The Complete Mid Laners Champion Pool Guide
Tue 29th Dec 2020 - 4:39pm
Amidst the turmoil that has descended upon the rift in this season of innovation and experimentation, let us turn to some of the unflinching foundations of the game that withstood the relentless forces of change that emerge from the depths of Riot's balance team.
For those shopping for new champions to pick up heading into Season 11, I would recommend a decadent mix of goodies from Aisles 1, 2, 5, and 6. Just be sure to check the meta expiration date before making your choice! Like all things in the market, produce from the Aisles doesn't stay fresh forever!
Aisle 1: ADCs
For those in search of the most obnoxious gifts to prank your friends and families within this festive season, look no further. With a high skill ceiling but a surprisingly low skill floor, ADC mid laners are a great pick for players with insane micro. For the ADC mains who have had enough of frustrating supports, consider limiting your champion pool further, migrating north, and giving independence a try with these picks!
With few to no counters in lane, these picks sit atop the mid laner bully hierarchy. In spite of their abusive early game most, if not all, of these champions also scale exceptionally into the late game. In lane, simply farm minions while looking for opportunities to harass opponents with your auto attacks and abilities. Get tower plating where possible and keep your sides warded. Be careful to ensure you manage your wave well however, as bad wave management is the main way people lose lane with these picks. By picking one of these champions you already have a huge target painted on your back, try not to entice the jungler any more than that. Look to farm up till you hit your item powerspikes, this can range from 2-4 items depending on the champion. Till then, keep an eye our for your jungler trying to invade or gank a side lane. Feel free to push out the lane and tag along to support him, it might net you some juicy kills. In teamfights, do not be a hero. Play like an ADC and hit whatever you can without putting yourself in danger. Positioning is key and nothing attracts more unwanted attention than an ADC out of lane.
For those whose only pleasure is smashing filthy ADC mid pickers, may I command your attention to the opposite shelf of Aisle 1. For starters, you have to know your champion's powerspikes and be able to survive in lane until you reach that point. Be it making picks, bursting enemies, or providing utility, weather the storm and look for opportunities to play to your strengths. In lane, either freeze your lane near your tower to entice your jungler to gank or push out the wave and look to impact side lanes. Wrestle control of at least one side of the river away from him as to make him think twice when deciding to push up past river. Finally, itemize effectively. Do not sleep on Seeker's Armguard. For the cost of 900g, Seeker's gives you 5 more armor than Deadman's Plate, Death's Dance, and Guardian Angel on top of 20 AP when fully stacked.
As a parting note, out of these 3 champions, only 1 is really played mid now - Lucian. So if you have to do this in ranked, do it right. Pick Lucian. But feel free to try the other 2 in normal games too!
Aisle 2: Assassins
High micro skill ceilings are a theme that is shared between several members of Aisles 1 and 2. In this section, we have the bane of squishy champions who have, to the chagrin of many, been given a breath of new life in the preseason. Assassins are high damage, high mobility champions who make up for their innate squishiness by deleting your health bar. After all, enemies cannot do damage to you if they are dead. If you wish to fill your highlights with flashy plays that will leave viewers cross eyed, welcome to Nirvana.
Assassins enjoy a decent-to-strong early game that can quickly escalate into a blanket of fear across the entire map. To the woeful squishy, you can appear to be everywhere at once. In lane, look to whittle your opponent down with your abilities and look for efficient trades. As always, ensure good wave management, keep level powerspikes in mind, and be wary of taking minion damage. If you manage to poke the enemy down enough, you can generally look for an all-in with Ignite at level 3. Otherwise, level 6 tends to be one of your strongest powerspikes. In lane, HP is one of your most valuable resources. Your threat level is directly proportional to your HP bar. Keep that in mind. In the mid game, look to roam and snowball other lanes or camp the enemy jungle to pick of rotating enemies. Always look to tilt squishies farming side lanes. In teamfights, you must look for flanks to be useful. Let a fight break out and quickly look to get on top of enemy carries and explode them. This is the point in the game where 1-for-1s become a sad reality. You excel in 1-on-1s, not killing someone surrounded by 4 others. To encourage the enemy to split up, split pushing a side lane and looking to pick off rotating enemies is something to look into.
