When playing League of Legends, the mid lane is considered home to bursty assassins and AP-scaling mages. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case if you want to shake things up. This time, we’re taking a look at the best off-meta mid laners.
Best Off-meta Mid Laners - The Rundown
Excited to catch the enemy mid laner off-guard with an unexpected pick? Here are a few solid suggestions that are worth trying out!
- Caitlyn – Good range and strong early game can neuter an enemy mid laner during the laning phase.
- Cho’Gath – Cho’Gath has a strong zoning tool and enough bulk to zone out the enemy if you can properly manage your mana.
- Master Yi – Render poke-oriented mages useless with strong wave clear and a heal that lets you win trades.
- Lucian – Lucian’s pretty much an AD caster that can easily avoid skill shots that many mid laners depend on to deal damage.
- Renekton – His early game durability and abilities make him surprisingly good at trading damage with melee-oriented mid laners while also having decent sustain.
- Kha’Zix – While his recent picks turned him into a jungle meta, he can still function as a high mobility melee assassin in mid lane, especially against low mobility mages.
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Half a dozen possible picks should be enough until you’re comfortable making your own off-meta picks, but how exactly do these picks work? Let’s take a closer look at them to find out.
Whenever people talk about Caitlyn, it’s usually related to the term “lane bully”. In the bottom lane where she is a meta pick, her Piltover Peacemaker (Q) and her Headshot passive are very good harassing tools because they pass through minions. Her Yordle Snap Trap (E) is also a very potent zoning tool that can keep the enemy marksman and support from safely getting near the minion lane. Last but not least, her Ace in the Hole can be used to get an early HP lead or finish off-targets that lose trades.
What makes her work?
Range and Utility: Not surprisingly, Caitlyn is an even better lane bully down the mid lane, where she almost always outranges her opponent. Her harassing tools are just as effective in mid lane as they are in bot lane, especially since there are no supports that may heal or shield her target. Yordle Snap Trap also becomes useful as an early warning device that can be placed in the river bushes to deter enemy jungler ganks. If the enemy falls greatly behind or fails to build enough armor, the Sherrif of Piltover can still be a late-game menace.
Consider picking Caitlyn if your team already has one AP-scaling champ. This will prevent enemy teams from simply building armor to reduce your DPS. Caitlyn also works very well with CC-heavy junglers since her Yordle Snap Trap can be used directly on opponents to hold down enemies even longer.
Cho’Gath has a little bit of everything going for him. He has great sustain courtesy of his Carnivore passive and he is tanky because of good stat scaling and his Feast ultimate stacks. In terms of damage, he has the option to zone out enemies with his Rupture (Q), or deal AOE damage with his Feral Scream (W) and Vorpal Spikes (E). He’s also fairly adequate in terms of CC thanks to the knockup on Rupture and the AOE silence on Feral Scream. Last but not least, he is also capable of dealing focused single-target burst damage with his ultimate.
What makes him work?
Utility and late-game scaling: Cho’gath is one of those champs that you can put in any role and expect him to perform decently at worst. As an off-meta mid laner, his early game mana issues could keep him from being a true lane bully, but his crowd control makes mid lane ganks a lot easier. Add this to his great lane sustain and you have a champ that will just keep soaking up damage and experience to the point where he reaches late game, where a tanky AP build will just roll over enemy teams.
Cho’Gath as a mid laner lacks mobility, but a jungle champ with a strong engage like fellow Void champion Kha’Zix can capitalize on a single well-placed Rupture. Always keep Feral Scream ready to prevent targets from using any mobility skills or from completing any skill combos. Don’t worry; you’re tough enough to absorb a few hits for your squishier gank partner.
There was actually a time when Master Yi was considered a game-breaking meta mid pick. When Riot nerfed the AP scaling his Meditate (E) and completely removed it from his Alpha Strike (Q), he was relegated back to his more traditional AP role. Today, he’s considered an easy-to-use high mobility Jungler that excels at split-pushing and snowballing early leads.
What makes him work?
Mobility and lane sustain: While no longer an AP monster, Master Yi still has some of the things that could make him thrive in mid lane. First, his Alpha Strike still remains as a good wave clear and evasion. Next, his meditate still lets him shrug off poke damage from his lane opponent. Last but not least, he is mobile enough to actually go to a nearby blue camp, take the buff, and return to lane without falling too far behind in minion experience.
Master Yi doesn’t have any form of crowd control, so you will have to depend on your jungler to lock down key targets. He himself is especially vulnerable to crowd control (even in his meta role), so a support like Taric or Janna will greatly help make him work in team fights. He's still considered one of the best off-meta mid laners, especially since he can easily be the biggest threat to the enemy team once you reach the late game.
Lucian’s the closest thing that the game has to a “mobile AD mage”. Unlike most marksmen champs, his damage comes from properly managing his Lightslinger passive instead of sheer auto-attack speed. Piercing Light (Q) is good for poking past the minion lane, while Ardent Blaze (W) is mostly an indirect mobility tool. However, like a traditional mage, he’s mostly better off saving his cooldowns for a strong burst. While his Relentless Pursuit (E) doesn’t help him dodge auto-attacks from enemy lane marksmen, it’s still a dependable gap closer and evasive tool.
What makes him work?
Mobility and Burst Damage: Lucian’s main weakness in the bottom lane is his lack of range compared to other marksmen. However, that’s not so much of a problem in mid lane where opponents are either melee marksmen (that he can outrange), or spellcasters whose ranged attacks are easier to dodge. Relentless pursuit remains a good way to avoid many skill-shot based nukes, and his burst is perfect since most mid laners have poor defenses.
As with other lineups featuring AD-scaling mid laners, having an AP-scaling top or jungler goes a long way in keeping Lucian viable late game. This is yet another off-meta pick which greatly depends on what your teammates have picked.
A well-known top lane bully, Renekton combines high burst damage with good durability. With full stacks from his Reign of Anger passive, his Cull the Meek (Q) becomes a fairly spammable sustain tool, while his Ruthless Predator (W) outright strips enemy shields while also stunning them for a bit. Slice and Dice (E) is mostly used as a tool to stay next to fleeing targets, but it can also be treated as a short-ranged gap closer or a (rather mediocre) escape tool. Finally, his Dominus ultimate allows him to extend his combos while also beefing up his defenses, especially during bigger team fights.
What makes him work?
Counterplay: Renekton’s range issues will keep him off the mid lane against ranged enemies. However, he does a great job at shutting down melee assassins, especially after baiting out their mobility abilities. Should an assassin get up close, he can shut down their combo with Ruthless Predator and heal part of it back with Cull the Meek. To make things even worse for Renekton’s enemy, he can also press the trading advantage further since he can chase them easily courtesy of his slice and dice. If we're talking close range fights, then Renekton is one of the best off-meta mid laners that can turn around 2v1s.
Renekton a niche pick that relies heavily on counterplay, so pay attention to the enemy’s abilities. Any champion whose ideal range is within reach of Slice and Dice is a valid target. If you see yourself facing anything with better reach, then there’s no shame in picking a safer alternative.
Best Off-meta Mid Laners - Conclusion
That wraps up our discussion on the best off-meta mid laners. For unconventional picks in other roles, check out our general guide to making the best off-meta picks. Do you have any off-meta mid lane pick that you want to share? Leave us a comment below!