Which champions have too few weaknesses, according to Riot’s definition?

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

Riot recently released a post regarding the direction of champion design going forward. The post focused on avoiding new or reworked champions that are “overloaded” or have “no weaknesses.” With the criteria Riot set out, we investigate just how many and which champions have no weaknesses?

On Thursday, Riot released a post that basically served as a mea culpa with regards to how insane the recently reworked champions (namely Akali, Aatrox, and Irelia) are. Riot acknowledged that these new champions have overloaded kits with few weaknesses, and vowed to be sure that future champions and reworks have such defined weaknesses.

Riot helpfully gave us a listing of several aspects to a kit that they would consider to be “strengths.” The post stated that their goal should be that each champion only has one to two such strengths to ensure that each champion has a clearly defined weakness. With this list in hand, I took to asking, “which champions have too few weaknesses then?”

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As a result, I charted out each champion and gave them a straight, up-or-down, marking as to whether their kit had each of these strengths to see how many existed. In some cases, where a champion had tools that almost met these strengths (for instance, Graves doesn’t have any invulnerability, but he does have an AOE blind as a defensive ability), required some level of skill to use them effectively (Jayce technically has a speed boost and a dash that could traverse terrain, but he’d only use them for those purposes in niche situations), or are not core aspects to their kit (Nidalee has a lot of quick abilities with low cast times, but her damage often requires her to give her opponent some time to outplay), they only get half a point for that non-weakness. The results were surprising, to say the least.

Riot said that ideally, each champion should have two of these abilities, max, to be considered balanced, but on average a League of Legends champion has just over three of them only accounting for those clear strengths (ie no half points counted). In fact, only 54 champions have two or fewer clear strengths, by my calculations.

When you look at champions that have other arguable strengths (you could consider Caitlyn’s traps to be an ammo system with short activation, but does that really meet the definition of a “short downtime ability”?) it gets even worse. At that point, the average champion has over four non-weaknesses, and only 18 have two or fewer. So what is the problem?

Well, unsurprisingly, mobility creep is a real problem in League, with over 50 champions having some form of mobility and terrain-crossing abilities. However, short cooldown/spammable abilities and reactive defensive abilities are equally as common. On the other end, Riot has done a good job not giving too many champions too strong of wave clear, too easy fallbacks to cover their clear weaknesses or oppressive range advantages.

With all that said, here is a general tier list breakdown of all champions in the game, based on how many clear strengths/few weaknesses they have in their kit:

8: Lissandra
7: Akali, Ekko, Irelia, Kassadin, Ezreal
6: Azir, Vayne, Riven, Ryze, Shaco, Tryndamere
5: Yasuo, Corki, Aatrox, Cassiopeia, Graves, Jarvan IV, Kindred, Rumble, Singed, Heimerdinger, Jax, Master Yi, Talon, Rakan, Sivir
4: Camille, Jayce, Kayle, Renekton, Urgot, Zilean, Caitlyn, Galio, Sejuani, Teemo, Warwick, Ahri, Fiora, Fizz, Kayn, Leblanc, Malzahar, Nidalee,Vladimir, Cassiopeia, Evelynn, Gnar, Karthus, Kennen, Lee Sin, Olaf, Tahm Kench, Elise, Udyr, Vel’Koz, Diana
3: Lulu, Pantheon, Cho’Gath, Lux, Morgana, Pyke, Viktor, Zed, Anivia, Gangplank, Hecarim, Kalista, Lucian, Rek’Sai, Shen, Sona, Vi, Zac, Ziggs, Zoe, Gragas, Malphite, Mordekaiser, Orianna, Taliyah, Alistar, Kai’Sa, Katarina, Leona, Volibear
2: Karma, Rengar, Sion, Wukong, Xayah, Annie, Aurelion Sol, Kha’Zix, Nasus, Nautilus, Quinn, Rammus, Soraka, Zyra, Bard, Blitzcrank, Fiddlesticks, Kog’Maw, Ornn, Poppy, Swain, Janna, Tristana, Xerath
1: Kled, Thresh, Xin Zhao, Amumu, Braum, Illaoi, Miss Fortune, Nocturne, Shyvana, Twisted Fate, Varus, Brand, Syndra, Taric, Ashe, Nunu & Willump, Skarner
None: Dr. Mundo, Darius, Jinx, Veigar, Twitch, Nami, Ivern, Yorick, Draven, Garen, Jhin

According to this rudimentary tracking, Lissandra has the most overloaded kit in the game, which is a surprise to most people who would have put money on someone like Camille. Her instant-cast ult, giving her lockdown on an enemy or invulnerability to herself, as well as a dash without targeting restrictions makes her incredibly overloaded.

Two of the biggest offenders in Riot’s eyes, Akali and Irelia, both clock in just below Liss for their overloaded kits, and Aatrox is still one of the most overloaded as well.

Most people would be surprised to see simple champions like Tryndamere, Singed, Master Yi, Heimerdinger, and Sivir that high on the list. However, each has one aspect (Tryndamere’s ult, Singed’s ult, Master Yi’s Alpha Strike, Heimer’s oppressive laning against melees, and Sivir’s spell shield) that give them huge utility in addition to other powerful tools in their kit.

On the other hand, a lot of people will question how the hell champions like Camille, Fizz, Leblanc, and Vladimir were middle of the pack in terms of clear strengths. Well, for Camille and Fizz, they do have good offensive tools but are melee, without really good ways to cover that weakness (Camille does better with her Tactical Sweep). On the other end, Leblanc has a lot of quick burst, but no survivability and long windows after her spells are down. Finally, Vlad has those defensive abilities and little downtime on his spells, but he has no real mobility outside of items.

I wouldn’t say that champions at the bottom of this list are necessarily bad and needing of reworks. For instance, Kled, Thresh, Xin Zhao, Darius, Veigar, Syndra, and Bard all have a lot of ability for skill expression, even if their kits don’t necessarily show that. And, interestingly, one of the most problematic champions in the recent meta, Sion, is far down on this list. To me, this indicates that the list Riot provided isn’t definitive and shows just how hard identifying what makes a champion over-tuned so difficult.

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In closing, I don’t think Riot is ever going to be able to get to their goal of having champions only have one or two of these defined strengths; I think three or four each would be a better goal. Most champions are already, in my estimation, fairly close to being balanced by this definition, and some champions that have overloaded kits don’t feel that overloaded (like Tryndamere, Corki, or Singed). Hopefully, though, this will give a bit more insight into which champions we would consider “overloaded.”