Original Post — Direct link

Riot is hilariously wrong about one thing: Gangplank is not struggling. The Champion and its best build are doing great. The players playing him just don't understand a good build. The fact that Gangplank statistically uses a bad build and is popular yet is winning almost 50% of his games should be very alarming to you.


Let's start off by who I am. I'm the owner/moderator of /r/gangplankmains which is one of the largest champions subreddit. (Come check out our sub, we're running an art contest.) I've played league of legends season 1 and I peaked mid diamond s8 and won several local and online tournaments playing Top. I also play Mid and have mained every role in the game at some point in my league career, as I've been playing this game since it came out. But, as the disclaimer says above, I am turbo f*cking washed these days and I don't grind ranked like I used to and can't really practice drills.

I make posts like these occasionally, and I'm usually to be found right later on.

This post is definitely gonna piss some of my friends off (because they also main gp) and they abuse this build.

The meat and potatoes - What his winrate means

According to op.gg, Gangplank's winrate is 48.56%. - U.gg agrees within a margin of .1% -

However, winrate is not all that matters.

First looking at it, you'd think, "Well yeah. The champ is really hard and lots of new players play him, so he's going to have a depressed winrate."

However, riddle me this:

Gangplank's best rune is not Grasp. In fact, the Grasp playstyle is substantially worse than another playstyle that effectively has no weaknesses.

The best build for GP, and the one that Riot should use to actually measure his strength:

I am, of course, talking about first strike.

According to op.gg the rune is picked approximately 10% of the time, and has a 53%+ winrate.

I and many other members of the GP community are aware of just how strong first strike is. We tell new players to pick it and we are a pretty active subreddit and discord community, so I'm definitely not bullsh*tting in the sense that it's not just mains picking that rune. Grasp is just super bad by comparison.

First strike is not a situational or even conditional rune. It can be taken even into terrible matchups (of which there are basically none now) for a variety of reasons.

This rune is not OK. This build is not OK.

I'll go more into Cloakplank (which abuses first strike) later.

Mid game in fights it lets me do 10% more damage on a barrel combo, which is often the sole reason that I get one-shot kills with my Cloakplank build. On top of this, hitting even just 2 people is often like getting an extra kill - even if no one dies.

In lane I get an average of 300 gold extra from first strike. In lane. That's a kill. For free. I often get up to 500g from it if it's a good matchup for me or if I'm lucky with my cloakplank build. Combined with the runes that this build lets you take + the item path abusing rng, it's obscenely effective.

The build I'm talking about - First strike + other runes.

So first strike is busted on GP. However, it's not just first strike that's a problem. It's the gameplay pattern caused by the combination of first strike and this build in particular.

The rune enhances his early, mid, AND late game while the rune path also allows him to be exceptionally greedy and pick some of the best runes in the game with no fear.

What runes am I talking about, and specifically, how does first strike in particular make him busted?

Well, GP relies on one shot potential, primarily. If he's going into melee it's because either he's desperate, turbo inting, or there's just a really juicy opportunity for one reason or another. GP would rather play like an artillery mage than a bruiser, but artillery mages don't auto+Q you for 2400 damage if you successfully gap close.

Because his source of damage takes time to prep and takes a bit to set up, the relatively long (short later) cooldown (especially in the mid and late game) doesn't matter a damn bit to GP. Effectively, every time he's ready to barrel your team he's going to do an extra 10% true damage and cash in even if his team loses the fight.

In lane, first strike allows him to mitigate losses and accentuate victories. If he's ahead, he can more aggressively use it off cd to get ~40g every time it's up, easy. If he's behind, he can use barrels and Q gold to come back and if he lands poke on you not only does he prevent the all in but he farms gold off of your hp bar.

Additionally, the fact that it lies in the inspiration tree is easily half the problem.

GP who knows what he's doing will take biscuits and Cpot and have an insane amount of sustain. This lets him use his passive + auto+Q combo with cpot to do an insane amount of damage. Anyone who has faced an experienced GP top knows what I am talking about. Excepting certain matchups, this lets him dictate the lane phase until he has to last hit. This prevents his level 1 from being all inned by 90% of matchups, WHICH IS YOUR GREATEST OPPORTUNITY TO SHUT GP DOWN AS A MELEE.

"Wait, but GP level 1 is pretty good. How am I supposed to shut down a GP by myself if I'm melee and can't just lethal tempo + walk him down the lane?"