As you have undoubtedly guessed, everything goes downhill for Assassins after their stellar mid game powerspike. When playing against them focus on maintaining good wave management, vision control, efficient trades. As mentioned above, the lower you can get the assassin without taking damage, the harder it is for them to all in you at level 3. Keep in mind their main powerspikes come at levels 3 and 6. Against AD assassins as an AP champion, the presence of Seeker's Armguard in your inventory will not go unnoticed. Remember that assassins love to roam, good wards in the river are key to slowing their mid game powerspike. Changing your trinket to the blue Farsight Alteration is advised. Try not to rotate alone and always account for an assassin appearing from over walls or the flanks if you are a squishy and a teamfight breaks out. Rest assured, they are coming for you. Keep in mind that they might not scale so well into the late game but they can still explode you if they reach you later on.
Final note: Kassadin is the most obvious exception to the "doesn't-scale-well" group. Keep in mind every champion brings something different to the table. If you don't take the time to learn what other champions do, prepare to learn from personal experience.
Aisle 3: AD Scalers
Just adjacent to Aisle 2 we have the hybrids of ADC and assassins. With only 2 items in this category, the crit brothers of Yasuo and Yone make up two of the flashiest, most mobile, and most popular picks in the entire game. Both mid-late game scaling titans who have a multitude of tools to outplay opponents weaved into their deceptively simple kits, these 2 picks terrorize every tier of Solo Queue. That being said, as of patch 10.23, both these picks felt the brunt of the crit nerfs and are at perhaps their weakest state since release. Thankfully, patch 10.25 looks to give them back more power with both buffs to the champions as well as their items.
As both these champions, when starting out its fine to play safe and farm up till you reach your item power spikes. Wave clear should be no issue to you and the only resource you need to pay attention to is your health bar. As Yasuo, use the mobility provided by enemy minions to weave about the lane to harass opponents and escape quickly. As Yone, simply keep your E in a safe place and run at the enemy to harass them. Make sure look to trade when your sheild is up as either of these picks. In the mid-and-late game, be weary that you share all ADC's quality of being some of the most sought after targets while your mobility makes you an instant threat to the enemy squishies with proper set up. Yasuo's teamfighting do not feel so good without set up from his team while Yone can pick off enemies and even engage teamfights with his own ultimate. Where possible, try to kill the enemy squishies and take your time with the tanks.
When playing against Yasuo, your minion wave is your worst enemy. Apart from that, trying to land a ranged CC against a half decent Yasuo with his W up can be quite challenging and his lack of mana can make him feel oppressive to play against. Pick fights when his passive shield is down and away from your minion wave. In teamfights, avoid clumping together and try to always keep an eye out for both his initiator and him. Try to bait out his W before all-ins and look to force something before it comes off CD. Against Yone, without his E or R, he has almost no mobility. That being said, the MS he gets from his E can make it impossible to run from him. When ganked, he will likely E and run to buy time, camp his E shadow instead of chasing him. In teamfights, the same rules apply for him and Yasuo. But try to catch him out as Yones position aggressively to initiate fights and pick off carries. His build leads him to be squishy so CCing and exploding him is a good way to start the fight. His W doesn't provide him nearly the same amount of safety that Yasuo's does.
Aisle 4: Burst Mages
Yet another Isle with a seemingly limited number of items on their shelves, the items found here tend to be quite volatile. What these champions lack in mobility, they make up for with sheer destructive, explosive power.
