Pandalita's Musings

⚔ Itemization in LoL

July 21, 2020 - 6 min read

As mentioned in my last post, League of Legends is a huge game with many aspects, one part of LoL is itemization, and bad itemization has been plaguing pro teams for quite a while now, in most cases it may not seem like something massive or game-changing, but in LoL you want to get as many edges as you can, it got to the point that people are saying teams are losing to shopkeeper.

Common examples of bad itemization and how to prevent it from happening

The most common example currently is Morellonomicon vs. Liandry’s Torment (or “Morello vs Liandry”): The two items are similar in a few areas but generally they’re very different in what they do. Morello vs Liandry started when streamer/coach/caster LS(@lsxyz9 on twitter) noticed the difference between the two items and their value in practical situations. Morello Morellonomicon, which costs 3000 gold builds from 2 components - Oblivion Orb and Blasting Wand. Oblivion Orb giving you 20 AP, 200 HP and 15 Magic Penetration (ignoring magic resistance) for 1600 gold, and Blasting Wand giving you 40 AP for 850 gold.

Liandry’s, which costs 3100 gold builds from 2 components, too - Haunting Guise and Blasting Wand. Haunting Guise giving you 35 AP, 200 HP and a passive that for every second you stay in combat, you gain 2% damage amp for all your spells (magic or physical damage, up to 5 stacks).

Upgrading from Oblivion Orb to Morello costs 1400 gold, gives you 50 AP, 100 HP, and a healing reduction passive on all your spells in addition to what you had before (passive magic penetration).

Upgrading from Haunting Guise to Liandry’s gives you 40 AP, 100 HP, and a passive burn that burns enemies for a total of 4.5% maximum health over 3 seconds, the total damage is increased to 7.5% maximum health if the target is slowed or immobilized in addition to what you had before (passive damage increase).

The two items don’t seem very different in their stats, but their effects are very different. In a lot of cases we see teams build Morello when the enemy team has 0 healing or is stacking magic resistance (flat penetration ignores a flat amount, so if you build resistance - it negates it), while Liandry’s gives you the 10% bonus damage AND the passive burn, which is massive. Liandry’s is NOT always better, but it is in most cases. bad-items As you can see here - the LeBlanc has a Morello, even though the enemy team has no healing and her main targets (Corki and Kalista) have MR, which makes the item give her nothing. In this case the LeBlanc should’ve kept the Oblivion Orb and built a Void Staff instead.

Another common example is building Black Cleaver - an item that reduces the enemy’s armor by 4%, stacking up to 24% when having no other AD teammates, or when your champion can’t stack it up very well (like Sett that takes a lot of time to stack it up on a single target AND he deals true damage by the end of his combo). In cases like these it’s better to build Trinity Force, although it costs a little more - almost always you can wait the extra 2 minion waves. We also see this happen on a champion like Lee Sin, that takes a lot of time to stack Black Cleaver on a single target and doesn’t really benefit from the stats this well, on a champion like Lee Sin it’s better to build Lethality, since it increases his lethal threshold by a lot.

The last example I’ll give is Ornn and his upgrade items - Ornn is arguably the tankiest champion in the game, which means that when he reaches a certain threshold of resistances and HP, it becomes less effective than building damage (or utility items, in this case).

In professional play we see a lot of Ornn players building Gargoyle Stoneplate - an item that gives you flat resistances with an active that doubles your health and reduces your damage. When Ornn players build that, it’s pretty ineffective because the enemy team can just ignore him for the time this item is active. Instead he can build:

  • Locket of the Iron Solari - an item that gives you flat resistances and has an active that shields your entire team.
  • Redemption - an item that gives you health and has an active that heals an area in a huge radius.
  • Knight’s Vow - an item that gives you health and armor that has an active that lets you link to an ally: Giving your ally damage reduction (redirected to you) and gives you healing based on the ally’s dealt damage.
  • Warmog’s Armor - An item that gives you a lot of health and has a passive that if you’re out of combat: You regenerate a lot of health every second. This item is better when you’re split-pushing, because it means you can stay forever while chipping down a turret and your opponent can’t.

How do you prevent such itemization mistakes?

The answer is a lot longer and needs more context, but in most cases you just need to know what your champion’s role is in your team, what the items in LoL do, and what the enemy team is trying to achieve against you. You should look at the enemy team’s items, resistances, and champions, and at the same time look at your champion and its AP/AD scalings, your team composition, and understand what your role should be.

For an example: Morello vs Liandry’s - If you’re a burst champion that only stays for less than 1 second in combat, the enemy team has very little MR, and maybe a bit of healing: Morello may be better. If you’re a champion that pokes or stays in combat for a few seconds, or the enemy team has a lot of health, Liandry’s can be better because then you can get the passive burn to work and the passive damage increase to work over the time you’re in combat. There’s more depth to it, but this is a general example.

I hope I helped you understand how important itemization is in LoL, and maybe how to do it properly yourself, since it is a complicated subject with a lot of depth just like a lot of other things in LoL.

Until next time!

Hi, I'm Pandalita, I'm a full stack developer & ex-hardcore WoW player. I also play LoL and sometimes share random thoughts!