Top 10 Hardest Champions in LoL
Even though the hardest LoL champions take the most time to master, they are also often the most rewarding and satisfying to play. Becoming proficient at a champion with an extremely high skill ceiling can be very advantageous since the enemy won’t be able to expect you to pull off some plays or moves.
That said, learning champions inside out is a long process and not all people can or are willing to invest so much time into one pick. But if you’re looking for a challenge and want to become a master in a unique pick, here is the list of the 10 hardest champions in LoL. We won’t be considering picks for each role, so there might be multiple champions from the same position.
If you have just started playing LoL, we highly suggest you avoid these champions at all times. They require both micro and macro mechanics, and generally strong game knowledge to squeeze their entire potential. Once you have grasped the basics and the fundamentals, though, you might want to consider one of these since they will be strong when played at their maximum potential, regardless of the meta they might be in.
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Who are the hardest LoL champions?
Before going over what we believe are the 10 hardest champions to play in League of Legends, it’s important to make a disclaimer and explain how we ranked our list.
The top 10 considers both skill floor and skill ceiling, which are both essential to ascertain the “difficulty” of a champion. To put it simply, skill floor is what we refer to as the minimum level of ability required to be effective with a champion. Skill ceiling, on the other hand, is the level of skill required to use a champion to its maximum potential.
In our list, we will take both elements into consideration, and briefly explain whether it’s skill floor or skill ceiling the defining factor for each champion. With that in mind, below are the 10 hardest champions in LoL.
The first champion on our list is Akali and while there might be some conflicting views on the Ionian assassin, we think she has a high enough skill ceiling to put her in the top 10.
Ever since she received her rework, it’s become increasingly harder to deliver quick and fast assassinations. With her new kit, she is required to play in a certain way and not all players are able to fully grasp her. Akali needs quick hands and quick thinking to be able to draw out her power. If either of these is missing, then Akali will not work as intended. Her kit might not be super hard to learn but only the very best can carry games and go in 1v9 mode.
Azir is next on our list, and compared to someone like Akali, the champion from Shurima has a much higher skill floor. His entire kit as a control mage with high DPS doesn’t suit the uncoordinated environment that is solo queue, making it even harder for players piloting him to have the influence he’s supposed to have. This is because Azir needs to scale up a lot and he’s a lot weaker than other mid lane picks in the laning phase, which is the best way to snowball, get ahead, and carry games alone.
Moreover, Azir’s skill floor is a lot higher compared to other champions which means that a player needs to invest a lot of time to even learn him. The Emperor of the Sands requires impeccable positioning and good placing of the soldiers to deal damage and it doesn’t come that easily if you’re not used to playing control mages or ranged champions.
If you have played LoL for a while, you probably don’t like Yasuo unless you main him. The champion is extremely unforgiving and messing up the slightest will mess up the entire flow of the early laning phase. The “0/10/0 Yasuo” meme didn’t come out of nowhere, did it?
For Yasuo, skill ceiling is a lot more important since his kit is not that hard to pick up. By having low cooldowns and no mana, he’s probably easier to learn than many other champions and mid laners in particular. That being said, drawing the maximum potential from Yasuo consistently is extremely hard to achieve. You need quick decision-making and reactive hands to make his combos work, especially when it comes to using his flash on his E-Q combos to knock up targets.
Not to mention that Yasuo is squishy and can be easily punished if mispositioned. Using the ultimate at the wrong moment can heavily backfire and cause him to die at the start of a fight. For these reasons, Yasuo is the number eight champion on this list.
Another champion with an insanely high skill ceiling is Riven. If you’re a top laner, you probably know how tough it can be to master her. It’s not about learning her combos or having strong fundamentals but it’s about executing perfectly each combo every time you need it, and that doesn’t come naturally unless you “live and breathe” the champion.
More so than others, Riven is what we think is the most “mechanically intensive” champion to play in the whole LoL universe. Not only does she have many different combos but most of them require inhuman micromechanics and fast APM (actions per minute) to be able to link everything smoothly. Paired with spacing and the knowledge behind animation canceling in her combos, she takes an absurd amount of time to master. And that’s why not many people are willing to pick her up from the start.
Irelia is yet another champion that follows a similar approach to Riven with the main difference being that Irelia is even more unforgiving than Riven. The former has too many bad matchups and being able to get into a good position in those moments requires a lot of nerves and the ability to execute the combos perfectly. One mistake and everything can be over in that instant.
More so than other champions, great Irelia players need to know exactly how aggressive they can be and how much “room for error” they have. They need to quickly assess the game state and decide whether they are able to make the play work even if they mess up somehow. The learning curve for this champion is extremely steep, which is why most people are not willing to play her. In the right hands, however, Irelia can be a true menace.