That's the neat part! You don't.

GP when played well has almost no real counters in lane. He effectively REQUIRES jungle pressure to deal with.

Fun fact, GP passive actually out damages ignite at all levels.

He's like Nasus! Except he does insane aoe damage, HAS A GOOD EARLY GAME, and ACTUALLY scales into late game. (Nasus doesn't, but that's another convo entirely.)

And, if he does f*ck up? And you somehow win the trade hard? LOL DOESN'T MATTER. Cpot + biscuits + orange means that he's insanely hard to kill solo if you can't 100-0 him completely.

And even IF YOU CAN 100-0 him, if you are one of those champions, GP DEFINITELY outscales you.

Gangplank's Current State Summary


  • Has an insanely safe early game. He is very strong early levels, he straight up wins a lot of matchups despite being THE HYPER SCALER in league right now.

  • I mean for f*cks sake GP CAN BE BLIND PICKED and it doesn't really matter what you pick in response

  • Even if you pick one of his few 'bad' matchups, he will definitely outscale those champions

  • Even if you are winning the lane, you will probably still be even or even behind in gold if he has first strike (and uses it properly) and just focuses on wave clearing. If he's in a turbo bad spot he'll just ult the wave to force it to reset. And there's dick all you can do to stop it.

  • Even if you win trades, he will just out sustain. Any champion that out sustains him (And there's only a few) lose out hard on burst and other trades.

  • Because he gets everything he needs from inspiration, he doesn't need sorcery. He can take cut down (average 1300 damage a game, which is basically a second keystone.) and Triumph (or Tenacity.)

Gangplank's optimal build - Cloakplank - and why while it is fun, it is definitely not balanced in combination with First Strike

TLDR of the build: Sheen, Cloak, ER, 3 more cloaks, IE, Prowlers/Collector/LDR

Here's an item set if you want to try it out.:

{"title":"Cloakplank","associatedMaps":[],"associatedChampions":[41],"blocks":[{"items":[{"id":"2033","count":1},{"id":"3340","count":1},{"id":"3363","count":1},{"id":"2055","count":1}],"type":"Starting Items"},{"items":[{"id":"3057","count":1},{"id":"1001","count":1},{"id":"2055","count":1}],"type":"First Back"},{"items":[{"id":"3133","count":1},{"id":"1018","count":1},{"id":"3508","count":1},{"id":"3158","count":1}],"type":"First Item"},{"items":[{"id":"1018","count":1},{"id":"1018","count":1},{"id":"1018","count":1}],"type":"Cloaks"},{"items":[{"id":"1038","count":1},{"id":"3031","count":1},{"id":"3134","count":1}],"type":"IE"},{"items":[{"id":"6676","count":1},{"id":"3134","count":1},{"id":"6693","count":1},{"id":"3035","count":1},{"id":"3036","count":1}],"type":"Final Items"},{"items":[{"id":"6671","count":1},{"id":"6673","count":1},{"id":"3053","count":1},{"id":"6695","count":1},{"id":"6609","count":1}],"type":"Situational"}]}

As anyone should be aware, GP's barrels do extra damage in such a way as to make crit damage and crit chance much more effective on him while not having the penalty that other champions who are crit based have (Trynd overcapping crit, Yasuo/Yone having reduced crit damage)

This all encourages him into going into a super heavy lethality + crit build in order to roll the dice to one shot someone. He does this already, but now he can do this to tanks. (See the shen clip above, dude had 200 armor and full hp and died in 1 hit)

First strike + this build effectively robs enemy players of all real options that aren't just camp the sh*t out of GP and hope for the best.


  • Gangplank's build with first strike and his synergy with one shot builds means that he's strong in lane, he scales super hard, AND he really snowballs. And even if he falls behind, he's often equal in gold due to his gold generation, to the point that even if you are ahead he's generally not that far behind you, if at all.

  • His safety comes from his sustain from being able to use first strike (cpot + biscuits) as well as his increased sustain by being effectively manaless (but having all the benefits of having mana) due to the buffs to his W and Q costs (as well as cooldowns) and how he can rush a super-powerful item for him that completely removes mana costs for him

  • You also have very little options strategically against him because EVEN IF he finds himself turbo behind, he can split push (he is a valid split push threat, while being a duelist he can win fights while behind) and contribute to teamfights via ulti. Even if you manage to keep him in your lane, if you try and freeze he can just ult the wave and force it to reset. There are literally no windows or weaknesses to punish him with if he plays properly.

