Defending Tomorrow: Analyzing Jayce Play at Worlds

It’s been a long time for most regions since Piltover’s Defender of Tomorrow was seen in competitive play. Jayce was barely a niche pick everywhere but the GPL over the last split. Suddenly, he has come tearing back through his Acceleration Gate to become one of the most hotly-contested picks at worlds, particularly in the Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals.

Today, we’re going to talk about who, when, and why the pros are picking up Jayce again, as well as how they build him.


Jayce has been exclusively played in midlane at Worlds. I’m sure it’s viable to run Jayce top or even ADC, depending on the player’s skills and where in the ladder you go.

This article is focused on competitive play and that means Jayce goes mid. He has had an enormous resurgence at worlds, chiefly in the hands of Samsung Galaxy White’s PawN, Samsung Galaxy Blue’s dade and OMG’s Cool.

No offense to Dark Passage’s Naru or Starhorn Royal Club’s Corn, but their one game each on Jayce was very disappointing, so we’ll not be including them in the analysis.

Prior to worlds, Jayce was not commonly seen in competitive play.

He was picked once in NA’s summer split, never in EU, a few times in Korea’s playoffs, once in China. Three teams ran Jayce extensively in the GPL, (Insidious Rebirth, Saigon Jokers, and Saigon Fantastic Five) none of whom made it to worlds.

Pick Order and Team Composition

Jayce was picked almost always towards the end of the draft phase at worlds. This means no earlier than third pick, often fourth or fifth. Picking Jayce is something of a giveaway in terms of strategy and counterpicking midlane is extremely important in competitive play.

Of course, that won’t necessarily apply in solo queue, given how popular mid tends to be as a position, but it’s worth noting.

Where does Jayce fit into team compositions, and what does he bring?

  1. Jayce is one of the safest midlaners, other than Zed. It’s virtually impossible to stop Jayce from farming thanks to his Acceleration Gate/Shock Blast combination.
  2. Jayce does primarily physical damage. With toplane being dominated by AP picks, such as Ryze, Maokai and Rumble at Worlds, alongside heavier magic-damage ADCs like Corki being popular, having a second source of physical damage in mid prevents the enemy team from stacking MR to negate both of your solo laners’ damage.
  3. Jayce excels on both poke and pick compositions. His long-range harass allows him to wear down enemies prior to a siege. In a pick composition, Jayce can provide upfront burst as well as a team-haste in the form of Acceleration Gate. In terms of utility, though, let’s be honest: Jayce is mostly about ranged damage and lots of it. His gate is also useful both as an engage/disengage tool, and he does have a knockback and a slow, but his primary role is damage.

At worlds, teams rarely constrained themselves to a single strategy. Jayce could be found on teams with Lee Sin, Rumble, Morgana and Corki, which have no particularly defined composition but rather elements of several.

Rumble and Morgana both have strong AOE abilities, while Morgana and Lee Sin are good at catching out people with Dark Bindings or Insec-style kicks. Together, Corki and Jayce have very strong siege potential.

The bottom line – Jayce fits reasonably well into a wide variety of team compositions, but works best when picked towards the end of the draft phase.


Summoner Spells

All Jayce players took






There was a strong preference towards taking Exhaust. Exhaust was used against the following champions: Orianna, Lulu, Ryze, and Zed.  Ignite was used against Yasuo and Syndra in only three matches earlier on in the tournament. Later matches preferred Exhaust, and I personally would recommend taking Exhaust as well against Syndra as well. We can surmise Exhaust seemed to be strongly preferred.


Cool, PawN, and dade all had differing setups used for runes on Jayce. Here’s a table that gives the options used at worlds:


Let’s evaluate some of the rune choices with math. First, I’d like to talk about the choice of Quintessences and Marks. Let’s see which one will give the most damage, looking primarily at accelerated Shock Blasts and Hyper Charge.

Most of Jayce’s other spells do not contribute as heavily to his main damage rotations. Note that Thundering Blow scales off of AD but does magic damage, so flat AD will benefit that spell more. It’s also the spell you max next-to-last.

Marks + Quints:

The first rune comparisons I’d like to analyze is with Marks and Quints (red and purple runes). There are four setups to compare:

  • Setup 1: 1 AD, 2 Armor Pen Quints, 9 Armor Pen Reds (2.25 AD, 16.64 Armor Pen)
  • Setup 2: 3 AD Quints, 9 Armor Pen Reds (6.75 bonus AD, 11.52 Armor Pen)
  • Setup 3: 1 AD, 2 Armor Pen Quints, 9 AD Reds (10.8 bonus AD, 5.12 Armor Pen)
  • Setup 4: 3 AD Quints, 9 AD Reds (15.3 bonus AD)

I tabulated the results in Excel, comparing the four options against each other, primarily looking at auto-attacks, Accelerated Shock Blasts, and Hyper Charge. Note that Jayce’s melee spells are primarily used for their utility and aren’t the important parts of his damage pattern.

