Mastering Smolder with DIG Tomo

Smolder’s the newest ADC on the Rift! Let’s sit with our resident Pro ADC Tomo and find out what there is to know about this little dragon!

Smolder’s the most recent addition to the ADC Roster in League of Legends. And while he has received some adjustments, trends are pointing to Smolder being one of LoL’s most popular Champions! Which means he’s here to stay and will likely be the target of frequent balancing updates until he’s ‘just right’ between Pro Play and Solo Queue.

Today we’re sitting with DIG’s ADC, Frank "Tomo" Lam, to learn the ins and outs of Smolder’s kit, and what we can do to maximize our gains when playing the Champion!

What Type of Marksman/ADC is Smolder?

Tomo: Smolder is a hyper-scaling AD caster. That means he has a similar playstyle to someone like Ezreal, Miss Fortune, or Xayah. The AD Caster playstyle centers around the Champion’s abilities and how they are used versus focusing strictly on auto-attack based damage. Though, of course as an AD Champion, that will be high.

The main crux of Smolder’s kit is his passive, Dragon Practice. This is where the late-game aspect of Smolder’s kit comes into play. Each time Smolder successfully damages an enemy Champion with an ability, or he uses his Q, Super Scorcher Breath, to successfully kill a Minion, Smolder gains a stack of Dragon Practice.

These stacks cause his abilities to deal bonus magic damage, but the big selling point is at 225 stacks where Smolder’s Q fully unlocks at it’s third ‘tier’ of effect. At this tier, Smolder’s a walking Elder Dragon Buff, as his Q is able to execute enemies that fall below a certain range.

Smolder’s Kit Breakdown & Tricks

Tomo: As far as Smolder’s other abilities go, his Q is a last-hitting and poke tool outside of its scaling factor. His W, Achooo, is primarily a wave clear and zoning tool. And his E, Flap-Flap-Flap, is his mobility and defensive tool.

Smolder, unlike Samira or Aphelios, doesn’t really have a whole lot in the way of combos. You can pretty much use your abilities in any order and they more or less are dictated by your position and spacing relative to the enemy team.

For example, you might be looking hit both the enemy and wave at the same time, so using his W into Q will maximize your damage on the wave and also slow the enemy so that you can hit them with Q. Flaps can be used to charge forward to catch up to a gank or fight, but can also be used defensively to peel back or reposition yourself out of AOE.

When it comes to ability maxing order, Smolder’s max order is Q-W-E, slotting in your ultimate at its level up points of 6, 11, and 16 respectively. Prioritization of Smolder’s Q brings the most out of his damage as he not only increases his damage values from each level up, but he also gains decreased cooldown on the ability allowing him to weave more activations into his farming and dueling.

Achoo and Flaps follow up Q as the primary level up as these abilities are less about the damage provided and more about the utility. As an ADC, Smolder wants to naturally prioritize tools that give him an increased opportunity to secure a personal kill, so maxing these abilities second and third respectively makes sense. But you can also weave in an additional level up into either or respectively to boost wave clear or your mobility if you find yourself under pressure at turret or needing to avoid multiple abilities in the middle of a fight.

Tomo: As far as unique things to master with Smolder’s kit, there isn’t much that I would say is particularly demanding. He’s a pretty simple Champion overall, but being aware of how your abilities work in certain spots can help you. For example, Smolder’s E, can allow you to fly into terrain/large walls, making you briefly untargetable for damage. Additionally, learning how to fire his ultimate, Mom, backwards brings out the damaging wave faster than firing it forwards for whatever reason. Additionally, don’t be afraid to use your ultimate on the wave if you feel you are about to be dove. Between it and your W, you can clear almost any wave instantly the moment you have both abilities.

Support Pairings

Tomo: Smolder, I think, has pretty flexible pairings at Support. Honestly, I think he can work with any Support due to his flexible nature, but as a personal preference, I enjoy Supports that like to go-in. Champions like Nautilus, Blitz, or Leona for example, can CC targets down allowing you to pump out your damage and gain stacks. These Champions, I think, set Smolder up to have a more impactful lane as his damage after Sheen or Essence Reaver should be respected.

Additionally, as a hypercarry, Smolder pairs well with Enchanters if your team is looking for that shielding and healing layer in draft. Champions like Milio and Lulu can help increase Smolder’s mobility and evasiveness, giving him move-speed, increasing his auto-range, or just denying enemy damage through shields and heals. While Champions like Janna can be an excessive layer of peel that any Smolder can hide behind while they scale up.

