A Beginner’s Guide to Situational Items
In League of Legends, every champion has a plethora of items available to them. From core items that they build every game, to items that they only purchase once in a while. Depending on the situation, and the role you’re playing as, you may have to opt for certain items choices to help you sustain, survive and win the game.
In this edition of our LoL item guides by PicklePants, we will discuss some situational items and when you can buy them.
As most League of Legends items to some extent can be considered situational, we will only discuss a handful of the more popular situational items that are in the game. To make this guide short and sweet, we discuss every role at once.
In our previous articles on ADC items, Support items, tank items, AP items, and assassin items, we provided basic terminology to explain how itemization works. Here’s a quick TLDR if you haven’t read the previous articles (skip ahead if you have!).
Items in a build fall into one of two categories:
Core items are almost always bought by your champion.
Situational items are only bought in certain circumstances, such as Guardian Angel, which is bought into team comps that have assassins or other sources of high burst.
Pre Game Situational Builds
Remembering which situational items synergize with every champion can be difficult, especially for newer players. We strongly recommend trying out our Pre Game feature which automatically gives you the best core build path along with situational items that you should consider.
Here is an example of a Pre Game for Janna:
To try out the Pre Game, simply sign up for a free account. It’s only one of the many tools in the Mobalytics platform so be sure to check them out!
How to Choose Your Boots in LoL
There are quite a few pairs of boots you can buy in the game. Depending on what you need and who you’re playing as there can sometimes be up to 4 or 5 different options available to you. Knowing when to buy them and when you shouldn’t is key.
While boots themselves do not really offer much on paper, they do enable you to achieve a lot more in game. From defensive stats to extra damage, they are important on every champion. Apart from Cassiopeia who cannot buy them because of her passive and the fact that she doesn’t have legs (kidding).
To avoid repeating ourselves, you’re limited to only 1 pair of boots. This means you cannot buy multiple pairs, or wear more than one at any given time as that is greedy.
If you’re playing as an AD carry, or somebody who uses their auto-attacks to deal most of their damage like Draven, Lucian, or Kog’Maw, you may favor taking these boots as they provide you with +35% additional attack speed. This attack speed will allow you to auto attack more frequently and as a result, you will be able to dish out more damage during the game. On top of that, they also give +45 movement speed, allowing you to make your way around the map quickly. But, there are plenty of other boots that also give this amount of movement speed like Mercury’s Treads or Ninja Tabi’s.
For many ADCs, this may be their default choice of boots but you should always take a look at what the enemy has available to them before opting for this purchase. For example, does the enemy have lots of AP and burst damage? If they do, you may favor taking Mercury’s Treads instead of Berserker’s Greaves for the added protection.
Examples of champions who benefit: Draven, Vayne, Kog’Maw
Boots of Mobility
Boots of Mobility give you +25 additional movement speed which is increased to +115 when you’ve been out of combat for 5 seconds. These Boots are perfect on champions who like to roam or need to move around the map quickly. You will usually see these boots on roaming Supports as they can allow them to run from base, roam to mid, and then get back to lane quickly. They are popular on other Supports as well like utility Supports because of the amount of movement speed it provides.
Examples of champions who benefit: Janna, Alistar, Nami.
Boots of Swiftness
Boots of Swiftness gives you a huge chunk of movement speed, allowing you to get around the map incredibly quickly. At a base of +55 movement speed, they give the largest amount when in combat. These Boots also reduce the slowing effects by 25%. This means that any abilities that cause slowing effects are reduced such as Twitch’s W, Zilean’s E and Olaf Q. If you want to know what slows are affected, click here.
Currently, there are no champions that really take this item frequently as there are much stronger options available like Ninja Tabi or Mercury Treads.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
These are one of the few boots in the game that directly enhances your abilities. If your champion relies heavily on their abilities to deal damage or save lives, then Ionian Boots of Lucidity may be for you. These boots provide cooldown reduction, allowing you to use your abilities more frequently. In addition to this, they give +45 movement speed and reduce your Summoner Spell cooldowns by 10%. So instead of them being at a base cooldown, they will be 10% less to (15% less if taken in conjunction with Cosmic Insight).
Examples of champions who benefit: Vladimir, Lulu, Karma.
