoever is attacking you but also reflect 3 + 10% of your bonus armor stat worth of magic damage on the attacker. As such, this is an amazing item that counters champions who fall into the above two categories. However, you do not build this into Thornmail immediately as it is sub-optimal, but rather sit on this item until you can build this into your 6th item. 

Executioner's Calling

This is basically the AD version of Morellomonicon and you would want to build it as an AD Champion when you are looking to reduce healing against the enemy team. Likewise, do not upgrade this item into Mortal Reminder until you are building your 6th item. 

Banshee's Veil

Banshee's Veil is a 3000 gold item that provides 75 ability power, 10% cooldown reduction, and 60 magic resistance. Banshee's Veil also provides a unique Spellshield ability which blocks one spell and takes 40 seconds to refresh after being broken. Ideally, you should build this item if you are an AP Champion and you are facing a magic-heavy enemy team composition or one that has high pick potential (e.g. Thresh with his Death Sentence or Lee Sin with his Dragon's Rage). Building this on immobile mages such as Veigar and Syndra provides insane value, as it provides an additional layer of security without any built-in escape tools or sustain. With proper positioning, you are able to shut down so many more possibilities for the enemy team to kill you.

Adaptive Helm

Adaptive Helm is a 2800 gold item that provides 10% cooldown reduction, 350 health, 100% base health regeneration, and 55 magic resistance.

Its unique passive is that taking magic damage from a spell or effect reduces all subsequent magic damage taken from that spell or effect by 20% for 4 seconds. Multiple sources of magic damage can have this effect active at any one time and the duration is tracked separately per source. 

What does this mean? This basically equates to the perfect tank item to shut down annoying AP casters that rely on short-cooldown spells to deal their damage. Some examples of champions that are countered by this item are Ryze with his E-Q spell spam and Cassiopeia with her Twin Fang spell.

Zhonya's Hourglass/Seeker's Armguard

Zhonya's Hourglass is a 2900 gold item that provides 75 ability power, 45 armor, and 10% cooldown reduction. 

Its unique passive is as follows: 

UNIQUE – STASIS: Put yourself in stasis for 2.5 seconds, rendering yourself untargetable and invulnerable for the duration, but also unable to move, attack, cast spells, or use items during this time (120 second cooldown).

You should build this item if 1) you are an AP Champion, 2) the enemy is AD-heavy, and 3) you are looking to counter any burst from the enemy team.

Stasis, if used properly, is one of the most, if not the most powerful unique passives in the game. Although it could be daunting for new players to use as the wrong usage of Zhonya's Hourglass could cost you your life and even the game, using Zhonya's Hourglass effectively allows you to negate life-threatening CC or burst damage. 

Popular examples of the usage of Zhonya's Hourglass are using it when Karthus' ultimate is channeling or when Zed's ultimate is about to pop and kill you.

Zhonya's Hourglass also builds out of Seeker's Armguard, which has the following unique passive:

UNIQUE: Killing a unit grants 0.5 bonus ability power and armor, stacking up to 30 times for a maximum of 15 bonus ability power and armor.

What most players do is that if they are facing an AD champion in lane as an AP champion, they build this item first without upgrading it and complete other core items first. The rationale behind this is that by building it early, you are able to stack your passive earlier and get your bonus stats earlier, while building other items that are more cost-efficient than a completed Zhonya's Hourglass when it comes to dealing damage. 

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel is a 2800 gold item that provides 40 armor and 45 attack damage. 

Its unique passive is upon taking lethal damage, you are restored to 50% of base health and 30% of maximum mana after 4 seconds of Stasis (300 second cooldown).

This item is the most optimal for 1) AD Champions, 2) countering burst damage, and 3) AD-Heavy enemy team compositions.

Why does this item counter burst? Let's imagine a scenario in-game: You are rotating together with your team from mid-lane to the Baron pit to clear out vision before starting the Baron as a squishy ADC. Out of nowhere, Syndra lands her full skill combo on you to take you out of the teamfight. If you did not build Guardian Angel prior to that, you would have died and the enemy would most likely win because it is a 4v5 teamfight. However, if you had Guardian Angel, what you did was essentially blow her ultimate cooldown and prevent her from one-shotting any other member of the team, thus still preserving the 5v5 teamfight dynamic rather than 4v5. 

Essentially, this item is a godsend for AD champions when it comes to these scenarios.

Summing Things Up: Why You Should Build Properly

There are 146 champions in the game and over 175 items in game, so understandably, every single League of Legends game you play can be very volatile and explosive. This guide alone won't be able to answer every single question you have regarding each and every League of Legends game you play. However, this element of randomness and variation can be negated if you follow this guide and generally build properly. (For example, if there is a fed Ryze on the enemy team and you are a tank, building Adaptive Helm helps to negate the catastrophic feeding from your teammates). Knowing what to build comes from experience and knowledge, and ultimately what you build can have a huge impact on the game state. 

I would also like to point out a very useful tip raised by TSM Bjergsen regarding item builds from his coaching session with Daniel Platzman, the drummer of Imagine Dragons:

"If you're ahead as a carry, build defensive and vice-versa"

The reason behind this is simple: When you are ahead, you would want to preserve your lead and avoid being shut-down instantly. Building items such as Zhonya's Hourglass and Banshee's Veil as a fed Syndra can go a long way in protecting yourself. Likewise, when you are behind, investing money to stop dying even more (i.e. building defensive) only slows down your rate of losing. Building offensively opens more doors of opportunity to come back into the game as you deal more damage and you are more likely to shut-down the enemy team. (Yes, I've built Warmog's Armor on Sona before because I was so scared of dying in the past.)

With that, I wish you all the best on the Rift!

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