The huge benefit of playing as these champions is that they are some of the more basic and linear choices. With at least one AOE ability, one utility spell, and two other spells that either do or amplify damage, there really isn't much to talk about. Learn your combos, look to whittle down your opponent before going for all-ins, develop good wave management to suffocate your enemy, and get vision control to protect yourself from ganks. Look to explode your enemy and then keep the pressure up. Where possible, roam from your lane and pressure side lanes. You are at your strongest when you snowball your lead, before the enemy has time to build damage to kill you or resistances to tank your damage. In teamfights, look to engage if you have a CC, hit as many people with your abilities, or look to one shot enemy squishies. Funny tendency about squishies is that they like to stick together, this could be because of assassins but regardless of the reason, split them up explosively. Getting a sweeper and camping a bush is toxic, but plenty of fun as well!
When playing against burst mages, do not let them snowball a lead on you. They tend to be quite manageable when even and super lackluster when behind. The only time you will hear people complaining about getting one shot is when a 3-4 item mage one shots a 1 item tank. Like that isn't something that is supposed to happen. Burst mages always have at least 1 AOE ability as well as a point-and-click spell, try your best to dodge the targeted ability and factor in the point-and-click damage when trading. In teamfights, watch out for that AOE ability! A mage who goes even right up to that point can still unload onto you. As mentioned above, when playing a squishy consider keeping some distance between yourself, bushes, and other allies, especially if they are squishy as well! Tanks and champions with engage tools should look to engage on burst mages who position to far up, lock them down, and explode them before the fight starts.
When I first started I expected there to be more burst mages as well. Looking back at it now, I think most mages fit another mage category. But more on that in Aisle 5.
An often overlooked section that is part of both Isles 4 and 5, items on these shelves tend to deal high burst damage while also zoning enemies in the same manner as control mages. For those looking to provide long range air support or roleplay artillery, this is it!
In lane, poke mages tend to be at their most vulnerable. At this stage you don't have the mana pool or damage from items to be able to clear waves and harass from a screen away. Look to farm up as well as you can while throwing some poke at enemies. Like burst mages, you want to not fall behind at all cost. Being even is fine, getting ahead is swell, but being behind is painful. Be sure to practice good wave management. These champions tend to have good wave clear which, if used improperly, could leave you very open to getting ganked. Good wave clear does mean that you can shove out lanes non-stop and look to roam to side lanes. In the mid-and-late game, stay with your team and either save your CC to peel for you and your fellow carry or look to make picks with it. Pay attention to your positioning and spacing. If you are playing it right, most of your work should be done in the moments leading up to teamfights. Poke your enemy out and force them to either engage too early or abandon the objective as a result of dawdling beneath your mouse for too long.
When going against poke mages, there are several weaknesses that you can very easily abuse. Firstly, if they cannot hit you, they cannot do damage. So if you can break out those blue suede shoes, it's possible to never take damage from a poke mage. They are hard countered by mobile champions since mobility allows you to dodge their damage and get on top of them. Poke mages are also highly immobile. To put it plainly, poke mages are quite hard countered by assassins. Additionally, if they do not get super fed, poke mages have a really hard time killing tanks. So look for good long range engage tools, getting on top of poke mages is half the battle. Finally, remember that being decisive is a vital skill in this game and there is no better way to train this than to fight against poke mages. Look to engage as soon as you can as, procrastination in this area will lead to inevitable defeat.
Isle 5: Control Mages
By far the biggest section of available to you, items in this Aisle specialize in locking down enemy champions or having enough pressure from their abilities to create zones that enemies cannot pass through without the risk of getting evaporated.
Control mages are some of the most well rounded categories in the game. Its broad membership accommodates a multitude of playstyles and win conditions. There is a champion for any player in this field and everyone should play at least one of these champions in the mid lane. In most cases, control mages have comfortable laning phases with the ability to trade with early game dominant assassins. Their powerspikes vary but tend to be centered around the mid game after getting 2-3 items. Their power really shines in teamfights (Orianna and Cassio R) or in picking of enemies with point-and-click CC (Malzahar and Lissandra R). Getting priority with these picks is often quite easy as well since most of them have decent to good wave clear. This class can generally still be useful when behind and is a great starting point for those new to the mid lane.