Mercury’s Treads also known as “merc treads” are boots that every champion in the game can viably pick up. They give +45 movement speed and 25 magic resist. The added magic resist will protect you against incoming AP damage, increasing your survivability during the laning phase and in the game team fights. You will usually buy this if you’re laning against an AP champion, or if the enemy has lots of burst/ AP champions. For example, in a situation where there is an AP Mid laner in conjunction with an AP Support or AP bot carry.
On the other hand, you may wish to get these sneakers if the enemy has a lot of crowd control. This is because Mercury Treads gives you bonus tenacity. This reduces the duration of stuns, slows, taunts, fears, silences, blinds, polymorphs and immobilization by 30%. So, if the enemy has lots of crowd control, you might want to pick up mercs to reduce the duration of the enemies effects.
Examples of champions who benefit: Jarvan IV, Maokai, Lee Sin.
These boots are fantastic on any champion and are bought by almost everyone. These boots give +45 added movement speed, allowing you to get around the map very quickly. They also give 20 armor which will protect you against incoming AD damage and enemy auto attacks. This will be very helpful during the whole game as the bonus protection will increase your survivability. In addition to this, Ninja Tabi also has a passive that will block 12% of damage from enemy auto attacks. Basically, if the enemy auto attacks you, they will deal less damage. This is incredibly valuable against enemies who are melee and are AD based like Talon, Lucian or Rengar. As marksmen are being played in up to 3 lanes at any given time, if the enemy has 2 or more AD carries, then getting these boots is a must!
Examples of champions who benefit: Draven, Zed, Fiora.
Sorcerer’s Shoes are boots that are commonly picked up on champions who deal a lot of AP or burst damage. This is because Sorcerer’s provides +18 magic penetration which is incredibly useful at breaking through the enemies defensive stats. Without this magic penetration, you will lack damage and not always be able to kill the enemy if they have magic resistance. So picking up these boots is a smart investment.
As for every other pair of boots in the game, they also give added movement speed with these clocking in at +45mph.
Examples of champions who benefit: Syndra, Kennen, Zyra.
Currently, there are two options available to Junglers with what jungling item they can take. For many, it can make or break a game as they need to have the correct version of Smite available to them. While these advanced items can be upgraded once more afterward, the final upgrade will depend on which champion you’re playing.
To some extent, those upgrades are rather self-explanatory and may not change from game to game. For example, mages will always take the Runic Echos Upgrade, assassins will take Warrior, tanks will take Cinderhulk and on-hit hyper carries will take Bloodrazor. These don’t usually change, whereas the advanced item through Skirmisher’s Sabre and Stalker’s Blade may.
Of course, if you’re not a jungler, go ahead and skip this part as it will not directly apply to your builds (but it may be worth knowing what you’re often up against).
Both items have a passive that will increase your damage output against monsters. Also, when using an ability or an auto-attack on a monster, you will steal some of their health over 5 seconds while also burning them for 80 magic damage.
While you’re in the river or the jungle, you will regenerate mana per second. In addition to this, they both also grant Monster Hunter. Monster Hunter basically gives you extra XP for killing a large monster.
Skirmisher’s Sabre can be used on an enemy champion, marking them for 4 seconds. While marked, auto-attacking the enemy will deal bonus true damage over time to them. While this is active, the damage they deal to you is reduced by 20%. This makes it an ideal pick up on champions who like to skirmish, fight, and hunt the enemy as it allows them to deal extra damage while protecting themselves. This is because they can make good use of what the item provides to snowball.
Examples of champions who benefit: Rengar, Lee Sin, Sejuani.
However, it does work pretty well on champions who don’t really skirmish but do like to gank. Stalker’s Blade deals some damage and steals the enemies movement speed. This can assist the jungler in ganking mobile enemies and lanes.
Examples of champions who benefit: Amumu, Gragas, Rek’Sai.
So which one should you take?
Practically every jungler can take either of the two versions of Smite but it does depend on the play style and who you’re playing. As a general rule, if you’re playing somebody who likes to skirmish and fight in a 1v1 setting, then go for Skirmisher’s Sabre. If you can’t really skirmish or fight, then look to take Stalker’s Blade instead as it will help you when you gank.
If in doubt, head over to the Pre-Game to get a good idea of what you should take.
When we think about AD champions, one of the first things that come to mind are AD carries. These champions usually inhabit the bottom lane but are sometimes seen in other lanes such as the mid and top lane.
