Current State of Marksman
How it started
Ever since LoL’s inception marksman have been an integral part of creating a well-rounded team composition. Marksman are ranged auto attack based champions which dish out high amounts of sustained damage over the duration of team fights. ADC(an alternate name for marksman) has been the most dominant role over the past 5 seasons of competitive League of Legends. Historically bot lanes have terrorized high ELO solo queue with the sheer amount of pressure an ADC and their support can exert on the game. Let’s take a look at how Riot Games pushed marksmen out of the Meta within 4 patches.
How Marksman got nerfed
Marksman are champions which need time to scale into the late game and usually come online at the 3 item mark. They are the best late-game insurance policy and start picking effectiveness after 25 to 30 minutes into the game. The first nerf came in the form of jungle changes. The rift herald got buffed to deal more damage to towers and the rift scuttler became a high priority objective in the river for the Jungler. Both these changes gave over more power to the Jungler which can allow him to snowball the game into a team’s favor extremely fast.
To contest these river and neutral objectives marksman cannot contribute much since they are extremely weak in the early game compared to a self-sufficient bruiser or mage. The pace of the game essentially accelerated to a point where the game ends by 25 minutes, which can be considered a general upgrade to the health of the game.
The second nerf came in the form of increasing the gold cost of the items and reducing the damage critical strikes do. This change is perhaps the largest nerf to push an entire champion pool behind the game’s curve. All the critical strike based marksman is not relevant until much later into the game now. The previous nerfs to healing and shielding based support items means that even with their supports. marksman are not making as much impact as they used to.
A very unique change to how experience works in the jungle allowed the resurfacing of a strategy called gold funneling. This strategy was shown to us recently by Levi when he was playing in Gigabyte Marines but it was not Meta at that time. You essentially pour the Jungler’s resources as well as the midlaner’s resources into one hyper carry to get it much ahead of the game’s curve and allow it to ‘solo carry’ the game.
The resurfacing of this strategy means that marksmen which are not critical strike based can be sent to mid lane and be funneled. While many teams across the world are trying to employ and adapt to this strategy, arguably Europe’s G2 Esports have found the most success so far. Kai’sa and Lucian are 2 marksmen which are the most effective when being funneled with a support in the jungle such as Braum.
As far as the state of the marksman in the bot lane is concerned, it looks like a rather poor strategy to still play the traditional duo of a marksman and support in competitive and high ELO solo queue. Fnatic’s legendary marksman, Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsson, stepped down to let his substitute Toplaner play bruisers and tanky mages in the bot lane which seems like a much viable strategy at this point from the team’s point of view. The idea was that a bruiser or a mage can essentially out damage and thrive in early skirmishes as compared the traditional crit based ADC who won’t bring much to the table.
To sum it all up, the jungle changes and increased pace of the game combined with direct nerfs to the marksman itemization has lead to the value of marksmen falling down incredibly. They are now only picked in very unique situations to counter a strategy or play as the Jungler for gold funneling. The fall of marksmen has allowed many more new strategies and champions to emerge which makes the game much more diverse and fresh.
While Riot Games will continue to balance and monitor these changes. They are already implementing buffs to marksmen in form of hotfixes to bring them back to the Meta but not overdo it.