The customary preseason host of changes have swept through League of Legends like a storm, rebalancing everything and making everything we knew invalid… or rather, that’s how it has been in previous seasons. Comparatively, the 2017 preseason looks relatively similar to the last — at least so far.
Sure, the jungle has changed up slightly, there are plants now that people are still trying to figure out, and assassins are all very flashy and fun, yet still get destroyed by burst mages. But we’re still seeing a lot of the same picks in the same lanes with the same item builds, so what you know from previous installments should still be in effect.
With all that said, the true season start is rapidly drawing closer, and it’s time to polish up and prepare for the ranked climb. To that end, today I’m bringing a list of the five best assassins to play heading into League of Legends Season 7!
Everyone’s favourite horrible Void insect monster is the first up, following his recent update with the assassin rework. While his numbers and evolved abilities have been tweaked somewhat, his playstyle is still much the same: find an isolated target and destroy them.
He’s more than capable of this as well, able to obliterate separated opponents in a matter of seconds with huge bursts, just in time to bounce away with his wings. Best played in the jungle, he’s an ideal champion for singling enemy junglers out, stealing their buffs or sneakily bursting down dragons.
What keeps Kha’zix from appearing higher up in this list is very much his feast or famine playstyle. If you can’t find isolated opponents to snowball from, you’ll find that he’s quickly unable to keep up with scaling enemies. Even if he can find the isolated kills, it can be much harder to safely get them and get out in later stages of the game once group fights are more frequent.
Should he fall behind, he’s not likely to be all that useful to the team, since all he offers is high damage from a very squishy body. He’s also got very little utility aside from slows or stealth jukes. As such, while he’s a lot of fun to play and great for snowballing, he’s not the most consistent assassin on the list.
Next up is the truly iconic Ezio… sorry, Talon. Still, Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio is probably an apt comparison following the assassin update, as Talon now spends most of the game parkour-ing all over the map. It’s seriously satisfying just flipping over walls and appearing from the most unexpected angles in order to deliver a surprise attack, and it allows him to avoid the usual ward spots. He’ll just vault in, get a kill, and usually get out with either more awesome flips or the stealth on his ultimate.
The biggest downside, then, is his laning phase. Depending on the matchup, you might do alright in mid-lane and just be able to Rake the minion wave down before running off to do your thing. Other times, Rake just isn’t enough, and you’ll just get poked or traded down when you try to farm. More often than not, even clearing the wave will just see your mid-lane mage opponent clear it faster and then follow you for counterganks.
That said, if you can get ahead and get some kills flowing for your team, Talon is definitely a valuable asset to any team. He edges out over Kha’zix purely on the basis of being able to farm and deal AoE damage a bit easier, not to mention just jump over a wall to escape. It’s really down to a matter of preference.
Prior to the rework, a good Rengar would have marksman players waking up at night in a cold sweat from nightmares of all the times he simply pounced and eviscerated them in a heartbeat. After the rework, this was meant to be brought back into line… and, well, it wasn’t. His ultimate no longer lets you see the entire enemy team and pick the best moment to strike, but it does still get you in position to remove that pesky squishy from the map and start a 4v5 duel.
If anything, “Knifecat” is in a better spot now than before. He’s able to regenerate some of the damage he’s taken with his Battle Roar now, and his ability to farm and wave clear is arguably a lot better with the changes to his Savagery. He’s perfectly capable of holding his own in top lane or bullying out weak laners, or else just taking to the jungle and striking from nowhere.
Like the other assassins mentioned so far, he lacks a lot of team utility if he’s falling behind, but he definitely has the strengths to get ahead or at least stay even regardless of where he is. For that, Rengar’s generally a safer bet and the strongest of the AD assassins on this list.
And that’s probably a good hint for who the top two are…
All it takes is one good reset to get the ball rolling and completely end a teamfight in a matter of seconds. That’s how it always has been with Katarina, but following the assassin update, she’s able to do this a lot easier. But most importantly, she can do it from a position of relative safety. Her abilities now drop daggers around the field for her to pick up and do a whirl of damage in the vicinity, but she can also Shunpo to them and drastically reduce the Shunpo cooldown in the process.
What does this mean? Well, Katarina can now get in and out of skirmishes very quickly and safely if you set up her daggers right. She can jump over any wall if you place a dagger against it correctly. And you’d better believe trying to gank her is an exercise in frustration when she just bounces half the lane away in rapid succession. Then, to crown it all off, she puts out a huge amount of damage in a teamfight, triggers a kill, gets the reset and boom, the game is over.
With all these strengths, Katarina is one of the scariest champions to fight against. There are only two caveats that would hold her back from the top spot.
- Minimal utility — Outside of damage, she offers very little to her team. Granted, she offers a huge amount of damage, and a single reset can turn the tide of a game even if Katarina’s been behind the whole game.
- Mechanical difficulty and play intensity. Yes, it’s possible to do all these flashy plays, but you have to be intensely aware of where your daggers are going to be, how quickly you can Shunpo to them, how to dodge damage and stuns with these jumps, when to ultimate for best value… and well, it’s not a simple matter. A few basic combinations are picked up quickly, but I’ve watched footage of Katarina play that I simply cannot wrap my head around.
It’s certainly not as simple to pull off effectively as our top contender.
If all the years of terrorising the mid lane in some manner haven’t prepared you for LeBlanc’s presence here, then you clearly haven’t been playing mid all that much. On her release, LeBlanc’s damage had to be hotfixed almost immediately for being too damn high, and even afterwards she had the ability to just delete single characters from the game in an instant. Fortunately for everyone else, she didn’t scale at all, so it was a case of killing them repeatedly and quickly until you were no longer able to do so, whereupon you would probably lose.
Her first rework brought her into the shape we’ve known up until now, whereupon she traded a lot of that instant kill damage for more reliable scaling and good wave clear. However, she was never quite delivering on that theme of illusions properly, hence this second rework. And boy, did they deliver.
On the surface, LeBlanc is largely the same as she was. You’ll still be able to make jukes with Distortion, not to mention clear waves effortlessly so you can roam and look for picks. You still have plenty of single target burst damage, and doubly so if you can land your chains and root the enemy in place to be eliminated by your team. And you still have the ability to use your ult to bolster your regular abilities in all sorts of creative ways, whether it be for crazy escapes, massive burst, or the infamous double chains.
But in addition to all of that, you can now completely deceive enemies by making a clone appear anywhere on the map and misleading them into thinking you’re ganking somewhere else, only to pop up in a different lane entirely and erase a foe in a heartbeat.
She’s got mindgames, mobility, high damage, wave clear, and — what every other major assassin lacks — team utility with her shackle, even if she’s behind.
So if you can only practice one assassin to use in the upcoming Season 7, you’re best off choosing LeBlanc.
Most importantly, you should be playing what you enjoy and find to be the most effective for you personally. Do that, stick with your favourites, learn their intricacies, and you’ll find yourself climbing the ranks naturally in no time at all.
And there you have it, my personal selection of assassins for Season 7. Of course, there’s always the addendum to any list by saying that this is my preference, and while I’ve looked into the matter heavily, there’s still no reason why you can’t thrive on any other assassin. I didn’t mention Fizz on this list, but he’s certainly a terror to behold if he gets ahead and tricky to lock down. Shaco can be an absolute monster if you can get the knack for him. Akali is definitely no slouch if you get rolling.
Or else you can just counter all these flashy assassin picks with a solid burst mage or an immovable tank… but that’s a discussion for another article.
What kind of picks will you be taking into the new League of Legends season, assassin or otherwise? Do you have a patented Teemo build that I’m neglecting to mention? Let me know about it in the comments!