The numbers in this table represent which rune setup listed above is most efficient at different armor and damage levels. Setup 1 is in white, 3 in lighter green and 4 in dark green. As you can see, with apologies to dade, who used this setup against Cloud9, setup #3 (1 AD quint, 2 Armor Pen Quints, 9 AD reds) is never mathematically efficient, thus not shown on the graph. Setup #2, (3 AD quints, 9 Armor Pen reds) used by Cool, is only efficient for brief windows, overshadowed by all AD (setup #4) early game and a heavy armor pen setup (setup #1) lategame.


One interesting thing to note is that setup #4 (3 AD Quints, 9 AD reds) is the early game winner, while setup #1 (1 AD Quint, 2 ArPen quints, 9 ArPen reds) wins lategame.  It’s worth noting that setup #3 is inferior to 3 AD quints, 5 AD marks, and 4 Armor Pen marks, which gives the same Armor Pen and more AD. None of the pros at worlds used this setup, so thanks to Leliel in the comments for pointing that out!

Another thing to note is that this comparison is only for damage against champions. Against minions, a setup with more AD will make last-hitting easier. Also, AD is useful against towers, whereas armor penetration has no effect.

While To The Skies! can hurt, its scaling is less than Accelerated Shock Blast and it’s either used to set up a Thundering Blow, or as a finishing move. Your primary damage sources are accelerated Shock Blasts and Hyper Charge.

Thundering Blow scales off of AD but does magic damage, so it always benefits from AD and not from Armor Pen. However, it’s also always maxed next to last.

Note that dade uses 8 AD and 1 Critical Chance mark. If you like to trust a little in luck, there’s nothing wrong about mixing in a Critical Chance mark into either your Armor Penetration or Attack Damage setup. It won’t materially affect our analysis here though.

I think the choice is playstyle and last-hitting dependent. If you prefer easier last-hitting, use AD marks. If you want to do a bit more damage to champions, particularly lategame, go with armor penetration marks.

Regardless, 2 Armor Penetration and 1 Attack Damage Quintessence seemed to be the most commonly preferred strategy, unless you’re PawN.

PawN always runs Attack Speed Quintessences on Jayce. Since Jayce doesn’t need attack speed as a stat, this has to be purely for last-hitting and pushing power. Hyper-Charge gives Jayce max attack speed for his next three attacks and since Jayce is primarily a spell-based champion, there’s little benefit to his damage rotation from attack speed compared to AD or armor penetration.

I don’t completely understand why PawN does this, but there may be some subtle animation timing issue where having the faster attack speed animation helps him land more auto-attacks and last-hits while repositioning.

Seals + Glyphs:

The second comparison I’d like to make is concerning Seals and Glyphs (yellow and blue runes). Against magic damage opponents like Syndra, it was very common to see 9 HP/level seals and 9 MR blues, and that’s more-or-less standard anyway. Against physical damage opponents like Yasuo, Zed, or Talon, there were two setups used at worlds:

  • Double Armor – 9 armor seals, 9 armor glyphs
  • HP/Level – 9 HP/level seals and 9 armor glpyhs

Note that 9 HP/level glyphs are radically inferior to 9 HP/level seals, so any option involving those glyphs will be inferior. No detailed comparison is needed here. Since we’re talking about per level seals, I’ll examine levels 1, 3, 6, and 9.

At levels 1 and 3, the double armor option gives more effective physical health however they are beaten by level 6 by the HP/level seals setup.

By level 9, it’s around 60 more damage that you’re able to absorb by using HP/level seals over armor seals. Note: I am assuming that you’re not building Jayce tanky and so am only looking at his base stats growth.

Since HP/level seals also add additional protection against magic and true damage, I’m going to recommend running them over the double-armor options.

I’m not sure why PawN favored those over HP/level seals, especially against Zed and Yasuo, who have some magic damage in their kits and neither should be able to kill Jayce pre-six without assistance. Note that dade favored mixing in CDR blues, instead of full MR blues, for a more offensive setup.

As such, here would be my recommended rune setups after comparing those used by the pros at worlds.



There was nothing particularly surprising for masteries used during Worlds. The most common Jayce setup was 21/0/9, though 21/9/0 was used twice. The vast majority of the games, the Jayce player took the following masteries:



The core items for Jayce were always a Tear of the Goddess into Manamune, Brutalizer, Last Whisper and CDR Boots. If the Worlds pros are any example, that’s what you should looking to build every single game, along with lots of wards.

