League of Legends: The 5 Most Played Bruisers in Ranked

Jax and Irelia hold their spots, but the bear makes a sweet entry into the top five bruisers.

Last week, patch 6.12 was released for League of Legends. And while it mostly addressed balance issues prevalent in ARAM, it also included small item changes that made some old and forgotten bruisers more viable. 

Today, I'll be discussing the top five most played bruisers in Ranked, and why I feel they are especially strong now more than ever. Let's begin.

Lee Sin in the top five? Even a blind monk saw this one coming.

1. Lee Sin

Current Popularity: 22.8% / Win Rate: 46.9%

Back in the day, Lee Sin was a champion whose kit could be summed up entirely with one word: ridiculous. It may surprise you to hear this, but there was a point in time when he was strong enough to go mid. Fortunately, Riot Games nerfed him soon after. What followed was a cascade of smack downs laid upon our beloved monk's kit. Bouncing from Mid lane to Top soon after, he finally landed in the Jungle — where all retired Top lane veterans go to rest — and where he has found his strong-suit in the meta. 

Despite not having the damage and innate tankiness that made him so powerful before, his sheer mobility is enough to justify his current standing.

In the palms of an experienced player, Lee Sin is still capable of ruining the enemy's jungle and wreaking havoc on the opposing team. He works quite well as an off-tank mobile annoyance on the Rift. One of his strongest advantages relies on the player's ability to perform the infamous "Insec-kick."

It's a move whose very name triggers adrenaline secretion in many players today, and it's a reason why he's still popular both competitively and casually.

Pros Cons
  • One of the most mobile champions.
  • Decent damage early game.
  • Can build according to situation.
  • Mechanically intensive.
  • Late game = full tank or full squish.
  • Reliant on ultimate.

Volibear in the top five? You BEARter believe it.

2. Volibear

Current Popularity: 14.7% / Win Rate: 53%

Let me put it straight -- if you want a solid example of how item changes can make or break a champion, Volibear is your best bet. Volibear hasn't received a significant buff in years, yet he is still one of the strongest bruisers around. Why?

Blame the abundance of movement speed items.

With Mundo-like health regeneration and the ability to one-shot enemies with a single bite, a Volibear on all fours is just as scary as a homeguard Hecarim galloping past your deep river ward. 

Volibear's passive lets him regenerate health at an absurd rate. Unfortunately, this allows him to back off from a fight and get to a more healthy state long before you ever do. His bite also does a significant amount of percent damage according to how much health the enemy is missing. What results is usually an instant kill on a 1/3 health squishy target.

But still, Volibear has his faults. He thrives against a team with poor communication, mobility, and CC. Despite having a wide-selection of items he can use to get to you, a coordinated team is quite capable of kiting him to death and turning him into a damage sponge.

Most Volibears tunnel vision when they initiate their charge. Let 'em come.

Pros Cons
  • Can build straight tanky and still do damage.
  • Fast.
  • Passive and strong finisher.
  • Can still be kited to death.
  • Not as strong against a heavy CC team.
  • No clear initiate.

The number one duelist -- he's the Jax of all trades.

3. Jax

Current Popularity: 12.2% / Win Rate: 50%

Earlier this year Jax received a significant passive change. And though it seemed like a nerf, the change was ultimately a nice buff to our Grandmaster at Arms.

Although most people are trying to push Jungle Jax into existence, Top Lane is still the best place for Jax to reside. There, Jax receives a better income and can easily achieve the two items he needs the most: Blade of the Ruined King and Trinity Force.

Luckily for you soon-to-be Jax players, Trinity Force also received a significant change, and will most likely make Jax an even bigger threat in the next developing month.

So watch your backs, and condition yourself to flash away as soon as he starts twirling his lamppost — Jax is set to become one of the strongest bruisers.

Pros Cons
  • One of the biggest threats when full build.
  • Capable of solo-carrying.
  • Thrives in prolonged duels.
  • Needs main items before becoming a threat.
  • Can be quite squishy early.
  • No mode of escape.

I own ya.

4. Irelia

Current Popularity: 10.9% / Win Rate: 53.4%

Long ago, a player named Wickd once showed us what it meant to be a true Irelia main. Since his departure from competitive League, Irelia's presence seemed to slowly fade away. But it's no coincidence that Irelia's popularity sky-rocketed around the same time Jax's did. 

Once again, you can reason that to the recent Trinity Force buff.

However, it's worth mentioning that Irelia is still a powerful choice even without the Trinity Force buffs. Her kit allows her to stun, slow, and even make some pretty sick escape plays.

In the face of all this, it's understandable where the the "nerf Irelia" memes came about. Irelia was very strong even before the item buffs. Trinity Force just pushed her over the edge. A quick glimpse at Irelia shows you that she's a champion with absurd AD ratios and ability cooldowns. Unfortunately in her current state, she can practically all-in you in situations when one shouldn't be able to.

Wickd may be gone, but it doesn't take being a professional player to make some god-like plays. All it takes is a little confidence and item buffs.

Pros Cons
  • Receives a significant power-spike.
  • Low cooldown on E.
  • Can stick on targets.
  • Requires effort to use properly.
  • Reliant on TP plays.
  • Needs items to be relevant.

Nothing can run away from the spinning Demacian, that's Garenteed.

5. Garen

Current Popularity: 10.9% / Win Rate: 50.4%

I'll say it here, Garen has never — and will never — be relevant in higher ELO.

While he's arguably a fun champion to play (it'll help if you loosely define the term "fun"), he just has too many distinctive weaknesses holding him back from becoming successful. 

But if you somehow manage to get past those draw-backs, by God is he strong.

Garen can easily duel most other champions when he's decked out in tanky items. And he's part of the few champions who can dish out insane amounts of damage while only building tanky. His passive also helps to put an end to any enemy carry who's getting a bit too full of themselves.

He's one of the easiest champions to play, and that's one of the reasons why I believe he is one of the more popular bruisers around. He's a great entry-level champion for anyone interested in learning the play-style behind bruisers. Just keep in mind though, he's nothing more than that. With the growing selection of champions, there's a wide-array of heroes that do what Garen does and more. 

The new Garen forces you to charge out in the open and face your obstacles head-on.

No more waiting around in a bush. Garen doesn't do that anymore.

Pros Cons
  • Fun and balanced kit.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Defines tanky.
  • Kiteable. 
  • Very clear weaknesses.
  • Does not benefit from TP.

That concludes this list of the top five most played bruisers in Ranked. I sincerely hope that you found this informative and enjoyable. 

Keep in mind that while these are the most popular (and most successful) bruiser-type champions to play, they shouldn't prevent you from trying other champions or finding your new main. Stick with who you enjoy and keep at it. 

Maybe next time, your presence alone is enough to send the next bruiser hurdling up into the top five.

Player information and statistics tracked and gathered from League of Graphs.

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Published Jun. 22nd 2016

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