Itemization

Tomo: Smolder has a flexible set of items that he can select, but as of 14.6, I think his best three item core is Essence Reaver, Spear of Shojin, and Rapid Firecannon. Reasons being, Essence Reaver plays well to his AD Caster style of play, increasing his damage after abilities making him far more scrappier. Spear of Shojin increases the damage that his abilities deal, while providing him with good stats like CDR and HP, which allow Smolder to play closer up in fights without fear of being one-shot. And lastly, Rapid Firecannon solves Smolder’s range issues and gives him that energized range increase that he can use to farm and poke with his Q safely, while also giving him attack speed, of course.

After your core three items, Smolder’s loadout can be flexed based on what sort of team composition you’re facing. Thanks to his decent AP scalings, Smolder benefits from building AP itemizes and can opt for something like Liandry’s when facing tankier compositions. Or, if you’re into squisher comps, Navori Quickblades can be a great option to add crit scaling to your abilities. As an AD Caster, this scaling gives your ability focused kit that extra oomph of damage output. And of course, sustain tools like Bloodthirster or an anti-dive tool like Guardian Angel, can slot in if you find yourself in longer skirmishes or the focus of team fights.

Team Compositions for Smolder

Tomo: Smolder’s flexible nature and his kit, I think, allow him to fit into any sort of comp. Be that a front-to-back, 1-3-1, 4-1, or any other type. If given a good Support pairing and a stable lane, I think his kit is designed to succeed in any sort of space. But, I would say his best composition is that traditional front-to-back teamfight setup.

A front-to-back teamfight comp looks to execute fights as its name implies, whatever target is in front, gets demolished first before the team pushes their way through to the backline. Sometimes this term gets used interchangeably with the ‘protect the carry’ comp, since often the ADC is the focal point of the composition and looks to be the primary damage dealer that shreds through the frontline, enabling his team to reach the backline.

Smolder works well in this type of setup thanks to both his Support flexibility and his large AOE damage spread. His Q’s ability to splash onto the backline and his W’s wide width and slowing ability can create a heavy amount of zone pressure that enemies have a hard time playing into, especially when Smolder’s ahead or at his execution stack point.

In a traditional FTB shell, Smolder will often be the last to enter fights, looking to hit the first target available to him, prioritizing those set up for him while being aware of the enemy team’s dive threats. In these shell, Smolder works well when built around two solid frontliners either a Tank or a Bruiser, a Mage, and an Enchanter. In these shell, the Tank and Bruiser act as the enablers for fights while the Mage plays the middle of the formation and can fight forward and back alongside Smolder. Smolder, of course, plays at the back of fights, but with enabling from an Enchanter and his Mage, he can play up to lay out his damage.

Smolder’s Weaknesses

Tomo: Smolder, even on 14.6, I think will continue to be a strong Champion. It’ll take time for players to learn to play with his adjustments, but once that’s done, he’ll be back at a respectable spot. But, at this point, I think his weaknesses as an ADC are a bit more glaring than they were before. Since Smolder’s primary goal in each game is to scale up, since he has wave clear built in on his kit, his auto range has to be short to compensate. So, learning to play around this short range will be key to overcoming Smolder’s primary weakness on the patch.

Additionally, with the itemization buffs to Crit on 14.6, Champions like Jinx, Twitch, and Ashe all received respectable buffs on their item tracks. These Champions all have excellent tools for taking advantage of Smolder’s short range either by being able to beat it themselves, or having tools (in Twitch’s case), that allow him to get up close and deal direct damage to the little dragon.

With that said, we suggest if you’re looking to pilot Smolder on the patch, duo up with a solid Enchanter player that can play either Lulu, Milio, or Janna well. These Champions can help Smolder overcome his weaknesses without much effort on his own part, and give Smolder increased agency. Additionally, these Champions also do well in disabling the enemy ADC when they look to fight, so their use in protecting Smolder can be made that way.

Just be warned, in Metas where Enchanters and Crit-based ADCs are on the rise, Champions like Nautilus, Thresh, Blitz, and Pyke start to find their way forward as natural counters to Enchanter lanes. These Champions can also abuse Smolder’s short range with well-placed Flashes and hooks. So, look to hold your Flaps for defensive usage throughout the lane phase, unless you’re certain you can play aggressively and use it to reposition forward.

Closing Out

There’s all you need to know about Smolder and more! Thanks to Tomo for sitting with us to unpack League of Legend’s newest ADC! If you want to follow more of Tomo you can find him at the following links:

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