Utilizing base stats: a foundation for builds

Hey guys, DC941 with a basic, but important theme for everyday playing: base statistics.

Every champion benefits from different given basic stats and ability stats which are increased via level. The wonderful thing about these is that you do not need any gold to make use of them – but you can also use your gold to make even better use of them! I think that this is a very important thing to have in mind for multiple reasons. The first is that it was a problem for me when I was relatively new to the game. For me, all was about scalings: if you do not have gold or items, how could you contest with your enemy at all? While this is not completely wrong, League of Legends is built on a the principle of base stats which can be utilized to beat gold advantages when used smart. With time, I realized  trough champions like Shyvana and Renekton that base stats and ability scalings based on level are very, very strong, even when you are behind. The recent rise of Shyvana in competetetive play is a good example for things that can be done to make use of your base stats with the gold you have. If you are a very experienced player, this article is most likely an old story for you – but maybe you can still learn a thing or two.

I will start with the best building decisions to utilize your base stats and abilities as much as you can and give some examples of champions which work well with these.


Cooldown reduction

Cooldown reduction (in short: CDR) is maybe the most obvious example here. Support champions often go for CDR as their most important stat, especially when they are not melee and can stay out of trouble like Sona or Janna. This is great to make more use of their crowd control: since there is no way to enhance the control effects of their abilities (yet), the best way to make use of them is to use the ability more often, and this is enabled by items like Shurelya’s Reverie for CDR and Mikaels Crucible for mana.

But aside from support, this is also strong offensive statistic on multiple champions like Ryze. The Rogue Mage has low cooldowns and a passive that enhances his ability spam even more: for every ability cast, all other abilities get their cooldown reduced by one second. This makes CDR even stronger than normal for him. While Ryze has scalings with mana and ability power on his abilities, CDR can be very cost efficient to increase his overall DPS. Lets look another champion that likes CDR, Syndra. Syndra likes to have more Sphere around to use them for her other abilities, but the raw increase of DPS of her Q is interesting when looking on CDR, too:

Dark Sphere
Dark Sphere
Conjures a Dark Sphere at a target location, dealing 70 / 110 / 150 / 190 / 230 (+ 60% AP) magic damage. 4 second cooldown on all ranks.

If we look at 16 seconds of time using Q, we get 920 damage without any bonus stats at all.

With 20% CDR, Syndra is able to use his Q on a 3,2 second cooldown – meaning she gets off the ability one more time for 1150 damage.

To deal the same damage trough the AP scaling, Syndra would need 95,8AP.

This is a realistic example due to items like Morellonomicon and Athenes Unholy Grail which give 20% CDR while filling only one item slot. Only the most expensive items give 95 AP or more – and CDR benefits most champions in more than just raw DPS. Syndra for example is able to hit much harder with her ultimate trough CDR because she can have up to seven spheres on the rift at once when at 40% CDR – this is not possible otherwise since spheres vanish after 6 seconds (to get 7 spheres at once, you also need to reset the timer for one with your W). So aside from the obvious “You get to use your ability more often”, CDR is a stronger factor in terms of item slots and mechanical efficiency than ability power for a multitude of champions, be it Ryzes passive, Syndras spheres, Nidalees chances to hit with spears or the CC of a support.

Another example are champions that utilize CDR items and tankyness to make as much use of their abilities as possible while sitting right in the middle of the enemy team – bruisers and tanks.



This is a rather obvious thing many players know (even if they do not keep it in mind when they play): when you are alive for a longer time, you can use your abilities more often. However, I was not aware how strong this really can be. The prime example was Olaf in the season 3 qualifiers:

Voyboy used the base damages of his abilities really well here: he doesn’t have any pure offensive stats aside of Hexdrinkers attack damage (which is quite low) and Kindlegem’s CDR. Olafs true damage really hurt, and the longer you were alive with Olaf, the more you could abuse the extreme damage of both Olafs axes and true damage strikes –  the result was an insane load of damage (granted, the video shows two squishy carries too close to him, but the point still stands.) This was also the reason why Olaf was first nerfed and then reworked, and Ryze’s scaling shifts were due to the same reason as well: Riot underrated the unfairness of extreme damage output trough a tanky item build and tried to clean this up.

I didn’t believe it at first (also see my article about Olafs rework for that), but Olaf is back into the bans of OGN Winter – the koreans made him work, again with using CDR (this time with the amazing Spirit Visage) and tankyness. I was baffled by this situation since the rework shifted around so much of his damage into attack speed and attack damage scaling to get rid of the old problems in countering Olaf.

Another example from OGN Winter is Shyvana. She is typically built very tanky utilizing the tankyness from sunfire cape and her very strong base damages – the result is a giant dragon-shaped brick that moves really fast, zoning the enemy squishies out of fights with ease with her extreme damage in dragon form. Building extremely tanky is something that works on almost all champions: as long as the enemy has champions not building a lot of resistances and health (namely mages, assasins and marksmen), your basic stats and level scalings of abilities will be enough to seriously hurt the enemy team trough zoning.


The strongest of all base scalings: %-health-based abilities

At this point, I would like to mention the strongest of all scalings: %-health scalings. The strong point of these is the fact that they not only scale with your ability rank and your stats, but also with your enemies stats. The most feature magic damage based on maximum health of the enemy (Zacs “Unstable Matter”, Shyvanas “Flame Breath”) or their current/missing health (Elises “Neurotoxin” and “Venomous Bite”, Evelynns “Agony’s Embrace”), but theres also Vaynes massive “Silver Bolts” which deals true damage based on maximum health which can be massively increased trough attack speed.

These abilities are so strong because they scale with your enemies advantage – the enemy bruiser is ahead and builds some health? You profit from it. The enemy is ahead with a higher level? You profit from his higher base health. These abilities are the most reliable of them all – while they can be countered by resistances, they force the enemy to build exactly these which can hurt their trading ability with the other members of the team. This and often relatively weak AP scalings are also the reason why magic or armor penetration are used on these champions so often, with the best example being Elises love for magic penetration.  In the case of Vayne, there is only one indirect counter in attack speed reduction (which is harder to itemize for).


What base stats mean for the metagame and you

With all that being said, one could have predicted the rise of Shyvana after the changes to her E. The massive increase from an alright base damage to a %-based damage in conjunction with her hybrid damage kit and strong base damage from W turned her into an excellent damage tank based on her given stats, independent on her gold income. In the same way, future changes in champion picks can differ based on seemingly small changes to base stats. With the incoming income changes for season 4, the abuse of base stats could get a little less popular due to more available gold, but I doubt that this will be influential enough to make champion stat based builds nonviable.

For me, respecting the immense strength of base stats was a very important lesson for in-game situations: when you are for example playing Shyvana top and the enemy marksman gets immensely fed, you should think about going for a heavy armor and health based build – this way, you can almost guarantee to zone him out of the fight for a while to give your team the chance to get back at the enemy without the huge pressure of the enemy gold advantage. This can of course be hard when you are for example against Teemo top, but it also could be the only way to make a comeback for your team happen.

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I am a student from germany and I like the theorycrafting behind the game a lot - while I'm not into number crunching, I always try to find the best synergies in ability kits and items. I write to help people get into the crazy mass of knowledge that is buried behind the surface of League of Legends and to learn a thing or two while looking into certain themes. I mainly play assassins and carries because I really enjoy the concept of dodging enemy impact trough my movement and play. In a similar fashion, I play action-rich games with nice role-playing elements - my favorites aside of League of Legends are the Monster Hunter series and Terraria. I also got into Magic: the Gathering recently.

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