A comparison of Season 3 items for AD carry



Thu 20th Dec 2012 - 4:25pm

Hey guys, it's Fox, and today I'm going to talk a little about AD carry items. After Season 3 started, I didn't really know what to build anymore. There were a bunch of new items that seemed to fill the same role, and I couldn't tell which was better. So I've done my homework and I'm here to share it with you!


Situational Items

So before I get into detail about full item build comparisons, I'd like to touch on a few items I have deemed situational. You shouldn't plan on buying these items every single game, but there will b e certain situations where these items will work perfectly for you. 


Runaan's Hurricane

Stats +70% attack speed
Passive Unique (ranged only): Your basic attacks fire minor bolts at 2 nearby targets, each dealing 10 + 50% of your attack damage and applying on-hit effects.

I think Runaan's is a very fun item, and allows for some neat synergy with some abilities, but it doesn't fit the AD carry playstyle of doing high single target damage. Also it cannot crit! But if say if your team is running an AoE composition (Amumu, Galio, etc), where your goal is to catch them while grouped up, than this item will increase your team fight a ton. If the enemy team has a bunch of assassins who are going to try to force you into a duel, Runaan's may not be the best item there.

Sword of the Divine

+45% attack speed - Passive: This item does not grant any attack speed while on cooldown. Champion kills reduce the current cooldown by 50%. Active: You gain 100% attack speed and 100% critical strike for 3 seconds or 3 critical strikes - 60 second cooldown.

So Sword of the Divine is a really interesting "all in" kind of item. If you have an early advantage, and have high kill potential in your lane, this will give you three hits of pure killing power. But while it's on cooldown the item is doing nothing for you. So if the enemy has strong disengage, or you cannot kill the target you need to, it will not get you that much. 

Also I'd like to note on it's cost, 2200 gold. It's not a bad deal. But at what point in the game do you buy it? Do you get a BF item first, so when you crit, the enemy feels it? Or do you get it early, so you can try to capitalize on kills during laning phase? I just think it's weird to buy, and best used for snowballing an early lead. Late game an Infinity Edge/Phantom Dancer build will be getting you more than enough reliable crits.

Mercurial Scimitar

+60 attack damage, +45 magic resist - Unique Active – Quicksilver: Removes all debuffs from your champion. Melee champions also gain +50% movement speed for 1 second. 90 second cooldown.

I'm so glad Riot released this item. Quicksilver Sash is a great item for AD carries to buy, and Mercurial Scimitar makes it much easier to fit into a build, as it builds out of that and a BF sword, and you get to combine those two items for an easy 600 gold. It's a great buy for playing against a team with CC, not to mention how much Magic Resistance it has to help you survive the burst of AP casters.


Core Builds

So I looked at the core builds, and I honestly just could not tell what was the clear winner at a glance. 

So the basic first buys from what I could see were still going to be Infinity Edge, Blood Thirster, Trinity Force, and perhaps Black Cleaver now. (note, this is post-Black Cleaver nerfs) Being followed up by one of the attack speed items, Sword of the Divine (which I already covered), Statikk Shiv, Phantom Dancer, and Zephyr. I had seen all of these items being used, and just at a glance I saw that they all had pros and cons, and there wasn't one clearly superior item. So I did some comparisons.

To do these comparisons, I have a huge spreadsheet of all kinds of data including the stats for every ADC and all of these items. I also used a neat little website called, which will simulate a character building their items over the duration of a game , against a simulated tank also building over time, with the end of the graph showing what your finished build would do against the input data.

All of the below graphs are from a series of tests taken simulating Ezreal, following the build of boots, Dorans Blade, Berzerker's Greaves, first major buy(so IE, BT, BC, TF), attack speed item. He is running 21/0/9 masteries, and for runes he has AD reds, armor yellows, mr blues, and AD quints. The enemy tank has a build around 180 armor, 2800 health, and 120 magic resistance. These graphs show trends that cross over onto all AD carries, different carries may not have the exact same results, but most are very similar. 

Infinity Edge

 So as you may have predicted, with Infinity Edge and all the Critical Strike synergy, Phantom Dancer, the item with the most Critical Strike chance came out on top. Infinity Edge and a high critical strike chance just go together so well to allow you to do such a large amount of damage.


Blood Thirster

I had expected this simulation to show things going slightly away from Phantom Dancer's favor, and while the dps difference isn't that large, it's still noticeable. We can see a trend that the build paths of Zephyr and Statikk Shiv are less favorable than that of Phantom Dancer, I'll talk about this a little more later.

Black Cleaver

Here we can see that Black Cleaver is much more favorable with Zephyr and Phantom Dancer, as the magic damage on Statikk Shiv doesn't benefit from the Armor Reduction on Black Cleaver, and once again Phantom Dancer is on top.

Trinity Force

Now I'd like to start this by reminding you that this graph is shown for Ezreal. It's trends are not completely accurate for every AD carry. That said, I really like this graph. Black Cleaver (orange) takes a strong jump in damage, you can tell when Brutalizer gets finished and then again when you finish Black Cleaver. But in terms of pure late game DPS power, Infinity Edge comes out over all. 

Build Comparison

So we saw that Phantom Dancer edged out the other attack speed items when paired with BC/IE/BT, and Trinity Force and Infinity Edge was very strong. So of these builds which is the strongest? The numbers show that Infinity Edge and Phantom Dancer come out on top of all other builds for late game damage.

Now things to take from this are just simply, pure damage. Infinity Edge and Phantom Dancer bring very little else to the table, so it's no surprise that they are the top in damage. This comparison doesn't take into consideration things like the Phage proc on Trinity Force, the massive amount of sustain you get from Blood Thirster, the aided wave clear and pushing power on Statikk Shiv, or the CC reduction on Zephyr.

Okay I've been talking about the first buy items for a while, I'd like to break down my thoughts on the attack speed items compared here.

Phantom Dancer

So the conclusion we can draw from this data is that Phantom Dancer is still the best attack speed item for AD carries in season 3, despite having more options for attack speed. Not a lot to say, it should still be the favored item like it was in Season 2.

Statikk Shiv

Statikk Shiv's late game damage is slightly weaker than Phantom Dancer, although you do make the trade off of gaining the active. I'd like to briefly touch on the build path though. Statikk Shiv builds out of a Zeal and an Avarice Blade. In the simulations I had the carry building all of this after completing it's first major item. I'm interested in the possibilities of building an early Avarice Blade to gain a small gold gap on the enemy team. Avarice Blade gives a small amount of crit, and doesn't do much for you during laning phase for you (the crit chance is so low you can't rely on it happening in a fight, it is more for passive farming). The potential for wave clear is useful. It is more favorable for AD carries than Ionic Spark was, and it gives potential for more varied builds for different situations.


I was actually a little skeptical about doing analysis on Zephyr. I was looking at the Tenacity on it, and I didn't really know if it was an item for AD carries. The 10% movement speed is also really powerful, but if the item was sacrificing too much damage to get it, it wouldn't be worth it. After the tests I was pleasantly surprsed with Zephyr. If there is a situation where the enemy team is really out to get you, and you really need the tenacity and movement speed, this item is really not too bad, and in some cases came out showing strong dps potential. 



Infinity Edge and Phantom Dancer are still your go-to items to do the most damage possible. There are a wide variety of other items open to you, and all of them have their own strengths and weaknesses, and have their own situations where they are worth getting. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed!