League of Legends may one day find perfect item balance… but it probably won’t be before the heat death of the universe. Still, as much as we love to hate on the current offenders, they pale before the true monster items from League of Legends history.
League of Legends has been around for over ten years now and over the course of more than two hundred patches, we have seen many OP items come and go as its many designers tried to tinker with their creation. In fact, it is hard to limit ourselves only to five. Still, we at EarlyGame have risked our sanity and communed with our gaggle of ancient LoL loremasters, trying to gauge from their anguished screams which five items have been the greatest terror on the Rift. So, here we go:
5. Black Cleaver
Sure, there is A Black Cleaver in the game, carrying on as a mostly unremarkable item in season 10. Yet, this venerable bruiser gear has had a wild past. Early on, it gave not only a stacking armor debuff (capping at 30% after four hits) but also a flat armor penetration – and this penetration stacked with itself.
The consequences were predictably gory, as top laners with multiple Black Cleavers were terrorizing the game. It took a nerf to the percentage debuff and making the flat penetration a unique passive to bring this brutalizer back under control.
4. Force of Nature
This defensive item disappeared from the Rift (or, as it was known back then, the Fields of Justice) very early on, before making a cameo in Teamfight Tactics. Veterans of older seasons shuddered as they remembered the piece of armor that made tanks all but immune to magic damage in League's opening patches.
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Early on, Force of Nature had Warmog’s passive for high regeneration with extra HP regeneration for good measure and combined it with a whopping +90 MR and a nice movement speed boost. On a tank that already had some health items, it made them nearly unkillable. If it was a Mundo or Singed who had a decent early game, you could forget about the “nearly.”
3. Sunfire Cape
Sunfire Cape wasn't so strong because of its stats, the item just wasn't designed properly at the time. For the duration of Season 1, Sunfire Cape’s burning AoE was stackable. With stacking 5 Sunfire Capes, it would deal 40 damage per second each, or 200 damage per second in this case. Since the item also gives you life and armor, you were a tank with it, dealing more damage than your entire team while just standing next to enemies.
The other popular strategy was stacking Sunfire Capes on Evelynn. At that time, she was still invisible until she attacked an opponent. So she could just stand next to the enemies, watch them lose their hp and just oneshot them as soon as they were low enough.
Sunfire Cape had a unique passive beginning in Season 2.
2. Spear of Shojin
A more recent member on our list. The Spear of Shojin tried to fill an important niche for bruisers by making them play around their ultimates, but it slightly overshot the mark.
The passive made it so any autoattacks within 6 seconds after casting an ultimate refunded 20% of the cooldown of any basic (non-ultimate) abilities. With a bit of attack speed, this became absolutely bonkers as Jax, Master Yi and a few others could essentially 1v5 the enemy team.
1. Deathfire Grasp
The namesake of the Pentakill headbanger, the item commonly referred to as “DFG” was the bane of any squishy character when there was a fed AP champion on the map.
On top of very respectable stats – 120 AP and 10% cooldown reduction – it had an active that did 15% of a champion’s max HP as magic damage and amplified all magic damage in the next 4 seconds by 20%. On burst mages, DFG was an absolute gamechanger and made them completely broken.
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It was not easy limiting us to only these five – our long-suffering League scholars wailed about the absurdity of Banner of Command and its permanently pushing lanes, the Runic Bulwark's "not gonna die" aura or Sword of the Divine assassins – but these five seem to have an extra special place in their nightmares of the Summoner's Rift of old.