Is ADC now the worst role in League of Legends?

By Melany Moncada


Apr 24, 2020

Reading time: 5 min

In League of Legends, the meta for the ADC has changed through the years. Right now, solo queue players claim that the role is unplayable. While it’s a bit of an exaggeration, players have reason to complain about the current state of the role.

Defining the ADC role in LoL

According to the League of Legends wiki, marksmen are “ranged champions whose power almost exclusively revolves around their basic attacks: using their reach to land massive continuous damage from a distance.”

Basically, marksmen are in the back shooting the enemy while the rest of the team engages up front and tries to survive. Because of the nature of the role, marksmen build items that grant attack damage and attack speed. The faster they fire, the better. The downside to that build path is that marksmen are left as squishy targets that can be taken down easily.

A successful composition is one with backline access, as these are skills that allow the assassins or mages to get to the marksmen while ignoring the rest of the team. Once the marksman is down, the teams are forced to end the fight because the main source of damage is gone.

It’s a common misconception the marksmen are supposed to be the main carries of their teams at all times. Based on the composition and the state of the game, the responsibility to carry damage might fall in the hands of the mid laner, or even the top laner.

Current state of the meta for the ADC role

League of Legends is constantly evolving, with every update the meta changes and as of now, it doesn’t favor the bottom lane. There are two factors at play: experience distribution and item cost.  

Patch 9.23 introduced XP distribution changes that would affect bottom laners directly. In the bottom lane, duos get only 75% of the XP granted by the minion wave. Solo laners get 100% of the XP and level up 2% faster. On paper, it doesn’t look like much, but in a real game it creates a massive gap between the marksman and the solo laners from mid or top.

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Let’s take for example a recent match between T1 and KT Rolster in the LCK. 20 minutes into the game, solo laners Kim “Canna” Chang-dong and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok were both level 13 versus ADC Park “Teddy” Jin-seong being only at level 11. At this point of the game, Teddy had better CS than his solo lane counterparts. Canna had two completed items while Teddy only had one plus his boots. Which leads us to the second problem for AD carries: the high cost of their items.

When we compare the amount of gold that it takes to complete the core build, we see that marksman need more gold. Miss Fortune and Zed are two of the most played champions in solo queue in Gold and below.

Miss Fortune’s core build with Essence Reaver, Berseker’s Greaves, and Infinity Edge costs 7,800 gold. Zed’s core build with Youmuu’s Ghostblade, Mercury Treads, and Duskblade of Draktharr costs 6,900 gold. That’s a 900 gold difference, equivalent to three minion waves or two player kills.

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Patch 10.8 made things even more difficult for ADC players. From level one to six, solo kills grant 20% more XP and assisted kills grant 20% less XP. Even if the bottom lane duo gets multiple early game kills, these won’t be as significant. In the best case scenario, the ADC will be even with the solo laners through the mid game.

Does it mean the role is absolutely ruined? Of course not. As has been proven by professional players, the role is still decent and has the potential to carry in the late game. But if that’s the case, why is the solo queue experience so miserable for ADC players?

Bottom lane players unhappy with their role

In solo queue, players focus on their individual game and performance. The average low elo League of Legends player has a basic understanding of macro play and what the win conditions are for their team. While it’s still a game played in teams, players can show a tendency to worry about themselves and the state of their lanes more than the rest of the map. Now that solo lanes have more potential to carry, players feel less inclined to roam and help the bottom lane. As a result, the bottom lane is sometimes its own island.

ADC players need to put twice the effort in just to keep up. One mistake in the early levels can ruin the entire game, and there won’t be time to recover as the game progresses. There’s a simple three-step partial solution for this problem:

  1. Become the farm king: Farming is arguably the most important skill for an ADC in League of Legends. It’s extremely important to land every last hit and get the resulting gold. Losing gold and XP will doom any duo lane.
  2. Communicate effectively with the support: With the XP changes and other mechanics in the game, junglers don’t feel really inclined to visit the bottom lane as often as before. The bottom lane duo is often on its own. It’s important to communicate about mana, health, gold, when to go in, and when is time to play passively.
  3. Don’t be greedy: Going for the risky play or chasing a low-health enemy across the map is not worth it. It’s better to play it safe and collect kills in optimal situations. The same principle applies to farm, as it’s better to lose a couple of minions than to give up a kill.

The future of the ADC role

Things might be looking grim right now, but they will eventually get better. It’s not an empty promise either, as develoer Riot Games has a good recent track record when it comes to listening to players’ demands, and the ADC players are complaining a lot. The XP distribution is hurting the role’s popularity. Now more than ever, players are choosing to main different roles because of these XP problems.

Let’s remember 2017 when the marksmen were completely unplayable. Riot paid attention to the complaints and fixed the problem. It took it a while, but the fix eventually came through.

Being realistic, this problem might prevail through the entirety season 10, but who knows? Riot might surprise everyone and revert changes by the middle of the ranked season.