While they can hold their own against assassins, these match ups tend to be skill match ups. As the vanilla flavor of mid lane, control mages can go against everything but can also get smashed by everything. A lot of it is on the player to understand the game and play accordingly. Notably, control mage players tend to have a hard time against ADC mid picks like Lucian. His mobility makes it hard to hit key spells and his early game damage allows him to win trades and develop leads. It is not that there isn't enough to say about these champions, the opposite couldn't be more true in this case. Identify what a particular pick's strength is and play cautiously around it. A great way to go about it is to hard smash them in lane and keep the pressure up as to close out the game before they become an asset to their team.
Aisle 6: Roaming Mids
For the cross-country enthusiast, globetrotters, and Alicopter advocates, break free from the chains of structured laning and become the pesky fly that the enemy side laners will come to detest. When played properly, you will appear to enemies to be everywhere at once, always at the right place at the right time to turn the battle in your team's favour.
As the name suggest, these champions should spend less time mid than your average mid laner. That being said, a certain degree of skill and instinct are a necessary part of playing these champions. For instance, every time you leave your lane to roam you risk coming up empty handed while your laner stays mid and soaks up the experience and gold. If this happens enough, your laner will push you around with his level and item advantage and lock you under tower for the duration of the laning phase. As a roaming mid, planning is everything. You tend to have superior wave clear, but that does not mean you have to use it and look to roam after every wave. Before ganking, determine which lane, consider enemy jungle position, and factor in your powerspikes before deciding. Great roaming timings are when you hard shove your lane and back to get items or when your opponent cannot freely and easily crash the wave inyo your tower before you get back. Roaming takes lots of trial and error, when in doubt try it and learn from your mistakes. A good starting point is ensuring you understand the basics of wave management, vision control, and priority. A guide for that can be found here. In teamfights, look to peel, engage, or even flank depending on your champion.
Going against roaming picks is a roller coaster ride in of itself. When in doubt, refer to the basics. Predict which lane he is more likely to roam towards and put a control ward on that side of the river. If you are lucky and your jungler wards one side, you can ward the other for full river control. Dropping a ward in lane near their tower is also something you should look to do as that can help to spot which side the enemy wants to roam towards. Once you know where he wants to go, spam ping the heck out of your ally laner. If they don't move, mute them and carry on with your game. Otherwise, look to run teleport as a summoner spell. When they leave lane, hard shove the minions into their tower and look to TP if your laner needs help. The main thing you want to focus on is making sure that the enemy laner does not get to roam for free. He should always be losing something - minions to his tower. If you happen to be duoing with your jungler, you can communicate to him to stay around mid when you both hit 6. This is when many roaming champions will attempt to impact the map. Many a time the enemy is so fixed with being the ganker that he won't expect being the ganked. Finally, although they are the roaming champion in theory, that should not deter you from looking to be proactive if you see the opportunity. If all else fails, remember their kits are designed to lock down and wave clear. Not to duel. Depending on your pick you are quite likely to have a big advantage in a straight up 1v1.
Now that we are done with the bandwagoners who avoid fighting their own battles but relish in joining fights they have no business being a part of, let us jump straight into the picks who indiscriminately jump into every fight.
Aisle 7: Teamfighting Mids
In terms of sending a clear and loud message, no picks do better than these 3. If you want nothing more than to be in the thick of teamfights, to be the star of the show, to have CC honing in on you like heat-seeking missiles, then these picks are right up your alley. You may also want to sign up for a diving license in order to familiarize yourself with the pressure you are about to experience.
