ADCs in the Midlane: A Guide with Zyrhoes
Mon 11th Dec 2017 - 7:44pm
Smite's meta has been extremely fluid as of late and it has lead to some interesting playstyles and different kinds of roles. One of the most popular is ADCs in the mid lane, seen played by many high-level midlaners, including Team Dignitas' Joakim "Zyrhoes" Verngren. While we have seen this before, it seems to be an extremely extensive option now, not just a niche option with only a few viable gods. We got in contact with Zyrhoes to get his input to help make this guide on how best to play this role and make it work for you and your team!
Picks and Bans
This playstyle can live or die depending on your actions in this phase. While ADCs are strong in the mid lane right now, they still struggle with ganks and pressure from the jungle. Therefore, your bans should be concentrated on jungle instead of midlaners. Banning strong Assassins and Warriors like Erlang Shen, Cu Cuhlainn, Thor and Hun Batz will allow you to be safer in the mid lane, especially in the early phases of the game. Banning some Guardians might also be a good idea, as their large amounts of crowd control may prove effective in mitigating the damage you can do in the later phases of the game.
When it comes to picks, most ADCs will work right simply due to the strength of ADC items and the amount of farm available to you as a midlaner.
According to Zyrhoes, "AMC and Ullr are the strongest ones simply because they have an incredible early game while they're also really good late game"
Ah Muzen Cab and Ullr both share some traits that make them excel in this role. Strong consistent early game damage, good objective control and a strong late game presence lead to them being strong contenders for high-pressure ADC midlaners.
These are the general requirements for an ADC in the midlane; strong abilities to help solidify their early game control and good basic attack scaling to make sure they can provide enough damage for their team in the late game. Other gods that work well and are worth noting are Neith, Hou Yi, and Hachiman.
So what about the mages people refer to as "Magical ADCs"? Sol, Chronos, and Freya are the only mages in the game that have a large focus on their basic attack damage so have seen some limited play in the ADC role. Now that the ADCs have taken over the midlane, is it worth picking these characters?
Zyrhoes claims, "Sol is the only one of the gods mentioned above that can match an ADCs early game. Freya and Chronos are pretty similar to ADCs but the difference is that they are weaker early game and sometimes stronger late game."
Sol has seen some play in the mid role recently, but as good as she is, her build options can't compete with how strong most of the Hunter items are right now. This means that she will fall behind in the mid-game, which can lead to a knock on effect of being behind in the late game as well, negating your advantage in the later stages of the game.
The reason these picks don't work as well according to Zyrhoes is "that the magical ADCs rely more on their abilities than regular ADCs." This leads to a distinctly different playstyle which can't compete with the intensity of the hunter playstyle in the midlane.
Freya is by far the least suited of the magical ADCs. She takes the longest to come online and does not have enough pressure to survive and create a lead for herself.
Considering the early game strength is one of the main reasons to play this role, it is vitally important that you gain every advantage you can in this phase of the game. Due to the state of ADCs, they will almost always have better clear than Mage opponents in the first few levels of the game. Mage clearing abilities take a few levels before they can get to the stage where they can clear the entire wave, while Hunter abilities not only get there faster but ADCs also have stronger basic attacks with which to finish off the minions that remain alive.
Staying alive is something that should be at the forefront of your priorities in the early game, even more so than other types of midlaner. If we look at a god like Ah Muzen Cab, his lack of mobility and crowd control means that he is a god that is generally considered "unsafe"
However, the belief that the biggest danger comes from ganks is misguided. According to Zyrhoes, "This is not really true because the amount of early pressure AMC brings makes it harder to punish him. Also, AMC is a lot safer than people give him credit to due to his hives."
Season 4's Jungle is fairly limited, which means early game ganks are going to be rare anyway. Using this time to build a strong lead will allow you to be able to fend off ganks once they become commonplace later on.
Ganks are a lot more difficult if you are controlling the lane and dominating your lane opponent. Gods like Ah Muzen Cab, Ullr, and Anhur are good at this kind of early pressure so if you squander the opportunity you're wasting one of the main advantages of this role. Applying constant pressure means that the enemy team never has an opportunity to put you on the back foot and wrestle control of the lane away from you.
The mid-game sees your role in general be very similar to mage midlaners; roaming around in the 3-man core of your team and ensuring that the jungle and the objectives within it remain in control of your team. ADCs excel at the second portion of this, with the high scaling on their basic attacks and strong abilities allowing them to melt objectives such as the Gold Fury and the Portal Demon. While you lose the huge burst of a mage ultimate to secure the objective, your higher overall damage output will allow you to take the objective faster than before. Therefore, it might be worth to consider sneakier tactics, as your speed will allow you to take the objective before the enemy even knows it's happening.
A common misconception is that ADCs require a drastic change of playstyle to function in the midlane, but Zyrhoes doesn't think so. "It depends on what ADC you're playing but in most cases not really. If you're playing AMC for example, he kind of does the same thing as a mage does. He has long ranged poke and a lot of burst damage."
Long ranged poke and burst damage are two things that both roles offer, but one thing ADCs can give that most Mages cannot is consistent damage. In the midgame, abilities are hard-hitting but not enough for one Mage ability to cripple an enemy player. That, combined with the fact that they often have long cooldowns and mana pools are limited, means that midlane Mages currently struggle to maintain a consistent damage output. This is where ADCs shine. Basic attacks obviously cost no mana to use and have no cooldown, so ADCs can lay down an oppressive amount of damage in the middle phase of the game. This can lead to a significant imbalance in your favour and an easy win for your team if used correctly.