Number 5 on our list is yet another top laner but this time around, we have a tank, if that’s how we should classify K’Sante. For us, however, K’Sante is more like a bruiser, considering the damage he offers and the incredible outplay potential the champion has.
That being said, he also happens to be one of the most difficult champions to play in LoL. Most of his damage comes from his passive and Q, which is extremely short-range compared to other abilities. Landing all Ntofo Strikes is a tough task itself but it’s even harder when you have to concatenate it with the rest of his kit, and most importantly, his ultimate. Going All-Out makes K’Sante stronger but also easier to kill: understanding when and how to use the ultimate is key to mastering the champion.
This might be a controversial take but currently, only high Elo players and pros are able to draw out his maximum potential. His success in pro play has been the main reason why K’Sante was nerfed shortly after his release and why the devs haven’t been buffing him, despite the low win rates in solo queue and across most levels of play. The depth of his kit and combos, as well as the ability to execute them perfectly is why we think K’Sante deserves to be on this list.
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Speaking of perfect execution, we must not forget about Qiyana: a highly mobile assassin with crowd control, stealth, and low cooldowns. She has everything to become a terrorizing presence for solo queue and if it wasn’t for a long streak of nerfs in the past few years, she would be dominating the ranked ladder.
The difference between an average and a great Qiyana player lies in the ability to fully maximize her Q based on the elements she has around her. Knowing exactly what to take and how to use the effect to concatenate it with the rest is complicated. You need quick hands and many games to master her combos and make them fluid.
Not to mention that being an assassin, a strong Qiyana player needs to have a great understanding of the role he has in each game. Finding the right flanks and hitting the perfect ultimate to stun multiple targets is not easy to pull off.
Even though the skill floor for Nidalee is not that high, she probably has the highest skill ceiling out of all champions in the game and there are a couple of reasons for it, the first one being her nature as a champion.
Compared to most champions in the game, Nidalee can do many different things at a great level: she can poke, she can be an assassin, she can gank, and also be a power farmer or invader. She’s probably the jungler that gives you the most options and you know she can do that. But that versatility comes at a price: the requirements of her mechanics and game understanding.
To be able to draw the maximum potential we talked about earlier, Nidalee needs a high understanding of all the different roles she can be, and she will be juggling multiple roles depending on the game state. Having that knowledge and the mechanics to pull it off compounds her overall difficulty. On top of that, Nidalee has a limited “time window” where she’s strong. To become a great Nidalee player, you need to consistently abuse that time frame and get advantages, regardless of the game state or team composition you’re playing with or against.
Aphelios’ addition to the ADC champion pool was game-changing for Riot. His skill floor is definitely not that high but you can be sure that his skill ceiling is up there in the top 3.
On top of having to fully understand the champion, Aphelios’ most difficult skill to master is the swap combos and the gun ammunition management, which heavily differs from game to game but also from fight to fight. You need to always predict which guns you need for a skirmish or a fight, and have them ready when the time calls.
In other words, Aphelios is probably the most difficult champion to play optimally in LoL. His nature as an ADC further increases the responsibility and heavily reduces the “room for error” compared to other champions. If you want to succeed with “Mr. 200 Years”, you have to constantly play him to (or near to) maximum potential.
1. Lee Sin
All strong Lee Sin players might not be great junglers, but all strong junglers have a great Lee Sin. You probably have heard of this (or a similar) quote regarding Lee Sin, who we consider the most difficult champion to play in LoL.
While he may not require the same amount of game understanding as Nidalee, Lee Sin is without a doubt the most demanding champion when it comes to mechanics. To put it simply, he has the highest skill ceiling of all champions in the game.
And while you may disagree with this statement, we want to share our reasonings on why we think Lee Sin is the no. 1 on this list. Most people will be familiar with his kit given the popularity the champion has across all levels of play but drawing the maximum potential from a Lee Sin is a lot more than just executing the combos perfectly.
The best (and worst) thing about Lee Sin is that his difficulty is directly related to the enemies’ skill level. The stronger the enemy, the harder Lee Sin becomes. The combos the Lee Sin player must pull off are going to be closer and closer to the limit, which inevitably raises the chances of messing up. And when a champion like Lee Sin messes up, the outcome can be unforgiving.
It’s like racing: you need to constantly be on the very limit to drive as fast as possible and you have to do it at all times, for every lap, for every turn. You need a strong mind, great confidence, and incredibly fast hands to fully master Lee Sin. And we think that is the charm behind the champion: making those flashy plays or perfectly executing a fight gives an incredible amount of satisfaction, making all the time and effort invested worth it. And it’s that grind that makes Lee Sin the most difficult and most taxing champion to play in LoL.
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