While all AD champions have a strict item path that they need to follow, there is always room for some defensive or situational items. Without further ado, let’s discuss a couple items that ADCs, or AD champions alike may invest in.
Guardian’s Angel is a really good item on AD champions because it gives +45 additional attack damage and a healthy amount of armor. These bonus stats will become invaluable as the game goes on because they will allow you to deal more damage and survive for longer. While these stats are nice, most players buy Guardian’s Angel for its passive.
GA’s passive basically gives you a second chance in a team fight by restoring 50% of your base health and 30% of your max mana after taking lethal damage. This will be incredibly helpful as the enemy will have to kill you twice during a team fight.
You will usually see this item picked up if the enemy has lots of burst damage or assassins because it provides you with a little more security and protection. In addition to this, some assassins won’t even touch you if you have the passive up because they might not be able to kill you twice.
However, this item is not always used purely for defense. Sometimes, you see players pick this item up early to make it harder for the enemy to catch them and kill them. This is seen commonly on Junglers or AD champion who are really ahead.
Examples of champions who benefit: Jarvan IV, Vayne, Shaco.
Hexdrinker / Maw of Malmortius
If the enemy has multiple AP champions or lots of burst damage, an AD champion might want to invest in Hexdrinker and Maw of Malmortius for added protection. Maw gives AD, cooldown reduction and a huge chunk of magic resistance. This magic resistance will stop some of the enemies damage, allowing you to survive for longer in skirmishes and in team fights. In addition to these 3 lovely stats, Maw also has a passive that provides you with a magical shield that absorbs incoming magic damage that would otherwise take you below 30% health. When this effect triggers, you will briefly gain bonus attack damage, spell vamp and lifesteal.
While any AD champion can benefit from this item, players should only pick it up when they need it. Unlike GA or Mortal Reminder, this item is very situational.
Examples of champions who benefit: Zed, Irelia, Lucian.
Quicksilver Sash / Mercurial Scimitar
You will only buy QSS and its parent item Mercurial Scimitar if the enemy has a devastating ability that can keep you in place and cost you the game. This is because QSS can remove all crowd control debuffs from yourself. If you are hit with a skill shot or targeted by an enemy with hard crowd control, picking up QSS will help you escape.
Usually, you will only buy QSS and not upgrade it until the late game because your investment is just in the active, not the final product.
If you want to know what abilities QSS counters, then give this wiki page a view. If the enemy has multiple of these abilities, or if you rely on getting deep into enemies team to assassinate someone but are being taken down by hard CC, then picking up a QSS can be good. Here are some handy things to know about this item before buying it.
Examples of champions who benefit: Zed, Fiora, Kayn.
Executioner’s Calling / Mortal Reminder
The final item we are going to discuss for AD champions is Mortal Reminder. This item is a late game monster and very important to get when the enemy starts getting tank and defensive items. While many ADCs and AD champions alike pick up armor pen, you may want to get one of the advanced items that build into this item as soon as you can.
If the enemy has lots of healing, self-healing, life steal or sustain- you should get Executioner’s Calling as soon as possible. In many lanes, it can be really hard to kill the enemy or do anything at all because the enemy just out sustains you. This is especially true against champions like Sylas, Soraka, or Dr. Mundo.
Executioner’s Calling has a passive that will apply Grievous Wounds on enemy champions for 3 seconds. This will reduce their healing ability and regeneration during and after trades. Once you can afford it, many champions will buy this item first so you can trade with the enemy.
Examples of champions who benefit: Riven, Vayne, Gangplank.
Macro and Objective-focused items
Now it’s time to discuss a couple of items that can provide you with a macro or snowball advantage and allow you to pick up towers and kills. Let it be known now that while these items may look good on paper, they are really not very good in their current form and I would recommend staying clear of them at this moment in time (circa Patch 9.8).
Ohmwrecker gives a nice amount of health, armor, health regeneration and cooldown reduction. These stats are valuable on tanks as they give you a variety of things that can help you become an almighty tank and frontliner.
It also has a passive that gives up to 20% bonus movement speed over 2 seconds while you’re near towers and void gates (the things on the base walls near the jungle). This includes destroyed towers, and works on both yours and the enemies objectives. This means standing or walking past an objective will give you a slight increase in movement speed.