The late game duties for this role are very similar to that of a regular ADC, using your basic attacks to kill enemies very quickly and easily take down towers and phoenixes. However, the big difference is the targets you will be prioritising. Your ADC will be looking to take the fight to the enemy backline, using their damage to shut them down. While you definitely could help them with this, with two ADCs it's much better to split your focus. While your ADC fights their backline, your job should be looking for the enemy frontline, using your high damage output to push through their protections and shred their health, forcing them to take a more defensive positioning and therefore forcing their entire team back.
Pushing and destroying towers and phoenixes is one of the best and most permanent ways you can help your team. Once you've built enough penetration, they should go down fairly easily, but pushing by yourself is risky and should only be done with sufficient ward coverage.
One thing players sometimes worry about is losing the magical burst damage that a midlane mage can provide in the late game. However, Zyrhoes believes this isn't a problem. "It depends on the comp but usually if you run ADC mid you have a Mage somewhere else that can do the magical burst. If not, then you're usually focused on killing the enemy frontline since that's what ADCs are really good at late game."
It may be worth considering putting a Mage into the solo or the jungle to compensate for this in the late game. In a pinch, even a more damage focused Guardian in the support role will work, such as Cabrakan or Ymir
Losing an ultimate as powerful as Thoth's is a big impact on your team in the mid and late game. However, if you can hit basic attacks consistently, your steady damage output can overcome this loss of big burst.
Your proficiency at taking towers and phoenixes with this kind of draft has already been mentioned, but it also makes another objective really easy: the Fire Giant. Working together with your ADC, your combined basic attack damage will allow you to easily take down the Fire Giant by yourselves and leave the rest of your team to zone for you, making for a safer and easier Fire Giant take.
Another thing worth noting is that in the late game your pressure isn't enough to keep you safe anymore. Any enemy gods that excel at diving will be able to withstand your damage for long enough to take you down if they get to you, especially if you're being crowd controlled. Staying near your Support or solo laner and making sure someone can always peel for you is a great way for you to stay alive long enough to get rid of any enemies trying to harass you.
The build is a big reason that this role has become so popular and successful recently. The ADC build is one of the most powerful in the game right now simply due to its efficiency. It is one of the most potent builds in the game while also being the cheapest by far, using some of the most stat-efficient items in the game.
As Zyrhoes puts it, "I think in every meta there have always been good builds for ADCs in mid. You do get less farm in mid than you would if you play ADC in the duo lane but it's not a big deal since the ADC items are really cheap".
The extreme cheapness of the ADC build right now means that the mid lane's lower overall experience and gold gain is negated and you should still be hitting power spikes faster than any mage opponents. So let's look at some of the best items for this role and how they'll help you control the lane.
+30 Physical Power
+10% Physical Lifesteal
Passive: Killing an enemy god or minion gives you stacks of +.5 Physical Power and +.2% Physical Lifesteal. You receive 5 stacks for a god kill and 1 stack for a minion kill. Stacks up to 70 times.
We have not seen stacking items be relevant in the mid lane in some time but Devourers Gauntlets is an incredible item for any Hunter in any role. The amount of sustain and power gained when fully stacked makes it a worthwhile pickup, especially as in the midlane you will be building stacks off of jungle camps you'll be taking as well. Furthermore, it does not take many stacks for this item to start becoming extremely valuable, so it will not be long before it starts making an impact.
+30 Physical Power
+25% Attack Speed
Passive: Basic Attacks against an enemy reduce your target's Physical Protection by 12% for 3 seconds (max. 3 Stacks).
The Executioner has always been one of the best items in the game when it comes to value for money. Power, attack speed, and pseudo-penetration make this a great card to pick up early, such as in the third or fourth slot.
+40 Physical Power
+15% Attack Speed
Passive: On Basic Attack hits, deal Physical Damage equal to 4% of the target's maximum Health. This only affects gods.
A huge power spike item, this is a good one to consider once the core of your build has been finished and you're looking to really apply pressure on the enemy. This is the one to pick up if you're looking to do huge amounts of damage to enemy gods, as it's passive will allow you to punish them even if they've built tanky.
+30 Physical Power
+30% Physical Penetration
Titans Bane is the other big midgame power spike item, except this one helps you melt towers. Both of these really should be built, but which one is built first is your choice and depends on your priorities
+20% Physical Lifesteal
+20% Attack Speed
+15 Physical Penetration
Passive: If you drop below 35% Health, you gain an additional 25% Physical Lifesteal for 5 seconds. Can only occur once every 15 seconds.
The final slot is fairly open and you should pick an item that's going to help you win the late game but your choice should be adaptive. One of the most common choices is Asi, which allows you to have greater sustain in the late game and therefore more independence.
+40% Attack Speed
Passive: Every fourth Basic Attack triggers a chain lightning, damaging the target and up to 4 nearby enemies for 30 damage +50% of your total Basic Attack Power.
Another choice for your last slot, Ody Bow is an interesting item that allows you to have a more wide-reaching impact in fights. While the spreading damage is only 30 + 50%, your attack speed in the late game and your power will make even this small proportion significant.
A few notes on Actives
Actives are another point of discussion. While your active items are pretty obvious choices, Beads and Aegis as well as some situational choices like Phantom Veil (for example if the enemy has an Odin Support), an active that you will most likely be facing that has seen some controversy is Thorns.
Thorns has seen nerfs lately and some people are saying that it should face even more nerfs. However, Zyrhoes disagrees. "Nerfing thorns would definitely make ADCs stronger, probably OP even. Although it's not like Thorns is only good vs ADCs, it's really good versus Mages as well".
Thorns is one of your biggest counters so playing around it is extremely important. Target prioritisation and baiting are two ways of ensuring you don't get caught out by an enemy with Thorns.
Thank you for taking the time to read this guide. I hope it helped you and you'll be able to implement what you've learned in the future. I'd like to extend my thanks to Zyrhoes for his input and I hope to see you again on the next one!