Underplayed Items That Need To See More Action - When Should You Be Choosing Them and Why
Sat 16th May 2020 - 12:00pm
When many League of Legends players first try out a champion, it can be hard to figure out what items go with unless they do a quick Google search. Finding the right items for a champion can be important, but there are pitfalls that players should be careful not to fall into. For example, if a player is a support and wants to try out Nami, buying items like Athene’s Unholy Grail may be a good option for a first item power spike. However, if the same player finds themselves laning with an attack speed-reliant ADC, getting Ardent Censer would be the better first buy.
What I’m trying to say is that the items players buy and the order they buy them matter, and it can change from game to game. Even if a player popped off with a great build, they could easily lose the next game with the same build because it simply didn’t fit the game they were playing. Because of this, players need to be ever-vigilant of what items are bought. It is equally important to understand the items, what they do, and how they benefit your champion and your team. There are also plenty of items that players don’t buy because they are simply overlooked when they could, in reality, be game changing.
Because of this, there are so many opportunities missed. Not all champions scale into the late game, so sometimes it’s better to buy for the early game. Or some champions don’t win until late, so play for that. But the items you buy matter, and if you don’t know some of the more underrated items, games can be lost and chances missed. So, over the course of this article, we will go over a few of the items in League of Legends that are overlooked for one reason or another. We will go over what each item is, what it does, how it can improve a champion, and speculate as to why it is underplayed.
Cull is one of the potential “starting” items in the game. It may not be traditional, but it can be just as effective as buying something like Doran’s Blade if the champion or match-up calls for it. Cull costs 450 gold and sells for 180 gold (which is important) and grants +7 attack damage and +3 life on-hit. Because of the cost of the item, you can buy it with one Health Potion, which is standard for most champions’ starting items. Cull, however, is very different from other starting items. Once it is bought, its passive says “After having killed 100 minions, grants an additional +350 gold and permanently disables this passive”. Each minion grants one gold/counter toward the completion of the item, earning the player even more gold. By the end of the item’s use and is sold, the player will net 180 gold profit. This may not seem like much, but it can be a key to a scaling champion. Champions like Jinx, Kai’Sa, or Fiora all work well with this item because of how they scale.
When a player buys Cull, it is never for immediate gain, the point of it is for a weak laning champion to scale into the late game. With this extra gold in their pocket, champions can get a spike in power before their opponents if the lane is played right. Now, why are more people not playing this item? If I had to speculate, it is because most players want to take charge of the game and play more aggressive. Plenty of average-elo players don’t see the value in scaling and want early aggression. However, that doesn’t mean this item should be slept on. The next time you play a scaling attack damage (AD) oriented champion, try out Cull to see what it will do for your team.
For many League of Legends players, the support role is mostly full of players who get autofilled to the role. With little interest in the gameplay of support, many players cast off champions like Janna or Lulu in place of a carry like Pyke or Brand. Even for those who do play champions like Janna or Lulu, many of them have typical builds, Ardent Censer into Redemption with things like Iron Locket of the Solari. While that build works fine, it can be greatly improved by adding Mikael’s Crucible. The item shouldn’t be built first, but is a great mid to late game item. It costs 2100 gold total and gives its user +10% cooldown reduction, +20% healing/shielding, +40 magic resistance, and +100% base mana regeneration. So already this item is looking stacked, but its active ability is what makes it so good. It essentially gives yourself or any ally a Cleanse, meaning it removes all impairing effects like fear, stuns, slows, etc.
This means that if an ally is locked down with a Leona ultimate, the support simply needs to press a button and they’re saved. Because you can also cast it on yourself and, for example, you get caught in a Mordekaiser ultimate or a Thresh hook, you can easily escape from it so you can unload a gamut of abilities to help your team and take out a few enemies. This item is criminally underused in the support role. I can only assume that this is the case because of what I mentioned earlier in this section. Due to the role being so autofilled, many players don’t know the power of this item, so they simply never buy it. So the next time you get autofilled to support and play a healing/shielding champion, consider buying Mikael’s Crucible to really make the most of your role.
Frozen Mallet is certainly not an unknown item, but it is definitely underplayed. This item is normally bought for champions like Gnar, who can use everything it has to offer, and ignored for most other champions. However, this item can be very useful to most AD champions in the right scenario. First, let’s go over the item. Frozen Mallet costs 3100 gold and gives the used +30 AD, +700 health, and has the added passive of applying a slow (which is increased for ranged champions). So, because the item is fairly expensive, it shouldn’t be a first item, but an item bought later in the game. Its slow works similarly to the Paralyze ability found on Stormrazor, a popular item amongst ADCs. Because of this similarity, it is possible for ADCs that already want Stormrazor to buy Mallet later in the game. By doing this, they are sacrificing power, but in its place the user gets incredibly tanky. This is useful for games where an ADC has gotten too far behind and is dying first in fights.
With the use of Mallet over Stormrazor, the ADC can still get damage and an increased slow with the added benefit of some extra health. So, if this item has so much to offer in the right situation, why is it not played more often? Well, the answer is very similar to Cull, because more average-elo players want to pop off and play aggressive. Because a large amount of the League population is below gold, this trend carries throughout a lot of players. Buying items like Rapid Firecannon first instead of Infinity Edge and things like that are common in lower elos. This item works well with champions like Jinx, who is very immobile and is easy to pick off. With the extra health and a hearty slow, this item can easily bring an AD champion back into the game and be able to contribute to the teamfights.
Most League of Legends players don’t like to shit back and let their team do the work. They want to be in the thick of it, fighting with all they’ve got so they can prove that they are the best player on their team. Twin Shadows may not be a flashy item, but it has a lot to offer players. First, let’s break down the item. Twin Shadows is an item that costs 2400 gold and offers the user +70 ability power, +10% cooldown reduction, and +7% movement speed. But that isn’t why the item is useful. Twin Shadows is useful for its active ability, which sends out two ghosts that slows up to two enemies on arrival. This type of item has so many uses.
It can easily let your team engage on immobile champions, escape from a speedy enemy like Sett or it could even help allies land skillshots. Because of this item’s versatility, it can be bought by most AP champions in most games. Champions like Veigar and Syndra, who already scale well, can give up an item for Twin Shadows so that they can take advantage of what it has to offer. So, if this item is so good, why is it still not an auto-include? I can only speculate that it is because players, like I said earlier, want those flashy plays, and while Twin Shadows can easily set up that play, it doesn’t offer tons of damage, so it is overlooked by players who don’t see its potential.
Now, if you are still not convinced that these items need to see more play, at least take away these few tidbits of information. First, never assume an item is bad just because it isn’t on a website. There are plenty of items that don’t see tons of play and can easily win a game. Second, flashy plays don’t always win games, the smarter path most often doesn’t lead to the most honor votes, but it does get you the victory. And lastly, if you are in an elo below gold, know that if you play for your team, and not your KDA, you can easily climb into the higher ranks. So, the next time you play a game that fits the criteria for any of these items, definitely try it out and watch the items work their magic.