Ohmwrecker also has an active that prevents nearby turrets from attacking for 3 seconds. This brief pause in damage output can allow you to tower dive and kill the enemy when they’re under their tower.
Unfortunately for this item, there are much more viable and less restricting items that do the job even better. Items such as Adaptive Helm or Abyssal Mask are much better than this item and I would recommend that you don’t touch this at all and just get one of those instead.
Additionally, this item has no real character…it is only really good in the early game because it can help you tower dive which is rather difficult in the early game. But, it is a really bad first purchase and the stats it provides are not great for the price. You won’t buy this as a first item nor will you need to get it in the mid or late game. As soon as you start getting levels and stats behind you, you will be tanky enough to tower dive; making this item redundant.
In its current form, nobody should be buying this item. However, if you were to get it, it would most likely be on a tank champion.
ZZ’Rot, also known as ZZ’Portal, is an item that gives mixed defensive stats. It provides armor and magic resistance- as well as health regeneration. This makes it a good item on champions who need to get tanky quickly and is really good on paper because it gives both armor and magic resistance.
It also has a passive that is similar to Ohmwrecker that provides additional movement speed near towers and void gates. And it works for both destroyed and living turrets. On top of that, it also has an active. Activating this item will place a “void gate” in the appointed area for 120 seconds (with a cooldown of 120 seconds).
Every 4 seconds that the gate is live, it produces a Voidspawn. The first and every fourth Voidspawn gains additional maximum health as damage. Voidspawn are creatures that will run down the nearest lane and start auto attacking the nearest enemy minion or tower. Once they hit the tower, they sacrifice themselves and deal damage to the objective. They also ignore champions but can be focused by the enemy.
ZZ’Rot can be good as it allows you to place it in a lane while your team groups together. This is good as it will (almost) always keep that lane pushing allowing you to potentially take a tower if it is left uncontested.
The problem with this item is that it has a rather long cooldown and is easily destroyed. If you place it in an obvious area, it can be destroyed easily and it would have little to no value. It also has a range limit, so you have to place it relatively close to the objective(s) you want it to take. But, it does allow you to deal damage to towers and potentially take them down. It also grants gold every time one of the Voidspawns kill an enemy minion.
In its current form, nobody should be buying this item. However, if you were to get it, it would most likely be on a tank champion in the top lane or jungle
Tips and Tricks with situational items
Here are some tips and tricks to help with situational items:
- Learn when to adapt.
- Every champion has multiple choices when it comes to which items they should buy. While our build paths and item suggestions are a good basis to go by, make sure you adapt your build path to whatever circumstances and situations you’re faced with.
- Remember to buy Control Wards.
- It’s not just the Supports job to buy Control Wards. Make sure you purchase and place them as the game goes along.
- Take into account who and what is your biggest threat.
- As suggested, you will need to adapt your item build depending on the situation. To decide which item you should get next, take a look at the enemies team. Ask yourself who is fed, who has the most damage, and what does the enemy team consist mostly of? Your should then buy items that take into consideration all three of those answers.
- Stick to your core build path, but be prepared to change.
- Don’t buy situational items unless you have to. A core build path is called a core build path for a reason. Do not go against it if you don’t have to.
How to find the right situational build
If you’re struggling to find an appropriate build path for your champion. You have a few options available to you.
- Research Summoner Profiles
- Track your own builds and your performance with them with the Summoner Profile feature.
- Use a build from the Pre Game
- As we mentioned at the top of the article, in the Pre-game, you can see what we recommend to build on your champion and when. This is useful as you can just launch it automatically before every game and get a build without having to search prior to the game starting.
- Trial and error
- Just play the game and try to find an appropriate build path yourself by seeing what works well on your champion.
- Try Probuilds.
- Usually, these are the best builds to follow because pro players are really smart and do a lot of mathematical equations and research to work out what fits best and when.
- Try out some of the recommended items.
- Each champion in the game has a dedicated list of items that Riot recommends to build. Give some of them ago and see what tickles your fancy.
That about rounds up our series of itemization guides in League of Legends. We hope that learned a bit more about how items work and when you should and shouldn’t buy them. If you want to have a look at our other itemization guides, check out the item guide article category.
If you have any questions or want to learn more, check out PicklePants stream.
We hope you enjoyed and learned from this situational item guide article. You can find Picklepants in our Discord if you’d like to pick his brain.