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Why Ziggs bot lane is a thing

Could League’s bottom lane meta be meaningfully changing for the first time since Season 1?

If you’ve been playing League of Legends recently, you may have noticed an unusual phenomenon in the bot lane: Ziggs, playing the role usually occupied by AD Carries. A poke mage almost exclusively seen in the mid lane, Ziggs has been popping up bot ever since former Team Dignitas mid laner Danny “Shiphtur” Le popularized it en route to his spot in the top 5 of the NA solo queue ladder.

It’s not just Shiphtur — enough people have been playing Ziggs in the bottom lane that it shows up on OP.GG now with a 52.48 percent win rate, highest of any “AD Carry.”

For some context, a little background on the bottom lane meta in League of Legends: back in Season 1, no one knew what quite to do with it. Often times, teams would use two bruisers with crowd control, like Blitzcrank + Alistar. At the Season 1 World Championship, we saw a referendum on exactly what the bottom lane meta would look like for years to come. Europe’s teams entered the tournament with a new strategy, using the marksman + support bottom lane that would become the standard, dominating against North America’s double bruiser bottom lanes.

Since that time, Riot has made a few efforts to shake up the stagnant marksman + support combination in the bottom lane, with efforts at melee “AD Carries” (looking at you, Gangplank and Mordekaiser) that never quite caught on. But after changes to how towers take damage and a big buff in the mid-season mage update, Ziggs has made his presence known in the bottom lane and looks to blow up the bot lane meta as we know it.

Riot Games

First, let’s go over why the heck this works in the first place.

With his long effective range, Ziggs can be a relatively safe bottom laner if paired with a support that can protect him and help push in the lane, like Karma. In an AD-heavy meta that sees a lot of bruiser top laners and playmaking AD junglers like Lee Sin, Kha’Zix and Rengar, Ziggs can also help balance out your team’s damage typing, especially with an AD mid like Varus, Zed or Talon.

But the biggest reason AP Ziggs bot lane works? His siege. In Patch 6.9, for the midseason update, Ziggs received two significant buffs for his siege.

  1. An increased AP ratio on his passive, Short Fuse, which periodically adds magic damage to his auto attacks against structures
  2. Most importantly, a new effect on his W, Satchel Charge. This ability now destroys turrets below 25 / 27.5 / 30 / 32.5 / 35% (depending on ability level).

With that combination, Ziggs is able to accomplish the No. 1 goal of the AD Carry position, despite not being an AD Carry: being able to take down towers quickly and do a whole lot of damage to anyone who gets in the way.

Another very important factor to Ziggs’ prominence in the bottom lane: AD Carries are very weak right now as a whole. With the introduction of the Courage of the Colossus keystone mastery, tanks diving on the backline are safer than ever, and the assassin rework brought more viable assassins to the mid lane like Katarina. Couple that with still-present burst mages like Syndra, and there are a whole lot of champions out on the Rift who can seemingly one-shot AD Carries without any meaningful recourse.

Riot Games

What to build:

In terms of items, Shiphtur generally builds Morellonomicon first — Ziggs is a mana-hungry champion and really needs the CDR to be impactful. After that comes tons of damage — Rabadon’s Deathcap, usually followed by Void Staff, with the occasional Luden’s Echo, Lich Bane and Liandry’s Torment thrown in there.

Here’s Shiptur’s rune and masteries set-up:

Now for the pressing question whenever something arrives that threatens to change the meta as we know it: is Riot concerned? The answer appears to be no, going by this answer from Riot Axes when asked about Ziggs Bot on the boards:

Haven't discussed Ziggs with the team yet, but I don't see any reason why we'd try to force him out of bot lane. We'll of course need to ensure general game balance - if it's super overbearing in bot lane, it'll get nerfed for that reason. (I haven't looked at the data yet, so I'm not saying it is overbearing)

We've actually been tweaking rules to open up tower killing to more classes for a while - for example, putting armor/MR on towers and allowing penetration to work on it at midseason - in the hopes that something like this would eventually happen.

So if Ziggs bot lane does start to become more meta, does that open up other options in the bottom lane? Could we see other mages, or maybe even assassins or juggernauts, placed in the bottom lane in specific situations (like we saw with Miss Fortune support at Worlds vs. Zyra)? One thing’s for certain: sticking a mage down in the bottom lane and having it work opens up a whole ton of options for new picks and new strategies across the map.