Jayce started with a ward trinket and transitioned to a sweeper or scrying orb fairly quickly afterward.

Every single Jayce player started with a Long Sword and three health potions.

Additional offensive items include either a Black Cleaver or Youmuu’s Ghostblade and a Bloodthirster or Essence Reaver. Jayce players didn’t build a lot of defensive items, but Banshee’s Veil, Quicksilver Sash, and Hexdrinker were popular items. I imagine Guardian Angel would have been an inviting choice against more AD assassins as well had the games gone long enough.

Jayce Builds

Skill order

Every single Jayce player was maxing Q > W > E > R, taking E at level 2 to unlock Acceleration Gate. The only differences were that some Jayce players took W at level 3, while others took their first point in W at level 4. The difference is playstyle and match-up dependent.


Jayce was picked pretty much regardless of lane matchup. He was matched against AD assassins like Zed and Yasuo, AP burst mages like Syndra and utility mages like Orianna or Zilean. Looking at their KDA and CS scores, it’s hard to obtain any patterns from raw matchup alone.

He’s generally a safe pick in lane and excels at poking down opponents.

His level 3 all-in is deceptively strong, but post-6 Jayce doesn’t have as much all-in threat as someone like Syndra or Zed without jungler intervention, unless he’s already gained an advantage over his opponent.

Jayce didn’t pick up too many solo kills in lane, but his burst combination gives him a lot of damage to combine with a jungler or on a roaming kill. It was also pretty hard to kill a smart Jayce in lane. Though he lacks an easy escape, his range and knockback allow him to avoid a lot of kill attempts and ganks.

The important thing to remember is that Jayce’s power spike, like most transforming champions, occurs early game.

He’s strong at level 2 with his Acceleration Gate combination, and even stronger at 3 with access to Hyper-Charge. Then, he’ll remain fairly passive while stacking Tear of the Goddess, avoiding trades and seeking to charge it up at least until a Manamune is finished.

Once that item is complete, preferably with a Brutalizer, Jayce players should attempt to either:

  • Bully opponent out of lane, being careful to avoid all-ins that won’t guarantee a kill
  • Force dragon fights
  • Roam for kills

Jayce is not great at diving into fights unless opponents are poked down first, so resist the urge to go hammer form too early. Accelerated Shock Blast is probably the best poke spell in the game, especially when paired with a Corki, so take advantage of that to wear enemies down before contesting dragon or tower diving.

Jayce won’t spike again until he finishes Muramana or a Last Whisper. Once he has his core items, Jayce is about as strong as he’ll ever be, particularly once Hyper Charge and Shock Blast are maxed. Lategame, depending on the rest of your teamfight, it’s preferable to drag out fights into prolonged siege situations where Jayce can wear the enemy down.

Acceleration Gate has a long cooldown, so if you miss the Accelerated Shock Blast and the enemy team isn’t already hurt or outnumbered or way behind, it’s not a good time to fight. When you go into a fight, make sure to turn the Muramana on in order to benefit from the extra damage on your Hyper Charge!


Jayce turned out to be one of the surprise picks at Worlds in 2014. He was played extensively in the later rounds of bracket stage and was a force to be reckoned with, often completely taking over games with early roam or objective fights.

Accelerated Shock Blast hurts a lot, and should be used to soften up targets, while diving in is generally reserved to finish off low enemies, or set up a clutch knock-back. Jayce is a safe AD-based midlaner who excels at poke and early-mid game.

If you’re looking to add Jayce to your repertoire of mid-laners, here’s the recommended setup for him, based on what the pros used at worlds:


  • 9 AD or 9 armor penetration marks. Could also mix in 1 crit mark
  • 3 AD Quintessences or 2 ArPen and 1 AD Quintessences  (or 3 Attack Speed Quintessences)
  • 9 HP/level seals
  • 9 Armor or MR glyphs (depending on matchup). Could also mix in 6 CDR glyphs



Skill Order

Q E W Q Q; Q > W > E > R. Note that unlike most champions, max R last on Jayce

Summoner Spells

Default to Flash/Exhaust. Flash/Ignite is another possibility.


Jayce Builds

That’s the set-up for Jayce, based on what the pros were using at Worlds. Think you can do better? Have a neat Jayce trick that you think makes you better than PawN, Cool, or dade? Post a comment below and share it. And, as always, thanks for reading!

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Eph289 is a Platinum-ranked mid and support on NA and has been playing and writing about League of Legends since 2010. Formerly a Reign of Gaming guest contributor, he went by 'Sudunem' for his first few Cloth5 pieces until he fully transitioned over to Cloth5. He uses his mastery of the wizard arts of math, statistics, and theorycrafting to illuminate and explain the mysteries of League of Legends.

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