Glory of the Climb – The Stale Meta: Top 5 AP Mids
In my introductory article to the Stale Meta I briefly addressed why the cheap cost, and immediate effects, of stacking health are determining why certain champions are more viable than others right now; even causing a lot of Season 2 favorites, like Shyvana, to completely disappear from the competitive scene. I want to take the time to address the fact that I will not be covering the AD Mid variants as I think there are too few and they are too obvious (Kha’Zix, Zed, Talon, Pantheon, Lee Sin). The idea behind picking an AD middle vs an AP middle are also much more straight forward as you are just looking for more AD damage and armor shred to synergize/compliment your top lane Bruiser. It is also important to note that with the increase in Jarvan IV and Taric picks there has been a decrease in AD mid picks because of teams abilities to stack armor without any gold investments, so there’s that.
The Best AP Mids and Why.
Ok so in my last article regarding Junglers I applied a specific “curve” that I believe potential junglers needed to fit in order for me to consider them viable. This meant all the junglers were very similar to each other because they had a specific “early pressure/initiator/tank” role that they HAD to fill. AP mids do not suffer from these linear traits and are instead picked because of how their unique skill set will compliment their team mates best; this, however, becomes less apparent the further down the list and more apparent the higher we go up the list. Things that an AP champion can provide to a team in order to be considered for mid lane are: Poke, Armor/MR Shred, Burst AND Sustained Damage, Shields/Buffs, Stuns/Slows, Displacement, and Global Presence.
Rounding out my Top 5 is Nidalee, and for the record she NARROWLY surpassed Lux, who would be my official #6. When I compared Nidalee and Lux to make this decision it came down to the fact they have very similar kits but Nidalee can do more sustained damage in a prolonged fight. Lux has notoriously long cooldowns and all her abilities are skill shots, so if you miss with her you have a reasonably long reload time before you can try again to deal damage, she also has high mana costs which means you can’t poke as long with her without blue. Her shield gives no sustain in a siege unlike Nid’s heal, and while her E does provide vision it can not be placed as strategically as Nidalee’s without significantly reducing her damage output. Nidalee can poke for days with her spears as they are reasonably costed, have a low cd, and probably hit for just as much as Lux’s ult at max range. Her heal is good for prolonged sieges and fights, and if there is no one to heal she can always give it to her ADC to increase his/her attack speed. The versatility of her ult is what gives her the edge over Lux though in that she can use it to keep putting out damage when her human form’s spells are on cooldown, where someone like Lux has to sit and wait; it also gives her some of the best escapability in the game combined with her passive making her very safe. Ok I think that is enough reasons.
As you can see Nidalee provides a little bit of everything that I listed above. She can poke, she has sustain in cougar and burst with spears, she provides vision and shreds Armor/MR with her traps, and one of her biggest boons is her heal that scales incredibly well with AP as well as doubling as an AS steroid. She is a very well rounded champ right now and a great pick for #5 AP mid.
Ryze is definitely the most generic champion on this list but if it’s not broke don’t fix it. Ryze benefits mostly from being one of, if not THE highest sustain damage mages out there. He fits the meta very well right now because he can build primarily tanky stats and still deal formidable damage, and it’s AoE dmage to boot, thanks to his ultimate! His Rune Prison provides his team with great catching potential, his Spell Flux shreds MR, and he can 1v1 most champions, and win, at many stages of the game. Against ADC’s and opposing AP mids his combo is considered burst and against the tankier Junglers and Bruisers he has enough consistent damage output to not warrant standing next to him for very long unless you plan on killing him. He definitely provides less utility than Nidalee (or Lux) but I think his solidarity as an AP powerhouse and the fact he’s less composition dependent puts him firmly above her at #4.
Orianna is the epitome of the #3 spot on my list. She has great burst and sustained damage with high AP ratios and low cooldowns on all her spells. Her range is long enough to be considered poke. She has a shield that scales incredibly well with AP and provides the wearer free Armor/MR. Her W slows the enemy team and speeds up her own, and her Shockwave is the premium displacement spell right now and can be wombo-comboed well with many of the tanky gap closing Junglers. She is an extremely solid pick right now and even bolsters a strong/formidable laning phase compared to other AP champs.
Kayle is the sleeper newcomer to the AP scene. Her high points are the ability to shred Armor/MR of the opposing team in an AoE, slowing champions while amplifying her own damage against them, providing her team with a heal and speed burst, and of course, the Coup De Grace, three seconds of invulnerability to an ally at 1200 range! Her ability to do burst damage with her spells, and sustained damage with her autoattacks and a Liandry’s Torment make her a force to be reckoned with, whatever Champion you are. If Kayle’s team has just one fed Champion on it she doesn’t even have to achieve an average item build because of how strong her ultimate can be in conjunction with an allied carry. Kayle is definitely first pick or ban worthy right now and her game changing ultimate is reason enough for that!
I am going to be honest, I absolutely hate Twisted Fate and it sickens me he sits at #1. I think he is a stupidly designed champion. On the surface he has little depth and underneath it all he is one of those “is he an ADC or AP champ abortions” that has been in the game so long they really can’t do anything about what he has evolved into. Back in beta he would constantly fluctuate between nerfs and buffs from AD to AP. Finally the pro scene has deemed him an AP champ because of how game breaking his ultimate is while running AP. You can use Gate to teleport and stun somebody, doing significant burst damage, and ensuring a successful kill most of the time; compare this to an AD TF showing up and the stun and wildcards doing no damage and his follow up damage has to come from all autoattacks and you can see why he is run as an AP, plus putting him in mid lane allows him to Gate to either Top or Bot.
Anyways, TF provides the least “utility” to a team in terms of his kit only really having a stun/slow, BUT the global presence + Champion vision that his ultimate provides are enough to keep him in the #1 spot for a long time to come because of how influential it can be in snowballing other lanes/the game. He also has incredible poke (1450 range!), wave clear, a decent passive that actually does provide some significant extra gold to your team over the course of a game, and he can do some crazy baits with Gate + Zhonya’s Hourglass as popularized by WE Misaya, and also used by Curse NyJacky in yesterdays LCS game against GGU. It’s unfortunate the brokenness of his ultimate is a relic of bad beta design and so it unlikely another champion will ever be released with an ultimate to rival his for the number 1 spot. However, if the meta ever shifts back to the days of farming for 30 minutes before pushing a lane as five you can expect to see Karthus occupy this spot because of Requiem (fucking global ultimates!)
These AP champions provide good utility and damage to their team but are just a tier below the top 5 in terms of how game changing they can be just by being on a team. They are listed in no specific order.
This list was a bit more influenced by the competitive scene than by the soloqueue scene, but I don’t think it would be much different, and I think by adhering to this list you would still be likely to gain LP.
Previous “Glory of the Climb” Articles: