The state of Botlane/ADC seems to be the current big discussion on the subreddit and one of the phrases constantly used by ADC mains is this:
- ADC has no impact because Support and Jungle dictate the lane
This is not correct.
As someone who has mained ADC for years now and played through all different states of ADC, ADC impact as a whole is acceptable at the moment. Maybe a little weak and it is definitely a lot easier to die then previous years but if it needs to be this way for pro play, then that is fine.
While ADC does not lack Impact, it does lack Agency. On this subreddit these two terms are very often misused and misunderstood as meaning to be the same thing. They are not the same thing.
- Impact is fairly straightforward. How much can your champ or role make a difference to the outcome of the game. For a role like Jungle or Mid, impact is extremely high.
- Agency, however, is not the same as Impact. Agency (as far as I interpret it) is how much control do you have over your role or champion as to if you can build a lead, or in other words how much does your individual skill affect the outcome of the game (especially when talking about the early game).
ADC does not lack impact. Many champs such as Ashe, Ezreal, Aphelios, Varus, Kog'Maw and more all have very high impact. However what they do not have is agency. If you lock in any scaling champ in botlane, such as Twitch, Jinx, Kogmaw etc and your Support and Jungle do not play to help you, then these champs lack such little agency that it is impossible to build leads for themselves and are extremely easy to be shut down if there is a Support or Jungle skill difference.
For an alternate example look at Toplane. While Toplane is not as impactful as ADC (generally), it has far more agency. Despite picking a scaling champion like Vladimir or Jax, the player can build good leads for themselves by just being better than their toplane opponent, which TF Blade highlights extremely well.
There absolutely is skill expression in laning phase ADC however this comes almost exclusively from the skill of not dying, not the skill of building an XP and Gold lead. Every lane can freeze the wave on their opponent, however Top and Mid can both decide when they want to engage and fight, if their lane opponents come to break the freeze. At bot, you have to hope that your Support is confident and skilled enough to hit their abilities to punish the opposing laner, or hope that your Support is not autofilled and playing something like Vel'Koz
When you see the enemy ADC being extremely fed and carrying the game then the ADC player has almost definitely not built the lead for himself, unless he is on some more early game ADCs like Draven. Maybe his Support hit a very good hook or the Jungle came down for a strong gank to get the ADC ahead, however all that has happened is the ADC has been handed some kills on a silver platter by the Jungler or the Support.
This creates a near impossible balance situation in which ADC is such high impact in co-ordinated play that there is no realistic way to give the role Soloq agency. In a Soloq environment in which you often need to get through the early game, build up an early lead so that your team mental does not shatter, and then attempt to carry some incompetent players then having no agency just doesn't work.
The end result is many scaling champs such as Sivir, Twitch, Jinx and Kog all feel that your teammates can fully decide if they want you to be ahead or not. This does not happen to any other role, in which there is this much reliance on other classes in order to get ahead. It also means that some champs just feel unplayable unless they have an ardent Support (with Twitch and Kog being the two biggest offenders)
If you play a game of Tristana in midlane then a game of Tristana in botlane you will feel stronger and like your skill mattered alot more when you played her in midlane. Once you've got your lead (which is much more dependent on your skill compared to botlane) you scale into a stronger champ as you get more XP in solo lane.
If any ADC mains participated in Clash then you will feel the Impact/Agency difference a lot more. For me I played with an Alistar in most games and a Soraka in others with the team playing far more slow League of Legends which gave me time to scale on my picks. In this type of environment, ADC is, to an extent overpowered, because agency is less important. In competitive play you don't need to be able to build your own lead, because you have a team around you to make up for that lack of agency and allow you to scale.
I didn't really want to get into any sort of balance proposals as this has been talked about a million times, however, this is just to show how impact and agency are fundamentally different things, and ADC as a class is flawed when it has this much impact in high skilled play and yet so little agency in the Soloq environment. For me, ADC impact does not need any change. It needs more laning skill expression.
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