In lane, look to poke your enemy down while collecting whatever CS you can. For the melee picks, you tend to suffer the most in this phase of the game. Again, wave manipulation is your friend. Similar to assassins, poking down your enemy allows you to look for openings at level 3 to all in them. If you are someone like Swain, look to harass and farm normally. In the mid-and-late game, look for flanks. As always, being an integral part of your team's win condition in teamfights makes you a CC magnet. It is generally a good idea to pick up a sweeper for that reason. If you get behind as this pick in lane, you can feel absolutely redundant in teamfights. In early teamfights where you do not have many items, be careful about going in too early and being focused down. It is always better that you follow up on an ally's engage and take advantage of the confusion in creates. The playstyle can seem similar to an assassin, however instead of threatening the carry you threaten the entire team.
Against these picks, if you have better wave clear you can look to continuously shove waves into their turret to make them lose CS and open yourself up to roam. This of course opens yourself up to ganks as well. Either impact the map and get your team ahead or set the teamfighter behind in lane. In teamfights, always keep an eye out for the teamfighter. Look to engage on them while they are looking for their flanks, especially if they position too far from the team. The lose alot of their threat as soon as you can see them, so get good ward coverage in areas where possible. Many times, it is possible to one-shot them after a single form of CC connects due to their squishy nature. If a fight breaks out before you spot them, keep in mind that they are out there and save a reliable form of hard CC for the moment they appear.
Isle 8: Utility Mids
Last but not least, for the selfless players or autofill support mains, even you have some form of variety in this lane! While I would almost never condone doing this alone, if you see a teammate lock in a hypercarry, know that this is always an option. Otherwise, if you duo with a partner who is a reliable hypercarry player, do not hesitate to add a little more pressure onto his shoulders along with a little more protection.
Utility mid laners have quite a bit going for them in the laning phase. For starters, you naturally do quite well against assassins. This continues on into the rest of the game in the case of Lulu. You have decent wave clear and can look to use your shields and stuns to get favourable trades onto the enemy laner. While whittling down the enemy laner is simple, being able to kill him is a whole other issue. Such is the peace loving way of utility supports I suppose. In coordinated team play, utility supports start grouping with their allies as soon as they hit their 2 utility item powerspike or when laning phase ends. At that point you just stick near to your carry, healing and shielding them while CCing any enemy that gets too close. And that's about it. Never go off on your own to do anything and look to stay as a tight 5 man as often as possible and force them to fight you. Be it through neutral objectives or sieging towers, you must entice your enemy to fight you. Grouping up as 5 without getting anything will set your team far behind in gold and experience.
It can be quite tricky going up against these picks. With a decent-to-strong early game and a simple to execute mid-to-late game, beating them might not be as easy as you expect even if you somehow dominate them in lane. That being said, if you come out of lane 10/0 with a 50 CS lead then that's a different story. Overall, the main thing to remember against these picks is that you need to split the enemy team up. This can be done through split pushing, getting vision and picking off enemies who are alone, or even by doing nothing. In solo queue, if the enemy team has good coordination then you are done for anyway regardless of what the enemy mid laner picks. Most of the times, people cannot bring themselves to group up as the allure of side lane waves overpowers their reasoning. This is what you take advantage of. Better yet, if the enemy senselessly groups without forcing your team into taking fights 5v5, pick up side lane gold and watch as you naturally develop a lead.
Thanks for shopping, hope to see you again soon!
Overall, for beginners I would recommend starting with Aisle 5's control mages and trying out the various niche picks in that group. Before branching out to any of the other Aisles be sure to have a solid set of fundamentals and to have some idea of your win condition.
Are there other champions I am missing out on? But of course! ANY champion can go mid! So for all you innovators who are hell bent on leaving your mark on the game and the one-tricks that swear upon the legitimacy of AP Leona mid, go bonkers. Look for where your champion fits in here and hopefully you find some information that helps you. Truth be told, if you find something that is OP you might want to keep it to yourself. Champions whose hidden potential is revealed by those with good intentions either fall prey to their own discovery, or live out their days in petrified anticipation of the morrow's patch notes.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our Overview of the Best Jungler For Each Top Laner.