  • Gangplank's crit build reaches breakpoints where he can one shot much more consistently than he used to be able to with just 2 items because now you actually finish them with the first strike part. Before, they'd usually just be knocked out of the fight or go to half but sustain up (lifesteal has also been nerfed, which is a buff to gp.)

  • Gangplank's triple cloak build is obscenely powerful for how cheap it is, and because having increased crit chance (and how it increases damage lopsided to its cost) actually increases his income via first strike. In most elos I am full build before 28 minutes. And I buy EXPENSIVE items!

  • Gangplank is not weak. If anything, he is turbo broken. A change I'd like to see that fixes these issues without hardcore nerfing him is by reworking crit to be a % damage increase. You could give each champ a stat that affects how much crit works on them to balance them individually. Right now GP one shots you if he crits and does 20% if he doesn't. There needs to be some leeway here.

That's about it, folks. If you read the whole thing, wow seriously I'm impressed. It's prob not the easiest thing to stomach palate wise, but it had to be said. I hope Riot tries to fix how crit works and then balance GP accordingly instead of gutting him as a temporary fix.

Thanks for reading, I sincerely appreciate it.

External link →
12 days ago - /u/PhreakRiot - Direct link

Originally posted by trustisaluxury

gangplank is the embodiment of league players trying not to lose to shopkeeper challenge (impossible)

him and ezreal would be 55%+ champs if people knew how to build

Don't forget Senna!

I'll say in general I'm a fan of Riot balancing the game "as is." Certainly they could have picked better wording, e.g. "Players are struggling on Gangplank" as opposed to "Gangplank is struggling," if that's even the verbiage used.

But anyway my point is that the results from last patch's games are what actually happened. People probably made misplays in every single game but at the end of the day, theoretical balance isn't nearly as important as balancing the game people are playing. This means Yasuo and Riven have lower levels of "theoretical balance" due to champion mastery and Gangplank is theoretically too strong and should be nerfed once players figure out builds.

And yeah that can feel weird. But I think a) lets players feel smart and get an edge for figuring out builds first, and b) most players don't do a ton of innovation and that's fine but they should be able to be reasonably successful by just following along.

12 days ago - /u/PhreakRiot - Direct link

Originally posted by lyledylandy

so it encourages her to play the same pattern she would normally play

I mean yeah but she also shines in extended fights which Eclipse is terrible at for ranged champions, even more so on one who doesn't need vamp/lifesteal and who has enough range to not get hit during the shield duration. I'm probably wrong since everyone builds it and she retains a good winrate, but it doesn't make sense to me

She shines in extended fights says who? Her cooldowns are long, her attack speed is low, and her per-target damage is front loaded off of Q+Auto with a hefty cooldown on her passive.

She is specifically far worse than other marksmen and other supports in long engagements.

10 days ago - /u/PhreakRiot - Direct link

Originally posted by idontlikeredditbutok

The problem with this philosophy is that eventually if you only balance on what is "happening" and don't balance on the theoretical "actual" state of the game if the playerbase was playing better, eventually the theoretical catches up and becomes an ungodly abomination version of the previous theoretical because the team has been balancing the game around a technically inaccurate version of it for a while.

I don't play league nearly as much anymore, but this is an issue TFT has had for a while. Early in set 6.0, 5 Mutants was a pretty good comp that, while not played as much, was arguably very broken if you got a very early chogath, and high elo players were aware of it. However the REST of the playerbase was not, and as a result the comps data was mediocre. So riot decided to give chogath a pretty big base hp buff, and the next patch mutants ended up being statistically one of the most broken comps in TFT history.

The issue with not balancing the game around it's optimal state is not what happens in the immediate, but the fallout around balancing around a technically inaccurate perception of a game for an extended period. If you patch a game and your patch is a 90% accurate reflection of the current meta, there isnt an issue, but a 90% of a 90% of a 90% of a 90% and suddenly you are balancing the game around a 65% accurate idea of the game. You can see how this compounds.

Riot balancing the game with only the immediate in mind and without taking into account how their changes interact with both real and theoretical contexts is a consistent criticism i have with how the company operates and i think it's very unfair to dismiss it the way you are given league's history with balance nightmares that seem to come from nowhere.

Fwiw Riot looks at things like high-MMR pick and ban rate and I know they do that in TFT as well. So in any of these cases, really, these are things that next to no one is doing (well).