League of Legends: Which Position has the Most Impact?

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

While all positions are strong in League of Legends, one lane consistently has the biggest impact.

It’s a unique dichotomy in League of Legends, where every player thinks that their position is the weakest in the game, while players in the other positions claim “no, your role is actually OP!” Mid and top laners are always typing “jungle diff” while junglers whine that their laners never rotate fast enough when they have priority. The support feels like a servant of the AD Carry in lane, while the ADC considers the support the most important factor to winning the bot lane.

While each role feels like it is weak to those who play it and super strong to those who don’t play the role, it raises an interesting question: which role is the most important in League of Legends?

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In considering this question, I asked myself a few key questions about how League of Legends is now and how it has developed over its lifespan. Obviously, there have been periods where each role was OP or weak during the 10 years of League, but what I considered is how much each role changed, how malleable the role is in terms of playstyle and champion pool, and what the issues are that typically hold the role back from being considered the strongest.

While not scientific, here are the roles in League of Legends, ranked from least to most impact.

5. Top Lane

No surprise here that the lane that is usually referred to as “the Island” is last on our list of most impactful roles in League of Legends. The simple fact of the matter is that top lane gets left alone for a good reason: the champions played in the role can operate without a lot of resources.

Yes, top laners can carry games (just ask Damwon’s Nuguri), but that has not always historically been true and even now, teams can decide not to play through top lane. If you have a player pick something like Maokai or Ornn, who will be useful even if you leave them alone all game. The fact that you can do that, leave one role alone for an entire game and they will still be as useful as if you camped for them all game, is why top lane is the least important role.

4. Support

AD Carries may complain, because support will often dictate how bot lane will go, but support is generally the subservient and, therefore, less important role. And, if you complain, just remember how you feel whenever that support Janna steals a kill when you have 200 stacks on Draven. That is why they are less important than you.

Although the support matchup and the skill of the support will often decide the lane, ultimately the support is there to protect the ADC and provide utility to the team through vision, healing, shielding, and healing. At the end of the day, the support will die for his teammates, not the other way around. That’s why they’re among the least important roles in the game.

3. Jungle

Now I get all the laners coming at me and I completely get it. Every single game, the jungler is the X-factor that can swing each of the three lanes with their impact and influence. There is no doubt that junglers can carry a game and snowball a lane. The operative word is can.

Jungle is the role that is strongest in the early game, yes, but it has traditionally been one of the weakest in the late game. While there have been times where a jungler could solo carry, with farming junglers able to walk out at 15 minutes with Sated Devourer and kill the enemy team, the current iteration (and many past iterations) are much more team-dependent.

As a jungler, you are doing your job when you are getting teammates ahead and snowballing, enabling them to win their matchup. That is a massive impact, yes, but it only goes so far. No matter how much pressure you apply early, your teammates need to come through and translate it properly. We’ve all seen how useless a Lee Sin, Olaf, or Udyr are late game

2. Mid

One of the two primary carry roles in League of Legends, mid is the position that, other than jungle, can have the most impact on the rest of the map by roaming. Unlike jungle, though, mid laners are not starved of resources, meaning that they are most often put on carries and one of the positions that is almost always getting resources and protection late game.

However, there have been times in the history of League of Legends where the mid lane position has not been designated the primary carry. There have been metas where we have seen tanks in the mid lane (Galio, Sett) and enchanters (Karma, Lulu) as well as some utility mages (Orianna). Because the champion pool is often so diverse, mid lane is one of the most important positions in the game, but it just misses the top spot.

1. AD Carry

ADC mains may protest, pointing out just how reliant they are on their teammates for peeling, shielding, and how their laning is dictated by their lane partner, but that proves the exact point. ADCs get all the healing and shielding because they are so important to protect in a teamfight. They get a lane partner who is there to keep you alive because the team needs to get you farmed to have a choice.

Unlike the other lanes, AD Carries do not have to sacrifice for their other lanes. You never see tanks or enchanters played in the ADC position, even though they are often played in the other four. Even the “utility” marksmen are able to do consistently more damage than most other carries in the game and will often be protected.

In addition, ADC has not only not had a tank or enchanter meta, they’ve had almost the exact same champion pool for years. The only champions that are viable in the ADC position are marksmen, ocassionally with some mages sprinkled in. Even then, you see marksmen being brought into other roles like top and mid because of how critical it is to have a ranged DPS in fights and seiges.

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Sorry ADC mains. I know your lane often feels frustrating to play, but the fact of the matter is you play the most important position in League of Legends.